My five biggest worries


November 18th, 2014

This morning I arrived in La Paz, Bolivia after a 30 hour journey from the UK. For the next four weeks I will be blogging from Latin America as I meet up with journalists, film crews, vicuñas, alpacas and the hurly-burly of the COP 20 talks in Lima at the start of next month. The trip is by far the longest I have done since starting work at Practical Action, and, for me, it will present me with some major challenges.

Project Amaguaya BoliviaBelow are the five most things I am most worried about in Peru and Bolivia.

1) Altitude – At the moment, my main concern is not getting, or at least coping with, altitude sickness in La Paz – the highest capital city in the world at 3,500 metres above sea level. I’ve felt light headed and breathless throughout the day here, but tomorrow I go up a further 1,500 metres to Apolobamba to see Vicuña farmers herding and shearing their animals against a stunning backdrop. Either that, or I turn green, vomit and spend a humiliating two days next to an oxygen tank.

2) Language – I aware of how annoying us Brits can be with our refusal to learn other languages using the age old tactic of bellowing loudly until we make ourselves understood, so I have been diligently trying to brush up on my Spanish in the weeks leading up to this trip so that I can interview the people we work with and interact with my colleagues properly. Trouble is, when confronted by some machine-gun fast Español, any confidence rapidly drains and the blank look on my face gives the game away…

3) Getting heard at the COP talks – I´ve managed to get entry into the COP20 talks later this month, so that I can help our policy team get their messages across to the politicians who hold the purse strings and the power. This represents a fantastic opportunity for me to do all those things I´ve been asking my colleagues to do all this time. On the other hand, it is also a huge intimidating event, the likes of which I´ve never experienced before. Achieving what we want will undoubtedly be a challenge.

4) Speaking at the University in Bolivia – in a moment of unparalleled weakness I agreed to speak to up to 200 Bolivian students about my work & the British media in a sort of a Q&A session, alongside Guardian journalist Sam Jones. The scale of the task, not to mention the weakness of my Spanish, is now dawning on me. I am truly terrified.

5) Filming in Peru BBC World are putting together a new series of their Horizons programme in 2015, which looks at the use of technology to overcome problems we face in the world today. Naturally, Practical Action´s work is a great fit for them, so they approached us to see if we had any ideas. Recklessly, I told them I would be in Peru looking at how we use mobile phone technology to help predict landslides and guard against them in future. The result? This section of the programme will now consist of a fly-on-the-wall style documentary looking at my visit and interviews with the people involved in the project. Cue more terror.

So that´s that…keep up to date with whether they come to pass here!

4 responses to “My five biggest worries”

  1. Meadhbh Bolger Says:

    Sounds great (except altitude issues!). Looking forward to hearing how it all goes!

  2. Julie Brown Says:

    I do have some experience of how terrifying being in front of a TV camera can be so don’t envy you ! BUT, I do think you will come over really well, just relax and be yourself. Maybe at the end of your mammoth trip you can write a blog entitled ‘ My five most amazing experiences’ 🙂 Suerte!

  3. Sara Eltigani Says:

    Nice blog Anderw express everyone who is going to visit new place and trying to do the best. I know why I’m worry now about Peru trip 🙂 but worry means thinking about quality . Good luck

  4. Monica Cuba Says:

    Well you did it!!! Tell us about the BBC.

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