From the Back of the Pickup Truck

My decision was made before the question had been phrased. When given the option of spending the day helping at a nearby community that had running water, or, venturing to a small village deep in a valley without running water and where very little Spanish was spoken, I jumped at the second option. I surprised myself considering I’m more of a city girl, but rural Latin America seems to have a way with me.

Rural Bolivia

Driving down dirt roads in rural bolivia

The three hour journey from Mizque to Pantipampa was filled with lush scenery, winding roads, sleepy towns, conversations about Evo Morales and lifts to hitchhikers. The hot sun and soft breeze made it the perfect day to travel on the back of a beat up Toyota pickup truck, and I watched as we left a spiraling cloud of dirt behind us.

The highlight of the journey was picking up a man who was hitchhiking with his two young children. The two little ones looked terrified to be sharing the back of the truck with 6 foreigners. I smiled and offered them cookies, and even tried speaking to them in Spanish but my questions were met with blank stares – glares even. It was when I heard their father’s broken Spanish that I realized their first language was Quechua. It’s fascinating that the language of the Incas has been preserved for centuries and is still actively spoke in these parts!

Walking alone in rural bolivia

Bolivian Boy

I can honestly say I enjoyed the journey as much as I enjoyed my day in Pantipampa. Travelling the desolate dirt roads and sharing the trip with locals was a much welcomed glimpse into rural Bolivia. I hope to share more journeys with hitchhikers wherever the road takes me.

Join the Conversation


    1. says: thatbackpacker

      I imagine if you’re travelling far and you look like you can afford it, they might. But since we had already paid the driver, we let other people hop aboard. The more the merrier!

  1. says: Suzy

    That scenery is breathtaking. Sounds like a great experience. It’s pretty crazy the hitchhikers didn’t understand your Spanish. It is amazing how many languages most of us forget about are still spoken in these rural spaces.

  2. says: Fidel

    Beautiful imagery. It is fascinating to hear that such an ancient language is still spoken as a primary language in fact. Is any of it written and translated so that it remains preserved?

    1. says: thatbackpacker

      It really was fascinating to hear it spoken! Today they use the Latin alphabet to write Quechua, but that was only adopted after the Spaniards arrived – prior to that there was no writing system. It’s interesting to see it written, their words are very long and use a lot of k’s and q’s.

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