The first day of the rest of my life.

The first day of the rest of my life.

Page Type Page Type: Article
Activities Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering
That was the mountain.My first summit ever. 4.496 m. Cochabamba, Bolivia, jan 2007.
This is the story of how it began my life as a mountaineer.

The events that shaped me into a mountaineer took place back in jan 2007, at bolivian soil. I’ve been a backpacker since my 18th birthday, after my mom passed away (she suffered a medical mistake, was considered dead and buried alive in 1996, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – long story, huge process, psychian charged for stealing patient profile records – my mom's of course – with the intention of hide proof against the hospital...long and sad story), a week after that I had an alcoholic coma and I was officially dead for 50 seconds, woke up with cardiac massage...Yeah, I know, not good. But at least I never touched drugs (besides drinking, which I stoped 3 years ago), and after all that mess I decided to change my life. So, I became a backpacker. My first trip was to Iguazu Falls and as usual I slept in the street and got myself a ride back home in a couple days more.

Since 1996 I am a backpacker, very well known here in Brazil, until just two years ago I used to help people with tips about backpacking and related kind of things. But, as I didn’t had enough money, my trips were only inside brazilian territory. My country is huge, and I had some fantastic 10 years of backpacking in Brazil. But, I wanted more. At august 2006 I decided to go outside my own country, got the plane ticket (which i had to pay in 6 months hehehe) to Santa Cruz De La Sierra, Bolivia, for next jan (2007). I quit my job and that’s it. The road was waiting for me, and my main goal was to visit the Machu Picchu ruins, the one place I knew since I was a little boy, read about it, saw tv shows about it…

The first day was a complete fun tragedy! I got to Santa Cruz in the middle of the night (around 2am) and went for the center to try to find myself a hostel to get some sleep before start my new kind of backpacking. But, when i got there, everywhere i went was fully booked. I never had problem in sleep at the street so...Went to a gas station and got some beers (paceñas!) and started drinking. After a while i went for a room search again, and a nice lady let me sleep at the sofa for a couple hours until the morning. That was great, one of my best sofa sleep ever...

When I woke up the city was a mess, I heard of a road block in Cochabamba and that was causing some problems around the area. But i didn’t care so much and went to the Bus station to get a ticket to La Paz. That’s a NO for me. All roads blocked, trains not working, the only way was to fly. I got back to the airport and got a ticket to Cochabamba (how stupid am i?! Ahahahahahh) two hours later. That probably was the biggest mistake ever, i jumped inside the problem just to save some money. When I got there, BUM! I was stuck. After several hours i manage one taxi that promissed me to take me to La Paz for just 100 dollars! But after 1 hour driving the driver quit, charged me for just 5 dollars and left in the middle of nowhere at some poor part of Cochabamba.

Everyone was walking, screaming, fighting with cops, throwing rocks...tsc tsc tsc...While walking every now and then i took a shot about something. One of them almost cost me my camera and a few punches on my face! I saw this sign someone did with some magic marker, complaining about the government. Of course, i took a shot. The people saw me with my camera and they grabbed me, thinking i was a reporter! I spent like half an hour talking to them trying to explain I was not a reporter, that I was just a brazilian Historian backpacker passing by. That was tense...

Newspaper Oruro jan 2007Newspaper 1
newspaper 2 Newspaper 2
Starting to walk towards La Paz Starting to walk towards La Paz
Camping at the street! Camping at the street
At the back of a truck with...The first truck ride
Ride on another truck, corn crops truck! The second truck ride
I stoped some guy and asked him what was the road to La Paz, he said to me “you’re standing on it, just go that way”. So, i started walking towards La Paz. Walking! Walked, walked, walked...after like 6 hours it was getting really cold, i had now 2 new friends (a bolivian and a peruvian), i found a small road stop for truck drivers, got myself the first meal of the trip, the first soda...i asked to the owner of the establishment if it was okay for me to set up my tent right there at the street so i didn’t freeze to death (i was now at 3000 m high), he said “no problem!”. So, that became my first street camp outside Brazil.

Before go to sleep i agreed with the other guys to hitch a ride with some workers on the back of an old truck by 4am. Woke up at the time and it was a cold night, probably –5°C. Got on the back of the truck and here we go, to cross the Cochabamba Sierra, and my goal was La Paz. Let’s go baby! :P

But, as usual, backpacking is always an adventure and nothing ever goes as planned. After a couple hours the truck brocked (overheated). So i jumped off the truck and got on the back of another truck passing by with corn crops! Hehehe, that was fun! I was so hungry I eat the corn raw! Anyway, a couple hours more and the road block stoped us definitely. I had no choice so I got off the truck and started walking. The altitude was around 3.300 m high. I had a heavy backpack (about 18kg), I was not used to carry such weight, and I had a bad case of meibomian cysts. There was thousands of people going up and down the road, walking, just like me.

I walked for like 10 hours, my huge cyst on the eye blow off and i’m pretty sure you can imagine the scene. I had it all infected, bleeding, I was really hungry and dehydrated, and I finally got to the top of that mountain. There was a sign by the road: “Zona de Cumbre – 4.496 msnm” (that means – summit zone, 4.496 meters above sea level). I was so happy I dropped my backpack, went back a few hundred meters and took that shot with the rocks at the road. Went back to the summit and got some rest...After like 20 minutes a taxi came by and the driver was yelling “Oruro”, “Oruro” (next city, still 125 kms away!). Walking I got almost to the end of the road block, which ended only a few kms after that point, the ride cost me only 35 bls (about 8 dollars at the time) because I had two people more with me inside the cab. In just 1 and a half hour I was in Oruro, got a bus ticket to La Paz, a nice room on a simple but clean hostel by the bus station, the first shower of the trip, the second meal, and 12 hours of straight sleep. Looking at the signs by the road, I saw I walked in two days a total of 43 kms.

That happened on jan 2007, i consider that mountain my first summit and my first andean summit. I was now a mountaineer, addicted. Now I am famous at my country not just as a puzzle lover or as a backpacker, now I write for the biggest brazilian website about climbing and mountaineering and I am a mountaineer for not even four years (will be in jan 2011!). Google already completes my nickname (when you get to the “f”) when you type it for the search, I can show my adventures and the brazilian mountains here at summitpost, a place where I met so many friendly people such as Marc, Eric, Liba, TyedyeTwins, Chad, Noondueler, Romek, Zeejay, Adam (gimpilator), Henry, Icypeak, Ojo, Icarreau, Rdmc, Winemanvan, SenadR, Azra, Flávio Varricchio, Marcelo (Mountainfriend), Antonio Giani, Afzal, Jasano, FortMental, Sarah, Silversummit, Aranka, CJ, Osvaldo, Belexes, Lodewijk, and a lot more. So, the mountains gave me a better life (not money, I hate money) and helps me to forget the problems for that 5 or 10 minutes I stand on a summit, and that’s the reason I climb for my mom, raise the portuguese flag and not a brazilian flag. My mom came to Brazil with 2 years old and never became a brazilian actualy, until the day she died (at 37 years old) she used a foreign identity.

That day, the day I suddenly climbed a 4000 m peak at the andes without any plans, that was the first day of the rest of my life.

More images

Me, at the back of the truck The first truck ride, what a view!
People from Cochabamba/ BoliviaThe line says: "No for the autonomies. The people are in need and demands resignation of the mayor." The shot that almost cost me my blood.

Peruvian girlsSome peruvians girls, after I got to Peru.

External Links

A brazilian website to get mountains info, including gps files to download:

My youtube channel:
- Now with 250+ videos online!

The biggest brazilian website about climbing and mountaineering, for which I'm a columnist:

After that trip I wrote a book available for download as a e-book at 4shared (portuguese): E-book Parofes

One of many interviews i was for different websites about backpacking (portuguese, possible to use google to translate):

Additional info (Nov 4th, 2010)

Today, nov 4th, 2010, i found some info online about the events i described here at my article regarding some of my life and how i became a mountaineer, the roadblock in Cochabamba, Bolivia, jan 2007:
> Wikipedia page about the problem:
> The news about the roadblock by the US Embassy in La Paz!:

Thank you all by the votes and kind comments!



Post a Comment
Viewing: 1-20 of 38

mrchad9 - Nov 3, 2010 9:18 am - Voted 10/10

Nice article...

Paulo and sorry to hear about your mother. I too use the mountains as an escape sometimes. Often my mind will just clear for hours and there is nothing but where I am.

If you have any issues with the money you hate so much, feel free to send me some anytime.


PAROFES - Nov 3, 2010 9:31 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Nice article...

My friend, if i had some good money i'd give u some ahahahahah
I'm broke, and i can't go to the mountains every week for that reason. But, i'm happy and that's the best for me right now.
About my mother, it was a tragedy and my family went for several fights afterwords, i lost contact with my mother's relatives, my father stoped talking to me...well, as they say: "shit happens". Life can't be good all the time.
Cheers my friend!


lcarreau - Nov 3, 2010 12:54 pm - Voted 10/10

Re: Nice article...

A wise man once said..

"Things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turn out.

One day, your LIFE will flash before your eyes. Please make it
worth watching.." : )


PAROFES - Nov 3, 2010 1:02 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Nice article...

I will, you bet on it!

Augie Medina

Augie Medina - Nov 3, 2010 2:22 pm - Voted 10/10

Molto bene

Have I got that right? Very nice article. I really enjoyed. Felicidades.



PAROFES - Nov 3, 2010 2:30 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Molto bene

ahahaha Augustin, but Molto Bene is Italian! (right?), i am brazilian so that would be "Muito bem" lol
Felicidades is right, well done!
Cheers and thank you for read!

Augie Medina

Augie Medina - Nov 3, 2010 4:53 pm - Voted 10/10

Re: Molto bene

Hey, thanks for that correction. I'm always for learning.



Liba Kopeckova

Liba Kopeckova - Nov 3, 2010 4:40 pm - Voted 10/10

Thanks Paulo

for mentioning my name (makes me feel like I am super important :)
I am sorry about difficulties in your life, sounds really bad to be burried alive! What were her symptoms/diagnosis? sorry, the physician part in me is inqusitive.
I guess mountains are an escape for most of us - I am married to mountains! and quiet a bit promiscuous too, like to explore different ones.
Keep climbing and posting on SP. Thank you for your contributions.


PAROFES - Nov 3, 2010 5:28 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Thanks Paulo

It's okay Liba, i figured you'd ask me. The problem was, the doctor at the hospital gave her a prescription for a certain drug which was supposed to be administered as a suppository. It was some kind of oil drug. But the nurse injected it on her bloodstream! So you can imagine, get a glass full of water and put on some oil inside the glass. It won't mix right? That was the case. The result: She had an cardiac arrest but they saved her. After a couple hours her vital signs were too low (and the hospital didn't had the proper equipment to determine her brain was dead). Actually she was on a deep coma, with very, very low vital signs. The nurse got desperate and talked to the responsible physician. They determined she was dead and took her to the morgue fridge (low temperatures can hide traces of drugs on the body) and waited for 4 hours. After that they called us. The same physician stole her file to hide the proof (that was the only thing we could prove 7 or 8 years later).
We buried her, no, we didn't notice she wasn't too cold, nobody notice she wasn't on rigor mortis state. Everybody was shoked, even my father.
At the memorial service, my father took a neckless she loved and tied her hands together with that neckless. After 3 years we had to remove her body (in Brazil that is the time for normal burial) and we were even more shocked: The neckless was at her neck, the arms beside her head, fingernails broken and the top of the coffen had several scratches, as she tried to open it. So, i think you got the picture...
No, nothing happened. We took more pictures to the law process but hey, i live in Brazil. Everything here ends in pizza. The physician never went to a prison for a single day, and never lost his license. another people say: Life's a bitch.
I'll never get over this, but you know, life goes on...
Thank you Liba by the comment and don't forget, just like others here i consider you a friend!

BTW, she had HPN (Hemoglobinúria Paroxística Noturna), i don't know the therm in english, but she could die of age, it's not a big deal...


PAROFES - Nov 3, 2010 5:37 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Thanks Paulo

Probably i have the same disease as her son but i don't care and i don't wanna know, in 28 days i'll be 33 years's too short! :-)


EricChu - Nov 4, 2010 1:38 am - Voted 10/10

Re: Thanks Paulo

Oh my God!...Oh my God!! This is just the utmost last thing on this living earth one could wish to any human being - to be buried alive!!! You have to imagine!!! And the doctor got away unscathed with this utterly horrendous error...!!!


PAROFES - Nov 4, 2010 5:44 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Thanks Paulo

And as a kid, many years ago, i used to believe that is the kind of thing you just see at the movies...


jasano2 - Nov 3, 2010 5:01 pm - Voted 10/10

Our Beloved

Todo mundo quer subir, everyone wants to climb "Clara Nunes"


PAROFES - Nov 3, 2010 5:34 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Our Beloved

Hey man! I see you've been studying hehehe
Thanks by the read and vote!


Marcsoltan - Nov 3, 2010 9:40 pm - Voted 10/10


for having the courage to open up your life and share so much with your friends at summitpost. Thank you for considering me a friend, and I'm also proud to call you a friend.
I was introduced to the mountains at the age of 16 and I'm still at it. Without the mountains, I'm not sure how I would have made it through all the difficult years in my life. We are lucky to have the mountains to fall back on.

I am so sorry to hear about your mother and her tragic end. You should be proud of yourself for controlling your anger. There is nothing that can bring her back. We just need to make sure that the rights and life of the innocent are not violated.

Be well and happy climbing,


PAROFES - Nov 4, 2010 5:37 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Bravo...

Marc my friend, my life is an open book, i have nothing to hide and even been a sad story inside the years of my life, must be told.
My father wrote 3 books about the case and never could publish them, and never got another job since the case is famous in Rio de Janeiro (not by the news, but the justice dp and most of the big companies).
I'm okay, but i'll never get over this.
Mountains are my blood now! \o/
Thank you!


EricChu - Nov 4, 2010 1:31 am - Voted 10/10

Dear Paulo,

I was so touched by your wonderful article! What a terrible and sad story, the fate your mother had to suffer!!! I pray for her soul...
Same as Marc, I admire you for your courage and the openness you showed, telling us the story of your life. I don't know if I could have done that in the same way as you did...The Germans have a saying: "Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker" - what doesn't kill me, makes me stronger...I feel a lot of this in you, Paulo!
Those were such kind words you wrote at the bottom of your article - let me tell you in return that for me as well, you are a friend!
Take care, Paulo, and till soon,


PAROFES - Nov 4, 2010 5:42 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Dear Paulo,

I have a very similar article in portuguese in my blog and, as a presentation before starting to write for the website.
As i told Marc, i don't have to hide this, i believe that story must be told, over and over again, in different languages.
We have the same saying here (there is a lot of german families here at Brazil, hey, my girlfriend has the whole family from germany! Her name is Lilianne Schmidt and yes, she speaks german! hehehe), and i think it is a perfect saying for me, you're right!
See ya my friend!


lcarreau - Nov 4, 2010 2:33 pm - Voted 10/10

Excellante ...

But, for future reference for traveling in Bolivia:

"The road maintenance service in Bolivia publishes a daily online map of any road interruptions, due to construction, flooding, rock slides, social unrest or whatever reason.."


PAROFES - Nov 4, 2010 2:35 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Excellante ...

You forgot to mention angry housewives :P

Viewing: 1-20 of 38