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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Fall 2010


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Echoes of Fabian’s words flow through me, strong.

“Be the messengers”

Months ago, Gina, Japhy, and Eva gave us this task: to carry this message forth, tell the stories that we have become a part of.

I have been home from Bolivia for three months, and I feel like I am finally understanding what an impact my time in Bolivia has had on me.

It is as though a river of stories is finally finding its way out, and I am learning how to carry these stories and speak the truths that I learned with my time as a Dragon.

I guess I still am a Dragon, because the stories and people from my travels are finding themselves into different spheres of my life, and I am realizing that the fundamental way that I live my life has shifted.

I am empowered to be responsible for myself, so that I can open myself up to the many messages that come my way every day.

One very tangible skill? Simplicity.

I only have clothes that I actually wear, I carry my water bottle and pocket knife with me everywhere, even if I am just going to class, and I don’t really use washing machines if I have time to wash my clothes by hand.

I am ready to go anywhere, at the drop of a hat. I am ready to respond to the messages that I receive, to jump on my bike with some food and water and extra layers in my backpack, and to get out into the world.

Its not a reckless fearlessness, its just a further honed self reliance that I practice every day.

If I may, I’d like to tell you a story that perfectly exemplifies why, even months after our time in Bolivia and Peru, I am definitely still a Dragon.

I go to UC Davis, and I live in a house with 13 other people, cooperatively. We cook for each other, do chores for the house, and spend Wednesday nights in house meeting, where we make decisions by consensus. It is customary to organize a house trip one weekend, in which we all do something together as a house, to bond and get away from studies just for a moment.

After considering many options of what to do (camping by a nearby lake, stay in a yurt in the woods, go to San Francisco for a night, or stay at a cabin in the snow) we finally decided it made the most sense to stay close to Davis, and to go for a day-long bike ride to a nearby small rural town called Winters.

After a quick visit to the farmers market where we stocked up on oranges (happy citrus season) and other fuel-food for the ride, we set off on bicycles for the 13-mile bike ride to winters.

Some background information on my bicycle: it was build by my friend Chris Salam, and is always in need of constant maintenance: the saddle loosens and needs to be tightened, the strap of one of the toe clips flaps around, the bottom bracket needs to be retightened, and the front brake recently broke off, which I fixed the other day at the bike collective downtown. The one major problem was mysterious creaking with each revolution of my right foot, a serious sign of some sort of misalignment.

Regardless of these issues, I decided to try my luck at this 26-mile ride to Winters and back, figuring I could deal with any issues that might arise with the bike along the way.

Sure enough, disaster struck only a few miles outside Davis: my scarf got caught in the back bracket, causing serious damage to one of the chain links, and simultaneously causing the chain to come completely off. I jumped into repair-mode instantly, turning the bike upside town to remove the scarf (an alpaca shawl) from the spokes where it was caught.

After rescuing the scarf (which survived intact, with a few loose threads and black bike grease smeared into it), I examined the rest of the damage to the bike, at which point my housemate Clinton had turned around to find me. He had some wrenches, and so in an effort to get the chain back on, we tried loosening the back bolt to retighten the back wheel, as a sort of quick fix.

But alas! He did not have the right size of wrench, and so we tried to move the bolt using his leatherman, which did not work very well and we stripped the bolt as we tried to turn it.

I decided to try and keep going, to see if the chain would hold up.

“Are you sure?” asked Jordan “We could just go back”

“Lets just go a little bit further” I said, knowing that the rest of the group was ahead, waiting for me.

After a quarter of a mile, disaster again! As I put my foot into the right position on the pedal, the chain snapped off again in a disheartening “chunk!”

So we pulled over again, as cars whizzed by, swerving out of the way.

“I think we should go back” Jordan said again

As I examined the damage, I discovered the source of the problem: one of the chain links was loose, and needed to be tightened.

“All we need is a chain tool” I said.

Luckily, my housemate Kitty Bolte had one. She was about half a mile ahead, so Jordan biked toward her to tell her of the problem. She came to find Clinton and I trying to jerry-rig some sort of bicycle-towing system with a U-lock and a chain, so that he could pull me forward.

“I heard you are in need of a chain tool” Kitty said as she found us.

After about 5 minutes of fixin g the chain link that was loose, I was back on the bike, feeling the healthy tension that had been restored to every revolution of the pedals.

We continued the journey, and arrived in Winters 10 miles later, and were rewarded by some of the most delicious tacos from a taco truck I have ever eaten.

The sign said “6 por cinco” and the choices of meat included lengua, bruche (cheek meat, I think) and “adovada”.

Needless to say, those tacos were hella good.

We made it back home to Pierce Coop in Davis, and my bike had never felt in better shape.

Let the Dragons all over the world continue to struggle and maneuver our way through this crazy damn world, learning all we can along the way.

Bring on the struggle, I'm ready.

Peace

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Fall 2010

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3 Months Later, and the dragon in me is strong

Anna Ruth Crittenden,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Fall 2010

Description

Echoes of Fabian’s words flow through me, strong. “Be the messengers” Months ago, Gina, Japhy, and Eva gave us this task: to carry this message forth, tell the stories that we have become a part of. I have been home from Bolivia for three months, and I feel like I am finally understanding what an […]

Posted On

03/1/11

Author

Anna Ruth Crittenden

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I was looking through my old e-mails today when I came across a yak post that I had written, sent to myself, but never posted. So here it is, written on the last days of my time in Bolivia. I am posting it now, two days before leaving for Bolivia again on my own.

How does one sum on three months of living? I can map the places I´ve
been, name the strangers we´ve encountered and quite possibly list the
new foods I´ve eaten. But uncountable and indistinct are the thoughts
I´ve had and the changes-of-mind I´ve experienced. I can´t feel myself
changing, but looking back on our three months of learning, I know
I´ve changed. My way of thinking has changed.


That is what has been most meaningful—not the crazy stories of times
in the Amazon or fishing with my homestay family—and that is what is
most difficult to explain. My new thoughts and new experiences are an
indivisible part of me. I cannot separate them from who I was before
this trip, nor will they stay apart from the person I will continue to
become. Have I changed and matured because of the people in my group,
the nature of Bolivia, the times I´ve spent secluded in the
wilderness, or simply because this is the first time I´ve spent away
from home.


This trip has been a wake-up call in many ways. A wake up call to the
way I want to live my life and how I want to stay true to my values.
A wake up call to what life can be, and to what people have. A wake up
call to the true meaning of education.


I´m going to miss the days of waking up between Larisa and Adeline in
Q´eros, a hand-made Peruvian hat keeping my head warm. I´m going to
miss waking up to Austin jumping on me on the couch in Sorata. I´m
going to miss waking up to cook breakfast at 6 in the morning with
Anna Ruth in a breathtaking valley under a glacial mountain. But most
of all, I´m going to miss waking up to a day that will undoubtedly be
filled with people that inspire me just by living their lives.

I love Bolivia. I love the lighting pace of social change in El Alto
and the slow-pace of viviendo and charlando in Sorata. I love the group of people I've spent my time with in the past three months and the people we've met along the way.

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Fall 2010

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Waking Up

Alyssa Rooks,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Fall 2010

Description

I was looking through my old e-mails today when I came across a yak post that I had written, sent to myself, but never posted. So here it is, written on the last days of my time in Bolivia. I am posting it now, two days before leaving for Bolivia again on my own. How […]

Posted On

02/28/11

Author

Alyssa Rooks