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Andes and Amazon Semester, Fall 2012


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We have just said our final dragons goodbye to our students and friends Nina, Josh, Mattias, Jordyn, Kate, Ryan, Mac, Mike, Isaac, Emily, Alex, and Andrew. We saw everyone off on their flight to Miami this morning and we are already missing their cheer. Thank you for a very special three months with your very special children.

We hope that this trip has inspired more travel and more learning.

Best of luck to all!

Regina, Alan, and Kyle

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Andes and Amazon Semester, Fall 2012

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Hasta La Vista Dragones

Los Instructores,Andes and Amazon Semester, Fall 2012

Description

We have just said our final dragons goodbye to our students and friends Nina, Josh, Mattias, Jordyn, Kate, Ryan, Mac, Mike, Isaac, Emily, Alex, and Andrew. We saw everyone off on their flight to Miami this morning and we are already missing their cheer. Thank you for a very special three months with your very […]

Posted On

12/8/12

Author

Los Instructores

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Coca has a long and rich history in South America. Coca use is closely associated with the Andean cultures of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru and northwestern Argentina. Archaeologists and anthropologists believe that people were communally chewing coca 8000 years ago and coca leaves have been found in 3000 year old mummies. During the Incan rule mummies were commonly found with coca leaves in bags made of precious metals and pottery depicting men with the characteristic bulging cheek. The Incas believed coca had a divine origin and only upper class people were allowed to use it. With the Decline of the Incan Empire the use of coca spread throughout the Andes. After the Spaniards conquered Andean regions they recognized coca was crucial to the well being of the native people but told missionaries to end its religious uses. It is said the Spanish encouraged the use of coca because it increased the labor capability and reduced starvation in the natives. In the mid 1800’s coca became popular in Europe and America, after Dr. Paolo Mantegazza published a paper raving about its positive health effects. A wide variety of products sold as medicines, including the first coca-cola, quickly followed. These products were later outlawed as people recognized their addictive properties. In 1859 a ground breaking blow struck the coca culture changing it forever; “Albert Niemannof the University of Göttingen became the first person to isolate the chief alkaloid of coca, which he named Cocaine.”

Since the discovery of cocaine, laws regarding the sale and export of coca have became increasingly harsh. Outside of Andean region, where traditional uses of coca are legal, most countries' laws make no distinction between the coca leaf and any other substance containing cocaine, so the possession of coca leaf is prohibited. This is because of the 1961 the Single Convention, listed the coca leaf as a Schedule 1 drug together with cocaine and heroin. The Single Convention came to this decision based on a “scientific” study conducted in1949. The results of the study are as follows; “It inhibits the sensation of hunger and thus maintains, by a vicious circle, a constant state of malnutrition. It induces in the individual undesirable changes of an intellectual and moral character. This is especially clear in exceptional cases, and it is discussed how far this is general. It certainly hinders the chewer’s chances of obtaining a higher social standard; It reduces the economic yield of productive work, and therefore maintains a low economic standard of life.” This study was heavily criticized for a wide variety of reasons, including the team’s professional qualifications, parallel interests, racist connotations, methodology, and general arbitrariness. Nonetheless it is the only basis for the ruling against the coca leaf. One exception to the ruling of the Single Convention was that if the cocaine alkaloid was removed it was no longer considered coca leaves and not covered by the convention. This directly benefits the Coca-Cola company. In the United States, a plant in New Jearsy has a rare license to legally import coca leaf. The company manufactures pure cocaine for medical use and also produces a cocaine-free extract of the coca leaf, which is used as a flavoring ingredient in Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola is the largest legal importer of coca and received 204 tons of coca leaf in 1996.

Despite the ruling of Single Convention coca has a wide variety of health benefits. Coca leaves when chewed or made into tea are rich in nutrients including calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, protein, fiber and vitamins A, B1, B2, C, and E. Per gram coca contains more protein than mean and more calcium than milk. It is now considered to be one of the most nourishing plants on earth. It also acts as a stimulant helping to improve attention and cognition. Traditionally healers used coca for just about anything and many uses have been supported by science. Coca leaf helps in the treatment of gastro-intestinal ailments, aids digestion, and acts against fatigue, depression and altitude sickness. Healers used it as a remedy for asthma, bleeding, stomach problems and as an anesthetic and analgesic agent.

More recently, there has been a movement starting inBolivia, Peru, andVenezuelato promote and expand legal markets for the crop. The presidents of these three countries have personally identified with this movement. Evo Morales , who rose to power as the head of the coca growers union, has coined the term "la coca no es cocaine”. There is a popular demand to remove the coca leaf from the list of Schedule 1 drugs and an increasing amount of scientific research as support. The issue is gaining international recognition and change might be seen before too long.

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Andes and Amazon Semester, Fall 2012

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Coca

Josh Phelps,Andes and Amazon Semester, Fall 2012

Description

Coca has a long and rich history in South America. Coca use is closely associated with the Andean cultures of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru and northwestern Argentina. Archaeologists and anthropologists believe that people were communally chewing coca 8000 years ago and coca leaves have been found in 3000 year old mummies. During the Incan […]

Posted On

12/7/12

Author

Josh Phelps

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    [post_content] => Although oxygen in the Cordilleras is severely lacking (especially coming from an elevation of 300 meters in the Amazon basin) we have managed to put in two and a half days of hard trekking through this spectacular mountain range. We have had a wonderful time in the wilderness, but because of lightning and other weather problems yesterday afternoon, we find ourselves in La Paz once again. We hope to get back on trail later today and make our way to Alkamari, our final destination. The past 24 hours have been a real fiasco but everyone is perfectly safe and we have to remind ourselves that these kinds of experiences make great stories later on!  
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Andes and Amazon Semester, Fall 2012

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expedition update

Kate Bathurst,Andes and Amazon Semester, Fall 2012

Description

Although oxygen in the Cordilleras is severely lacking (especially coming from an elevation of 300 meters in the Amazon basin) we have managed to put in two and a half days of hard trekking through this spectacular mountain range. We have had a wonderful time in the wilderness, but because of lightning and other weather […]

Posted On

12/1/12

Author

Kate Bathurst

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It is hard to believe that 3 months have passed since embarking on this incredible adventure in the Himalayas! It won’t be long and students will be boarding a plane back home.

Below is a reminder of the return group flight information for eagerly awaiting families:

Returning Flight:

December 6th, 2012

Dragon Air KA 191

Depart: Kathmandu (KTM) 11:30pm

Arrive: Hong Kong (HKG) 6:00am (Dec 7th)

December 7th, 2012

Cathay Pacific CX 882

Depart: Hong Kong (HKG) 4:35pm

Arrive: Los Angeles (LAX) 1:05pm

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Andes and Amazon Semester, Fall 2012

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Return Flight Information

Dragons Admin,Andes and Amazon Semester, Fall 2012

Description

It is hard to believe that 3 months have passed since embarking on this incredible adventure in the Himalayas! It won’t be long and students will be boarding a plane back home. Below is a reminder of the return group flight information for eagerly awaiting families: Returning Flight: December 6th, 2012 Dragon Air KA 191 […]

Posted On

11/29/12

Author

Dragons Admin

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    [post_content] => Somehow or other we all survived the bugs and heat of the amazon. I live in a pretty humid place but nothing could have prepared me for a week of such humid heat and bugs like the one we had. Despite my best efforts I ended up with at least 200 bug bites on my legs and arms. But through it all we had a lot of fun and got to do some pretty incredible things. One of my favorite moments from our amazon trip was definately our stop for lunch on the Beni the first day of our boat trip. After waking up in the pouring rain, the sun finally came out around lunch. We stopped on a little rocky beach and fished and hung out while Rueben and his staff cooked our lunch. After a bit of time Josh found a giant muddy area at the edge of the river. In no time at all we all were rolling around and throwing mud at eachother. We had army crawl races and tried to slide in the mud. we gave eachother muddy hairdoos and wrestled until our food was ready. It was exactly the kind of ridiculous fun we needed after a rainy morning.
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Andes and Amazon Semester, Fall 2012

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Mud sliding on the beni

Jordyn Whitman,Andes and Amazon Semester, Fall 2012

Description

Somehow or other we all survived the bugs and heat of the amazon. I live in a pretty humid place but nothing could have prepared me for a week of such humid heat and bugs like the one we had. Despite my best efforts I ended up with at least 200 bug bites on my […]

Posted On

11/26/12

Author

Jordyn Whitman

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After almost a full day on a rickety bus with positively zero leg room, I think I can speak for all of us when I say we are elated to be back in La Paz, even though the altitude will take some adjusting to once again. The amazon rain forest was supremely hot and buggy and we all sweated profusely every minute of every day, but there was no denying the incredible, lush beauty of the jungle. Unfortunately we didnt spot any jaguars, although Mac kept a close lookout, but we got to see scarlet macaws sailing through the sky along the river cliffs. We got to jump off cliffs into a pristine waterfall, and a few of us got really, REALLY dirty by way of mudfighting on the banks of the Beni river. Im glad to be out of the sticky, buggy rain forest, but we had a really good time suffering together and appreciating the beauty of the unbelievable place that we were in.

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Andes and Amazon Semester, Fall 2012

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amazon rainforest and 22 hours in a bus

Kate Bathurst,Andes and Amazon Semester, Fall 2012

Description

After almost a full day on a rickety bus with positively zero leg room, I think I can speak for all of us when I say we are elated to be back in La Paz, even though the altitude will take some adjusting to once again. The amazon rain forest was supremely hot and buggy […]

Posted On

11/25/12

Author

Kate Bathurst

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When it comes to travelling long distances in Bolivia things can get interesting very quickly. We arrived in Rurrenabaque expecting to fly out Friday afternoon, but we were seriously mistaken. Planes can only take off and land when the runways are dry and considering we were in the middle of the rainforest this proved to be very difficult. First our flight was delayed about 2 hours, then cancelled, so it was going to be Saturday. When Saturday rolled around our flight was cancelled yet again and we were informed that no flights would leave until Monday. At this point we were losing our expedition time and were ready to get back to the Andes. So we made the executive decision to get on a bus that could take anywhere from 18 to 24 hours. The roads were basically class 4 so we bumped around in the back of this bus for 19 hours and 45 mins of moving time, and 21 hours total. Nina and I slept in the isle while everyone else tried to find a somewhat comfortable position to sleep in.

Overall it was a good experience for all of us no matter how uncomfortable because now a bus ride of any shorter length will seem like nothing.

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Andes and Amazon Semester, Fall 2012

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Travel in Bolivia

Emily Muller,Andes and Amazon Semester, Fall 2012

Description

When it comes to travelling long distances in Bolivia things can get interesting very quickly. We arrived in Rurrenabaque expecting to fly out Friday afternoon, but we were seriously mistaken. Planes can only take off and land when the runways are dry and considering we were in the middle of the rainforest this proved to […]

Posted On

11/25/12

Author

Emily Muller

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In today's politics, land conservation and development are widely discussed topics for Bolivia. The outcomes of these debates will have huge consequences for the country in upcoming years and unfortunately the two goals are not mutually exclusive. EvoMorales, Bolivia`s current president and first indigenous president, rose to power as the head of the Coca farmers union on a platform of economic development for Bolivia as well as protecting the rights of indigenous lands and peoples. The construction of theTIPNIShighway (the Spanish acronym for the Isiboro Sécure National Park and IndigenousTerritory) has become a central debate of his presidency and is extremely controversial and contradictory in theory and even more so in practice.

There is no question that Bolivia is in serious need of development especially in terms of transportation. For example, I now sit in a lowland touristy town ofRurrenabaque.A return trip toLa Pazoften takes over 20 hours of driving the majority of which is on a slow speed dirt road in places too narrow for two vehicles to pass. And this is a major interstate road which has been under construction for the last 20 years. The alternative isjust a 30 minute flight on a small plane. However as we found out flights are very infrequent but that is another story.

The Amazon jungle covers a large part of Bolivia´s northern region where roads are virtually non-existent. TheTIPNIShighway, which is planned to cut directly through thecenterof the National Park, will provide the first direct link between the lowlandBenidepartment and theChochabambadepartment as well as opening up a trade route with Brazil.The highway has been discussed for decades buta recent$332 million loan from Brazil’s National Bank for Economic and Social Development provided the funding for the project to begin on Aug. 15, 2011. All in all the expected cost of the 300 km highway is $415 million. In June 2011, President Evo Morales inaugurated the project with a ceremony. However, neither a final design nor environmental approval had been released for the middle section running through indigenous lands which is required by the Bolivian Constitution that the Morales adminstration newly reformed. A mass opposition from environmentalists and a protesting march from indigenous residents has led to a public conflict about the highway.

The government believes that the road will boost Bolivia’s national development by connecting agricultural and commercial areas as well as improving public services for inhabitants of thepark. ButTIPNISresidents thought otherwise. They feared the road would bring increased drug trafficking, deforestation and damage to wildlife. In mid-August more than 1000 people from theTIPNISarea set off to defend their way oflife marching in protest fromBeniall the way to LaPaz. Along the way they were met by police opposition and hundreds of people were detained. However the march continued now backed by overwhelming public support and when the marched arrived in LaPaz, tens of thousands of people filled the streets to greet the weary marchistas like heroes. This was the second major indigenous march, the first being in 1990 winning rights for indigenous people, and now they demanded their rights be respected. Currently the political debate has forced construction to be halted while the Morales administration scrambles to find consent from the local people andtriesto fend off assaults from local and international media.

The environmental and social issues tied with the construction of the highway are astronomical. “A study of the project by the Program for Strategic Investigation in Bolivia, concluded 'Empirical evidence has shown that highways are motors for deforestation" The study projected that the road would markedly accelerate deforestation in the park, leaving up to 64% ofTIPNISdeforested by 2030.' Perhaps surprising, a technical report submitted by the Bolivian Highway Administration established “that the direct deforestation caused by the road itself would only be 0.03%.”

Bolivia is split as a country between its need for development and support for native livelihoods and in the case of the TIPNIS highway it is clearly one or the other.

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Andes and Amazon Semester, Fall 2012, Survey of Development Issues

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Development vs Preservation

josh phelps,Andes and Amazon Semester, Fall 2012, Survey of Development Issues

Description

In today’s politics, land conservation and development are widely discussed topics for Bolivia. The outcomes of these debates will have huge consequences for the country in upcoming years and unfortunately the two goals are not mutually exclusive. EvoMorales, Bolivia`s current president and first indigenous president, rose to power as the head of the Coca farmers […]

Posted On

11/25/12

Author

josh phelps

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The Amazon is hot and humid and I often found my thoughts drifting to why WHY would anyone come here (Mom, I´m looking at you!). We spent the last fews days in a remote village right on the Rio Beni called Asuncion. We ate in groups of four with local families and did some service work. I helped cut down a coconut tree with the help of Mike, our instructor Alan, and a couple machetes. The heat and the bugs ( I believe Jordyn counted over 200 bug bites on her legs) were definitely negatives but the positives were undeniable. Our semester has never been in such a hot and humid climate; we were used to the cold high elevation of La Paz, or the temperate Cochabamba. For the first time we got to test ourselves in the other weather extreme: heat. We were also in just a gorgeous place- Asuncion looked like a little paradise with these tall houses with grass roofs. I felt like I was in a different continent, let alone country, during our stay there. Now in Rurrenabaque hoping to get out tomorrow morning, if the weather holds!

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Andes and Amazon Semester, Fall 2012

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Rurre

Nina Murray,Andes and Amazon Semester, Fall 2012

Description

The Amazon is hot and humid and I often found my thoughts drifting to why WHY would anyone come here (Mom, I´m looking at you!). We spent the last fews days in a remote village right on the Rio Beni called Asuncion. We ate in groups of four with local families and did some service […]

Posted On

11/23/12

Author

Nina Murray

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Although we´re now waiting for an airplane that cannot take off in or after rain, yet flys from the rainforest, our last few weeks in the lowlands of Bolivia have been some of my favorite of the trip. Even though we only saw a small part of this area that covers over a fifth of the continent, it was pretty amazing to see how much this area of latin america and Bolivia differs from the Andes and the altiplano, both in culture and landscape. While the altiplano is open, with very little in the way of vegetation, the lowlands are incredibly dense and crawling with bugs, much to our pleasure, although I can now honestly say I´ve had a tarantuala the size of my hand sitting above the kitchen table while I ate dinner. I am excited to now be returning back to the mountains again though, assuming this plane ever takes off.

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Andes and Amazon Semester, Fall 2012

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Jaguar

Michael Lackey,Andes and Amazon Semester, Fall 2012

Description

Although we´re now waiting for an airplane that cannot take off in or after rain, yet flys from the rainforest, our last few weeks in the lowlands of Bolivia have been some of my favorite of the trip. Even though we only saw a small part of this area that covers over a fifth of […]

Posted On

11/23/12

Author

Michael Lackey

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