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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013


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I heard a talk about climate change and water on the radio last night.  Initially it caught my attention because the speaker is a professor where I work.  But then he talked about Bolivia's water supply and how it comes from glaciers that are receding with climate change.  And then I saw the other post about water wars in Cochabamba so I thought I'd share the link:

 

http://www.worldaffairs.org/audio-video/2013/climate-change.html#.UUi3At38aQw.email

 

I know all the students are having a great adventure but I'm very much enjoying following it all on the Yak Yak board and in emails from my son.  It's giving me a new perspective on things in the news.

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Climate change and water in Bolivia and beyond

Ramona Martinez,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

I heard a talk about climate change and water on the radio last night.  Initially it caught my attention because the speaker is a professor where I work.  But then he talked about Bolivia’s water supply and how it comes from glaciers that are receding with climate change.  And then I saw the other post […]

Posted On

03/19/13

Author

Ramona Martinez

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We have just got back to our base in Tiquipaya after a memorable weekend exploring the many wonders of Torotoro national park. The park lies around six bone-shaking hours by bus to the south-east of Cochabamba and is home to an array of impressive geological features. On Saturday we climbed down in to a series of deep caves, crawling around ancient stalactites and stalagmites and squeezing through tight gaps and passages in to spacious caverns carved-out over the years by underground rivers.  At one point we turned off all our headlights and just let the darkness envelope us!

 

On Sunday we opted to stay above ground. We walked across a high plain before arriving at a stunning 400-meter deep canyon. We climbed down a series of steep paths and then scrambled over giant boulders at the bottom of the gorge to reach a beautiful swimming pool complete with an idyllic waterfall which we stood under to cool off.  

 

Perhaps the strangest and most impressive sight of all was that of fossilized dinosaur footprints over 80 million years old. Mario our knowledgeable local guide explained how it was possible to interpret the footprints so as to discern not just which species made them but also what the creatures were doing right at the time. One set of prints even showed a dinosaur beginning to tiptoe as (the theory goes) it entered to in to deeper water before it finally kicked-off and began to swim.  Another set of prints revealed the route taken by a sprinting ‘giant chicken’!

 

It was striking just how clear the prints were and how much detail they still held. It was hard to believe that the tracks were made so long ago and the great beasts had not passed through where we stood just a few days before.  The experience reminded me of a passage from a book I recently read:

 

“Geology makes explicit challenges to our understanding of time. It giddies the sense of here-and-now… Contemplating the immensities of deep time, you face, in a way that is both exquisite and horrifying, the total collapse of your present, compacted to nothingness by the pressures of pasts and futures too extensive to envisage… Yet there is something curiously exhilarating about the contemplation of deep time. True, you learn yourself to be a blip in the larger projects of the universe. But you are also awarded with the realization that you do exist- as unlikely as it may seem, you do exist.” Robert Macfarlane, Mountains of the Mind, 2004.  

 

But it wasn’t all action-packed caving, canyoning and dinosaur chasing. We also managed to vastly exceed the recommended daily intake of egg sandwiches at the local market (!) and become acquainted with some very friendly local dogs that insisted on following us everywhere- even down in to the canyon where we had to carry them over some of the more tricky sections!  

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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In the footsteps of dinosaurs

Ben Castle ,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

We have just got back to our base in Tiquipaya after a memorable weekend exploring the many wonders of Torotoro national park. The park lies around six bone-shaking hours by bus to the south-east of Cochabamba and is home to an array of impressive geological features. On Saturday we climbed down in to a series […]

Posted On

03/19/13

Author

Ben Castle

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It took me several hours to read this article. Why? because reading about Jeffery Sach´s self centered actions made me so irate. In the 1980´s Jeffrey Sachs completely turned the Bolivian economy on its head: terminating thousands of jobs and triggering a massive migration to Coca farms in the Yungas. He assumed that because he knew strategies that worked in the Great Depression, he could fix the economy of a completely different country,  and eliminate inflation in two days. This thought was as nieve as nieve gets and Bolivia paid for his nievety dearly. Massive strikes were organized and when the workers would not agree to slavish wages, they were kidnapped and taken to the Amazon to be tortured by bugs until they gave in and agreed to the president´s demands.  Mass amounts of people were encouraged by the government to work at Coca farms in the Yungas. Aubsequently, the USA launched the war on drugs and set their sights on destroying all the coca in South America. President Banzer followed every word Sachs said- the results were drastic human rights violations: Families were living in the street when parents lost their jobs, starving children became commonplace. The president considered this to be a neccesary occurance for the economy to get back on track. Nevermind that his people were suffering, all that mattered was that the Bolivian economy was revived.

 The economy did eventually recover and Sachs went home.

 

Sach´s set up Bolivia for future dictators as well as put in place a system that required human rights violations in order to function properly. He returned home to accolades for his great work and eventually wrote a book.He became internationally known as an economist and went on to " fix" other countries´economies. There was never any mention of the damages his intervention caused and he made no effort to acknowledge them.

I am ashamed of the United States´ role in the 1980´s. I do not know what to do with this knowledge that I have gained. It is hard to learn  about the damage that my country has done while having no way to amend it. I think that this trip is all about learning the harsh reality that we are shielded from in the State. Knowledge is power, right?

 

Abrazos,

Lexi 

 

 

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Response to The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein

Lexi Nowak,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

It took me several hours to read this article. Why? because reading about Jeffery Sach´s self centered actions made me so irate. In the 1980´s Jeffrey Sachs completely turned the Bolivian economy on its head: terminating thousands of jobs and triggering a massive migration to Coca farms in the Yungas. He assumed that because he […]

Posted On

03/18/13

Author

Lexi Nowak

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I sat in front of my host families house watching another beautiful sunset turn the sky brilliant shades of orange, pink, blue, and purple, feeling the peace and quiet of night fall over the small town of Tortorquahua, Bolivia where I have been living for the past two weeks.

 

 At around six thirty, Dona Justina , my host mom came rushing out of the front gate to tell me we were going to be late for a very important meeting. She took me by the hand, pulled me up off the front stoop and we briskly started walking westward down the dark dirt road. I kept asking Justina where we were going and who we were going to meet,  but all she would answer was that it was very important and we must walk even faster to make it there on time. I stumbled down the dark, unlit road trying to keep up with the swift and graceful steps of my host mom. Suddenly out of the darkness, stadium size lights appeared illuminating the road and the many plots of land surrounding the biggest building in Tortorquahua and the many surrounding towns. "There", said Justina as she pointed towards the lights, "That´s where we are going". As my eyes adjusted to the lights I  was able to read the sign on the lit up factory that was our destination for the evening, "PaPa". As we approached the potato chip factory, towering awkwardly above the fields of corn and alfalfa, Dona Justina called to a group of dark figures she recognized as her friends, " were here! "

Our group of five was met at the entrance by the manager of the potato chip factory, a bald man with gold rings on nearly every finger, and we were ushered into the cafeteria of the factory. The five of us sat on one side of the lunchroom table and the manager sat across from us. After very brief introductions the meeting was in full swing as the residents of Tortorquahua and the factory manager discussed the amount of water the factory uses every day to run the factory. The factory had recently revealed plans to build more water pipelines to increase production efficiency and this concerned the residents who felt that the factory was already using too much of the precious resource.

They discussed contracts, payments, and most importantly the  vital importance of water to all of the surrounding families who depended on the finite resource to water their fields, and produce their livelihood. The meeting went on for nearly two hours as the residents and factory managers presented their cases. It ended without a solution but with an agreement to meet again the following week to continue discussing the future of water use in their small town.

Having just finished reading the Democracy Center´s article on the Cochabamba Water Wars of 2000, I felt at first that the timing of this meeting seemed to be quite serendipitous in my life. I then realized that it was not a coincidence to be surrounded by the topic of water rights. It is an everyday reality for so many people in this country.

 

In April 2000,thousands of citizens of Cochabamba took to the streets of their city to protest the U.S. corporation Bechtel that controlled the city water systems and  a new law that threatened to hand over rural water systems to the California giant. With Bechtel in control of the city´s water, many people in Cochabamba could not afford to pay the prices the transnational corporation demanded for clean drinking water. The poorest parts of the city did not have the pipelines to access clean drinking water in their homes. It was a revolutionary moment in Bolivian history when the farmers, factory workers, environmentalists, and others in the massive coalition of protesters drove Bechtel out of Cochabamba and retook control of their water.

The struggle has not ended since republicizing the  water systems. Many people still do not have clean drinking water and corruption is still alive and well in SEMPA, the public company now in control of the city´s water systems.

 Attending that meeting with my host mom at the potato chip factory was a serious reality check.The world wide depletion of fresh water is a visceral reality in Bolivia. For Dona Justina and her neighbors and for thousands and thousands of people in Bolivia having water is not a given, it is a resource they must watch carefully and continue to fight to protect.
That night after the meeting I offered to wash the dishes from dinner. As I stood at the sink rinsing out a bowl, Dona Justina put her hand on my shoulder and asked me, " Does your program teach you how water is more expensive than gas?"

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Water Wars

Margot Solomon,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

I sat in front of my host families house watching another beautiful sunset turn the sky brilliant shades of orange, pink, blue, and purple, feeling the peace and quiet of night fall over the small town of Tortorquahua, Bolivia where I have been living for the past two weeks.    At around six thirty, Dona […]

Posted On

03/18/13

Author

Margot Solomon

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     Well, I'm back with another post! 

 

After having visited the mining town of Potosi, and learning about how important minning was, we headed to uyuni Salar for a very American but still awesome tour of Salt flats, perspective photo land, and the sour salt hotel. Finishing up there, we took a  very long, overnight, hot, miserably uncomfortable bus ride to one of the biggest towns in Bolivia, Cochabamba!, which is what I've been most excited for.

 

Ever since day one in Cochabamba I've been thinking about how different each town is that we've gone to, and thought about all of their pro's and con's. Cochabamba so far has mainly a lot of pros, but only a few cons. Pros are that it's an amazing, developing city, it has one of the biggest out door markets in the world,we all have great homestay families that have been taking good care of us, and an incredible history. The cons, I would have to say are all the dogs wondering the streets barking or following you whever you go, and the bad drivers.

 

We've done quite a bit of things these past few weeks, but I really just wanted to highlight our Toro Toro time that we just had. I realized I had been taking big cities to an advantage, because the second we got their I noticed how small of a town it really was. I think it's fair that we can all say we take advantage of big towns at least once, can't we? Eitherway, I really enjoyed it. Imagining what it must be like to live somewhere like that, where you see the same people walking by you every day, or how you only have just one or two choices of resteraunts, and so on. It was definitely a lot of fun getting to eat an egg and tomatoe sandwhich at least three times, but what was even better was the hiking we did up in the mountain.

 

Trekking, and looking around me I realized that we're all very fortunate to be here. Looking at the dinosaur foot prints, and learning about the layered rocks with lava, I still thought to myself, how lucky we are to be taught this on top of a mountain, in Bolivia, while the rest of our friends are most likely sitting in a classroom staring at a text book or listening to a long boring lexture, in a tradtional setting. I've been really enjoying the alternative more hands on learning we've been doing. I feel like I'm getting a good handle on learning about Bolivia's past, and also learning about development and how it's a much more complex topic then people originally think.

 

Sitting outside the cave that we had just finished crawling throw tiny spaces, kneeling down, or climbing up, all of us did a silent activity for twenty minutes. I thought about how most of us are gap year students, or semester students, wanting to travel to a place like Bolivia because we don't just want to see it, we want to learn about it, live it, and breath it. Every so often we have a powerpoint or a lesson on a certain subject or topic. One subject that really interests me is the "Shock Doctrine".

 

Last night I read the section about the idea that Jeffrey Sachs had about  literally shocking Bolivias economy. Before reading that I never knew how big Bolivia's debt was, or many problems there were. I also never knew that Sachs actually curbed the hyperinflation with his financial program that he formulated. I thought that it was incredible with how he did that. However, I guess the other side of the coin in this situation is, seeing how all of this was backroom, and happened around the same time as the presidential elections, what I didn't understand was; was that part of the reason why people started riots and strikes? I just didn't get why all of that was done behind closed doors. I know there are probably those who really didn't agree with or like Sach's approach, but another thought on my mind is, what if he never did it? Also, if there was something major like that that happened in the US behind closed doors, how do we think all of us would react? 

 

Anyway, those are my closing thoughts, we've got a busy week ahead!

 

Hasta Luego! 

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Excellente part II

Christian Frelinghuysen,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

     Well, I’m back with another post!    After having visited the mining town of Potosi, and learning about how important minning was, we headed to uyuni Salar for a very American but still awesome tour of Salt flats, perspective photo land, and the sour salt hotel. Finishing up there, we took a  very […]

Posted On

03/18/13

Author

Christian Frelinghuysen

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After a week of homestay, I can now say that I know the meaning of human connection. I came into this week having seen pictures of Mysterious  Andean women in velvet Poleras ( skirts), bouler hats, and flowery sweaters. I learned about traditional food and read the Bolivian news. What I discovereed upon entering my new home was the real people behind the pictures. My host mom, DoÑa Leticia is a tiny, fiery woman with a sweet personality and the cutest smile I have ever  seen. She teaches weaving.Her long braids are pinned together and she wears beautiful velvet skirts. Her husband, Don Alfredo  is a small man who is so affectionate with his family. He is teaching me Aymara. I have three host siblings: Juan= 13 ?, Pati =16, and Anita =8. We eat  Api, bread, jam and margerine together at Desayuno ( breakfast)  and my Bolivian mother chides me to eat more, as if she is my birth mother. Anita and Pati call me their sister and we do our homework together. DoÑa Leticia makes sure I go to bed at around  10:00 each night, usually. Even though we are from completely differently cultures and speak different languages ( Spanish, Aymara, and English) , I feel as if I am a member of their family. My family is not a postcard sent back to the states, they are real people and I did not expect that on the first day when I moved in. I hesitate to admit that fact, for fear of sounding presumptuous or nieve. But, as my mother always told me, honesty is the best policy.  We are all people, regardless of our religions, cultural traditions, and food preferences. That is so clear to me after one week of homestays in Tiquipaya. I am so glad to be here and I am excited to experience Toro Toro on our trek this weekend. Speaking of my family, I have to go home for cena now. 

 Much Love, 

Lexi

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Homestay Realizations

Lexi Nowak,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

After a week of homestay, I can now say that I know the meaning of human connection. I came into this week having seen pictures of Mysterious  Andean women in velvet Poleras ( skirts), bouler hats, and flowery sweaters. I learned about traditional food and read the Bolivian news. What I discovereed upon entering my […]

Posted On

03/14/13

Author

Lexi Nowak

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The kitchen in Dona Justina´s, my host mother´s, house, is where we spend most of our time together cooking, eating, and trying to talk to each other . For the first few days,the small and simple room with it´s concrete floors and paint chipped walls was filled with nervous laughter, sighs of frustration, and many awkward silences as I tried to understand my host mom as she spoke slower and more simply than she would to a small child, and she tried to piece together the meaning behind my broken spanish. The first days at my homestay in the rural village of Tortorquahua, were disheartening and uncomfortable to say the least. Each night I went to sleep wondering whether we would be talking at each other in a mess of bumbling confusion for the whole month.
 At dusk one evening after a long day of spanish classes and afternoon lectures and activities, I wandered timidly into the kitchen where Dona Justina was busy preparing dinner for the two of us. She pointed to a basket of  beans on the floor which I had come to understand as her way of asking me to peel the beans. I sat down on the wooden stool close to the floor and began peeling. Discouraged from our previous inability to communicate, I was ready to resign to another evening thick with awkward silence when I suddenly remebered my spanish lesson earler that day. " Como se llaman estos en espanol?" "What do you call these in spanish?", I asked pointing to the beans I was peeling. "Frijoles", she replied with a buzz of curiosity and excitement at my ability to ask her a fully coherent question.
She picked up the basket overflowing with fresh vegetables and began pointing to carrots, tomatos, onions, and cucmbers, teaching me the word for each one. Each time I pronounced the word correctly, Dona Justina would applaud and the room would fill with genuine laughter and the excitment of connecting with each other  over the simplest of moments.
 That small moment of connection exposed a glimmer of hope that it would not be a silent month. The awkwardness of not speaking the same language dissolved in that moment and somehow we began to understand one another. Our conversation blossomed from repeating the names of vegetables into discussing her history as an incredible agriculturist, the plot of land behind her house where she produces an incredible variety of vegeables and fruits, and how much her land means to her. She took my hand and pulled me outside to show me her ripe fig tree. We picked a few and enjoyed the sweet, juicy fruit as the last bits of pink light dissapeared with the setting sun.
Since that night, Mama Justina and I have stayed up late many nights sitting around the kitchen table sharing our dreams,our fears, and most of all our laughter.
When my beloved grandfather passed away last week she was there to wipe my tears and hold me in her arms.
I am so grateful to have met Dona Justina and will always remember her strength, patience, and  kindness.
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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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The Spoken Word

Margot Solomon,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

The kitchen in Dona Justina´s, my host mother´s, house, is where we spend most of our time together cooking, eating, and trying to talk to each other . For the first few days,the small and simple room with it´s concrete floors and paint chipped walls was filled with nervous laughter, sighs of frustration, and many […]

Posted On

03/14/13

Author

Margot Solomon

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A Thorough Report on the Status of Homestay: Week 1

 

We´re just over a week into our homestays here in Tiquipaya, and so far so good. I´m living with an Aymara family called the Carlotas who live about a twenty minute walk north of the program house in a neighborhood called Oruro. The Carlotas, a husband and wife who I guess are in their late thirties or early forties, have two daughters and a son; Jessica, Raul, and Laticia; who are 7, 13, and 16, respectively. There is also a big friendly dog named Canai (sp?) who is always the first to greet me when I come home. Here is a rundown of a typical day in my homestay:

 

Wake up a little after 6

Breakfast (bread with either tea or coffee) with my siblings while my host-mom cooks lunch

Walk to the program house at 7:30 (usually with groups of kids on their way to school)

Spanish lessons from 8:30 to 12 (mid-morning snack break included)

Brief group check-in before walking home for lunch (usually soup or pasta) with siblings (school is only half a day in Bolivia)

Walk back to the program house around 3 for a lesson or workshop or guest speaker. So far we´ve had a lesson on development, heard Bolivia´s history from a renowned historian, and participated in a ritual with a Quechua healer (alternatively, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, working on independent study projects which in our group include guitar lessons, salsa dancing, study of Andean ritual and cosmology, and working at a climate change NGO)

Walk home for dinner, which varies from rice and potato dishes to soup to pasta to, last night, sandwiches with egg and sausage and potatoes

In bed by 9

 

All of us live a little outside of Tiquipaya, which is outside of a bigger city called Cochambamba. Tiquipaya has a small central plaza with a bank, a church, a few convenience stores, and several food stands, and small roads with pharmacies and other stores radiate out from there. There´s a small market on a nearby street on Sundays where my host-mom and Laticia run a small outdoor kitchen. I joined them last weekend and got to try api – a hot drink made out of ground purple and yellow corn. Meanwhile, my host-mom was busy serving up quinoa soup, pasta soup, cabeza (hunks of cow head with rice and potatoes in a beef broth), and other appetizing dishes (I´m not being sarcastic – the cabeza was making my mouth water).

So Tiquipaya is a nice place to spend an afternoon. Cochambamba, though, is much bigger and has much more to do. I´ve been there twice so far – once with my Spanish class to buy groceries and once with the small group of us who decided not to summit Tunari last weekend. (Tunari is a nearby mountain that is considered the protector of Cochambamba.) There´s a huge market in the city called La Cancha that´s made up of countless aisles of narrow walled-in booths selling everything from food to clothes to electronics to toys to authentic (and not so authentic) art. The streets in Cochambamba are busy and big, but you can escape from the hubbub in the large central Plaza de Colone. Last weekend there was an artisan´s fair set up, so my friends and I got to try saltenas (kind of a fried dumpling filled with vegetables and meat and sauce) and buy woven bracelets.

But, it´s getting a little a late. I´m sitting here in an internet café writing about my homestay  when I should be there, be home, experiencing it! It´s hard to say anything profound about the experience thus far, but I´ll update you again at the end.

Until then!

Maddie

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Week One of Homestays

Maddie Shankle,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

A Thorough Report on the Status of Homestay: Week 1   We´re just over a week into our homestays here in Tiquipaya, and so far so good. I´m living with an Aymara family called the Carlotas who live about a twenty minute walk north of the program house in a neighborhood called Oruro. The Carlotas, […]

Posted On

03/12/13

Author

Maddie Shankle

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    [post_date] => 2013-03-10 00:00:00
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"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

        Although the initial reasons why each of us decided to embark on this 3 month journey through South America differ between each and every one of us, one thing has remained certain: we´re all here for a reason. Whether that reason is to break free from old realities and past experiences that once tried to define us, or simply to discover the world and find ourselves along the way before we begin college, this journey will be sure to send all of us home as entirely transformed beings.

        Our journey began as 15 complete strangers arriving at a historic hacienda deep in the mountains, enveloped by a forest of lush vegetation. There we spent around 5 days for orientation, learning more about each other as well as more details to provide us with us a preview for the upcoming months together. At first I had some trouble distinguishing my place in the group, I was constantly going back and forth in my mind deciding whether or not to share what happened in my past with the possibility of everyone judging me or to keep the past in the past and use this experience with these 14 completely new souls as a new beginning. 

      I constantly find myself coming back to Emerson´s words, each time different from the last and each time I bring a deeper understanding of myself and of the world around me. After my suspension from Colorado State University last spring, I was determined not to let my past experiences, depression, or anxiety become a part of what defines me or my life. But through my relentless determination of trying to erase my past by pretending it never happened, instead I brought myself to a realization that completely changed my life forever. For the first time I was finally able to see that all of our past experiences aren´t things that we should be ashamed of, for they act as life lessons to teach us and guide us in the direction our life was always meant to go. My past experiences have made me largely who I am today, and for that I am nothing but grateful. If given the opportunity, I would never take back any of the mistakes and/or past experiences that have led me here, not only because as in “here” I mean currently embarking on a 3 month journey around Bolivia, but “here” living the life I was always meant to live, learning life´s valuable lessons along the way.  

       I´ve learned that sharing my journey with everyone is a major part of my self-renovation process, and through sharing my difficulties/defeats I am able to rejoice in my triumphs, making the bond that I share with these 15 souls that much more meaningful.

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Living For Today

Callie Gustafson,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." -Ralph Waldo Emerson           Although the initial reasons why each of us decided to embark on this 3 month journey through South America differ between each and every one of us, one thing has remained certain: we´re all […]

Posted On

03/10/13

Author

Callie Gustafson

WP_Post Object
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    [post_author] => 30
    [post_date] => 2013-03-10 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-03-10 07:00:00
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Hola mis amigos,

 

I am currently residing outside Cochabamba in a lovely little place called Tiquipaya, where I am living with a local family, and am learning what families here live for. I for one was surprised to see that all my neighbors have not only dogs, but cats, and chickens, and ducks, and basically all the essential animals of a farm. I have never lived on a farm, yet I wouldn't call where I am living a farm at all. looking beyond using names for things I don't know or recognize, I have found peace in the spirit of the unknown and the fulfillment that comes with accepting things as they are. I am not trying to say that one should not wonder or question their surroundings, I just believe now that there is a time and a place for everything. Frankly speaking, being over-analytical takes away from the natural connection that I have come to enjoy whilst living here.

Joy can never be bought or sold, it can only be found. Friday afternoon, our group engaged in a special activity. Something consecrated by the many cultures of the Andean people, a ritual. Our specific quechua ritual commenced by our spiritual guide, Carlos, asking permission from mount Tunari to have a ritual. Carefully giving the Earth thanks in the form of spirits, Pachamama is shown gratitude for the life the Earth has permitted us to live. Tunari is believed to protect Cochabamba, so showing some form of tribute is important to complement the following ritual. Each one of us being participants, we were all given two coca leaves, in order to reveal our desires or wants for the ritual. To reveal said "wishes", one visualizes their desires while they place their two leaves on top of the offering. The Coa is then burned as offering, its composition representing many things: relationship, complements, correspondency, reciprocity, and spirituality. Although composed out of specific plants with varying symbolisms and meanings, Coa rituals in Bolivia are utilized to complement any sort of endeavor. People have rituals on Andean holidays, to commemorate lost loved ones, or even to bring good luck before building a house persay. Rituals have many uses here in Bolivia, and would not still be in use today if their outcome was not positive at some level.

Yesterday, half of our group, including me, ventured by taxi-trufi into Cochabamba for a day in town. We first visited the house of Simón Patiño, alias: the tin baron, which has since been transformed into a museum and cultural center as well as an art gallery. Seeing such wealth and extravagance inside the house proved to me the historical paradigm in Bolivia that valued minerals or resources whence exploited never benefit the people or land associated. Instead, they only further secure the seemingly infinite salaries of the elite business men who control the whole process from far away lands. Historically, all the people with power over the varying resource industries in Bolivia follow a certain trend. They make their money fast and then disappear, taking all the wealth with them. It is truly frightening, the deeper you dig into this subject.

After out tour of only one of Simón Patiño's houses, I made my way to the market to pick up a few necessities. La Cancha, located in the middle of Cochabamba, is the largest open-air market in Bolivia. If I were to estimate just how big it is, it would be an under estimation to say it spanned ten city blocks. Even better for my situation, this day was special because it was the monthly day when even more vendors and stalls crowded the streets of the market zone. No matter how daunting the task might have seemed, I had to find what I needed some how or some way in this labyrinth of claustrophobic vendors, who sold everything from food, clothes and electronics, to school supplies, incense, and dead baby llamas(for ritual purposes). Crazy as it may sound, I discovered a way to navigate such a disorienting place. The less I searched, and the more I wondered, the more I found suprisingly. I ended up finding everything I needed, yet for the first few circles I made in the market, I kept looking around thinking "how does anyone find anything here?". Then as I carriend on, I tapped into a different method of searching for what I was looking for, I adopted the same aimlessness I saw that every other market patron was demonstrating. Thus I was able to find what I needed in due time, navigate La Cancha more or less, and make an exit without being pickpocketed. A day well spent I would say.

 

Through all these new experiences, and all the unknowns, I feel that traveling does have a positive effect on us. Out of our comfort zone, out true colors show. More importantly, in a different society altogether, there is simply no time to hold up an ego or any negativity. There is no time to make statements or even worry about your past or future. The only time availabe to you is the time of the present. I have found equilibrium through learning to let go of my previous dispositions, and by just observing, I can leave my ego at home and let myself learn from my home at this moment, Bolivia. I believe I have found true joy, the joy of curiosity and the excitement of traveling to places previously thought, unreachable.

 

as we say here in Bolivia...
¡Ciao!

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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The less you look, the more you find

Troy Stanley,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hola mis amigos,   I am currently residing outside Cochabamba in a lovely little place called Tiquipaya, where I am living with a local family, and am learning what families here live for. I for one was surprised to see that all my neighbors have not only dogs, but cats, and chickens, and ducks, and […]

Posted On

03/10/13

Author

Troy Stanley

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