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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013


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Hola from the highest city in the world!

We have been in Bolivia for 15 days now  and in Potosi for two to three days.  Yesterday we had a mine tour in the Cerro Rico mine. It was probably the most frightening experience I have ever had and I would not change it for anything. To prepare we watched a movie called ´"El Minero De Diablo", a  documentary about child miners in Potosi. I had already seen it before I left, so it was nothing new, but it was just as powerful. It chronicles the lives to two child miners, named Sebastian and Basilio. The oldest  - Basilio is 14 years old.

 

How to describe the mines? They are dark, cramped, deep, wet and alltogether unpleasant. We entered through a small trap door leading up to a ladder. It is so dark in the mines that I needed a headlamp, as well as a bagy blue suit  that resembled scrubs and boots lined with plastic bags for waterproofing. We filed down single file into cold, steep tunnels that required crouching much of the time. There were only a few miners working, since it was a sunday. We got to ask them questions through our tour guides , who translated our questions into Quechua, the language of many of Cerro Rico. 

Down we descended until we reached the Tio, best described as the god of the mines. The miners give the statue coca, alcohol, and cigarettes to appease him and guarantee his protection while they work in the dangerous mines.  This is the daily life of a miner: 12- 24 hours at a time  gleaning the  precious silver and other minerals that they depend on for their livelihoods. It was a relief to ascend the ladder into  the sweet smelling, sunshine filled air. 

 

Being in the mines felt so wrong, like going into a strangers house uninvited.  I  have gained a news perspective on metal after this experience most definitely. Before this experience I thought of tin, nickel, silver,  y otros minerales as daily items present in ubiquitous quantities in the USA. Now I never want to buy a tin can again, and I will think twice before criticizing the quality of a silver necklace. 

To the miners, everyday is a matter of life and death: consumers should respect that when buying silver.

 

Un Abrazo,

 Lexi Nowak  

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The Price of Silver

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

Description

Hola from the highest city in the world! We have been in Bolivia for 15 days now  and in Potosi for two to three days.  Yesterday we had a mine tour in the Cerro Rico mine. It was probably the most frightening experience I have ever had and I would not change it for anything. […]

Posted On

02/24/13

Author

Lexi

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Child labor is a highly debated issue in Bolivia.  On one side, we have the child workers, who are concerned with being able to feed their families and receive schooling.  The other side states heavily that child labor is wrong, no matter how much a family is strugging and in need of support.  I´m not sure where I stand on this issue, but earlier today we had the incredible chance to team up with a union of child workers called CONNATSOP.  These children range from ages 8-18 and have to fight for their right to work.  The union stresses safe work, and they would rather their members, especially the younger ones, be engaged in work like selling newspapers or shining shoes than the much more dangerous mining that some children must do in order to feed their families or have the ability to attend school.  The union requires that each member attends school and they will let anyone who wants to be a part of it.  

Each of us was paired up with a worker and we basically followed them around for a few hours to get a feel of what their daily life was like.  I was paired up with a young boy who washes cars on the weekend.  Myself along with two other students who were paired up with car washers were picked us up at 7:30 and driven across town to a small outdoor space.  In the span of a few hours we washed five cars (business was slow since it was a sunday) and hung out with our new friends and got to know them.  We learned that they are proud of their work, and proud that they have earned the right to attend school, which in Bolivia is very strict.  If you don´t purchase the precise school supplies on the list, they will not let you attend class.  I think that if these children want to work, then they have the right to.  It is extremely hard to justify telling a child not to work when its their only way to support their family and/ or attend school, even though it is extremely hard to fathom having to work and attend school all week at just 8 years old.  The more dangerous jobs like mining I believe should be regulated, but in a way that doesn´t stop a young child from getting what he or she deserves.  I learned a lot from this experience, mostly how it is hard to judge something before you experience it for yourself.

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Child Workers of CONNATSOP

Margaret O´Leary,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Child labor is a highly debated issue in Bolivia.  On one side, we have the child workers, who are concerned with being able to feed their families and receive schooling.  The other side states heavily that child labor is wrong, no matter how much a family is strugging and in need of support.  I´m not […]

Posted On

02/24/13

Author

Margaret O´Leary

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I recently was assigned an article to read by travel writer Pico Iyer called "Why We Travel". Let it suffice to say that we had somewhat different opinions on the matter. Here´s an essay I wrote in response in which I do battle with the opinions on Pico Iyer. Read on to see who won!

 

I don´t claim to know more than Pico Iyer on the matter of travel, nor do I think myself a better traveler than him. I will say, however, that we are two very different types of travelers. Where Iyer is romantic, lofty, and even sucrose in his opinion of what is travel, I am more practical, straight-forward, and down-to-earth. His essay "Why We Travel" makes me wonder about our differences and which of us might have "truer" travel experiences (assuming for argument´s sake that such a thing is measurable and debatable). I want to ask: does Iyer´s sentimentality warp the reality of the places he sees? Or does my realism blind me to the subtleties of reality in the places I see? Let the debate begin.

According to Iyer, the essence of travel is primarily an emotional experience. His opening line, "We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves" sets the lofty tone quite nicely, and all that follows incessantly tugs at the reader´s gentle heartstrings. Iyer alternately argues that travel allows us to "challenge our certainties and assumptions", to come in contact with "the more essential parts of ourselves", and to search not for answers but for "better questions". What does that even mean? Almost anything can have an inward reflective spin thrown on it, so what´s the point? Why not take the focus off your intellectual self and put it on the place, the people, the tangible reality of another culture? I value the stark realism of a place, the sights, sounds, and tastes I experience while I´m there. An accurate perception of a place and its culture is the essential base on which I can later build a temple to reflection and soul-searching. Sentiment for a place or people can be true and real if a place or people so moves you, but it´s always in the back of my mind that it´s just a creation of my own emotional reactions to a reality and not a reality itself. It´s a subjective super-imposed layer of reality that I have put on myself.

Now, I don´t mean to discredit emotions and sentiment. It´s simply that my rational analytical mind is hypersensitive to the possibility of being swept away by them, which is why I question Iyer´s argument that travel primarily moves us. I say it teaches us, shows us things we´d never see otherwise, and only on special occasions do those lessons touch our hears. Checkmate, Pico Iyer.

But alas, Iyer did outsmart me in the end. By the essay´s end he had cut through the touchy-feely goop (the sly dog) and revealed the fundamental truth of it all: travel is "an ineffable" (and I might add inevitable) "compound of [the traveler] himself and the place, what´s really there and what´s only in him." Touché. Travel is a conspiracy between realty and sentiment. "What we find outside ourselves", he continues, "has to be inside ourselves for us to find it." I believe this is true not by necessity but by nature... because what´s "outside" will be tempered by what is "inside". Our sentiments will always color our accounts of our travels - that is the reality. I didn´t think it possible, but Iyer might have convinced me that one can in fact "see the world clearly and yet feel it truly" without one action deleting the other. I think I´ll give it a shot. Hopefully it will make the remaining few months of my gap year that much sweeter.

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Pico Iyer’s Why We Travel

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

Description

I recently was assigned an article to read by travel writer Pico Iyer called "Why We Travel". Let it suffice to say that we had somewhat different opinions on the matter. Here´s an essay I wrote in response in which I do battle with the opinions on Pico Iyer. Read on to see who won! […]

Posted On

02/24/13

Author

Maddie Shankle

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The ISP topic that I have chosen to focus on throughout the duration of the semester is "Andean Cosmology & Worldview". I am extremely curious to expand my overall level of understanding for other cultures, mainly through observing their spiritual practices and their interconnected relationship with the natural world. Projects that will keep me the most engaged are definitely ones where I use my hands and experience the customs and traditions as if I was apart of that particular culture. I am definitely an experiential learner and I do best when I am able to express what im learning through a more creative outlet. Looking forward to starting my ISP and expanding my worldview along the way! Cheers!

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Into to Independent Study Prjects

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

Description

The ISP topic that I have chosen to focus on throughout the duration of the semester is "Andean Cosmology & Worldview". I am extremely curious to expand my overall level of understanding for other cultures, mainly through observing their spiritual practices and their interconnected relationship with the natural world. Projects that will keep me the most engaged are definitely ones where I use […]

Posted On

02/21/13

Author

Callie Gustafson

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Hola!

 

So, it´s been a pretty sweet time here in Bolivia so far starting with orientation up at the Hacienda to now being in Sucre. I know that´s a very vague start, but that´s because I just mainly want to talk about a few awesome highlights that´ve happened so far.

 

To begin...orientation was pretty legit, getting to know everyone; I think I can say that we´re all bros by now. I finally tried my first comida picante, which was eh...kinda hot at first, but then I think I beat Ben with having the most peppers on a plate. Hopefully he doesn´t take that offensively ;p...

 

Then driving off to Sucre... Our hostel Mama Vickies is indubitably a five star hostel. 

 

Following, waking up at five to catch a bus to go on our first trek was pretty sweet. Carrying our bags, and all our gear, we trekked those mountains like pros. I´d have to say that I´ve never climbed mountains like that with people as awesome as ya´ll!. The views were certainly picturesque, with great landscapes, and awesome mountain colors. I must say the food we had on the trek, considering our conditions was quite spectacular. I´d have to say the food was pretty banging good too. Especially that pasta the last night. 

 

I really could not have done that entire trek without all of you helping me carry my  weight, and pushing me through the harder moments. So I´d just like to give a shoutout to everyone. 

 

Anywho now that were back in Sucre, and all fresh... I had time last night to give everyone a quick update,and I must say that my six pack is definitely on the way. 

 

With that being said we´re off to Potosi manana to see some more breathtaking sites. 

 

Pura Vida!

 

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Excelente

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

Description

Hola!   So, it´s been a pretty sweet time here in Bolivia so far starting with orientation up at the Hacienda to now being in Sucre. I know that´s a very vague start, but that´s because I just mainly want to talk about a few awesome highlights that´ve happened so far.   To begin…orientation was […]

Posted On

02/21/13

Author

Christian Frelinghuysen

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Leave Nashville on the 9th, my dad´s birthday
Arrive in Miami, expecting to find Troy Stanley with whom I share the responsibility of herding both A&A groups onto the flight to El Alto
Find out Troy´s flight has been canceled due to New England blizzard
Recruit Eliza Davis and a few others to help me handle passports and check people in
Can´t find 3 kids
Page 3 said kids on airport intercom
Find 3 said kids at the terminal a few hours later
Successfully board flight!
Arrive in Bolivia 6 hours later. Local time 6 am
Get visa after having my American dollar bills scrutinized for tiny tears or CB serial numbers (not allowed)
Get confetti-ed by the instructors
Accredited and nonaccredited groups split up
Ice breaker games
Board another flight for Sucre
1.5 hour drive to a hacienda in the country side for orientation
Orientation: bunk beds, sopa lunches, hikes to the aqueduct, get-to-know-you games, talking about course expectations, lots of card games, rain in the afternoon, initiation ceremony
Stay in a hostel in Sucre for 3 days: scavenger hunt around the city, going out for dinners, cooking breakfast in the hostel, hanging out in the main plaza, planning and buying food for the trek
Drive to the trek in Cordillera de los Frailes!
Day 1: get dropped off at a church where we cook breakfast and discuss the trek itinerary. Follow a road and get off on a windy rocky trail. Lunch under an overhang with pre-Inca cave paintings just as it starts to rain. Hike through a light drizzle down into a valley, cross a bridge and arrive at first campsite in a field next to a small village.
Day 2: Follow the road some more, cross a river, hike up and across a ridge with a good view of surrounding mountains and river below. Cool rainy weather in the afternoon again. Arrive at my favorite campsite on top of a bluff where I buy a woven underworld-symbolized bracelet from Quechua children and Rogelio (one of our guides) treats us to some music on his pan flute
Day 3: More beautiful mountains before we hike down into a "crater" which may be an ancient lake bed or the result of volcanic activity. Hike across through crop fields and a small town and up the other side. Lunch by the river then on to Cretaceous dinosaur footprints! See lightning, book it to next campsite. Starts to rain as we put up the tents. Continues to rain until the next morning.
Day 4: Up and out early for a 4 hour hike down a long winding road into a small town where we catch a bus back to Sucre
3 hours back to Sucre, word games and story swapping
Arrive at hostel and enjoy a delicious spread of sandwiches and fruit courtesy of Pablo who stayed home
Have a second dinner a few hours later
Shower and bed (cue angelic singing)
Wake up to another delicious spread courtesy of the instructors
Wash tents and debrief on trek
Go out for lunch, visit Internet cafe, write yak

Fin

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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A synopsis of my first 10 days in Bolivia

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

Description

Leave Nashville on the 9th, my dad´s birthday Arrive in Miami, expecting to find Troy Stanley with whom I share the responsibility of herding both A&A groups onto the flight to El Alto Find out Troy´s flight has been canceled due to New England blizzard Recruit Eliza Davis and a few others to help me […]

Posted On

02/21/13

Author

Maddie Shankle

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I decided to do this program because I wanted to be able to view the world through a different lens. I wanted a wider perspective. In just the first ten days that I have been here I already feel like I´ve gotten that. 
We just returned to Sucre after a four day trek through Cordillera de los Frailes. We trekked over mountains, up and down a giant crater, through small villages, and over rivers. The views we saw were incredible and unlike any I have ever seen before. There were rocks and sand of almost every color,  picturesque green pastures, and blue skies with low hanging clouds obscuring some of the mountains. 
This trek was my first first-hand exposure to the conflict that exists between the indigenous way of life and the rapidly modernizing rest of Bolivia. We stood at the base of a huge crater where we could see a small village surrounded by a stunning landscape. The walls of the crater surrounded a cluster of low buildings with green fields divided by short stone walls. The village there was a small community of farmers. The view was breathtaking, but our guide told us that this very area is about to be inhabited by a large mining company. The mountains will be excavated for limestone and the indigenous people who live there will be dislodged, most likely to lead impoverished lives in the city. While the company is Bolivian and its installation will ultimately help the economic success of Bolivia as a whole (Bolivia will produce all of it´s own cement) it will destroy this beautiful natural landscape and rob a whole village of their homes. Perhaps the villagers would be allowed to work in the mines, but that would be difficult work and much of it would need to be done by professionals trained to handle specialized machinery. However, perhaps living in the city will give the families` children better educational opportunities.  I can´t really decide where I stand on this issue. While I think it would be tragic to lose such an incredible landscape and uproot the community, I understand that Bolivia is a developing country and economically it is hard to justify wasting a resource. Similar conflicts between the economically focused government and the indigenous people exist everywhere in Bolivia and I hope to learn about more of it. 
So to return to my original statement. I wanted to see the world in a different way. Sitting at home in Connecticut it is very easy to say that Bolivia should take every chance it gets to help it´s economy, but standing in front of the soon to be destroyed land it´s hard to justify saying good bye to such beauty. 
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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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A Wider Lens

Eliza Davis,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

I decided to do this program because I wanted to be able to view the world through a different lens. I wanted a wider perspective. In just the first ten days that I have been here I already feel like I´ve gotten that.  We just returned to Sucre after a four day trek through Cordillera […]

Posted On

02/21/13

Author

Eliza Davis

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    [post_date] => 2013-02-21 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-02-21 07:00:00
    [post_content] => 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greetings Friends and Family! 

 

We just arrived back in Sucre after an incredible trek through the Cordillera de Frailes! We are spending the day today exploring more of Sucre before we take off for Potosi tomorrow morning. Before we leave, we want to share some highlights from our trip so far: 

 

 

  • Hiking through the Pine and Eucalyptus forests of Hacienda Aritumayu with our guide Jose and his fearless pup Memo! 
  • The scavenger hunt in Sucre where students tasted new foods, learned Bolivian history, explored the city's beautiful white washed streets, and navigated public transporation! 
  • Spanish/English " Speed Dating" at the Beehive Cooperative, where students chatted with Bolivian University students to learn more about life here in Sucre.
  • Chowing down on soggy pasta in the rain after 2 and a half days of amazing weather trekking through corn and fava fields, across rivers, past dinosaur footprints, and up and over the Maragua Crater! 
  • Sharing our personal stories, hopes, and dreams at our first ceremony! 
 
Please enjoy our photos! We will be sharing more from Potosi soon.
 
Abrazos,
 
Group A  

 

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Our First Two Weeks Together!

Los Instructores,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

                                                                                                              […]

Posted On

02/21/13

Author

Los Instructores

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  Loaded up with 20 plus pounds on our backs and excitement in our hearts, the seventeen of us embarked on our 4 day journey... at 5 in the morning. After an hour and a half, half asleep up windy roads, we got to our starting point, cooked a quick breakfast, and off we were. The group had a wide variety of experience - some having trekked for 3 months on NOLS trips and some never having been camping in their lives - but all of us happy to be there.
    Quickly we realized the trek wouldn't be as easy and breezy as we had hoped. After only an hour or so, one person needed to get rid of all his weight due to congestion/altitude sickness/general sickness, so we split up the weight and got ready for a very patient trek. None of us expected to have such probems so early on, but all of us did our best to deal with whatever situation popped up with a good attitude.
    Trekking on and moving slowly, I think we all sort of realized where we were. The landscapes of Bolivia are unlike any of us have ever seen or experienced, and finally being out there in nature, where we all feel most comfortable, we could appreciate the beauty of this country. We could see the huge crator in the distance where we would arrive on day 3, the colorful, mineral rich cliffs on the sides of impressivly tall mountains, and the amazing greenery of the rainy season. Having fresh air in my lungs and a group of great people by my side felt great.
    The first day, like every day pretty much, consisted of 8ish hours of hiking. It was relatively easy this first day - mostly flat lands, stopping at a cave with these awesome pre-incan drawings for lunch, and then a descent to our campsite in the afternoon. It was great to see people's personalities start to come out. We now know that Greg is the loud one, Maddie is the one who will always look out for us, and Jack will always be our outdoor expert. We arrived at our riverside campsite a little later than expected, and with a little rain, but we quickly set up our tents and got dinner going.
    Day 2 started off, again, pretty easy! We woke up to clear skies and beautiful weather and followed the river for a couple of hours. More talks of our lives back at home and general interests filled the morning until it started to rain right before lunch. We took cover in a local school, fixed some sandwiches and waited for the rain to pass.

     Luckily enough, again, the rain cleared and we continued for an afternoon of uphill. They told us it would be a tough afternoon, so we split up into groups to tackle the hills at our own paces. The hardest part only lasted 20 minutes, and then it was easy breezy till the campsite. This might have been one of the prettiest parts of the trek - amazing landscapes with tall mountains standing in the distance, green hills sitting at their feet, waterfalls and rocks falling all the way down to the river we had crossed earlier that day. We took an hour of silence to appreciate the place, landscape and the general experience.
    It was my group's turn to cook dinner that night, and boy were we grateful to get rid of all that food. We chopped up tons of delicious vegetables, stir fried them and served them with beans and rice. Around the dinner circle we sang songs, laughed and enjoyed our beautiful campsite before dinner. A great day, and not nearly as hard as I expected.
    Day 3 was the most challenging day, but it was probably also one of the best. Once again, we woke up to great weather! The morning was up and downs, and then the group split up at parts after we got into the crator. We tackled a huge uphill to hike out of the crator and enjoyed an amazing view from the top. A few people were struggling still with sicknesses, blisters and generally being tired, but we all made it in good time. Stopping for a delicious guacamole and hummus wrap lunch, we then continued to the dinosaur footprints.

    Our guides told us some about the history, how these footprints were 65 billion years old and belonged to the biggest dinosaur that existed, and we were amazed. The footprints were pretty well preserved there in the rock, and some smaller footprints were even clearer. We got some pictures, split up into groups again, and charged straight to camp to beat the rain since it was getting late.
    I went with the fast group again, and we sped the last hour to get to camp before dark. Unfortunately, this was the only time we started to have bad luck. It started to pour 5 minutes after we arrived, and we had to set up the entire camp in the rain. Knowing that it's the rainy season, this should be expected, but it still always sucks to set up camp, cook and get all of your wet stuff inside in the rain. For dinner we had a pasta-like slop that we covered in soy sauce and salt to get down. The rain continued throughout the night, and I think we all wanted to get to bed early.
    The next morning, the last morning, we cooked breakfast and broke down camp pretty fast since we were all eager to finish. We only had 3 or 4 hours ahead of us that day, and luckily AGAIN the rain cleared! This last day was relaxing and beautiful - not too hard of a hike but with beautiful landscapes. By the end, a lot of us were struggling from soreness or blisters, so we were happy to get on the bus back to Sucre after an incredibly successful trek.
    So far, Dragons has been awesome. Our group of kids is very different and diverse, but all the type of person to choose a program like this. The fact simply that most of us are gap year students and made that choice to do something other than school for a year gives us a lot in common. Everyone is so interesting and adventurous, I'm incredibly excited to get to know everyone better

Read more and photos: http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/sarahdownsouth/1/1361459549/tpod.html?view=preview#ixzz2LZDmMXMd

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Dinosaur Footprints, Crators, and Welcome to Dragons

Sarah Gledhill,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

  Loaded up with 20 plus pounds on our backs and excitement in our hearts, the seventeen of us embarked on our 4 day journey… at 5 in the morning. After an hour and a half, half asleep up windy roads, we got to our starting point, cooked a quick breakfast, and off we were. […]

Posted On

02/21/13

Author

Sarah Gledhill

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"And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again-- to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more."

Pico Iyer; Why We Travel

Before descending to our campsight on the first night of our trek through the Cordillera de los Frailes in the Bolivian Andes, our guides from Condor Trekking company, Alan and Rejelio, gave us a few minutes to take in the town we would be sleeping in that night. As I looked down at the small Quechua village tucked between the red earth mountains, spotted with patches of bright green only existing in rainy season, I was speechless.

 This is why I travel.

 I am humbled by the awe inspiring mountain peaks stretching farther than my eye can see.I am humbled by the rushing river brown from the seasons rains. I am humbled by the booming thunder that cracks overhead in the bright blue sky as a storm rolls in to quench the earth´s thirst. I am humbled by the people dressed in the colorful woven patterns  of their ancestors, who have called this magical landcape home for thousands of years. I am humbled by the grace and warmth with which they welcome us travelers to sleep, eat, be inspired by and fall in love with the miraculous beauty of their land.

I am humbled.

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Why we travel

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

Description

"And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again– to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more." Pico Iyer; Why We Travel Before descending to our campsight on the first night of our trek through the Cordillera de los Frailes in the Bolivian Andes, our guides from Condor Trekking company, […]

Posted On

02/21/13

Author

Margot Solomon

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