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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013


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    [post_date] => 2013-02-21 00:00:00
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Howdy,

 

The past ten days of Bolivia have been great, some of the best times I´ve had traveling outside the States. The cultural shock value isn´t as jarring as India, but there is a distinct feeling of being an outsider, and a constant goal of shedding that title. 

 

We began our orientation at a hacienda-turned-ecological preserve 45 minutes outside of Sucre. We enjoyed the picturesque views from beneath the arches of Aritumayu, built by a Bolivian man with a passion for preserving both indigenous and non-native species of trees and plants. We walked on top of the arched aqueduct built by the Spanish while constantly getting to know each other and learning what Dragons was really about. Before leaving, we participated in a traditional ceremony where we all made chacanas, or Andean crosses, that spoke to our hopes, fears, interests and goals for this course and beyond. It was a powerful moment, a moment where we simultaneously decided in silence that we would no longer be individuals, but rather a group.

 

Once in Sucre, we began our introduction to the city with a scavenger hunt of random oddities spread across town. Soon after, we were planning for our upcoming trek in Cordillera de Los Frailles, buying pasta, tea, oatmeal (lots of oatmeal) and other rations from the Mercado Campesino, or Farmer´s Market. Shopping for a group of 18 is challenging, made more so by an underlying stigma of foreigners and their large wallets. A day prior, we had visited the Beehive, which is a hostel owned and run by an ex-pat American from California. After graduating from Berkeley, she traveled to South America twice before deciding to pursue a dream she had in the back of her mind: instigating community development by way of cooperation with foreigners. Previously and currently, many foreigners are viewed as walking dollar bills, an image created by both the news and the simple fact that the cost of a plane ticket to La Paz can be more money than many Bolivians make in a year. Thus, when foreigners try to shop at local untaxed markets (which can make up to 90% of local commerce in some Bolivian cities), they can be charged 200-300% more than the local market price. Foreigners who see this feel that they are being dehumanized, or at the least viewed through an extremely narrow lens, and choose to shop at larger establishments, forsaking the local economy. 

 

The owner of the Beehive wants to establish a visible system, much like the online restaurant reservation service Open Table, where local businesses will agree to charge the market price to all, including foreigners, and foreigners will be able to see this sign and shop there, feeling confident that they aren´t being treated differently than the locals. 

 

After our shopping foray, we packed our backpacks with clothes, food and tents, and headed out the next morning at 5 AM on a bus headed for the trailhead in Los Frailles. We made breakfast that morning next to the trail over aluminum stoves filled with 97 proof alcohol, did some handstands and yoga, drank some mate (always a good call), and hit the road. We hiked for 8 hours, seeing some amazing scenery; the mountains here are so geometric sometimes it seems like the rivers follow pre-made paths of angular stone, rather than carving their own paths through the soil. Our group had a range of physical abilities and camping experience, but we helped share weight and provide insight and tips on how to better set up tents or adjust backpacks or how not to bring Altoids while on a trek.....

 

The following days were just as great, as we almost completely avoided bad weather, managed to eat great meals (except the pasta night, of which I was a cook), I slept under the stars on night, all the while chewing coca and drinking mate with Alan and Rogelio, our two guides. We saw dinosaur footprints, heard legends of ´la garganta,´ or the crater that swallows unlucky travelers, stood over waterfalls, skirted around rockfalls and washed out paths, and more. I think we all grew from this experience; individually, we learned more about our strengths and limitations while trekking and carrying all that you need, and as a group we came together and supported each other when we needed it (even after almost creating a bonfire out of our kitchen tent). 

 

Tomorrow we leave for Potosí, the highest city in the world, and I´m expecting some beautiful sights, sadness and guilt while visiting the mines, and lots of altitude induced headaches. Can´t wait!

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Más Excelente (y más mate)

Jack Kessler,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Howdy,   The past ten days of Bolivia have been great, some of the best times I´ve had traveling outside the States. The cultural shock value isn´t as jarring as India, but there is a distinct feeling of being an outsider, and a constant goal of shedding that title.    We began our orientation at […]

Posted On

02/21/13

Author

Jack Kessler

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Dear Dragons Dearest, 

 

All is going well here in Sucre. The group are in good shape and did well with trek preparation activities. They departed early this morning on their four day trek in the Cordillera de los Frailles where giant craters and dinosaur footprints await them! I stayed behind as I'm a bit under the weather but look look forward to reuniting with everyone when they return. The group will be out of internet range for the trek.

 

I leave you with some photos taken a few days ago, of Troy, our delayed group member,  living it up in La Paz during the back end of the carnival on his first day in Bolivia. Troy didn't hesitate to get his dancing shoes on when offered the chance (mind you, he didn't have much choice after an enthusiastic Senora had laid eyes on him!!! :-). It was a great introduction to Bolivia and far from stopping there, Troy (and I) also inadvertently took part in an improv mime street performance by Plaza San Francisco in the evening. Fun was had by all and Troy was glad to get his hat back after the mime artist snatched it and ran off down the street! More Yaks and photos of the group to follow over the next week or so.

  

Sweet times from Sucre,

 

Pablo

 

PS. I've also attached a photo of the vista from Aritumayu, our orientation site outside Sucre. 

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Troy throwing some street shapes in La Paz

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

Description

Dear Dragons Dearest,    All is going well here in Sucre. The group are in good shape and did well with trek preparation activities. They departed early this morning on their four day trek in the Cordillera de los Frailles where giant craters and dinosaur footprints await them! I stayed behind as I’m a bit […]

Posted On

02/17/13

Author

Pablo

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Dear Friends and Family, 

 

The past few days have been great! After a peaceful orientation without electricity, cell service, and wi-fi, we finally arrived in the white-washed city of Sucre. The students have had a blast getting to know the surroundings; navigating the market, riding public transportation, tasting new food, and practicing their Spanish with new Bolivian friends. 

 

Tomorrow we leave for a 4 day trek in the beautiful Cordillera de Frailes where we will see dinosaur foot prints, wander through rolling limestone hills, and visit with Jalka communities. The Jalka are famous for their beautiful red and black weavings that depict Ukupacha; the Quechua underworld. We are looking forward to exploring both the rich natural and cultural beauty of the region! 

 

As we will be trekking, we will not have access to internet. We look forward to sharing our stories and photos with you all when we return. 

 

Abrazos!

 

Emy, Ben, Julianne, and Pablo

 

 

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Heading off to the Cordillera de Frailes

The Instructors ,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Dear Friends and Family,    The past few days have been great! After a peaceful orientation without electricity, cell service, and wi-fi, we finally arrived in the white-washed city of Sucre. The students have had a blast getting to know the surroundings; navigating the market, riding public transportation, tasting new food, and practicing their Spanish […]

Posted On

02/16/13

Author

The Instructors

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It was so wonderful to hear from the group. As a parent I was flooded with questions about how my daughter Margot and the other group members are doing in a new country on the program. Each post brings the world of Bolivia and the experiences of the group closer  and more real. I look forward to reading each post and lving a bit vicariously through all of your adventures.

Be safe, smart and have fun.

Adios for now-

Janice 

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Happy to hear from you

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

Description

It was so wonderful to hear from the group. As a parent I was flooded with questions about how my daughter Margot and the other group members are doing in a new country on the program. Each post brings the world of Bolivia and the experiences of the group closer  and more real. I look […]

Posted On

02/15/13

Author

Janice Solomon

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    [post_date] => 2013-02-14 00:00:00
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Hey y´all,

We´re currently in Sucre after recently leaving the hacienda outside the city where we spent the duration of our orientation. The four days of orientation were really great, spent enjoying the beautiful vistas from beneath the terracotta roofs of the hacienda. We are spending the (Valentine´s) day boppin´ around Sucre on a scavenger hunt; we´re searching for chocolate, folklore cds, traditional food dishes of Sucre, a museum exhibition, and the name of our guide for our upcoming trek in la Cordillera de los Frailles, which we leave for in two days.

We´re all really enjoying Bolivia and are looking forward to the upcoming months!

Ciáo,

Jack, Callie, and Heyward

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Happy Times in Sucre

Jack, Callie, Heyward,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hey y´all, We´re currently in Sucre after recently leaving the hacienda outside the city where we spent the duration of our orientation. The four days of orientation were really great, spent enjoying the beautiful vistas from beneath the terracotta roofs of the hacienda. We are spending the (Valentine´s) day boppin´ around Sucre on a scavenger hunt; […]

Posted On

02/14/13

Author

Jack, Callie, Heyward

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Hey Everybody!

 

Greg, Lexi and Eliza here. We are in an internet cafe in Sucre, Bolivia! Today we embarked on a gruelling journey through this beautiful city on a scavenger hunt extraordinaire. We were shocked to discover that a semester in the University here was a mere 14 Bolivianos which is 2 US dollars. We also witnessed the striking white colonial architecture and a huge statue of Mariscal de Ayacucho in the center plaza of the city.  In Sucre, Bolivia first delcared independence in 1825 after years of fighting led by the Venezuelan general Simon Bolivar. It was the first city in Bolivia to gain independence.  We also walked through a market with endless products and smells.  It was "excelente."

 

We are glad to finally be starting our experience and interaction in Bolivia after a few days of orientation.

 

Buen Dia

Greg, Eliza, and Lexi

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Scavenger Hunt Team GEL

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

Description

Hey Everybody!   Greg, Lexi and Eliza here. We are in an internet cafe in Sucre, Bolivia! Today we embarked on a gruelling journey through this beautiful city on a scavenger hunt extraordinaire. We were shocked to discover that a semester in the University here was a mere 14 Bolivianos which is 2 US dollars. […]

Posted On

02/14/13

Author

Eliza Davis

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After hitting up paradise at the Hacienda at San Antonio de Aritumayu, we finally arrived in Sucre, the judicial capital of Bolivia. We wandered through the city on a scavenger hunt with fifty Bolivianos in our pockets. After a lunch of disguting burgers, we ventured into the market to find the new Butch Cassidy film "Black Thorn", and then wandered back to La Casa de Libertad to learn that the first constitution of Sucre was signed in 1825.  We hiked up the steep and narrow streets of Sucre  to Cafe Mirador where we sipped on fresh squeezed juices while taking in the stunningly breathaking panoramic view of Sucre.  Nestled between the lush green surrounding mountains, Sucre´s white washed buildings sparkled in the afternoon sunlight. After an aweesome first day in Sucre, we´ll head back to our lovely five star hostel "Mama Vickies" to plan for our first trek!

 

Hasta luego!

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Scavenging Sucre

Margot, Margaret, Christian,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

After hitting up paradise at the Hacienda at San Antonio de Aritumayu, we finally arrived in Sucre, the judicial capital of Bolivia. We wandered through the city on a scavenger hunt with fifty Bolivianos in our pockets. After a lunch of disguting burgers, we ventured into the market to find the new Butch Cassidy film […]

Posted On

02/14/13

Author

Margot, Margaret, Christian

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   Left in the city center of Sucre armed with a camera, 3 hours, 50 bolivianos and a list of requirements, we were on our first mission. Ready and prepared after our lengthy orientation process, it was our first time fully immersed in Bolivia! Here were our tasks:

    1. buy a food or fruit that you've never tried before in the central market. We went a tad crazy with this one, tried some coconut candies, a lemon filled pastry, a starfruit slash carambola juice, and inspected rows and rows of raw intestines and cow snouts. We passed by some interesting ceremony objects and asked about their meanings before Maddie got viciously pounded by a water balloon intended to celebrate the world famous Carnival.

    2. Next, we headed to Parque Bolivar, where we climbed a miniature Eiffel Tower (that wobbled dangerously as you climbed) and had a conversation with a fellow tourist from Lima! We explored the beautiful park and headed to our next destination.

    3. Thirdly, we walked to the post office passing the medical district of the city - funeral homes and clinics lining the streets next to the hospital - and were pleasantly surprised by a beautiful whitewashed building and very friendly staff. Although they sold us a postal stamp for the US for 7.50 bolivianos, we were thoroughly confused by their constantly contradicting directions.

    4. Somehow, however, we found our way on public transportation and traveled for less than a dollar on Micro "C" to the Indigenous Art Museum! Though we didn't have enough time or money to visit the museum, we got some great photos, used the bathrooms, and stopped by the mirador on our way back to the internet cafe.

   5. Where, we learned about the Constituent Assembly which was formed in 2006 to make a new constituion! Google told us that this included a bunch of cool new rights like indigenous recognition, water rights, protecting coca, natural resource rights, and freedom of religion.

   It felt great to finally stretch our legs and experience the country for the first time. We tried some great food, were helped by many of the locals, and were enchanted by the beauty of this capital city.

 

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Sucre Scavengers!

Sarah, Troy, Maddie,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

   Left in the city center of Sucre armed with a camera, 3 hours, 50 bolivianos and a list of requirements, we were on our first mission. Ready and prepared after our lengthy orientation process, it was our first time fully immersed in Bolivia! Here were our tasks:     1. buy a food or fruit […]

Posted On

02/14/13

Author

Sarah, Troy, Maddie

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    [post_date] => 2013-02-08 00:00:00
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    [post_content] => 

Dear Andes and Amazon Group A,

 

We wanted to wish you all safe and happy travels tomorrow, we are so looking forward to meeting you all soon! Let us know if you have any last minute questions or concerns. 

 

Saludos y feliz viaje,

 

Los instructores

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Feliz Viaje !!

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

Description

Dear Andes and Amazon Group A,   We wanted to wish you all safe and happy travels tomorrow, we are so looking forward to meeting you all soon! Let us know if you have any last minute questions or concerns.    Saludos y feliz viaje,   Los instructores

Posted On

02/8/13

Author

Los Instructores

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=In the video Wade Davis brought light to the idea that many cultures and languages are starting to die in this progressive day and age.  This has been a problem for hundreds of years with people thinking they have the best way of living and forcing  it on to others, which ends a way of life to a "better quality of life."  These ways of living are never neccessarily better but most certainly different, and someone will always not agree, which causes the issue.  I think it would be a horribly bland world if there were no other cultures to learn about or discover  so id love to find out what is really causing this issue and how it could stop.  The preservation of culture sould be taken more seriously so people dont forget where they came from or the struggles of a different people. 

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Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

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Depletion of the Ethnosphere

Greg MArtinez,Andes & Amazon "A" Semester, Spring 2013

Description

=In the video Wade Davis brought light to the idea that many cultures and languages are starting to die in this progressive day and age.  This has been a problem for hundreds of years with people thinking they have the best way of living and forcing  it on to others, which ends a way of […]

Posted On

02/8/13

Author

Greg MArtinez

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