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Bolivia: Diversity and Development, Summer 2011


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Did you take great photos on your Dragons course?
We'd love to see them!

Announcing DRAGONS PHOTO CONTEST!!!

Prizes for winning photos range from Dragons embroidered Patagonia hoodies, Black Diamond backpacks, Patagonia shoulder bags, water bottles, and more!

AND... We'll give a special prize for the BEST photo of a student wearing a Dragons shirt.

Some of you may have already given your instructors a file or CD of your photos. If so, thank you! If not, please send us a CD with your photos (label with your name and program)! Seeing great photos from students like you inspires us and other students to join us in the future.

To enter the photo contest:

  • Post up to 10 of your best photos into your program's Yak board or mail as attachments to yakyak@wheretherebedragons.com (include program name and brief photo descriptions)
  • More than anything else, we want to see Dragon students in the culture and natural beauty of the country
  • If we select a photo to consider as a "finalist" we'll contact you for a higher resolution image
  • Winning images will be posted on all Yak boards by the end of September.

Here are the winners from this past fall semester!

If you have any questions, please email yakyak@wheretherebedragons.com

Thank you!

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Bolivia: Diversity and Development, Summer 2011

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Dragons Photo Contest

Dragons,Bolivia: Diversity and Development, Summer 2011

Description

Did you take great photos on your Dragons course? We’d love to see them! Announcing DRAGONS PHOTO CONTEST!!! Prizes for winning photos range from Dragons embroidered Patagonia hoodies, Black Diamond backpacks, Patagonia shoulder bags, water bottles, and more! AND… We’ll give a special prize for the BEST photo of a student wearing a Dragons shirt. […]

Posted On

08/2/11

Author

Dragons

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Enjoy these photos from the Yungas, from our boat trip down the Rio Beni and our stay in the Amazonian community of Asuncion del Quiquibey!

Paz y abrazos,

Team Bo

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Bolivia: Diversity and Development, Summer 2011

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Recent Photos

Team Bo,Bolivia: Diversity and Development, Summer 2011

Description

Enjoy these photos from the Yungas, from our boat trip down the Rio Beni and our stay in the Amazonian community of Asuncion del Quiquibey! Paz y abrazos, Team Bo

Posted On

07/31/11

Author

Team Bo

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It is so easy to feel alone in a world that is so large. InBolivia at this moment, I have never felt more sure of whoI am and the potential that this world has to offer me. Yesterday I could not say the same. Last year I probably couldn´t either. There will be times in the future whereI will feel so lost, it will hurt, and that I can be sure of. But right now this sense of sureness is overwhelming so I am writing this down to remember how to find me when all hope seems lost.

To me, there are two things in one's personality can create a base for a successful life; self-awareness and confidence. Both are difficult to manifest and easy to forget. You can be a strong person without one or both, but to me, a person that spews authenticity is self-aware and confident.

In life, we learn to fall at a young age. We learn to get up as well. As we grow physically and mentally, picking ourselves up becomes more difficult. Dangers present themselves more prominently. The want for aid in the act of getting up is almost necessary for most. But what we really need to realize is that if we´ve gotten up before, we can do it again. That is not to say that we don´t need supports along the way but that we have the ultimate ability to find happiness in even the darkest of times. Getting back up is one of the healthiest ways to prove strength in humanity. For a singular person, getting out of bed in the morning may be physically ¨getttingup¨ but mourning the loss ofa loved one and celebrating their life could very well be getting up after they´ve fallen.

Yesterday, I fell. I was sick, beaten down, lonely, confused, and lost. I then saw that attitude within myself and conciously decided to do something about it. I spoke and shared those awful feelings with others and I cried and I let it all out. And one day later, I sit in Tocaña in a brick room that smells like must and dirt, and I am happy. Not becuase the world is right or becuase I cured cancer, but becuase I am starting to understand myself. Once I got down trodden I quickly realized the only way to get back up was to figure out the source of my so called anguish and meet it head on. In order for me to do so, I had to be aware of what actions were bringing me down. Why was I bringing myself down? For one, I was sick which put my emotional levels on high alert. Also, the ¨honeymoon¨phase of our Dragons course was over and I was feeling thr ripple effects. Partially excluded from the group, missing home, andtons of spare time in a small isolated community; all of those factors left me to my thoughts of lonliness which spiraled out of control. Hadn´t people been lonely before?

The people of Tocaña spent 8 traditional days in mourning after the premature and mysterious death of a young man. On the 8th night (tonight) they gather at the house of the deceased to socialize and pray. Some community members spent the night so that the family of the deceased wouldn´t have to endure the night alone. The whole community got together to aid one family to get back up on their feet after the family had to sadly fallen. My community in Bolivia is Dragons. I turned to certian members and after I realized where my faults and strengths wereI picked myself up. My fellow Dragons were there for a little extra oomph of support. The first step in being able to get up after falling is to be aware of how flaws effect us or maybe being aware that death is sad but real and part of life. With so many bumps in the road, being aware of how you react to things and how others recieve your reactions is a large step on a winding road to confidence.

Once a person knows how to fall, why they´ve fallen, and how to get up, confidence usually comes easily. If you know your own flaws and then know how to conquer or aid them, then being sure of yourself in the exact skin that you´re in can come quite naturally. Not that you will know what you want to do with you life, or that you will be a law professor, or that Bolivian cheese is just not cheese as it should be (that I am actually sure of), but knowing what makes you happy is a major part in knowing true bliss in this world. Being at the point where you are so sure of yourself thatothers opinions don´t matter can make a persons confidencesoar and lead to a whole new sense of inner freedom.

I don´t know where this overwhelming emotional sense of pride in myself and what I believe comes from. Maybe from watching a community get together to aid each other in a timeof sadness. Maybe knowing that Dragons has my back. Perhaps it´s my deep sense of family, who travel with me in my heart always. I may have discovered that all three of these things are true. But any way, I am proud that I fell. I am proud that I got up. I am proud to be in Bolivia and take a new step in my muddy, ant-ridden, keens that I will never take again. I am proud of what I´ve let Bolivia teach me.

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Bolivia: Diversity and Development, Summer 2011

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Journal Entry from Friday, July 22, 2011

Maggie Potter,Bolivia: Diversity and Development, Summer 2011

Description

It is so easy to feel alone in a world that is so large. InBolivia at this moment, I have never felt more sure of whoI am and the potential that this world has to offer me. Yesterday I could not say the same. Last year I probably couldn´t either. There will be times in […]

Posted On

07/31/11

Author

Maggie Potter

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Greetings Team Bo followers!

This morning we climbed 12,000 feet in altitude from the hot steamy, stormy Amazon Basin back up to the altiplano in record time. Our flight took off from Rurrenabaque this morning, after an unexpected day-long delay, and kept climbing the entire 40 minutes of flight time until we skimmed over the Cordillera Real and landed once again on the 13,000 foot altiplano in El Alto.

We´ve had an amazing time exploring the rich cultures and ecosystems of the Bolivian lowlands. We were received with cariño in our host families in the Afro-Bolivian community of Tocaña in the Yungas. We swam in the Rio Beni and its many tributaries. We traveled by river, rather than by road. We discovered the warm hospitality of the Tsimane Moseten community of Asuncion del Quiquibey. We welcomed "home" our dear friend, Hank. We indulged in fresh coconut water and the sweetest grapefruits known to man. We swung in many hammocks.

We hope to post some photos soon, if technology wills it so, but for now, know that we are well and filled with warm memories of our time in the Yungas and the Amazon.

While some are still scratching Amazonian bug bites, we have turned our sites upwards still, towards the base of the majestic Huayna Potosi. We will spend the next week trekking from La Paz towards this sacred mountain, arriving at the base of its glacier fields by Friday.

Our time in Bolivia is winding down, but is most certainly not over yet.

We will be away from internet until Friday evening, but, as always, will be in regular communication with the Boulder office.

Love from the Amazon to the Andes and beyond,

Team Bo

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Bolivia: Diversity and Development, Summer 2011

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The wheels just keep turning

Instructor Team,Bolivia: Diversity and Development, Summer 2011

Description

Greetings Team Bo followers! This morning we climbed 12,000 feet in altitude from the hot steamy, stormy Amazon Basin back up to the altiplano in record time. Our flight took off from Rurrenabaque this morning, after an unexpected day-long delay, and kept climbing the entire 40 minutes of flight time until we skimmed over the […]

Posted On

07/31/11

Author

Instructor Team

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HiDragons comnunity!!! We are just now having breakfast Hank and me' ' the Condor' kukuuuuu!!! and Hank is so happy to join the other students and he says:

Hola Amigos,

It's so awesome to be back in Bolivia, kickin' it in El Alto with Alan. I cannot wait to see the group after my bus ride later today, I hope theres party potatos. Going back home and having the reverse culture shock of big booming 'merica has really made me appreciate my time here and I will relish every remaining second with vigor and gratitude.

Thanks for taking me back Dragones,

Hanky Pank

Alan Condori Flores

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Bolivia: Diversity and Development, Summer 2011

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Hank is back to Bolivia for more adventure

Ronald Alan Condori Flores,Bolivia: Diversity and Development, Summer 2011

Description

HiDragons comnunity!!! We are just now having breakfast Hank and me’ ‘ the Condor’ kukuuuuu!!! and Hank is so happy to join the other students and he says: Hola Amigos, It’s so awesome to be back in Bolivia, kickin’ it in El Alto with Alan. I cannot wait to see the group after my bus […]

Posted On

07/25/11

Author

Ronald Alan Condori Flores

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Allianchu Family and Friends,

We currently find ourselves for the moment in our metropolitan home-away-from home, La Paz. After a two week hiatus from this bustling capital, it's refreshing to come back to the familiar sights and sounds of this city, with our favorite juice stands, restaurants with good 'ol fashioned "American breakfasts" (lots of eggs, bacon/ham, coffee, orange juice, etc.), known bus routes, and more. Nelson Mandela's famous quote of: "There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchangedto find the ways in which you yourself have," definitely resonates with us in our return to La Paz.

But alas, we are off once again, heading for warmer, more tropical terrain, after spending the first three weeks of our adventure traversing the wind-swept cities, towns, and countryside of the Altiplano. Today we blast of for the Yungas, a semi-tropical region that marks the descent into the Amazon basin. In the small town of Tocana, about a 4 hour bumpy busride away from La Paz, we will be spending roughly 4 days doing homestays with local families. Tocana is a afro-bolivian community, descendants of the African slaves that were brought over so many years ago to work the mines of Cerro Rico in Potosi, which we had the opportunity to explore during our time there. This connection between the eye-opening conditions of present day miners in Potosi and where we are traveling to today has certainly not been lost on us.

From the Yungas, we will continue our descent down into the amazon basin, with great expectations and anticipation of reuniting with one HANK HALLER WEAVER in a matter of days! We will once again be a full 15 people strong in our traveling nomadic family here, and just in time too, as we will be arriving in the town of Guanay to depart on a two day river boat ride, complete with waterfalls, camping on sandy river beaches, passing through Madidi National Park, and onto the village of Asuncion, where we will be doing a brief two day homestay with this community in the amazon. From here we will make our way to the town of Rurrenabaque ("Rurre" for short), a major hub in the Bolivian amazon, before catching a short flight back, once again, to where I write this yak, La Paz.

We will be away from computers and internet until approximately July 29th, when we arrive in Rurre. The instructors will remain in contact with the Dragons office in Boulder throughout these days via mobile/satellite phone. Until next time, thanks for tuning in and for all your unconditional support from afar!

Un abrazo fuerte,

Equipo BO
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Bolivia: Diversity and Development, Summer 2011

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Jungle Bound…

Andrew Bruck,Bolivia: Diversity and Development, Summer 2011

Description

Allianchu Family and Friends, We currently find ourselves for the moment in our metropolitan home-away-from home, La Paz. After a two week hiatus from this bustling capital, it’s refreshing to come back to the familiar sights and sounds of this city, with our favorite juice stands, restaurants with good ‘ol fashioned "American breakfasts" (lots of […]

Posted On

07/21/11

Author

Andrew Bruck

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Just yesterday in Potosi, the highest city in the world, I shined my first shoe. Potosi is known for the mineral riches that were mined under the mita system during Spanish colonialism in its cerro rico or rich hill. It is also known for its poverty. I experienced that first hand when I shadowed youth laborers in the city for two days. I happened to be scheduled to be a shoe shiner or lustrabotas after a morning of dabbling in the art of being a carnillita or newsie.

I first met my masked companion, Jermon, in the plaza. He arrived a half an hour or so late. His fiery bravado and self assurance convinced me that it was actually myself and the two other dragons students, who were early. He taught us the trade of shoe shining out of his little box of tint, cream and brushes that may or may not have had a couple of less than decent photos popping out of the top. He brushed with such fluidity on each customer´s feet that what was considered a shameful joband required a hood and mask to cover up the shoeshiner´s identity, became an artform, musical in the girations of the brush and shine of the black polish.I was confused as I tried to pick up his profession because he seemed to change up the order from dry brush to tint to cream to dry brush to rag every so very often. His work was jazz like, full of improvisation and soul. I finally convinced myself to kneel uncomfortably on the ground while leaning on the stool and take on the challenge of plaza goer´s dress shoes. I brushed, shined and wiped. I even flipped my brush a few times, much to the amazement of Jermon and the customer to whom I promised I wouldn´t stain his white socks (I did a little bit, but he did not seem to notice). They couldn´t believe that a gringo was on the ground, shining like a lustrabotas. To be honest, I did not do a sufficient job and Jermon had to finish the job off. I just did not have the experience. Even when I tried to sell myself as a gringo shoeshine, the novelty of which I thought would sell like hot cakes, I came up short receiving only laughter and bewilderment.

I continued to follow Jermon around as an apprentice to a master. During one of Jermon´s shoeshinings, I was approached by a 73 year old man who proudly disclosed to me that his name was Tomas and he knew everywhere there was to know in Bolivia. He served in the army and was visiting Potosi because this is where his parents were from and where he was born. I told him our itinerary and he shared with me everything about his children and where they were. We spoke for awhile before I returned to my work and was able to convince a fellow foreigner to let me shine his other shoe while the expert, Jermon, shined the other. He was an Argentinian and we conned him into paying double for a good shine. I also talked to a policeman who had been to New Orleans and loved Bourbon street.

I could not understand the shame in this job. The plaza people couldnt help but talk and smile and share and pay as their shoes were polished. I couldn´t understand why Jermon kept his mask on after he told me multiple times how much he enjoyed his job. But I am not a Bolivian, and shoeshining was not my job. I was a voyeur in the hard work of a fellow teenager who needed this job probably to support his family and huge appetite (he got me to give him a ton of fried plaza food). I was an american, smiling as I sold myself as a gringo shoeshine. I did not know and could not experience the complex culture and rules and traditions that ran deep and flowed underneath that plaza.

I could only shine a handful of shoes for a day, but I caught a glimpse of a day in the life of a child laborer. I was only Jermon´s shadow in the strong, Potosino sun. I cannot say that I know to the 'very wipe' what it is like to be a lustrabotas, but I can say that I know what it is like to enjoy a morning with a fellow teenager in another country. Another teenager who likes girls, soccer, superhero movies and, did I mention girls? Jermon really likes girls. I am not a Potosi plaza shoe shiner. I barely can even say that I was one for a day. But I am a teenager who spent a great morning getting to know another teenager over fried food and a hard day´s work.

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Best Notes From The Field, Bolivia: Diversity and Development, Summer 2011

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Adventures in Shoeshining

Drew Zwetchkenbaum,Best Notes From The Field, Bolivia: Diversity and Development, Summer 2011

Description

Just yesterday in Potosi, the highest city in the world, I shined my first shoe. Potosi is known for the mineral riches that were mined under the mita system during Spanish colonialism in its cerro rico or rich hill. It is also known for its poverty. I experienced that first hand when I shadowed youth […]

Posted On

07/20/11

Author

Drew Zwetchkenbaum

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A piece of my heart belongs to Chuquisaca. One of Bolivia’s most rugged, unexplored departments, Chuquisaca is most commonly associated with its departmental capital, Sucre. Tourists flock to Sucre to take in the colonial architecture, whitewashed buildings, chorizo, chocolate and Spanish classes. Precious few tourists journey into the campo of Chuquisaca, however.

Having served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in this part of Bolivia, my heart leapt at the opportunity to once again wander through the scrub desert, dramatic valleys, riverbeds and Quechua communities. I feel at home in Chuquisaca. And I feel extremely privileged to have shared the last week with these phenomenal Dragons students in this extraordinary place.

We were supported by CondorTrekkers, a non-profit trekking organization based in Sucre that supports various community and youth development projects throughout the region. With our packs loaded, we set out on the first day for the community of Tumpeca. We passed by dramatic rock formations, ancient rock paintings and technicolor mountains along the way. We cooled off in a natural swimming pool at the end of the day. We were warmly welcomed by the children of Tumpeca as we set up “camp” in their school house. We played soccer until it was too dark to see the ball. We shared our first meal of soup and quinoa together. We tended to our weary muscles and feet. We slept hard.

Day two brought us through the community of Chauanaca, and along a lush river still flowing strong, despite it being the height of the dry season. We ate lunch by a beautiful waterfall. We climbed up a mountain to arrive at an idyllic campsite, complete with grazing sheep and goats. We communed around a fire. We waited patiently for our pasta dinner to cook. We reveled in the beauty of the moonrise. We identified the stars of the Southern sky. We slept hard.

On day three, we climbed into the Crater of Maragua, a geological formation that has geologists stumped worldwide. We passed through the small town of the same name and met a trusty canine friend who would come to be named Fred. We climbed the steep wall of the crater to be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the crater and even Sucre in the distance. We climbed higher still to ponder the passage of time as we place our hands, our feet, our bodies in the 65 million year old dinosaur footprints that are scattered throughout Chuquisaca. We charged on still to reach the remote community of Humaca. We experienced, first hand, the hardships that the people of Humaca endure daily after their water delivery system failed nearly a year ago. We emptied our packs and climbed down to the bottom of the valley to retrieve water from a natural spring. We climbed back up the hill with full packs to deliver water to the group for cooking and drinking. We wasted none. We sat in a circle reflecting on the privilege and responsibility of visiting Humaca. We slept hard.


Day four began before dawn. We hiked to the top of a nearby hill to take in the first light of the morning, while the full moon set behind us. We were greeted by the children of Humaca and we shared a pre-breakfast soccer game with them. We laughed together as we did a toothbrushing demonstration for the local kids. We gave the children toothbrushes and toothpaste. We set out, once again, for a final days’ hike to the hotsprings of Talula. We climbed up and down, up and finally down. We were met with a double-river crossing just before our final destination. We made it across safely and with most of our packs dry. Our trusty companion, Fred even made it across. We soaked our weary bodies in the natural hot springs. We devoured our final dinner on the trail. We slept hard.


Our return to Sucre on the fifth day was delayed by a bloqueo. We finally arrived, dusty, exhausted, yet filled to the brim with memories of our Chuquisacan sojourn. We sleepily loaded into two vans and climbed 4,000 feet up to the highest city in the world: Potosi. We slept hard.


More to come about our days in Potosi…

However, I think I speak for us all when I say that a piece of each of our hearts now belongs to Chuquisaca.

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Bolivia: Diversity and Development, Summer 2011

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Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time

Helen Rortvedt,Bolivia: Diversity and Development, Summer 2011

Description

A piece of my heart belongs to Chuquisaca. One of Bolivia’s most rugged, unexplored departments, Chuquisaca is most commonly associated with its departmental capital, Sucre. Tourists flock to Sucre to take in the colonial architecture, whitewashed buildings, chorizo, chocolate and Spanish classes. Precious few tourists journey into the campo of Chuquisaca, however. Having served as […]

Posted On

07/18/11

Author

Helen Rortvedt

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Bolivia: Diversity and Development, Summer 2011

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Ode to a friend

Student group,Bolivia: Diversity and Development, Summer 2011

Description

Posted On

07/18/11

Author

Student group

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Bolivia: Diversity and Development, Summer 2011

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More trek photos

Instructor Team,Bolivia: Diversity and Development, Summer 2011

Description

Enjoy the rest of these pictures from our recent trek!

Posted On

07/18/11

Author

Instructor Team

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