Photo of the Week
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    [post_date] => 2013-07-27 15:53:15
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-07-27 21:53:15
    [post_content] => Dear Parents,

Please know that the Bolivia crew has landed in Miami and students are on their way home!

All the best,

Boulder Admin
    [post_title] => Bolivia 4 week has landed in Miami!
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Bolivia Summer 4-week

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Bolivia 4 week has landed in Miami!

Dragons Admin,Bolivia Summer 4-week

Description

Dear Parents, Please know that the Bolivia crew has landed in Miami and students are on their way home! All the best, Boulder Admin

Posted On

07/27/13

Author

Dragons Admin

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    [post_date] => 2013-07-27 07:29:52
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-07-27 13:29:52
    [post_content] => Hi dragons community,

After a great final group dinner last night we when back to our hostel Austria. And this morning we woke up pretty early at 3:30 am and we left the Hostel to go to the airport at 4 am.

Now eleven students including Helen and Matt, they boarded the plane to Miami through Santa Cruz where they are going to have a delicious camba breakfast. The plane was on time and they already left La Paz.

While a big part of the group was flying to the low lands and then to United State, one student, Natasha and one instructor, Alan, are waiting and in a few minutes they are going to take a plane to Cochabamba, where Natasha is going to meet Valentina and then spend a whole week in Tiquipaya with her home-stay family.
    [post_title] => Adios Bolivia
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Bolivia Summer 4-week

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Adios Bolivia

Instructors,Bolivia Summer 4-week

Description

Hi dragons community, After a great final group dinner last night we when back to our hostel Austria. And this morning we woke up pretty early at 3:30 am and we left the Hostel to go to the airport at 4 am. Now eleven students including Helen and Matt, they boarded the plane to Miami […]

Posted On

07/27/13

Author

Instructors

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    [post_date] => 2013-07-27 00:23:40
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    [post_content] => Greetings, once more from La Paz! We returned this afternoon from our transference conference, and are spending our final day together eating our last saltenas, papas rellenas and jawitas, shopping on the famous Calle Sagarnaga  and perusing the Witches Market once more.  We will enjoy one final group dinner together at La Coca restaurant, which specializes in gourmet Andean cuisine!

We are all tired, but filled to the brim with gratitude for our experience in Bolivia--for the myriad Bolivians who welcomed us with open arms, taught us and traveled with us. We, the instructors, are also filled with gratitude for our students. Thank you, Selene, Harry, Grace, Edward, Saad, Natasha, Sinclaire, Kayla, Caroline, Jordan, Elizabeth, Nick and Rebecca. It's been an incredible journey. And, as we discussed yesterday, this is just the beginning in many ways.

Tomorrow, before dawn, we will board the plane, bound first for Santa Cruz, and then for Miami. We are excited to see you all, but please, excuse our long hair, dirty laundry and total exhaustion. It's been an amazing month, but laundry, hot showers and long nights of sleep have been in short supply recently as we've dedicated ourselves to absorbing every Bolivian moment we could.

To our students: It's been an honor and a joy to be intrepid travelers with you.

To their families: Thank you for sharing your loved ones with us.

With love and admiration,

Matt, Alan y Helen
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Bolivia Summer 4-week

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Gratitude

Instructor Team,Bolivia Summer 4-week

Description

Greetings, once more from La Paz! We returned this afternoon from our transference conference, and are spending our final day together eating our last saltenas, papas rellenas and jawitas, shopping on the famous Calle Sagarnaga  and perusing the Witches Market once more.  We will enjoy one final group dinner together at La Coca restaurant, which […]

Posted On

07/27/13

Author

Instructor Team

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    [post_date] => 2013-07-27 00:22:28
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-07-27 06:22:28
    [post_content] => As we embarked on our student expedition portion of the trip, nobody knew exactly what to expect. We boarded a bus and headed to the Potosi, the highest major city in the world (or so we've been told). After a long day of traveling, we finally arrived at the Koala Den. We were slightly off schedule, so we didn't get to meet with the NATS like we had planned. To clarify, NATS is the child labor union in Potosi. They have a different outlook on child labor than we do in America. To them, working as a child is a necessity because of the economic status of Bolivia. They don't want to stop child labor, they simply want the same rights as adult laborers. As Americans, we have the privilege of saying that child labor is wrong. By pushing that idea on the rest of the world, children who have to work to support their family now work illegally. This means they don't get equal rights. Obviously, there is a point where child labor is wrong, but to these kids, working is simply a part of life. In fact, most of them enjoy their jobs.
Anyway, the next day we got the opportunity to go to work with some of the kids from the union. A few students got up early to sell newspapers, while others went off to shine shoes, work in the cemetery, or scale fish in the fish markets. I was one of the people who went to the cemetery. There I met Christina. She paints, in calligraphy, the names of the deceased on the stones. There I got to awkwardly intrude on two funerals, but I also realized that this wasn't only a job for her, it was a talent. She has artistic ability, and uses it to make money. When we all reconvened, I also got to hear about everyone else's day. The shoe shiners struggled to learn the trade, while the people at the market scaled fish the entire morning. The others had spent the morning running around trying to sell or deliver newspaper. It was a unique experience to be involved in the lives of these children and seeing what they do every day. The next day we switched and got the opportunity to experience a different job. Although I couldn't participate that day, the rest of the group bonded with their NATS and got to see Bolivian life in a different light. That afternoon we had a despedida with the NATS, where we ate cake and played a game of soccer.
Working with the NATS has been extremely eye opening. It's encouraged us to question the assumptions we had on child labor. It taught us a lot about how there can be so many different perspectives on certain issues. It doesn't mean that one of them is right or wrong, but it means that we should keep our minds open and question what we have always thought. We realized that in some countries, children work, which doesn't necessarily have to be a terrible thing. Sometimes they actually enjoy what they do. It was inspiring to witness these independent children fighting for their rights and embracing their jobs.
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Bolivia Summer 4-week

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Meeting with NATS

Selene Ramer,Bolivia Summer 4-week

Description

As we embarked on our student expedition portion of the trip, nobody knew exactly what to expect. We boarded a bus and headed to the Potosi, the highest major city in the world (or so we’ve been told). After a long day of traveling, we finally arrived at the Koala Den. We were slightly off […]

Posted On

07/27/13

Author

Selene Ramer

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    [post_date] => 2013-07-27 00:22:03
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    [post_content] => Hey intrepid travelers,

Today is the last day of our journey here in Bolivia. After a month of Coroico, La Paz, Cochabamba, and Potosi we feel experienced enough to impart some valuable advice.

Don't be afraid of public bathrooms, altitude sickness, or freezing cold weather. Rather squat (but don't sit) drink up and throw on some alpaca sweaters. Push yourself to stay away from gringo cafes and to finish your sopa and segundo at local comedors. Talk to the people and hear their perspectives on Evo Morales, TIPNIS, mining and Westernization. Clear your mind of preconceptions and leave your assumptions at the airport. Question what you think you know and what you are convinced you understand. Walk the streets with open eyes and hearts and Bolivia will show you its true colors.

Provecho young learners,

Nick, Caroline and Kayla
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Bolivia Summer 4-week

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A note to fellow travelers

Nick, Caroline, and Kayla,Bolivia Summer 4-week

Description

Hey intrepid travelers, Today is the last day of our journey here in Bolivia. After a month of Coroico, La Paz, Cochabamba, and Potosi we feel experienced enough to impart some valuable advice. Don’t be afraid of public bathrooms, altitude sickness, or freezing cold weather. Rather squat (but don’t sit) drink up and throw on […]

Posted On

07/27/13

Author

Nick, Caroline, and Kayla

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    [post_date] => 2013-07-26 08:24:51
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-07-26 14:24:51
    [post_content] => Standing on the hill for the last time with our arms around each other, it finally struck me that this course is almost over. For the last few days, we have been engaged in what is called "transference," basically a debrief of everything that has happened in the last month. It seems like time has flown by. To recall every event that has taken place during our time in Bolivia, we sat in a circle, taking turns remembering our trip one day at a time.  It was crazy reviewing ever detail or funny event that has occurred. There was so much that one person alone could have remembered, but as a group everything came rushing back.

Afterwards with the whirlwind of different people and peoples life stories that we had encountered, from the NNAT's (organized child labor union of Potosi), our home stays in Cochabamba and our tour of the mine in Potosi, it was amazing to finally get a chance to compare experiences,  ideas, and opinions.  As we went over everything that has happened in the last month, some connections were bluntly obvious, while others seemed to have no connection at all. One afternoon we all met up for a activity where we brainstormed every point, name, and idea that had came up on the trip.  Then each person choose a word that was on the board. Slowly we partnered off trying to find the connection between the two words. One example of a connection being formed is when the NNAT's and Salteñas (a typical Bolivian food) were combined to form the combined to form the word "working class".  As this process continued we ended-up creating a few main words "Humanity", "profit?" and "westernization."  These topics lead to discussions about topics such as if money and happiness are related.

After getting past debriefing about what we had learned material wise, we began to explore what this trip really meant for each and every one of us. We all took a moment to reflect on how little things, such as our walk changes when we are in a more "learning" mind frame and less of a daily routine. The realization came to us that when we are at home, we take for granted - the amazing pieces of life that we don't realize.  When we travel we are always looking to be amazed and asking questions about everything around us and how in our regular life, we don't let ourselves get caught up in the little details and wonders of our home town.  In the final stage of transference, we reflected on going home and what experiences we would bring with us. This culminated on a ceremony walking to the top of a hill in the dark and picking a rock with a word that had some significance to us.  With candle light we discussed why each word was significant to us, and our time in Bolivia. Overall this has been a amazing end to a even better adventure.
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Bolivia Summer 4-week, Focus of Inquiry

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In the final days…

Sinclaire Parer,Bolivia Summer 4-week, Focus of Inquiry

Description

Standing on the hill for the last time with our arms around each other, it finally struck me that this course is almost over. For the last few days, we have been engaged in what is called “transference,” basically a debrief of everything that has happened in the last month. It seems like time has […]

Posted On

07/26/13

Author

Sinclaire Parer

WP_Post Object
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    [post_date] => 2013-07-25 11:35:53
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-07-25 17:35:53
    [post_content] => Dear Bolivia Students & Families,
This weekend marks the end of our Bolivia program and students will soon return home to share tales with each of you.
We will have a Dragons Administrator on call for the duration of the travel day and we will be in contact if there are any suspected delays.
We wish all students a great trip home. Please leave us a voice message on extension 30 if you are not able to reach us during office hours. We will be checking our messages throughout the evening.
Sincerely,
BoulderAdmin
To check on the status of the group’s international flight, please refer to:
http://www.aa.com/homePage.do?locale=en_US&pref=true&cd=RPM2013&gc=ACM&cc=SEM&cp=TXT&skw=airline+flights&tc=GOOG&pp=Core_Top
The students are traveling home on the following American Airline flight:
Returning Flight:
July 27th, 2013
American Airlines #AA 922
Depart: La Paz (LPB) 6:50am
Arrive: Miami (MIA) 3:55pm
    [post_title] => Return flight information
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Bolivia Summer 4-week

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Return flight information

Dragons Admin,Bolivia Summer 4-week

Description

Dear Bolivia Students & Families, This weekend marks the end of our Bolivia program and students will soon return home to share tales with each of you. We will have a Dragons Administrator on call for the duration of the travel day and we will be in contact if there are any suspected delays. We […]

Posted On

07/25/13

Author

Dragons Admin

WP_Post Object
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    [post_date] => 2013-07-19 16:03:06
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-07-19 22:03:06
    [post_content] => In the United States, construction is hardly an exciting concept. On the streets of Manhattan, scaffolding goes up daily and is torn down without a notice from even the most observant of civilians. Our highways were built ages ago, long before our parents were born, and possibly before our grandparents were our age. Even in the middle class neighborhood of Tiquipaya, the site of our Dragons homestay, my homestay brothers, Oscar and Borris, are used to the half-built houses dotting their suburban streets. But, as I have come to learn, there are corners of the world—crevasses of Bolivia even more foreign and unexplored than Tiquipaya—where infrastructure offers not construction, but, destruction of a culture that has survived over a thousand years in the midst of sweeping change.

This strange corner is none other than the TIPNIS region of the Bolivian Amazon, which has recently emerged as a huge domestic (and minor international) point of tension. Many indigenous peoples currently inhabit the area, and hundreds of generations of their ancestors populated the land before them. What is more, the region is home to incredible biological diversity, natural beauty, and ecosystems characteristic of the Amazon Rainforest, including a Bolivian National Park and consequently high interest from tourists. But, tourists are not the only external players who have caught sight of TIPNIS! The Brazilian government has targeted the area as the final puzzle piece needed to complete the construction of a massive South American highway. The road spans across the South American continent, through Brazil, Peru and parts of Bolivia, and once completed, it would enable an efficient and more reliable trade route between Brazil and China, a key trading partner. The only problem for Brazil is the 306km hole in the road straight through the TIPNIS region of Bolivia. Naturally, Brazil, arguably Bolivia's most important ally, has been encouraging the Morales administration to permit the road's construction through TIPNIS, not entirely a Bolivian concession to Brazil considering that the highway would also facilitate faster trade for Bolivian goods and bring Western health and education resources to the underdeveloped TIPNIS area. Not to mention, how could Morales refuse when Brazil has eagerly agreed to cover almost 75% of the $415 (USD) cost?

Clearly, the TIPNIS road is a controversial issue, a big moment for Bolivia. In 2008, Evo Morales approved the highway's construction but, in years since, has been met with active protests from indigenous and environmental groups. To help us understand the conflict more thoroughly, our instructors planned a simulation activity where each member of the group was assigned a role who represented a key player or interest in the TIPNIS debate. My character, “Jacki Nebraska”, was the program director of The Mother Earth Foundation, an NGO based in Washington, DC that aimed to interfere in the TIPNIS issue to combat the destruction of the Amazon. Though I soon found out that my character bore closer resemblance to Hannah Montana than an actual leader of an NGO, I played along with the simulation game, trying to achieve my objective of creating alliances with indigenous groups opposed to the road's construction, despite their distrust of Western interference. I thus allied with “Maria Tirikuati” and “Adolf” of CIDOB (aka, Jordan & Grace), while the leader of the cocaleros and an Aymara leader allied in common support for Evo. Meanwhile, Evo held press conferences and plotted with his defense minister and the Brazilian Ambassador, and our two journalists interviewed all players to compile and article fulfilling the reputation and objective of their respective Bolivian newspapers. Our instructors updated us with the printed articles and narrated the simulation with slips of paper detailing recent events (that we found out later had actually occurred), such as protests and police brutality. The activity was hugely insightful, and from it we were able to more fully grasp the deep complexity, and harsh reality, of the situation at hand.

But, we soon realized that all of our characters came with selfish motives. Natasha (Evo Morales), sought to preserve political power and increase Bolivia's trade resources. Selene (Brazilian Ambassador) wanted to enhance Brazil's prosperity. Grace and Jordan (indigenous leaders from the TIPNIS and other lowlands areas) wanted to defend the land of their indigenous groups from the inherent colonization, immigration and division of their peoples as a result of the new highway. Even my character, the Western environmental do-gooder, aimed primarily to make a name for herself and bolster the credibility of her organization. This issue has so many angles, but now that I've been able to reflect on it with a little more clarity, I realize the complexity of the TIPNIS debate is derived from these self-interested perspectives.

Naturally, in our post-simulation debrief, the question arose: What if the road were re-routed somewhere else? At first, we were all for the idea. Of course, if the road weren't in TIPNIS, the problem would be solved, indigenous culture and Amazonian nature would be preserved, Bolivia's larger economic and political interests would be upheld. But, surely, no matter what the decided location of the construction site, those near it would inherently oppose it, while those farther away, whether in the altiplano or the Amazon basin or government capital buildings, would support it enthusiastically in the name of “the common good for Bolivia”. Someone has to lose.

My heart goes out to the indigenous people protecting the land they've lived on and worked for centuries. The persevered through Spanish colonization and inconceivable obstacles, yet still they face Western influence, monumental traffic, elimination of tourism (an important economic activity), and migration of coca growers threatening their home. But maybe this issue isn't quite as complicated as I've made it out to be. Ethnic domain debates are occurring all over the world, even in my home city of Manhattan, New York. Christine Quinn, NYC's mayoral candidate, is the quintessential liberal politician—supporter of gay rights, womens' rights, social security programs, public health and education, you name it. As an extreme liberal and devoted Democrat, I want to support her, but I can't. The reason: she is the main proponent of a “garbage transfer station”, or garbage dump, to be built only a few blocks away from my apartment. If built, the site would destroy all property values in my neighborhood, bring truck traffic, rats, and smells of trash in an area containing not only homes, but two schools, a public athletic facility, and a park. But, according to Public Housing and candidate Quinn, Manhattan needs to bear the brunt of NYC's garbage disposal system just like the other boroughs, a seemingly equitable stance.

I don't think twice about my gut-detestation for Quinn. How could she destroy my neighborhood, where my family and I have been living for the past 17 years? Yet, I do think deeply about the TIPNIS debate in Bolivia, label its complications, and condemn the selfish motives of the players involved when a parallel situation shadows my very residential neighborhood back at home. Sure, property values might go down, our streets may smell bad, and our park may become deserted. But, we don't have a thousand year old indigenous culture and precious natural resources that we have to worry about being eliminated for good. I feel almost guilty at the sheer irony before me: how I criticized Evo Morales for playing the political game as Bolivia's prime Aymara representative and turning on that image only to divide the indigenous people in the TIPNIS region, when in reality, ethnic domain is never fair. It is a game, but losing for the TIPNIS people bears consequences that are way more severe than anything comparable to “losing” at home. And winning? That's just prolonging the fight against development, neoliberalism, and new colonialism. It's preserving the status quo and the little these communities already have. But hey, as my mom said in an insightful letter to one of Christine Quinn's friends, “Isn't all politics local?”
    [post_title] => Ethnic Domain
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Bolivia Summer 4-week

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Ethnic Domain

Caroline Kuritzkes,Bolivia Summer 4-week

Description

In the United States, construction is hardly an exciting concept. On the streets of Manhattan, scaffolding goes up daily and is torn down without a notice from even the most observant of civilians. Our highways were built ages ago, long before our parents were born, and possibly before our grandparents were our age. Even in […]

Posted On

07/19/13

Author

Caroline Kuritzkes

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    [post_content] => Thursday morning, the whole group woke up extra early in order to make it into town by 8:30am for our language excursions. Of course, it was rush hour so although some of us jumped into a trufi close to 8, it took 40 minutes to arrive in Cochabamba's Plaza Colón. Once reunited “por la mañana”, the group split into their language classes and went their separate ways. Many of us had our own langugae classes over warm cuñapes or salteñas, which are delicious breakfast treats here in Bolivia. The little cafes also serve fresh banana or passion fruit milkshakes.

After discussing the structure and condition of Bolivian mines and the politics of Evo Morales, Caroline, Marisol (our Spanish teacher) and I made our way towards the centro de documentación e información de Bolivia, for a lecture on “El Bienestar”. An academic was giving a speech on capitalism and how this us not the best route for Bolivia. There were times when he opened my eyes to the realities of the modern world. For example, he stated that “la crisis financiera no puede entenderse solo como crisis financiera”. The financial crisis cannot only be interpreted as a financial crisis. It also encompasses an energy crisis, an environmental crisis and a food crisis, amongst other things. After the conferencia, we took a taxi up to the Cristo of Cochabamba, where we met up with the other groups. The Cristo is on a hill that overlooks a city, thus giving a spectacular panorama of the different barrios of Cochabamba and the surrounding countryside.
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Bolivia Summer 4-week

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Un dia en Cochabamba

Natasha Mardinian,Bolivia Summer 4-week

Description

Thursday morning, the whole group woke up extra early in order to make it into town by 8:30am for our language excursions. Of course, it was rush hour so although some of us jumped into a trufi close to 8, it took 40 minutes to arrive in Cochabamba’s Plaza Colón. Once reunited “por la mañana”, […]

Posted On

07/19/13

Author

Natasha Mardinian

WP_Post Object
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    [ID] => 88792
    [post_author] => 19
    [post_date] => 2013-07-17 14:49:20
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-07-17 20:49:20
    [post_content] => 
Buenos dias, desde Cochabamba!   Depending on what time you read this, the Bolivia Dragones might be anywhere from lounging on the lush program house lawn in the heat of the midday sun to huddling under five to ten pounds of blankets to keep warm through the night. Over the length of our homestays thus far, the group has collectively fallen in love with each student's respective homestay family. I can assure you that every one of us has been adopted by caring and loving family. Our host mothers are everything that one would expect a mother to be, right down to telling us to put on a sweater every 30 seconds, lest we catch a cold (un resfriado). We're in good hands in the wonderful community of Tiquipaya. Although Tiquipaya sits outside of the city of Cochabamba, we have numerous field trips into the city planned, and a few already completed. We have been traveling with our Spanish teachers into the city to enter the fray once again and flex our developing Spanish muscles (once more into the breach, my dear friends!). However, all this says nothing of our learning of the political geography of Bolivia. In addition to the political simulation where every student is assigned a role, e.g. Evo Morales or Reuben Costas, we will get the chance of Friday to speak with Oscar Olivera, who is partially responsible for starting the 2000 Bolivian Water Wars. The entire encounter will happen in Spanish, and we will have to stretch our knowledge of Spanish yet again. As a not entirely unrelated aside, I can unequivocally say that living in Spanish—speaking it, hearing it, reading it, thinking it—is many times more powerful, at least for me, than lessons from even the most experienced classroom teacher. The warmth and hospitality of Tiqiuipaya was much needed, and many dragons are now on the mend from the various illnesses that plagued the earlier stages of our course. Our bodies are resting, taking in the sun, and relaxing in the beauty of Cochabamba. And yet, true to our nature of explorers in a foreign land, we are still constantly adventuring. Tomorrow we will be taking a trip to the Christ on the cerro (hill) overlooking Cochabamba. Modeled after the statue in Rio de Janeiro, but taller by 6 meters, it is, allegedly, the largest statue of Christ in the world. As I write this (on paper), the family cats are lounging in the midday sun, the clothes are drying on wires strung across the courtyard, and my host niece is riding a bike outside of the kitchen. I am filled with awe am, as I have been since the beginning of the trip, enchanted by Bolivia. I am looking forward to the adventures that we will have as our journey nears its conclusion. Alas, I wish I could write more, but due to time constraints, this is all for now.   Until next time, -Harry Sherman
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Bolivia Summer 4-week

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Cochabamba, La Llatja

Harry Sherman,Bolivia Summer 4-week

Description

Buenos dias, desde Cochabamba!   Depending on what time you read this, the Bolivia Dragones might be anywhere from lounging on the lush program house lawn in the heat of the midday sun to huddling under five to ten pounds of blankets to keep warm through the night. Over the length of our homestays thus […]

Posted On

07/17/13

Author

Harry Sherman

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