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Crossing the river before summiting 17,500 Pico Austria. Photo by Ella Williams (2016 Fall Semester Photo Contest, 2nd Place), South America Semester.

Altai Oasis

Hola Family and Friends! It’s Wes checking in from Bolivia! Following our short flight from Santa Cruz to La Paz, we finally got to meet our instructors, Itzá and Raquel. Awaiting the third instructor, Jackson, we all played ninja in the frigid airport parking lot. Once we were all packed into the 2 vans, we started our trip to Sorata. Because we knew some roads would be blocked due to demonstrations, we had to take the longer route which included lots of off-roading! Once we arrived in Sorata, we found our living grounds at Altai Oasis. After eating a wonderfully prepared dinner, we all went to bed after a couple days of travel. In the morning we ate breakfast around 9 and got to meet Brian, our other instructor. We went over the do’s and don’ts, how to think smart in a foreign area, and what the coming days/weeks will look like. My favorite part about Altai Oasis is being able to explore the property. The garden is my favorite place not only because of how beautiful it is, but also the amount of pride Johnny and his family take in the garden. After only talking with him for about 5 minutes, I learned just how amazing this operation is. After spending the first 26 years of his life in Germany, Johnny came to his birthplace of Bolivia to go backpacking. He loved it so much, he spent every last boliviano he had to purchase the land and used all natural resources to build it. He used rocks from the river not far by for all the patios, he used the clay in the ground to build up all the cottages, and used only the wood that was cut from his land. He also recycles everything, such as using old glass bottles to build outdoor showers and replanting every avocado seed. In just my couple days here I’ve learned so much about living a simpler life, how to successfully travel in a foreign country, and how lucky I am to be traveling with this amazing group of people!