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Photo by Ryan Kost, Andes & Amazon Semester.

Boots on the Ground: Exploring Coroico

¡Hola de Bolivia!

Noel and I are writing from an internet cafe just off the main square of Coroico, Bolivia, the town just below Sol y Luna, a local hostel and our orientation sight. After a morning of information-getting and health-training, we were sent into town with our rudimentary Spanish, our hunger, and a sheet of tasks we were challenged to complete.

Naturally, we let our stomachs do the deciding when we first set out from the town square to the local mercado, where we each enjoyed a bowl of deliciously warm potato-based soup and a plate of fried-chicken, rice, and plaintains for only twenty-four bolivianos for both of us, barely more than three US dollars. It was a perfect lunch to satiate our growing appetites.

After lunch, we spent the rest of our time exploring town. Though we had a set of tasks to complete, we found them often coming secondary to just looking around and enjoying the views of the mountains, stunning in their majesty. We struggled to ask for hand sanitizer from several local pharmacies and gave up after attempting to secure a stool cup. Encouraged to buy a 15 boliviano gift for our three team instructors, we bought four DVDs of films of varying quality. And what visit to town would be complete without a stop in the public restroom?

Through our brief jaunt into town, we received just a taste of what we will be striving towards for these next nine months: familiarity. Unfamiliar with the language, the culture, or how to integrate ourselves into either, our first excursion of orientation proved successful, if only as a unique way to celebrate my nineteenth birthday.