Hola Friends and family!
The past few days we have been settling into our homestay families in Tikipaya. It took us an extra day to get here because of a snow storm that blocked the roads so the overnight busses couldn’t pass. We ended up spontaneously spending a night in a hostel in La Paz and got the best nights sleep (except for Tom, Harrison, and Jack whose room was haunted by a strange late night ghost). We then hopped on the bus and saw the most beautiful and shocking scenery so it was meant to be that we rode the bus during the daylight instead. We passed through small villages, deserted mountains and flat grassy plains. We made it to the program house late at night greeted by puppies and crickets. Since it was too late to stay with our families we ended up having a slumber party on the floor of the library! The next day we were greeted with open arms by our homestay families. Despite being anxious about the language barrier all of us ended up connecting with our families in one way or another—laughing, card games, working on their farms etc. We spent this past Saturday in the town of Cochabamba on a mini X-phase. We had to figure out our own transportation, find a map in town, and plan a route up to El Cristo, which is a sacred religious monument on the top of a central hill in Cochabamba. These tasks were all to be done without our instructors help. Despite some difficulties trying to transport a group of fifteen gringos across the town, we worked efficiently as a team to make it up to El Cristo, overlooking the city in the basin of the mountains. The next day, Sunday, was family day. We each spent the whole day doing various activities such as planting trees at a festival, milking cows, and helped sell produce in the market! Today we each took Spanish class divided up based on our skills. The rest of the week we are taking more Spanish class, working on our independent study projects, and spending time with our host families.