There wouldn’t be enough space to write about all the amazing places and people I have had the privilege to experience and meet, but one common favorite out of my whole group and personally one of my favorite experiences has been our time in Tiquipaya and Cochabamba. Hospitable and warm homestay families with amazing Spanish teachers are enough to make us not want to leave, but on top of that, a lot of our afternoons consisted of ISPs. Individual Study Projects gives students the opportunity to study and practice what they are passionate about or interested in. I had the good fortune of studying Bolivian cooking with Doña Fanny, one of the most affectionate I think I will ever meet. She welcomes you into her beautiful house with the warmest of smiles and and a big hug. Besides her incredibly nice personality, she is the master of the kitchen, with a depth of knowledge I didn´t know was possible for cooking.
Unfortunately, I had only five lessons with her (I wanted many many more), but in those five lessons, I learned more than I think I could ever have about food. From Sillpancho, a traditional Cochabamba dish consisting of carne flattened on a stone surface with a large stone along with a fried egg, potatoes, rice, and salad, to Salteñas, one of the most popular street dishes of Bolivia containing potatoes, carne or pollo, vegetables, an olive and a hard boiled egg baked in a delicious dough. All while she was patiently teaching me the techniques involved in getting the dishes right, she explained the origin and history of each meal we were crafting. Whenever I made something like Empanadas or Salteñas, she would send me home with a small piece of dough to practice my crimping technique, so technically with this alternative education, I still had homework! After every dish was finished we would sit down, sometimes with the rest of her lovely family who would stop by to eat, or sometimes just by ourselves. Over the feast we had crafted with love we would discuss my life back home, her life in Cochabamba, or just laugh (Doña Fanny is quite the jokester!). Saying goodbye to her a few days ago as she saw me off to the bus stop back to my host family was emotional and hard for me to do, but gives me serious motivation to return hopefully in the near future. Cochabamba and Tiquipaya were overall unforgettable, and when I said goodbye, I felt as if I was saying goodbye to a part of the city and the culture as well when I did.