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Two Dragons welcome the sunrise with an improvised dance atop the Andes. Photo by Ryan Gasper.

Transition from Tiquipaya to the Cordillera Real

Dear friends and family,

On Sunday evening, we wrapped up our long homestays in Tiquipaya and said goodbye to our wonderful homestay families. At our final homestay party, students presented what they had learned in their ISPs (independent study projects) during the homestays. Among the 12 students, we had two photography exhibits, three weaving exhibits, a silversmith, a classical guitar demonstration, three chefs explain some recipes, and two farmers share some of the cheese they made. Families stayed for a dance party with a fusion of popular music from the States and Latin America, as well as some traditional dances from Bolivia. It was wonderful to gather our community together for an evening of celebration.

Monday, we transitioned to La Paz, watching the landscape change from the valleys of the Cochabamba area to the high elevation plateau of the Bolivian altiplano.

Currently, we are in El Alto and La Paz, the twin cities in the Bolivian altiplano. On Tuesday, we journeyed across La Paz in multiple busses and telefericos (gondolas used as long-distance public transport) city to extend our Bolivian visas, and got to explore parts of La Paz. La Paz has an extremely active public life! Yesterday we witnessed multiple pro-government demonstrations, marching through the streets with marching bands to support another term for president Evo Morales. Today there are more bands in the street for a festival.

On Friday morning, we depart El Alto and walk into the Cordillera Real. We’ll be out of touch for 10 days: 7 in the Cordillera on our trek that descends into the Yungas, a cloud-forest region of the Andean foothills that is home to most of the Afro-Bolivian communities in Bolivia. We will spend three days in Sandy’s community before returning to La Paz to begin a student-planned travel to south/central Bolivia, beginning by visiting Potosí, the mining city that fueled the rise of capitalism across the world and is the central reason for the creation of the Bolivian state.

Until we depart, we are busy buying food, preparing our tents, and looking with anticipation at the huge glaciated peaks that loom over El Alto!