As orientation comes to a close, I think we are all feeling a combination of nervousness and excitement for the trek and homestay to come. We are all still panting our way up to the yoga studio every day, but every time it feels slightly easier (unless you sprint there because you are running late). The nervous energy seems to be manifesting itself in some gastrointestinal issues, but hopefully we will all be healthy and ready to walk (a lot) on Wednesday. Orientation was a lot of preflection (like reflection but before the course? Am I allowed to invent a word?), games, learning about Bolivia, and standing really close to each other. It also involved quite a few bug bites for many of us. When we weren’t in our new favorite yoga studio, we were probably in Coroico doing a scavenger hunt or waiting for Carnival to start (Bolivian time runs even later than we do to our morning check-ins).
Wow was the Carnival an experience! I don’t think any of us really knew what to expect, and what we saw was a beautiful parade of people dancing, creating music, and laughing. Before the parade started, children ran around la plaza de armas squirting each other with super soakers, throwing water balloons, and spraying some sort of foam at everyone. And we sure were caught in the crossfire! After a long wait made more fun by our new puppy friend that we weren’t allowed to pet, the parade began. I thought it compared to some sort of more fun adult Halloween, since everyone was dressed in all sorts of costumes, ranging from traditional Carnival dress to Snow White and Wednesday Addams. Attempting to take photos of the event was a dangerous game, as I was being constantly sprayed with water, flour, and foam. Sophia, Devan, and Tone got up close and personal with the dancers, and Devan could have easily been confused with the eight-year-old children running around the streets. We genuinely thought we lost Tone when he walked off with a group of dancers! The final part of the parade that we saw was a sea of color filled with people of all ages celebrating a tradition that we were proud to be a part of. The music, the costumes, the dancing, it was all beautiful.
We will be leaving Coroico tomorrow (Monday) morning, and heading to Tiquipaya for a night in the program house. The next day we will prepare for our first trek, buying food and organizing gear, and on Wednesday we will set out to see if we are really cut out for this (it is very unclear if we are). Wish us luck!
-Twelve Nervous Friends