After 3 weeks of homestays, Spanish lessons and eye-opening talks from a variety of people, our time in the Tiquipaya/Cochabamba area of Bolivia is slowly coming to a close. As all good things must come to and end, its interesting to reflect and realize how the past few weeks has truly been a time of ‘getting comfortable’.
As fun as our time in Peru was, where we were traveling to a different region and climate every week, being able to settle into our homes and surroundings in Tiquipaya has been an equally amazing experience. From day 1 we were welcomed with open arms by our host families to the point where it felt natural to call the children in the host families our brothers and sisters. We have enjoyed meals, gone on trips to the market and watched American movies (in Spanish) and shared so many more memorable experiences that have helped us bond and get comfortable with our host families.
Elsewhere, we have also had to get comfortable with leadership within the group. Our time in Tiquipaya has given us the opportunity to take control of our education and be responsible for coordinating and organizing our various activities. One example of this was our trip to the Montecillo Waterfall for which I was responsible for coordinating meals, acquiring transportation, and finding someone who could guide us through the hike up to the waterfall. Although we still had the instructors available to support us, we have all enjoyed the freedom to choose the activities that interest us.
Lastly, we have gotten comfortable with our respective ISP topics, mine being the culture and history of the Afro-Bolivian community. With the help of my mentor/instructor Sandy, I have met several incredible, strong women who embrace their identity and heritage and continue to fight for the increased visibility and rights of the African descendent community here in Bolivia.
From my my host mother Dona Mercedes, to my Spanish teacher Dona Delma, to the trufi (taxi bus) driver Walter, I feel extremely fortunate to have met and connected with such incredible and friendly people over the past few weeks. I have enjoyed discovering the cities of Tiquipaya and Cochabamba as well as the small towns surrounding it. I am look forward to more amazing experiences in our next few weeks in Bolivia before heading home.