It’s day 6 of the Illampu Circuit and BOY has the hiker hunger kicked in. We just devoured our second batch of no bake cookies and we’re still ravenous. I think as a group we’ve been handling our collective hanger remarkably well, especially since food has emerged as a common core value for us.
Andes & Amazon Group A was affectionatelly(?) renamed Group “Cappuccino” by Parker after we landed ourselves at a café in Cochabamba during a student-run expedition. While I personally support the group’s desire to get that caffeine fix before a day on the town, this incident has become a symbol of our group’s unwillingness to leave behind North American culture.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this is entirely a bad thing; without acknowledging where we come from, we also refuse to acknowledge our privilege. Also, I’ve been realizing more and more on this trip that I find meaning through cultural exchange — if I leave behind my North American-ness entirely, this mutual exchange and understanding isn’t possible.
At the same time, I understand that having a conversation about granola bars on top of a 17,000 foot mountain is not the time or the place for the USA. But cooking stir-fries and cookies and mac & cheese to share with our guides was, and so was the night Devan whipped out his Bolivian flute to exchange songs with our host dad in Santiago de Okola.
As we move into Peru, I hope we can keep working toward more meaningful cultural exchange while still immersing ourselves in this place – through food, cappuccinos and otherwise.