Hola [email protected],
Welcome to your course! Over the past few weeks we have been evaluating past courses, our own experience and expertise, and, most importantly, your passions and interests to design an itinerary for our upcoming semester together.
We would like to give you a bit of background on the way we design our courses. While the places we visit are beautiful and deeply moving in themselves, the flow of our course is designed carefully and intentionally to create a progression of experiences. In the first phase, known as Skill Acquisition, you will be learning important tools concerning how to be responsible travelers and taking ownership over your educational experience. During the Practicing Phase, you will make use of these tools and engage on a deeper level with your surroundings. During the final Expedition Phase, students take on an even more active role in the planning and implementation of course elements. As we move through the course, the challenges will increase and your ownership of the experience and responsibilities will increase in kind. Throughout the process, you will be guided by us, your instructors, and by the local people and landscapes.
Furthermore, our core values of Awareness of Self, Global Citizenship, and Leadership and Skill Building will act as an undercurrent throughout the course, guiding us through the experience. At each phase of the course you will find yourselves delving deeper into these themes. And finally, as always with Dragons, the course will be flexible and spontaneous, allowing us to make changes depending on local conditions, group interests, and other opportunities that may present themselves along the way. We’ve included rough dates below but please use these as mere guidelines, as the itinerary will surely change as this adventure unfolds.
Our excitement has been growing as we’ve put this together, and we can’t wait to share these wonderful places with each of you! So, without further ado here is our Spring 2019 Andes & Amazon Group C tentative itinerary!
You all will arrive at Viru Viru International Airport in Santa Cruz, Bolivia bright and early on the morning of February 8th. We’ll meet you in the airport and then take a quick 1 hour flight to Sucre (you’ll receive more details about this closer to your departure date). Just outside of Sucre we’ll stay in a relaxing ecolodge where we’ll spend a few days getting to know one another, learning about Dragons and setting intentions for our 3 months together.
SUCRE + Maragua Trek (2/12-2/16)
Sucre (2,800 meters) was the home of the Charcas people and then was “settled” by the Spanish conquistadors in 1539. This city is rich in indigenous and colonial history, in addition to being Paola’s hometown! In 1839 it was made the capital of Bolivia and was officially named Sucre after the legendary independence fighter Antonio José de Sucre.
In Sucre we’ll prepare for our 3 night trek near the Maragua Crater. This will be our first connection with Pachamama (mother earth) and the intense/diverse beauty of Bolivia. During this first trek we’ll focus on how to trek as a community of conscientious travelers and will practice our back-country skills.
The little known city that shaped the world. Potosi is home to Cerro Rico, arguably the most important silver mine in human history. The silver extracted from Potosi helped fund the Spanish empire and changed the world as we know it. We will work with local miners and organizations to learn about modern day life in this city resting on top of the world (4,090 meters).
EL ALTO & LA PAZ (2/21-2/27)
La Paz is in a beautiful, otherworldly looking valley and is surrounded by its sister city El Alto on the altiplano. We’ll be based in El Alto and will work with a local theater group. Teatro Trono is an organization that works with young local artists and actors who perform and paint/sculpt/create to raise awareness of current social issues in Bolivia. During this part of the course we will dive into learning about how to use art as a tool for social change. This will also be your first homestay experience!
CORDILLERA REAL TREK (2/28-3/6)
Starting in the impressive Cordillera Real of the Andes mountains we’ll pass by ever shrinking glaciers and over mountain passes in excess of 5,000 meters! After a few days in the mountains we’ll start dropping in elevation, hiking through a wide variety of environments. Soon our surroundings will turn more and more green, we’ll start to hear the sounds of birds chirping and we’ll begin to shed our warm layers. We’ll feel a very tropical vibe as we descend into the city of Coroico (1,525 meters).
TOCAÑA HOMESTAYS (3/7-3/14)
Tocaña, just outside Coroico in Los Yungas region, is a unique and complex part of Bolivian history and the current political/cultural landscape. During the time of the Spanish colonization and exploitation of Latin America the Spanish brought thousands of Africans to work as slaves in the mines of Cerro Rico in Potosi. Coming from much warmer and lower elevations many Africans struggled to adapt to the harsh climate and high altitude in Potosi. So they were relocated to places like Los Yungas to grow coca, fruits and other consumable goods. The descendants of those individuals live throughout Bolivia but many have gravitated to areas like Tocaña. Here we will learn about Afro-Bolivian culture and the sacred coca leaf. This will be your second homestay!
TIQUIPAYA EXTENDED HOMESTAYS (3/15-4/5)
After a month of intense travel we’ll settle into our extended homestay outside of the city of Cochabamba. Tiquipaya, which in Quechua means City of Flowers, is known for its year round pleasant climate. Here you’ll dive into formal Spanish lessons Monday through Friday and start your Independent Study Project (ISP). An ISP is where each student picks a topic relating to Bolivia/Latin America and meets with local experts, artists, activists, etc to learn more about said topic. These topics range from hands on skills like learning how to cook Bolivian food, Bolivian dance, or traditional Bolivian instruments like the charango (similar to the ukulele). Or more academic topics such as Andean cosmovision, gender related issues in Bolivia or one of many other topics. You don’t need to decide now what you want to study, your instructor team will sit down with you at the beginning of the course to help you create a plan for your ISP. Its just good to start thinking now about what topics excite you.
Q’EROS NATION TREK (4/6-4/16)
We’ll leave Tiquipaya and make our way to Peru. Our first stop will be the town of Ocongate where we’ll prepare for our 3rd trek, in Nacion Q’eros. Most of Q’eros is only accessible by foot so we’ll be hiking from one remote community to the next. We’ll stay with families along the way, studying Quechua and learning about this rich culture that can trace its lineage directly back to the Incans.
AMAZON EXPEDITION (4/17-4/27)
After Q’eros we enter into a more fluid part of the course. In the weeks leading up to Peru we’ll work together as a community of travelers to co-create a powerful, educational experience for this last part of our course through the Amazon.
We’ll end our course in the beautiful Sacred Valley of Peru. Here we’ll take a few days to reflect upon our 3 months together and discuss how we’ll incorporate what we’ve learned in Bolivia and Peru into our daily lives back home.
Start to familiarize yourself with these places. Find them on a map, research their history, look for relevant news articles and most importantly get excited for this amazing adventure!
-Paola, Dave and Zack