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

beautiful places


Buenos dias de Bolivia!

We just finished our first trek! It was super fun and challenging, we explored Toro Toro national park and learned about the history from our guides Don Mario and Lina who we shared our lives with for five beautiful days. Don Mario is the reason that Toro Toro is a national park today. He shared with us his love of the land where he spent most of his life exploring and honoring. He told us that a paleontologist from Yugoslavia had come to Toro Toro coincidentally while traveling and exploring the land and the people decided that Don Mario knew the land best so he should be the one to guide him and teach him about Toro Toro. Don Mario lead the paleontologist to find dinosaur footprints and then Toro Toro was put on the map thanks to an article written by the paleontologist about Toro Toro´s land and the dinosaur prints. After this, the people starting coming back to Toro Toro and it is now a place where many people live their lives. We talked a lot about how different it is in the U.S. because people are not allowed to live in national parks and people who live there get displaced when it becomes a national park. I had never thought about this before and now after seeing Toro Toro and the people who live there, it seems very unjust how the U.S. handles their national parks.

During our days of trekking we woke up every day to mountains, cows, fresh air and incredible skies with vivid rainbows.  I remember waking up one morning and going to the bathroom while the end of the sunrise made the mountains glow orange. I was surprised by a beautiful rainbow right there in the sky in front of me. It was so beautiful that it almost didn’t feel real but I felt so happy and supported by the skies and nature. It was hard for me to really understand where I was since it was my first time trekking or camping for so long. I am excited and nervous for the next trek since it will be longer than this previous one, but I feel prepared now and more comfortable with trekking and camping. One day I was taking a nap and just laying down with the tent open to look out at the nature and sky. For a moment I felt like I was at the ocean and I felt so peaceful and happy but then I realized the ocean was very far away and I felt almost sad. I have many different travels and experiences planned for this moment in my life and I am so grateful for all of what they teach me. I always come back to craving the ocean and it is helpful for me to feel that security of knowing where this may all be leading me.

Today at four our homestay families come to pick us up! I was so so nervous before but now I am feeling really excited. My spanish has improved and I feel confident in communicating solely in spanish. I have started thinking half in spanish which is really funny to me and exciting because it feels like I am really starting to integrate the language into my ¨real life¨ after taking so many classes in school wondering when would I ever need to know the word for fork or knife or plate. I really hope I have brothers and sisters to hangout with in the homestay, I would love to see how children grow up in another country and culture.

These next three weeks in Tiquipaya consist of homestays, spanish classes, ISP projects, which for me will be pottery, and talks from inspiring people and activists in and around the area. I look forward to having a routine and taking on a more academic experience for a little while. The instructor/ student house is so beautiful, it is part of a little eco farm community, similar to where we had our orientation in Jhanapacha. I really love these eco communities and see myself living and learning in one by the ocean for some time in my life, maybe I will create my own one day on an island somewhere in the world.


Much love,

Lotus    ( claudia 🙂 )