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

House to Home

All families have their own rhythm of life. And when we first arrived at Tiqipaya, tired from Toro Toro and still somewhat foreign to Bolivia, trying to join another family´s rhythm seemed overwhelming. With limited Spanish and only three weeks of time, I wasn´t sure if there would be a place for me. But as with all bigger pictures, it´s made up of thousands of smaller moments.

And even from the beginning, in a moment, my house could feel like a home. When 5 year old Ian barged into my room without knocking; when the three kids and I curled up on a bed and watched A Bug´s Life together on a lazy Sunday morning; when Dani came within one card of winning our game of Ochos Locos, and everyone was screaming and laughing; when Rosey, Ian and I spent ten minutes mesmerized by a gatito playing with a leaf.

It is a home. Not quite my home; I can´t merge seamlessly into their rhythm of life. But with our three weeks almost at an end, our collection of moments has overflowed. Ian now feels comfortable enough to wake me up from my nap with a water gun; the kids and I have had more water balloons fights than I count. I´ve shucked corn with the grandmother and heard her life story. I´ve comiserated with Sandra, the mom, when Rosey wakes up at 6:30 on Sunday, and I´ve visited the houses of all of their  cousins. They have fully embraced me and accepted me into their life, and I could not be more thankful.

Through them, I have experienced traditional Bolivian food, heard Quecha, celebrated Carneval and learned more than I can repay. I am grateful to now have two American families.