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

Tiquipaya in the rearview mirror

It feels like just a few days ago that we arrived here in Tiquipaya and met our host families, both excited and nervous for this next phase of our adventure. At least it feels like that until I think about how comfortable I’ve become here, how familiar this place feels. In just three short weeks I feel that I’ve tuned into the rhythms of life here. I’ve learned the comings and goings of the trufis and the twists and turns of the road home. That the chickens get killed on Saturday and sold at the market on Sunday. That Gregorio leaves for work at 3:00 in the morning and the kids for school at 7:40. I have learned when to say “provecho” and “gracias” at meals, the way the clouds can foretell the relative temperature of the day to come, and the driest places to step when the driveway is muddy after a rainstorm.

I have absorbed all this unconsciously as I take part in this way of life that I have been so fortunate to be welcomed into. The rooster’s harsh call and Sammy’s deep woof have become familiar sounds, as have the creak of the front gate and the rumble of Gregorio’s taxi as he pulls into the driveway. I’m not saying that I know this place like the back of my hand, because I don’t. There is always more to learn, more to discover. What I am saying is that I find it amazing how quickly one can attune to the subtleties of a different lifestyle, aided of course by caring hosts and an open mind. As we leave Tiquipaya, I will carry these pieces of a different daily life with me. Invariably, some details will fade from memory but I need only to take my mind back to that warm cobbled road or the fruit patterned tablecloth to remember all that I have learned.

Muchas gracias a Gregorio y Elsa por su bienvenida cálida y su cariño profundo, y muchas gracias a Tiquipaya por compartir conmigo.