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Photo by Tom Pablo, South America Semester.





I have NEWS.

Andes and Amazon, Group B, has just completed its last trek through the gorgeous Andes mountains. We are all happy, safe, and settled in La Paz–even if some of us got there a little faster than others. Now that we’re all together and sort of clean (Abby and I having helpfully nabbed the first showers), X-phase planning continues! Onward we march. All that said, we thought this would be a great time to slow down and reflect on everything the mountains have taught us throughout this trip.

It’s true that we can learn so much from our surroundings, and take away more than a little bit of peace and serenity from the energy they offer. (According to my data, nothing clears ya out like a good-ol-fashioned wilder-poop.)

In all seriousness, though, we really have experienced so much growth–both individually and as a group. Here’s a little list of some lessons we’ve learned, from our first Lares trek to this most recent stretch.

  1. Your fellow hikers are your team. Whether they’re there as your fellow students, to help transport materials, to guide the way, or as your instructors, you stick together. You walk together, you eat together, and if you aren’t pee-shy (shout-out to Jane!), you hit the bushes together. Sometimes. (When it’s not weird.)
  2. You are there to learn. We can’t pretend to understand the often unpredictable nature of the Andes–whether it be the climate, the terrain, or the distances between her many features. In place of understanding, we develop flexibility and humility. We have proceeded with caution and care on these treks, and been rewarded many times over.
  3. Earth is a gift, and we should treat it like one. Bury your rubbish (or your trash, if you’re American like that). Thank your surroundings. Cherish the view. Carry out what won’t decompose. Be nice to your companions, whatever form they take.
  4. Laugh. Chances are, your circumstances are gonna get pretty absurd. Maybe I happened to slip into a pile of fresh llama poop last month on our way down a rainy slope. Could happen to anyone, honestly. Maybe a couple members of the team woke up a wee bit drenched this morning. (Or maybe you set up your tent on a hill and escaped most of it. Mwahaha.) Maybe Henry got chased by four (rather exuberant) cows on his way for a morning poop. Maybe you found a whole slew of discarded band-aids at the hot baths in Lares. Whatever it is, seize it, brush off the poop the best you can, and laugh.

I’m a bit short on time, but the list goes on, folks, and I have a feeling we’ll be working on it for a while. On this next–and final!–journey through the Amazon, we’ll carry these things along with our backpacks. Thanks for sticking with us the whole way. (Especially you, random Yak reader.) Shout-out to Abby for being my partner this week! And for carrying like 35 thousand kilograms of animal crackers, lol. And, of course, to the rest of the team for being generally awesome.

Anyway, I have a crew to meet, a dinner to greet, and some teeth to brush. Yeah, been like five days. Shout-out to my dentist!

Talk soon! Thanks for tuning in, fam.