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Crossing the river before summiting 17,500 Pico Austria. Photo by Ella Williams (2016 Fall Semester Photo Contest, 2nd Place), South America Semester.

Tiquipaya: The Heart of Bolivia

Looking back on my time in Tiquipaya, it is the little, seemingly ordinary moments that I will remember the most. Moments like cleaning and reorganizing the freezer as my host siblings, Jose and Dayana, bicker about who is the best singer. I will fondly recall sitting around the table after dinner, smiling, but unclear as to whether Spanish or Quechua is being spoken. I will miss evenings spent playing a post dinner game of soccer under the street lights with Dayana or chatting with Maria, my host mom, about her favorite movies as she stirs a pot of homemade apple jam on the stove. I will never forget cleaning the floors every Sunday night, particularly one evening when Maria was standing in the courtyard with an umbrella in one hand, the hose in the other, washing the floor in the pouring rain. I will miss arriving home a few minutes late and immediately being greeted with “muy trade Adrianna.” I will even miss being called Adrianna, a name my host family gave me. It was in these moments that I felt at home in a country that is not my own. For me, Bolivia is no longer just another country on the map, rather it is people with names that I can put to faces. It is the family of Jose, Dayana, Helene, and Maria: the true heart of Bolivia in my eyes.