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Andean priest and spiritual leader, Don Fabian Champi Apaza. Photo by Tom Pablo, Andes & Amazon Semester.

A week in reflection: Killing chickens, dancing, and political unease

Buen día everyone!

I know I haven’t posted a Yak in a while, so now I am writing one on what have I been doing this last week.

Wow, this last week has been filled with so many new experiences. It all started last Friday when I helped my family in their process of creating Chicharrón con pollo y chancho. I participated in the process by both killing and skinning two chickens. The proper way to kill a chicken is to pull back both of its wings and put your foot on the wings, as close to the chickens body as possible. Then you pull up its head with your left hand, and cut off its head with a knife in your right hand. The first one I killed I accidentally took my foot off its wings and now I know where the phrase “running around like a chicken with its head cut off” comes from. The second one I properly killed. Then After boiling both of the chickens for a minute in a massive pot, I skinned them both by hand.

The next day (Saturday), we had a “despedida” for our host families and ISP teachers to thank them. Then in the afternoon my host family invited both me and the rest of our A&A group to participate in their groups festival dance in Tiquipaya. This weekend was one of the largest festivals in Tiquipaya, in celebration of the Saints, and they celebrate by having local groups form and practice dances to show the town by parading through Tiquipaya. We began dancing at around 3:30pm, and finished in the middle of the city of Tiquipaya around 7:00pm.

Then we were supposed to leave Sunday night, taking a night bus to La Paz to prep for our next Trek to the Yungas. But as we continued to watch the news, it became apparent that due to the many blockades in Cochabamba that we couldn’t reach the bus station. So we decided to wait till Monday, and since  then every new day we have closely been watching the news to see if the situation has been improving. From watching the news, the blockades got bigger and a bit more dangerous throughout Tuesday. So we have stayed a bit longer in Tiquipaya (where it is extremely safe and there are no blockades) with our host families, and have been coming up with activities that we lead ourselves at the Granja Polén. Some activities we have led have been charlas led by us students and instructors (I gave mine on Monday about economic inequality and it’s links to education), group baking sessions, and watching movies and documentaries about Bolivia and social movements.

Our current plan is that we believe that the blockade situation will improve by tomorrow even though Carlos Mesa (the second place candidate who lost against Evo Morales, the previous president) rejected the proposed audit, which would have had external countries investigate the election for voter fraud. As Mesas main point in calling for Bolivians to protest was that there was voter fraud, his rejection of the audit makes his claims of voter fraud much sketchier. But right now we are continuing with our plan to leave tomorrow (Friday) for La Paz where we will quickly prep and go to our next Trek. I haven’t minded staying in Tiquipaya a bit longer, but I am also extremely excited for the rest of our planned itinerary!

  • Owen


Photo explanation:

1. Me after killing two chickens

2. My traditional dance dress provided by my host mom Paola for the Festival in Tiquipaya on Saturday

3. Tiquipaya on Sunday after the festival

4. Us in the Granja Polén hanging, talking, and chilling

5. Jackson and I practicing our dance for the the festival last week