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

sunset reflections

Walking home after a charla last week, I saw the most incredible sunset. I started to notice it walking out of the Granja Polen— a few multi-colored clouds that looked like they had been pulled straight from a water color painting. As my small group kept walking, I started lagging behind- focused solely on the cotton candy clouds. A passing car prompted me to turn around which is when I saw it… the most incredible sunset I’ve ever seen. The clouds were all the colors from orange to pink to blue to grey. A beam of light was shooting out from behind a cloud, splitting the sky in two. I fell back from the group a bit more, now walking completely backwards to admire the sky. In the past what I’ve considered the “most beautiful sunset” has been something I’ve gone out of my way to seek— a hike, or a drive to a semi-exotic or more isolated place. Part of what made this sunset particularly special was that I hadn’t gone out of my way or made a special trip to seek a sunset of this magnitude, it was simply part of my daily  commute.

After splitting from the group, walking alone down my street the oranges and pinks had faded and the sky was only shades of blue and grey. The sky was slightly illuminated still, but a few stars were already speckling the sky. I passed through my gate where my host-mom was watering the plants. An extensive row of cacti and succulents that my family sells at the market on Sundays. I asked about one — a plant with long “tendrils” that hang over the side of the pot— she explained it was a special type of succulent. Then I walked into the kitchen where my host brother promptly shouted “jugaremos,” what has been his specialized greeting for me for the past 3 weeks. He had a friend over and within 5 minutes they were both sitting on my lap fascinated by dice.

The sunset really prompted a lot of reflection about just how special the little routines and connections I’ve made these past 3 weeks in Tiquipaya have been. Waking up at sunrise every morning to run, navigating the public transport system to make my way to ISP, teaching my host brother jenga, comparing school systems with my host sister, and learning to weave with my host mom. I’ve truly been welcomed, embraced, and integrated into a new culture and new family. It feels special to be connected to a way of live so far from home and I feel incredibly grateful to have a community of people here who are not only willing, but want to educate me about their culture and life experiences. The sunset was a good reminder to slow down and appreciate my new routines, surroundings, and way of life.