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A young arriero leads a mule across fresh snow in the Peruvian Andes. Photo by Benjamin Swift (2016 Fall Semester Photo Contest Finalist), South America Semester.

Happy Things 3.0!

Where did I leave off?

Between sweltering hikes through the Amazonian selva and unexpected (though secretly appreciated) reunions with our favorite telenovela characters in La Paz, the past two weeks have shown our group a kind of beautiful chaos.

While minor itinerary changes and constant travel could have easily left the group feeling jaded, instead such challenges are proving to have the opposite effect. Everyone is actively working to support one another and engaging in (often very long) discussions on how to improve and make the most of our experiences.

(AAC group members are seriously incredible. I am so unbelievably lucky to call such resilient, thoughtful, and supportive people my family.)

A list alone doesn’t begin to capture the joy of moments spent with these peeps, but I’ll do my best to ~word-paint~ some colorful imagery for y’all.

Here it goes!

  • Laying in the sand and seeing my first shooting stars while hearing about the dangers of trusting Reid with grapefruits and escalators
  • Dancing to Latino Hotline Bling
  • Hannah’s and my “edible” “dessert” – in all seriousness, though, Hannah is an insane chef. Give her a flame and some pudding powder and she’s ready to go.
  • Judah running around with the biggest smile after seeing all of the natural pools/waterfalls we could swim in
  • Sean’s mangoes
  • Jillian jumping to hug Max when he scored the equalizer in one of our intense soccer matches in Asunción
  • Delicious breakfasts of huevos, fresh fruit and jam, all sorts of fritos, and these amazing pancakes prepared by my insanely hardworking homestay mother
  • Washing off in the river with Max while watching the last of the sunset after the game
  • Sir Gear sitting on his throne in the boat while the rest of us pushed it through the shallow water (he claims to have had a “cut on his foot.” I think he was just scared of the you-know-what fish).
  • Banana trees! These are so cool.
  • Praying to the mapajo to make me invisible to any and all marigui
  • Enjoying some ZIQUISIMA sandilla and freshly picked cacao
  • Seeing Jesse is his element all day in Asunción
  • Arriving at our hotel in Rure coated with a layer of sweat and dried river water only to find Max, freshly shaved and tanned after spending a day by the pool, nonchalantly reading his book in a big bed
  • FLIPPER! We went to Flipper (an ice cream place) one night to get sundaes and decided to return twelve hours later for an 8 am breakfast of giant brownie sundaes. Easily our best decision yet.
  • Night swimming at the hostel in Rure
  • My final visits to Cafe Retrato
  • Clean laundry at Casa Verde
  • Every time the door to Casa Verde was accidentally left open and we didn’t have to ask the employees to open the puerta (all you Dragons KNOW this is the best feeling)
  • Reid slithering on the ground at Trono
  • Alejandro, my baby host brother, strutting around in his vest and giving us sly eyes
  • Watching top 10 unexplained mystery videos on YouTube with Mahesh, Jillian, and our homestay family in El Alto
  • Emmy’s smile after eating her first ice cream since her lactose intolerance diagnosis
  • Vegan tacos 🙂 Shoutout to Sean for finding (and calling) the food trucks!
  • The return of the caca-pala
  • Overlooking the lights of La Paz on the teleférico at night
  • Spending quality time at my ~favorite place~ with Mom and Dad (for those of you who don’t speak Spanish, that means Colleen and Yessy)
  • Late night convos with Jillian
  • 😎💋💘 Cefixima 💘💋😎
  • ¡ÁNDALE PUES! (running to the truficito para bajar a la esquina nomás)
  • The ten bags of Locoto I have stuffed in my backpack (thanks, Judah & Max)
  • Judah’s “delicious” discoveries at the Hipermaxi
  • Group hugs 🙂

Feeling intensely grateful for all of the laughter and tears and memories I get to share with this bunch. Bolivia is quite the ride, and I can’t wait for all of the many more happy things to come.

No ve,

Mol 💕