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

A Day in Tocaña

Yesterday we had the privelige of spending the day in Tocaña, an Afro-Bolivian community in the Yungas. In the morning we went on a short hike to coffee and coca farms. We learned about how difficult it is to produce coffee crops due to plagues and weather changes. We also learned about the spiritual, social, and cultural significance of the coca leaf — and that it is a medicine, not a drug.

We then had a delicious lunch at Casa de la Pulga, the house of a particularly eccentric community member. After lunch we participated in a Saya workshop. Saya is a traditional Afro-Bolivian dance still practiced by Afro communities across Bolivia. We also learned about the history of why Africans came to Bolivia — as slaves to get silver out of the mines of Potosí. The Saya is a way they celebrate centuries of blood, resistance, and hope.

Today we are resting and transitioning in La Paz, and tomorrow we head to our long homestay in Tiquipaya. We are all very excited! Jallallah!!

– The Instructor Team