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Photo by Tom Pablo, South America Semester.

Visit to the coca fields

Coca, the sacred leaf of the Andes has been a central theme throughout our course. Contested and criminalized for its distant connection to cocaine this leaf plays a crucial role in Andean traditional belief systems and in modern day society.

Chewing coca is good for your health, gives you energy and reduces hunger. The perfect tool for a long day of working in the fields. It’s not addictive and is about as close to cocaine as a poppyseed muffin is to heroin. Yet the US still categorizes it as a drug. This sacred plant is grown in two main regions of Bolivia, one being Los Yungas where we currently are in homestays. Today students spent the day working the coca fields with their families and yesterday we got to hear local experts talk to us about the importance of coca here in Bolivia.