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La Paz and Santiago de Okoa: Looking Back, and Ahead

La Paz and Santiago de Okola

Mrs Maxwell:

Hello all! Sending an update on our journey over the past few days.

On Sunday our 8 hr bus ride turned into an 18 hr bus ride. At first being stuck in ice and snow on a pass in the middle of the Andes was beautiful! It was a sight I had never seen, tour buses full of Bolivians lined up with their engines turned off for several hours. We had expected that there might be a slight delay, but 8 hrs quickly turned to 10 then 12 and we did not roll into La Paz until 18 hrs after we had first departed Cochabamba. The students slept for much of the journey and were real troopers as the overnight bus turned into an all-day bus ride. Michael Cox (Mr. Boxx the Mailbox as he prefers to be called) was entertained by a woman selling chicken on the side of the road at 2am as we sat waiting for the pass to clear. It was definitely an exercise in patience.

Eventually we arrived in La Paz which is a breathtaking city. Red brick houses sit stacked in a bowl surrounded by snow capped mountains. The clouds blend into the peaks of the mountains making it hard at times to decipher if you are looking at sky or land. Wow! We spent time in La Paz shopping and riding the cable cars that operate like Marta in Atlanta. Pete was just commenting to me that he thought the cable care are genius and useful in the city since it is in a valley. Some of the kids thought we should bring the idea to Atlanta. Hmm…

On Monday we woke up early and took a bus to the small village of Santiago de Okoa which lies on the shore of Lake Titicaca. We had a traditional Ap’tapi lunch which is their version of a potluck meal. Among the many dishes that adorned the table were three or four different types of quinoa, several varieties of potatoes, and the kids’ favorite, fried chicken.

After lunch the students chose an afternoon activity. They went for a hike, learned about local weaving techniques, or spent time with one of the farmers learning about the crops they produce in the community. I did the hike and thought it was incredibly beautiful. Many of the students agreed and Pete suggested that we wake up early and hike up again to watch the sunrise. Patton, Eliza, Pete, Liam, Drew, Greg, and I huffed and puffed up the mountain (you can really feel the change in altitude) and watched the sun rise over the mountains and onto the lake. Such an incredible experience! As we sat looking at the beautiful landscape the kids reflected a bit on the trip. They mainly commented that their experience in Bolivia has made them appreciate their own country and what they have at home even more than they did before they arrived. Eso!! Que lindos!

I can say personally that these past two weeks have been an incredible time for me. Watching this group of students endure challenging situations, revel in the experience of new cultures, and ultimately grow as world citizens is truly lovely. As we closed out our experience last night in a small group one of our Dragon’s leaders, Itza said, “Hemos planteado una semilla en estos jovenes aunque sea chiquita.”  (We have planted a seed in these young people even if it is small.) I am excited to see how these seeds grow inside of these wonderful people.

Adios y nos vemos pronto! Mrs. Maxwell