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

Tiquipaya to Samaipata

As our days in Tiquipaya grow few, the realization that our time in Bolivia and South America won’t last forever is beginning to truly sink in. With that comes a wild ocean of emotions: excitement to see my family and friends back home, nervousness for choices and responsibilities to come, sadness at leaving this beautiful place I’ve come to call home. Although I think many of us are looking forward to leaving the warmth of summer here for the cozier and cooler days of home, more certainly than that, all of us will be sad to leave behind the warmth of the kindness we’ve been surrounded by here, from our host families, friendly taxi drivers in town, ISP teachers, and so many others. Yet, as we enter the last part of our trip, Transference, it is important to stay in the moment for just a little longer, despite the remorseful goodbyes here and the joyful hellos back home soon to come.

Our final days in here Tiquipaya will be quite eventful – our last Spanish classes will be spent exploring Cochabamba and cooking the Bolivian food Pasteles together, and Friday we’ll be celebrating the wonderful Will’s birthday! Saturday will be our despedida with all of our community here, a day to share food, gratitude, and good company. This coming fiesta of goodbyes and then the last leg of our trip has made me realize just how much I will miss these people and this place, and that at the moment it’s often hard to see just how lucky you are to be exactly where you are. I plan, like all of us, to spend these last days sharing as many happy moments with my family, ISP instructor, and classmates as possible, no matter how travel-weary I may be. I also hope to take in more permanently the current poignant awareness I have of the ephemeralness of all experiences and learn to savor my future ones even more.

Other than that, I plan to spend the rest of this last weekend here (like many of us I’m sure) taking in the peaceful beauty of Tiquipaya: enjoying my final walks under the wise gaze of the mountains around us, passing by hibiscus flowers so brightly colored and intricately patterned that I am surprised again every time I see them. For me, Tiquipaya has been a reminder of the great comfort nature can offer in moments of loneliness, anxiety, homesickness, or even post-eleven-hour-busride-exhaustion, if only you remember to look up. Because when you do, suddenly a world full of tiny wonders surrounds you, and it’s more than enough to make the day something I’m excited to greet. Though I might not have the mountains or bright hibiscus flowers waiting at home, I think it must be true that beauty can be found everywhere if you just look — in the flowers that grow on street signs in my neighborhood, the feats of city architecture, stars on warm nights or kids laughing in parks. I hope to absorb that awareness permanently during the last bits of clarity here at the end of my time in Tiki and in beginning transference.

Today, we just flew to Samaipata, where we are beginning our period of reflection before the end of the trip… along with some secret Santa, of course. After this, we’ll get to spend a day exploring Santa Cruz before hopping on our flight home. Wish us luck in taking in as much as we can of the final part of our trip, and in thinking about what lessons, wisdom, new pursuits, or gratitude we will take with us from here into our lives back home.