Photo by Keaton Smith, Bolivia 4-week Summer Program.
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YAK OF THE WEEK: Saying Goodbye to Tiquipaya

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Caroline Turner

Here we are, closing another chapter of our story and our time together.

Leaving Tiquipaya for the last time meant more this go round, it meant we were actually saying our final farewells to our incredible families. These people that essentially adopted us for a month, providing food, comfort, love, and protection to total strangers, and they did so completely, with their whole hearts. I think back on all of my time in Tiquipaya, with my family, and I truly think that out of our whole journey so far, our time in Tiquipaya has been the time that meant the most to me. When I returned to my family with some sort of sickness I picked up in the Amazon, all I can think of is the look of deep concern on the faces of my host parents, the mint tea Dona Pilar brought to me in bed, how she kept checking on me, every hour or so, and when we sat down to eat dinner, she spent the whole time trying to figure out exactly, down to the fruit, what it was that could have made me sick. This kind of care was something that I recieved everyday from my family, and I really don’t know how to express how much I care about them in return, so I would like to share some gratitude for all of the little things. I am grateful for the first time I saw Dona Pilar and saw her adorable smile, for Nadite, slowing things down for me, for family dinners, for Sergio introducing me to every plant in their garden, for picking figs before dinner with Nadite, Alfredo, and Sergio, for the gatitos that are tough as nails and cute as ever, for Dona Pilar showing me how to do laundry “properly,” for the Simpsons and all of the laughter, for all of D. Pilar’s “how to survive in the streets” facts, for connecting with Don Felix over the loss of our mothers and how important it is to remember the people we love, for all of the intensely concerned faces waiting outside my door when I was sick, for Dona Pilar always being worried about when, where, and with whom, I am going anywhere, for Alfredo’s dedicated explanation, in spanish, of the space/time continuum as it pertains to time travel, for Uno and Jenga, for Nadite, Sergio, Alfredo, Don Felix, and Dona Pilar, and most of all for all of the love and laughter. I felt like I truly found a place in Tiquipaya and leaving was probably the hardest moment I have had so far on this journey.

We have done a lot of traveling over our course, to try to make the most of our experience in only three months, and with that traveling we have constantly tried to be more than tourists just visiting and leaving. Dragons focuses on making and maintaining personal connections in the places we visit, but the truth is, we are outsiders and foreigners and sometimes it is inevitable to feel like an outsider. However, in Tiquipaya our experience was so unique, I felt like we had time to settle into a community, to form a daily routine, to form strong, meaningful connections, and to just live in that community for a while. That is what made it so difficult to leave and the time there so precious. I will always hold that place and those people in my heart and I know that they have had a strong impact on my life that I will carry with me forever.

The end of Tiquipaya also marked a new change for us in the way that it marked the transition into our last phases, expedition and transference. Leaving Tiquipaya meant that we are that much closer to parting as a group and ending our journey. We transitioned into expedition phase which is our last big adventure, and we only have ten days. The time is really moving quickly now and there is a lot to reflect upon and analyze before the end, but I still can’t wait for what we have in store for the little time we have left and I look forward to all of the memories we have yet to make.


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