¡Ay Caramba, estamos en Cochabamba!

Trip Start Sep 17, 2012
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Trip End Dec 06, 2012


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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hello everyone! We are currently wrapping up our five day homestay in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

In pairs or threes, all of us are staying with local families in the city.  Although the families all have different backgrounds and lifestyles, they share a similar excitement to host all of us.  Every day after our morning language classes, we go home to find them waiting for us with an elaborate lunch, which is the main meal.  Usually consisting of soup and a second plate, it is definitely a highlight of everyone´s day.  The food has been delicious; from mate (a traditional tea) to api (purple corn soup), we are always trying something new. 

Living with host families has greatly improved our Spanish; however, communication can still be difficult.  We have had some linguistic blunders, but the families are helpful and understanding, teaching us new words and patiently listening as we conjugate verbs.  They are excited to talk to us and hear about our lives at home, so meals can go on for hours while we talk about family, school, or politics.  In addition to basic phrases, we have mastered charades and other forms of nonverbal communication, and occasionally the families will speak a little English to help us.

Every morning and afternoon, we spend an hour and a half taking Spanish classes (3 hours total each day) with our fabulous teacher, Toni.  Broken up into three groups based on prior experience studying Spanish, we listen as she explains grammatical concepts and cultural sayings. 

We love Toni because her explanations are clear, and her Spanish is understandable.  Everyone is eager to learn from her, especially Noah, who deserves credit for sitting in on multiple classes in a row to learn as much as possible. 

She teaches us a lot about Bolivian culture as well.  For example, eight holidays occur on September 21: Day of Students, Day of Doctors, Day of World Peace, Day of Alzheimer´s, Day of Visual Art, Day of Love, Day of Photography, and the First Day of Spring.  On our last day of class, we examined verb usage in various Spanish "canciones" or songs.

Outside of class, we have been busy exploring the city both individually and as a group.  We took a tour of el Convento de Santa Teresa, where we learned about the history of the convent and its current operations and took in some beautiful views of the city from the roof. 

On Sunday, we visited el Centro Pedagógico y cultural de Simón I. Patiño.  The property includes beautiful gardens that surround an opulent house that Patiño constructed with the money he made from mining minerals.  In both places, the tour was in Spanish, so many members of the group relied on Toni and the advanced class (Margaret, Julie, Oliver, and Shawn) to act as translators.

Toni also took us to a "desfile", or parade, where we got to see performances of traditional Bolivian dances, complete with ornate costumes and live music.  It took a while for many of us to become comfortable with dodging the crazy traffic and stray dogs, but we have all become experts at getting around the city.

Although we are sad to leave our families here in Cochabamba, we are excited to go to Malcorancho and experience a different side of Bolivian life.

--Julie and Wyllie
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Comments

Lisa Slavik-kasle ~ Jake`s Mum on

Hey Jake- Happy to see that you are making new friends! Enjoy yourself, do your best, and make the most of this spectacular education! We miss you and love you! Xxx Ooo Mum and Roger, Jolise and Joe, Jacqueline, Fran, Jill, Keith and Julie, Chai, Lola and Bandit

Dave Graham on

Great to hear and see the excitement about improving Spanish language skills and learning about the Bolivian culture. Say Hi! to the aardvark for me.

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