April 1, 2017

Jordan Pryor: Our final day in Bolivia was spent at ruins close to Lake Titicaca called Tiwanaku. I enjoyed getting to be outside to experience the different climate while also getting to see and hear about the culture of the ancient Tiwanaku people. After Tiwanaku, we traveled back to La Paz and again visited the Witches’ Market. Some of us had some last-minute presents to search for, but we also all wanted to test out our Spanish on the “witches” again. I was so scared at first to make mistakes with the language or not be able to understand the women, but after a little practice it was way more fun than I expected. They really are very helpful and try to help you understand them while also being very understanding. I mean why wouldn’t they be if someone like me is willing to buy eight pairs of alpaca socks? Later, we strayed a bit from Bolivian culture and ate at a Swiss fondue restaurant for our last meal in Bolivia. I have absolutely no regrets though, because the food was amazing! Finally, we ended the night a bit earlier than usual, because of the impending early flight, with gelato.

Anna Meyer: We woke up really early for our day trip. At breakfast, I gave a presentation about Tiwanaku. We were taken there by bus, and the bus was pretty cool. It was much more comfortable than the land cruiser. I got to have my own seat, which has been quite the luxury during the trip. The trip lasted about an hour and a half. We drove through the same town as the day before, El Alto. One can easily see the difference in social class from La Paz to El Alto. La Paz seems to be a much nicer area, and El Alto has much more visible poverty. The Tiwanaku tour was given in both Spanish and English by our guide. It was fun for me to try to understand the Spanish translations, but I also had the English translations to rely on. The tour was both outdoors and indoors. We saw some of the original ruins, but most were reconstructed to some degree by archaeologists. My favorite part of the tour was seeing all of the faces in the Semi-Subterranean Temple. Some of the faces look alien, which has caused many speculations over the years. We also went inside to look at other statues in the museums. These were much more impressive, but I wish that the ruins could be outside where they were originally found.

Connor at Tiwanaku

Connor Yarnall: The people who had once lived at Tiwanaku were deeply intertwined with nature. Their gods were based on the sun, moon, mountains, and the lake. They created complex temples that utilized the sun to help them plan crop yields and create calendars. As I walked around the ruins, it was easy to imagine the people who were once there. You could get a sense of their daily life and understand why nature was so important to them. If you looked around you’d be greeted with breathtaking views of the mountains and altiplano.

This trip to Tiwanaku was a great way to end the trip. For the entire trip we focused on the how the modern Bolivians interacted and lived, but after Tiwanaku we had a sense of where they came from.