A Visit to Lupalaya

By McKenzie Ruff

On Thursday March 29, we took a trip to Lupalaya, Bolivia. To get to Lupalaya it was about a 4-hour trip from La Paz, where we were staying at a hotel. Lupalaya is a very rural community right on Lake Titicaca. During our visit, we visited the community’s school and orphanage, talked to leaders and officials, and walked around. We started our day off by looking at the magnificent view of Lake Titicaca. When the community leaders arrived, they gave us a tour of some of the main areas of the community. We started at the orphanage, which is home to over 100 kids. Since we visited during Semana Santa (Easter) the children who lived at the orphanage were not there because they were on one of the few trips they get each year for the holidays. We were still able to see the orphanage. Each bedroom was assigned to a certain gender and age group and contained about 10 beds. Two, maybe even three children, were assigned to a bed. It was sad and sobering to see the amount of space that all the children have because many people would hardly consider a single bed to be big enough for one person, let alone three. We then went to see the kitchen where all the food for the children was cooked. After visiting the orphanage, the leaders of the town prepared a meal for us, which was a traditional soup of Lupalaya. It was very kind and thoughtful of them to do this for us and I appreciated the meal enormously. Next, we went to visit the school. This was cool because we got to see a new building that was just built within the last year that the students can start using whenever they have all of the desks and supplies. The new building was not in use yet, so we went to the original school and walked around the classrooms and saw some of the types of educational activities the students take part in. Lastly, we visited the home of one of the professors from the university in La Paz. He had the best view of the lake! He is passionate about this community and helping them develop and succeed. Overall, I really liked traveling to Lupalaya because it gives such a different feel from La Paz and shows how developing communities live. It also gave us students a new way to look at the world and learn about how other people live all over the world. I am glad we got to experience all the different aspects of Lupalaya like the orphanage, the school, people’s homes, customs, food, and the environment. It is something I will hold dear to my heart from this trip because love knows no borders. “El amor no conoce fronteras.”