Reflections on Bolivia

By Katlyn Maas

Before I left the States, my cousin from Chicago called me to talk to me about my travel to Bolivia. He had been deployed to South America for close to 2 years, and Bolivia was one of the countries he visited as a diplomatic bodyguard. He could tell I was nervous about the trip, so he reassured me by telling me that the people were friendly and that my Spanish was proficient enough that I could at least get my point across. “You’ll have so much fun in La Paz,” he had said. “Just be kind to the people, and they’ll return the favor to you.”

Once we entered Bolivia, I realized what he meant. The people were so friendly to all of us, and their hospitality was mind-blowing; I never would have imagined that the Bolivians would want to engage in detailed conversations with us all, whether it be about politics or music. They were just as curious about us as we were about them, which I also never expected. Even when we went to the rural community of Lupalaya, the people were interested in our culture, which is something else that I didn’t expect. It was so much more engaging than sitting there and being talked over to talk to our professors, which is what I was expecting more.

Our travels have definitely left a positive impact on me. I never knew that the people of Bolivia could be so friendly, but they obviously proved me wrong. I now have a better understanding and a higher respect for their culture, something I hope to keep experiencing in the future. One day, I’ll come back, but for now, I’ll keep my Spanish lessons and my cultural observations close to my heart.

By McKenzie Ruff

Bolivia was a great experience and I learned so much. Not only did I learn a lot about the language, but I learned a lot about Bolivian culture too. I think the biggest shock to me was how different the culture was from what I was expecting, like how open everyone was about talking about politics. Here in America and in all the other countries I have been to, I have never been bombarded with so many political conversations or questions. It was a bit overwhelming and I am not the most open to political conversations because I have some close friends that have opposite political views and it is normally just a topic we avoid. However, almost every single person we talked to brought up politics—not just Bolivian politics, but also American and Peruvian politics. In America, it’s rare to hear about politics in South and Latin American countries, so it was odd to hear how invested Bolivians were in American politics. Another way La Paz specifically was different from what I was expecting was its layout and how massive the city was. It was absolutely breathtaking and I was in such awe when we went on the gondolas over the city or when we went to the outer rim of the city. I got to see and experience so much while in Bolivia and I had a magnificent time learning more about the Spanish language and Bolivian culture. I would love to go back because there were some things I didn’t get to see that I would really love to see.

By Elisabeth Warner

I am someone who has always wanted to travel. I have been to many places within the United States, and I have traveled abroad in Canada and Italy. Bolivia was different from anywhere I’ve been. Bolivians are passionate people, and most of the ones I met were all very cheerful. And very friendly. I had the opportunity to talk with a lady on my return flight, who invited me to visit her hometown next time I was in Bolivia. And that’s how it was most of the time. We were Americans, and stood out from the crowd, but they didn’t care. We talked with them, and they welcomed us.

I think the most unique aspect of Bolivian culture (at least from an American standpoint) was how involved everyone was in politics—how much they wanted to discuss them at any given moment, but especially at meals. Even in the remote village of Lupalaya, politics were brought up over lunch. All of the graffiti was political as well. It changed my outlook on how I view politics here in the United States, and my idea on how involved the average person can and should be.

In January, I couldn’t tell you anything about Bolivia, let alone pinpoint it on the map. Now I feel innately connected to the people of Bolivia, and I believe that I will try to go back one day. Their culture is different from our own, but this isn’t bad. It’s new and exciting. I’ll always be glad that I visited Bolivia.

By Rachel Birchmier

Before traveling to La Paz, Bolivia I didn’t have any solid expectations. Having not traveled far or often I had no basis for expectation except what I had read in books and U.S news sources. Most of what I read was from the assigned book Bolivia in Focus or from the Internet. One thing I learned was how politically involved and informed the people were in and around La Paz. Everyone was informed about the political environment of their own country as well as about a lot of world politics. Most of the graffiti around the city was political and one of the most popular topics for conversation was politics. While I have never minded political discussions, it’s considered a difficult topic in the United States, and I rarely hear discussions about politics beyond the scope of our own country. This trip taught me a lot about the importance of informing myself about events that influence the whole world rather than focusing only on information about my own country. It also taught me about different perspectives. A lot of the information I’ve learned in school and from U.S news sources has a biased perspective. It was refreshing and informative to hear the same news and histories I’d heard in the United States from the perspective of another country. This trip showed me the educational value of travel and allowed me to practice navigating in a new environment. I was also able to practice speaking Spanish and learn about a few of the other languages of Bolivia that I had never heard before. This was a great first travel experience. It inspires me to continue looking for new experiences and to continue to travel in the future when possible.


In Search of Polleras

By Rachel Birchmier

Before traveling to Bolivia I had heard that most goods were obtained through an informal trade system and had friends mention the Witches’ Market. However, I was unaware of how extensive the system of open-air markets was throughout the city. One of the first shopping experiences I had was at a supermarket buying bottles of water. The supermarkets were more like a small grocery store or a drugstore is in the United States, rather than a huge covered warehouse with any item you might need. Most of the shopping in the city was centered at these open-air markets that sold everything from fruits, vegetables and fish to clothes or sporting gear. The informal trade was everywhere. There were Easter candies and palm leaves being sold in St. Francis Square, women with baskets of salteñas or carts of fruit in the morning, piles of sweaters and clothes at the Antonio Jose de Sucre Square, and soccer cleats and camping gear in the El Alto market.

I asked my family if there was anything I could bring them back from La Paz before leaving. My mom showed me a picture of a cholita in extravagant clothing and asked me to bring her back a large layered skirt similar to the ones in the photo, which I later learned were called polleras. I didn’t see any polleras for sale along the streets on the way to our other destinations or at the Witches’ Market so I asked one of our Spanish teachers in the morning as well as one of the vendors at the Witches’ Market where to find these skirts for sale. I was told about another market a few blocks uphill from the Witches’ Market. We walked uphill to find a market with stall after stall of vegetables, meats, fish, and bakeries. We continued to walk through the stalls looking for the polleras until asking for directions and learning the market was separated into categories and the skirts were in the opposite direction of the vegetables. There were two stores across from each other with polleras displayed from the ground to the ceiling of the small open shops. There were different styles of polleras; some had layers or lace and others were simple, with solid colors. I learned that layers can signify that a woman is in a relationship, and that showing the lace of the underskirt can signify that a woman is single, although these rules are not strongly adhered to. I chose a layered floral skirt for my mom, which I unfortunately have to tailor myself since I purchased it during the holiday, holy weekend, and the tailor wasn’t working. The pollera will make a wonderful Mother’s Day gift this coming May!

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.”


By Elisabeth Warner

It was impressive to see the ruins of the civilization of Tiwanaku. The structures were surprisingly advanced and intricate, and took a long time to complete. The people were able to carve in perfect symmetry and with 90 degree angles. The stones of the buildings were carved so exactly to one another that there were no gaps between them. The modern reconstruction of some of the walls was less perfectly carved than the original stones. Even some carved indentations in the stone were perfectly square: the sides and bottoms were at all 90 degree angles. Some of the carvings were practical, but most were for religious reasons. My favorite part was that many Aymara people still practice the ancient ceremonies that the people of Tiwanaku did. This was, and still is, a sacred place to them. This made me feel more connected to the indigenous peoples of Bolivia. Seeing their history, the roots of their religion, helped me to better understand them. They had carvings of faces, and not all of them are what we consider to be Bolivian today. Represented among the carvings were faces of African and Asian origin, telling of the diversity of Bolivia even back then. We toured ruins of three temples: upper, middle, and buried. They are representative of the three worlds: the upper world (heaven), the middle ground (the world we live in), and the underground. Everything circled back to their beliefs. Even the shape of the pyramid (upper temple) was representative of their Andean cross. We had an Aymaran tour guide, and hearing him talk about his connection to the temple today is something difficult to put into words. He was able to bring us even closer to the culture of Tiwanaku through his explanations of his culture, his beliefs. The religious ceremonies practiced in Tiwanaku are ones he still celebrates to this day. The temple of Tiwanaku even has a reconstructed altar that they use nowadays for ceremonies. The largest ones are at the equinoxes and solstices. Overall, I was impressed with the dedication of the people of Tiwanaku to their religion. The magnitude of the temples and carvings are a testament to depth of their faith.

The La Paz Witches’ Market

By Katlyn Maas

I woman that I greatly admire told me once that to understand a culture different from mine, I needed to visit one of their markets. La Paz was no exception to this piece of advice. Before visiting the Witches Market, my friends and I had been warned about the oddities that would await us, but we took the warning lightly. We had no idea as to what we were getting ourselves into.

When we began our journey up the hill, shops and street vendors filled both sides of the road. Alpaca sweater shops, jewelry stores, adventure trip tickets, and modern restaurants were some of the places that we observed as we walked up the hill, and we stopped in a sweater shop to see some of the handiwork of the Andes Mountains. The products were absolutely beautiful, with different colored wools woven into each other to create blocky patterns that danced across the textile. It was expensive, though; one sweater was about 300 bolivianos, with each size being a different price. We left the shop, keeping the price in mind for comparison, and made our way up the second half of the hill.

When we finally got to the street that held the Witches’ Market, we were initially greeted by a large display of color. Booths held tapestries, t-shirts, necklaces, little llamas, keychains, and other little items that were typical of an economy with tourism as its center. It drew us farther into the street, where we taught Rachel how to barter and bonded over McKenzie’s search for bolivianite, the national gemstone of the country. After a few of the typical shops, we separated; Rachel and I went our separate way while McKenzie and Elisabeth went deeper into a jewelry store to look for the gem. We realized, however, that as we got farther into the market, the more we understood how it got its name.

There were the typical shops; we found a shop that sold alpaca sweaters much cheaper than the first store that we visited, and purchased some. But there were also shops that a typical Bolivian would visit to conjure a spell for good luck. Dried llama fetuses hung from the ceilings and doorways, to be used for good luck charms and new beginnings. Coca leaves were sold as a medicinal herb, ready for chewing, brewing, or stewing. Amulets and mini charms were displayed like guardians over the store owners, representing protection, intelligence, fertility, and strength. There were things that we had never even imagined being sold for the Aymara and Quechua people, all with historical and societal references that we couldn’t even begin to understand. It was terrifying and awe-inspiring all at the same time.

We found McKenzie and Elisabeth across the street about four shops later, and they seemed weirded out by some of the things that they had seen. We were, as well, but I also found it interesting. The cultural significance of the market opened my eyes to what the Bolivian people believe, and it showed me how American culture differs from the culture of the Andes. As we walked down the street together, we talked about this, and about how we felt observing our surroundings. The consensus was that we all enjoyed ourselves, and we did so much that we went back a second time later in the week.


Meet the Bloggers: Bolivia 2018

Four S&T students traveled to Bolivia during Spring Break 2018 as part of their course “Bolivia from a Historical and Cultural Perspective.”  Professors Jorge Porcel and Audra Merfeld-Langston (both from the Department of Arts, Languages, & Philosophy) led the trip, which is funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education via the Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language (UISFL) Program. Students also received support from the College of Arts, Sciences, and Business. The trip included intensive Spanish language lessons, visits to museums and markets, interactions with faculty at our partner institution, Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, and day trips to the rural community of Lupalaya and to Tiwanaku, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The students include:


RACHEL BIRCHMIER: I am a senior at Missouri S&T majoring in physics. I am also minoring in Spanish, mathematics, and computer science, to obtain the skills I need to become a better scientist and researcher in the future. I am from Kansas City, Missouri and enjoy studying science, playing sports, and being outdoors. This trip to Bolivia will be my first time traveling out of the continent, but I hope to travel more in the future. I enjoy learning new things and exploring new environments. Traveling is a good way to learn outside of classes and to familiarize yourself with new languages and life skills. After graduation, I plan to pursue my PhD in physics and do experimental research in condensed matter physics. I hope that the skills I learn while studying abroad will help me to better understand and communicate with people while performing research.


KATLYN MAAS: Hello! I’m a sophomore from Morrisville, MO studying engineering management and minoring in global studies. I love photography and reading about ancient cultures from around the world! If you’ve never met me before, something that you should know is that I’m the first woman in my family to study engineering; all of the other women in my family are teachers!

Although Spanish has been my first love, I took a little bit of French in high school and am in the process of learning ASL. To improve my Spanish, I took my first ever trip abroad in January to Nicaragua, and developed a Nicaraguan accent in my speaking. I wanted to study abroad originally to fulfill my requirements for my global studies minor, in which I have to spend 15 days outside the country studying. But after I left Nicaragua, I was already planning my trip back. It’s an addicting feeling, to feel new experiences you’ve never had before. I now have plans to travel to Peru and am discussing my study abroad options in Spain, but I will keep my first travels close to my heart wherever I go.



Photo credit: Z. Photography & Design

MCKENZIE RUFF: I am a 19-year-old freshman studying environmental engineering and Spanish. I grew up in Eureka, Missouri where I lived with my mom, dad, and 2 dogs. I am a 2017 graduate of Eureka High School. Growing up as an only child, my parents decided to take me on many trips abroad. These trips started when I was in second grade when I went to Argentina and Uruguay to visit family friends. After that we went on many family vacations as well to other places like Mexico and the Dominican Republic. I learned I loved to travel at a young age and in my freshman and junior years of high school I took the opportunity to do mission work in Guatemala. There, I learned I wanted to become an environmental engineer to help bring potable water to third world countries. The summer before my senior year I did a study abroad in Puerto Rico, confirming my desire to learn Spanish to help with my career goals. My passion of traveling and wanting to learn Spanish has led me to do this study abroad in Bolivia.



ELISABETH WARNER: ¡Hola! I am a junior majoring in applied mathematics and computer science. My hometown is a small city in North Central Missouri called Gallatin. I chose to participate in this study abroad trip to Bolivia in order to experience a culture and place very different than my own. I am hoping to continue to broaden my views and visit many more places, both abroad and within the United States. I have visited Italy and Canada, and I spent last summer in Yellowstone National Park. These experiences have helped to shape the person I am today.




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.

Lupalaya and Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca

March 31, 2017

Lauren Reynolds: Today was incredible. We met for breakfast at 7am and were on the road with by 8am to Lupalaya to see Lake Titicaca, scope out a possibility for a future water project, and visit the children at the orphanage there. The 3-hour drive was awesome because we got to go through La Paz, El Alto, and then more rural areas. The scenery in all three was completely different! Upon arriving at Lake Titicaca (the highest navigable lake in the world) we just stood by the water for minutes taking in the sight. The lake is a deep blue and looks as though it could go on for miles. Marco, who is a professor at UMSA, has a vacation house on the water and so he took some time to show us around. One thing I have learned while being in Bolivia is that the people are extremely hospitable.

Handing out candy at the orphanage

In Lupalaya there is also an orphanage. We all bought chocolates before going so that we could give them to the kids. They were skeptical of us at first but as soon as they saw the chocolate they loved us. They were fun to be around, but it was difficult to see how they lived. There were about 9 kids in each room and they live in such a high altitude that it is very common for the children to get skin cancer from the sun. I actually held a six-month-old who had skin cancer. Something that also got me thinking was the attitudes of the children. Sometimes it seems as though the problems in my life are so big when in reality I have it so good compared to many people around the world. The kids we saw were so happy, they make the most of what they have, and they have really kind hearts. It is such a humble reminder that I have so much and am in a position to give so much and without this experience I don’t know if I would have ever had that realization. Those children left a really big imprint in my heart and I really hope to in the future get to go back to Lupalaya and help with the water sanitation project and then hope to also help the orphanage with their other needs.

At the Lupalaya orphanage

Anna Meyer: Today I woke up early and ate with my group at the hotel. We left the hotel at 8 in the morning and piled into a land cruiser driven by Ricardo, from Engineers in Action. The destination was Lupalaya, another 1,000 feet up from La Paz near Lake Titicaca. The village is rural and is occupied by a fairly small population, including many orphans from La Paz. We were in the land cruiser for 3 and a half hours. Many of us tried to sleep, but it was merely impossible due to the bad road conditions. We drove through El Alto, a much poorer region of Bolivia. Many of the roads on the way were severely beat up, and some were not paved at all. A normal car would not have made the trip.

At the orphanage, our group gave candies to the kids. I saw the rooms that the children stay in. There were over 20 beds in each room. No privacy, no space. It makes me sad to think about how much less many people have than I do. I have never seen poverty that severe. The caretakers at the orphanage told us that a few days out of the week they sometimes go without water. There are rations in Lupalaya because there is not enough water for everyone there.

That night we went to Martín’s house for dinner. His wife made us such a delicious meal. She made a lasagna with several different types of meat in it. It was a late night on account of us having such a great time. We talked a lot about the differences in education between Bolivia and the United States. It is interesting that in Bolivia, college is free, or mostly free. I think about it a lot when thinking about the different ways governments spend money. I still wonder why the Bolivian government does not prioritize wastewater treatment, but it prioritizes education. This is something I will be looking into more as I write my research paper.

Last Day of Spanish Class

With our Spanish instructors on the last day of class

March 30, 2017

Lauren Reynolds: Today was the last day of classes! It was really fun because we did 3 hours of tutoring and then got to end an hour early to play a Spanish game and eat salteñas! I was absolutely terrible at the game but it was fun to get to use some of the new Spanish vocabulary that we had developed over the last few days. It was bittersweet because our professors were awesome, but it will be nice to have the last two days in Bolivia devoted to all cultural experiences.

There were some moments today that really opened my eyes to how much I take for granted in the States. I take for granted things like getting to have a bed to sleep in every night, always having clean drinking water, and the privilege of going to school. A conversation with a friend about the poverty in Bolivia got us thinking about how we truly didn’t realize how many people did not have homes to go to after a long day of trying to make some money. Also, the issue of clean drinking water is huge. I have been getting used to drinking only bottled water, but if this was going to be a forever thing of not being able to brush my teeth with tap water or simple things like that, I would get really frustrated.

Witches’ Market

Jordan Pryor: Finally, we went to the place I had been looking forward to, El Mercado de las brujas! Also known as the Witches’ Market, this section of streets is filled with all sorts of things to buy, from dead, dried animals (for traditional practices) to keychains and jewelry. It was a bit overwhelming at first, but once I got going and started to buy things I realized that the “witches” like you to bargain! It was fun to know that our Spanish classes were actually paying off, and I think the experience was way more interesting being able to understand and talk with the vendors. Our favorite type of product was anything made from alpaca or llama. Seriously, you won’t think that you’ll want alpaca socks until you feel them, and then you’ll KNOW that you need them. The whole experience gave me a new confidence speaking Spanish. I think that the fear of messing up is what holds a lot of people back in language learning, because this is one of my biggest issues too. The trip to the Witches’ Market also gives a good taste of the culture, specifically that of the indigenous people. If you look further into the shops than just the exterior, you can get a glimpse of what it may be like to be an indigenous woman in Bolivia, which, for me, was a very humbling experience.

On our way to a few museums in La Paz

Connor Yarnall: Today was a day filled with history. We traveled to three museums: Museo de Historia Natural, Museo de Metales Precios, and Casa de Murillo. The first explained crucial events that led to the creation of Bolivia. The second had Bolivian artifacts made of gold, silver, and bronze from various time periods. It showed the importance of mining in Bolivia’s history. The last one was a tour of the house of Murillo. Murillo was a patriot of Bolivia and fought against Spanish rule and advocated for Bolivia’s independence.

After the museums we went to La Iglesia de San Francisco and El Mercado de las brujas. I had created a short presentation that I gave to the group about the church and was very excited doing my research on it beforehand. The church was beautiful, with great gold decorations and beautiful carved stones. After the visit I was able to buy some merchandise for my friends back home in the Witches’ Market. This was another example of being able to use my language skills to communicate with the vendors. Shopping in the market was a great time and I was confident to use my abilities.

A Visit to UMSA

Meeting with faculty and administrators from UMSA

March 29, 2017

Connor Yarnall: My day began with another Spanish lesson; however, we had to cut this one short for a meeting with the chancellor of UMSA. UMSA is a large university in La Paz with eighty thousand students. We went to one of their many campus buildings that hosted the offices of many administrators. The meeting with the chancellor went very well and he was very hospitable. He even came with us to lunch.

Afterwards, I decided to do some shopping and was able to find some good items for my friends back home. But that only lasted a little while as we had another meeting with EIA (Engineers in Action). I was really impressed with the work conducted by EIA, a non-profit organization. They care for many rural communities surrounding La Paz and had more communities to care for then they could supply. It really opened my eyes about what type of work was needed and the problems Bolivia has with their water, infrastructure, and energy.

Traffic zebras help pedestrians cross the streets

Lauren Reynolds: In the afternoon, Connor and I visited the Witches’ Market. We were supposed to be back at the hotel by 6:00. We departed from the witch’s market with 20 minutes until 6:00 thinking that would be plenty of time to get back to the hotel and it would have been if we had not run into the traffic zebras! Bolivia uses traffic zebras to help pedestrians be able to cross the streets safely. We couldn’t continue heading back without a selfie with a zebra!

Anna Meyer: We got back to the hotel and I scrambled to get some homework done. Shortly after returning to the hotel, we left again for the movies. We got there by taxi and teleférico. I was surprised by how easy it was to understand the film despite it being in Spanish. I enjoyed the movie very much, but it was not a happy movie. It was extremely suspenseful. Going to the movies in Bolivia was an interesting experience because I saw a lot of teenagers there. I have not seen that many in the city. I liked seeing the couples all dressed up for their dates.

Jordan Pryor: While the rest of the group went to experience a movie in Spanish, Lauren and I decided to explore the mall. Malls here are quite different from malls in the United States. They are way busier through all hours. For example, as the mall came closer and closer to closing time, the human traffic did not seem to decrease at all. I believe that this is a great example of how different people are socially here in Bolivia and really Latin America as a whole. They are, in general, more social all of the time rather than just on the weekends. You will find that in most Latin American countries, there will be people out and about way later than you will find in the United States. This is especially noticeable during weeknights, and we often found ourselves saying, “Don’t they have work tomorrow?!” It is quite interesting how differently people interact with each other according to the country that they are from.