Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I took advantage of the long weekend for Carnaval celebrations (Bolivia's version, mas o menos, of Mardi Gras) to travel with UAC-CP thesis student Veronica Calles and UAC-CP graduate Reinaldo Mendoza, to the town of Sorata--located about three hours from La Paz.

Reinaldo and Veronica actually admitted to knowing me--the gringa in the plaza wearing a 1 Bolivano monkey mask that a local vendor essentially guilted me into buying!

Though the monkey mask may suggest otherwise, I really didn't go to participate in Carnaval festivities--the three-day-long fiesta, the water balloon fights, and the car cha'lla were not the focal points of my itinerary.  I primarily went because I wanted to meet with UAC-CP graduates and thesis students and to learn more about their work in this picturesque little town.

Mt. Illampu's grandeur towers above the pueblo.  

We ate breakfast at the town's mercado. The pueblo's Spanish influence was evident by the presence of casas antiguas (old houses) throughout Sorata. UAC-CP graduate Mario Cama told me that paperwork indicates the town dates back more than 400 years.

Within less than 24 hours I found two UAC-CP nursing graduates who work in the Sorata hospital, one Agronomy graduate who is the director of the environmental program in the mayor's office, and a former UAC-CP Education student who is the director of a local boarding school.

And although I didn't see him, the name of UAC-CP Veterinary Science student, Juan Quispe (who is, at this very moment, defending his thesis on the lower campus) was floating around town--it seems he might have a job with the local government as they plan for the building of a chicken farm project.

As always, it was good to reconnect with once-familiar Carmen Pampa faces...and, better yet, it was good to learn that they're fulfilling the mission of the College--working in their area of study and providing important services to people living in the rural area of Bolivia.

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