Sunday, February 1, 2015

Winter in the Mountains--Azacilo, Bolivia

Today, with a snow coated ground and snowflakes dancing outside my window, I reminisce about wintertime in Bolivia--my summer working in rural Azacilo for Engineers Without Borders. At an elevation of 14,000 ft, the village of Azacilo is nestled in a valley North-West of the capital city, La Paz. The village has 27 families who speak the native language Aymara, with a few who speak Spanish. The mornings are cold and the sun does not peak over the mountains to warm the village until 10. I am awoken by a donkey braying and the sound of the dripping faucet uphill, which we need to fix. I lace my boots up and make the trek across the soccer field to the school's composting bano, which our group constructed a few years ago. I pause to stand on my perch to watch the fog fill into the valley like an engulfing ghostly wave--I feel immense calm. We eat a breakfast of bread, bananas,and oatmeal, and I drink matte tea to warm my body. After the tool bag is packed, we make our way up the mountain to our work site, the community dogs trotting happily beside us. As the sun peaks, the community members join us for the day's work activities. Together we work side-by-side digging, mixing concrete, and gathering rocks for the gradient filter, taking only a short break at 1 for lunch. As the sun sets and our day's work comes to an end, we descend to the village in retreat for supper. With the temperature drop, I curl into my sleeping bag atop a hay mat and soon drift into sleep, ready for tomorrow.   

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