What a month its been! Our program spent weeks in the Bolivian Administrative Capital La Paz meeting with the famous Bolivian artist Mamani Mamani, a feminist lesbian indigenous rights group and a non profit youth theater and circus troupe. After our time in La Paz we traveled to Lake Titicaca for an indigenous home-stay on the Island of the Sun to learn from a community that has existed for over 3,000 years. This rural isolated island in the middle of the world's highest navigable lake is accepted as the spiritual and cultural center for all Andean civilizations dating back over 4 thousand years. These past few weeks were filled with new experiences, long bus rides and lots of potato soup, all these experiences were also incredible different than what the final part of my semester is about to turn into.
I am preparing to work on ambulances in Bolivia and learn the strengths and weaknesses of the EMS system in Latin America's third poorest country. At this point I have just begun to explore various organizations and research opportunities in Cochabamba where I currently live as well as the country's two largest cities, La Paz and Santa Cruz. I have my first official ambulance ride along tomorrow (October 18th) with SAR Bolivia, a volunteer ambulance, fire fighting and search and rescue organization whose 450 volunteers are Cochabamba's primary emergency response organization. I have had a few interviews and meetings with the one of the founders of the organization and have learned a little bit about the sacrifices that the volunteers must make in their professional and familial lives in order to be apart of this organization. Though I am really excited to work with SAR Cochabamba I will likely end up completing the majority of my research in another city.