3600 metres above sea levels with high altitudes, little did we know this would be the most amazing 4 days we’ve experienced in a long time. With temperatures of about 20-30 degrees during the day, rapidly decreasing to lows of 3 degrees by night. Everyone was ready and packed with their thermals, gloves, scarves and winter jackets ready to conquer the varying weather of Kewina, Cochabamba!
Day 1 : Journey to Camp Kewina
Sunday morning our Bolivian Counterparts (In – country team members) arrived to the guest house. We were all packed and ready for the 2 hour “coach” journey to Camp Kewina, ready for orientation. Some of the British volunteers had reservations about putting their rucksacks and suitcases on top of the coach, whilst others (such as myself), went with the flow ensuring my Iphone and purse was in my pocket. As we entered into the coach we were all given a name of a Bolivian Volunteer on a small piece of paper. The only instruction we were given was to keep the name a secret and not to forget the name we were given. Following this we were all excited about the journey ahead, as we walked onto the coach; string was passed through varying levels of the seats forcing everyone who entered the coach to either crawl or leap through the gaps. From this moment, we were graced with games and activities for the duration of the journey in an attempt to get to know our Bolivian counterparts.
Upon arrival to the gorgeous Kewina, I felt the full effects of the high altitudes instantly. However I could not complain, the freshness of the air made up for the fact that I was suffering from breathlessness. We received a warm welcome from the manager of Kewina and the volunteer workers, many of which happened to be ex Tearfund volunteers from previous cycles. The intitiation process commenced and ‘Bienvenidos’ was in full swing, as we walked into the hall confetti was flying all over the place as well as party poppers and traditional Bolivian music.
After the welcome party, all 40+ of us were given a tour of the beautiful grounds of Kewina, it was so scenic and looked like something out of a movie. We were informed that non venomous snakes, owls and Andean Condor (the Bolivian national bird) were some of the many creatures we would see on our tour of the grounds. Oh the Joys! Following us on the tour was the most intelligent dog I have ever come across – Goldie!
We had then commenced the first of many team building activities. Our task was for all of team Patsida to draw a tree using the strings provided and without touching the actual pen. This task required coordination, excellent verbal communication skills and patience. Considering the fact that the British volunteers spoke very basic Spanish and the Bolivian volunteers spoke very little English, Our team leader was our only hope as she speaks both languages fluently! We were given time to reflect after, about the strengths and weaknesses of our team work during the task. This was essential in identifying areas of improvement for each of us, especially as we will be working in these groups, on project for the remaining 9 weeks here in Bolivia.
Later in the evening after a delicious Bolivian Dinner which constituted of rice, potatoes, vegetables and beef; we delved into a praise and worship session. At this point we were all extremely full from the Dinner and sleep was the only thing on our minds. Little did we know we were about to sing the most amazing Spanish worship songs (which I fell in love with instantly). So much so, I asked the worship leader for the name of the song and artist… (Instantly added to my Itunes playlist). It’s so beautiful to know that worship is not bound by language.
Highlights of Day 2:
Day 1 of Temi’s salon commenced and customers started rolling in! With many of the volunteers wanting to keep their hair out of their faces, little did I know this was the beginning of a daily routine of French plaiting and braiding my fellow volunteers hair!
The day was jam packed with worship, devotion, workshops, team building activities, food, food and more food!
As part of the integration process we were given a task to host British Culture night in order to give our Bolivian counterparts a feel of our culture. We started the night off by singing our national anthem of which I embarrassingly, only knew “God save the Queen”. The night included cooking a meal for approximately 50 people and hosting games such as musical bumps, pin the tail on the donkey, pass the parcel, and the infamous apple bobbing. Forfeits such as push ups were underway for the Bolivians who answered questions incorrectly. It was a huge success with the Chicken Korma and apple crumble being an absolute hit!
Highlights of Day 3:
The Bolivian reciprocated with their equally as amazing culture night! With the dining hall beautifully decorated and for every one male volunteer, two British female volunteers would dance in with them to traditional Bolivian music. The night constituted of muchos dancing which I can’t complain about, gifts given to the British volunteers and the highlight for me, was the 10 minute long Bolivian national anthem. As always the food was delicious, definitely cooked with love not leaving much room for the dessert which was just as nice!
Our final day at Camp Kewina was the most labour intensive day. Each group was given a task to do within the local community. This was intended to put everything we have learnt, from the team building activities over the past 3 days into practice. Team Patsida were given tools to weed the surroundings of a local school and bin bags and gardening gloves, to collect all the rubbish from the school grounds. In the 25 degree heat and a high surface area to cover it was definitely a mind over matter type of task.
As part of Friendship day in Bolivia, we had to make gifts for the person who we had been given the name of, at the start of the trip. We were told to say something positive about the person then give them the gift. This was the perfect way to end 4 days of pure Bliss!