Cochabamba, Bolivia – Andean Pilgrimage
Programs created for Individuals as well as for Organizations
¡Aski jutawi jilatanaka kullakanaka! Bienvenido, Bienvenida a Bolivia – Welcome to Bolivia!
Bolivia is a country of diversity. Bolivia has an extensive range of ecological zones. For example, within short distances the landscape can change from fertile grassland or tropical rainforest to high desert or snow-capped mountain ranges of glaciers. Bolivia is considered to be the 8th most biodiverse country in the world, and Bolivia’s Madidi National Park claims a greater biodiversity than any other protected area on the earth. Bolivia is also diverse in its distribution of wealth with the result that it is considered the poorest country in South America, and the second poorest country in Latin America and the Caribbean (following Haiti).
The country is very diverse in its population (approximately 9 million) ethnically. At more than 62%, Bolivia has the highest percentage indigenous population in Latin America:
- 30% – Indigenous – Quechua (primarily valley)
- 25% – Indigenous – Aymara (primarily altiplano)
- 30% – Mestizo – Indigenous/white (typically Spanish) mixed heritage
- 14% – White
- 1% – Other
The origins of the Aymara culture go back at least as early as 600 B.C. (although some archaeologists date them back to around 1500 B.C.). The culture was as advanced in many respects as that of the ancient Egyptians. The Quechua were valley people in pre-Incan times who adopted the language of the conquering Incas as part of the great Inca empire (Tiahuantinsuyo) centered in Cusco in present-day Peru but which extended from Colombia to Chile around the fifteenth century. According to archaeologists, much of the Quechua-speaking Incan civilization was based on inherited Tiwanakan culture and technology. Both Tiwanaku and the Inca empire were theocracies in which all of life was based on a sacred understanding. The Andean cosmovision continues this understanding so much so that it is difficult to separate culture from religion.
For the first time in history, the people of Bolivia have elected an indigenous president – Evo Morales Aima. After centuries of oppression, the people of Bolivia have renewed hope and strength in their struggles for equality, justice and dignity. You will have a firsthand opportunity to see how a country made up of over 40 different ethnic groups (approximately 65% of the population is indigenous) is struggling to fully incorporate these historically oppressed peoples into society. You will be a witness to the on-going change in daily life. The Bolivia pilgrimage with these incredible people will stir your heart, inspire your faith, and deepen your desire for peace and justice in the world.
Your time in Bolivia will be focused on meeting and making friends with Bolivians. You will be introduced to political and social realities. You will learn about their culture, faith and history. By accompanying the Maryknoll lay missioners in their daily ministries, you will gain unique insights into the contemporary struggles of the oppressed in Bolivia.
Requirements for joining any trip to Bolivia:
In order to have a great time please consider these guidelines:
- Doing the visits to the different ministries and enjoying tourist sites requires ability to walk, unassisted, up to 45 minutes without stopping and ability to remain standing for up to 30 minutes.
- Ability to climb up and down stairs – getting in and out of transportation, accommodation sites, and from airplanes without walkways.
- Ability to acclimate well to altitude – 2,560 meters or 8,396 feet above sea level. If on prescription medicine, please consult your health care provider about the impact altitude may have on your health.
- Ability to eat a variety of foods, vegetarian diets can be handled.
- Ability to not be severely impacted by high level of air pollution, dust and noise associated with Cochabamba.
- Willingness to be different; due to physical traits such as skin complexion, language, clothing and other individual characteristics.