I spent three months in the mountains of Bolivia and Peru as part of my gap year. I went with a program called Where There Be Dragons, which takes students into the undiscovered parts of developing countries. Each person has to undertake an independent study project as part of the course. Surrounded by giant mountains, glaciers, and Aymara and Quechua peoples, I studied the relationship between Andeans and their natural environment.
I conducted my research mainly through interviews: I talked with my host family, farmers, kallawayas (Andean shamans), and eco-guides. I developed a list of questions that were aimed at discovering how these individuals felt about their environment. I wanted to know: how does their relationship with nature differ from ours? What aspects of our culture cause us to see nature differently?
In the following blog posts, I will write about my interviews, my experiences, and my conclusions. Please stay tuned!