The Bolivian Andes
The Andes region always fascinated me: remote mountains, interesting animals, and of course, the distinct music style featuring pan flutes and charangos. Sucre, Bolivia (another Tacoma-sized city) was an excellent choice to take additional Spanish courses. There, I stayed with the Orellana-Magariños family and got to know them well. There were other foreign students staying in the household also. I took Spanish classes at the Latin American Spanish Academy and began exploring the wonderful city of Sucre.
Sucre is the constitutional capital of Bolivia. My host family remarked that there was no other place in the world they would rather live.
During my stay in Sucre, I met the extended family for barbecues, visited museums of indigenous art and textiles, learned about Bolivia's prehistoric world of dinosaurs, and saw a spectacular performance of Bolivian culture and dance. I even managed to teach some English classes at a local university.
One day, by chance, I met a retired musician in the park, who gave me a free charango lesson. He also performed for me and sang traditional Bolivian songs. I could hear the passion in his voice, and even a little bit of sorrow. The YouTube video below gives you an idea of what the instrument sounds like:
The traditional charango was made out of an armadillo shell. However, it is now illegal to hunt the armadillo, so the instrument must be made of the wood from an orange tree. The charango I bought and learned to play is from an orange tree.
While the city of Sucre was superb, it was also nice to get out into the rural areas a bit..