Unrest in Bolivia and Deciding to Leave

At the meeting, the first wave of shock hit us: Up Close Bolivia had decided to close down all of their projects indefinitely. What’s more, they were strongly encouraging all of us to leave the country as soon as possible. In fact, Emma asked if we could all take a bus to Peru together the following morning. In total disbelief of the situation but trusting Emma’s instincts to the fullest, we agreed.

With our new plan in place, we went back into our houses and began to pack. The reality of it all hit me as I started rolling up my clothes and throwing away food. That's when I began to envision us driving away from Jupapina and not being able to say goodbye to any of the Bolivian volunteers or to our students. I could barely hold back my tears. For the next few hours, things were uncertain, as news kept flowing in and plans continued to change. Finally, we headed up to Emma’s house to share a final meal together. Just before dinner, we all crowded around the T.V. in Emma’s living room. Nervously, we watched as Jeanine Áñez, a 52 year-old opposition lawmaker, was inaugurated to serve as the country’s interim president. For pro-democracy supporters, this moment brought yet another sigh of relief. But for the indigenous people who supported Morales, it did exactly the opposite. Áñez was a long-time critic of Morales, labeled as a “right-wing religious conservative,” who had a history of discriminating against indigenous people. Despite the difficulties the country was facing, we volunteers felt safe and protected from the tension and violence that was looming outside. We shared a lovely meal together; had a small, heartwarming “goodbye” ceremony; washed the dishes; gave each other hugs; and headed to bed.