I was a young volunteer having just turned 20 a month into training.

Training had been a whirlwind and more exciting than anything I had ever done.  The selection process had taken a toll on our group and we landed in Bolivia with just 22.

After days in both the capitol city and provential capitol, assignments were made and we headed for our sites.

We left Cochabamba with three couples in a jeep stationwagon and headed out into a sub-valley from the very beautiful provential capitol. 

We left first the one pair in a nice, not so small town and the second in a similarly sized town and continued on up into the end of the valley.

Carol Bowers and I arrived at Arani and exchanged looks that would have made our Mothers cry.  It was the very poorest of all the towns we had passed through.  The central plaza was unkept and there were folks drawing water from one of the few spigots in town.  The main downtown building were in need of repair and the streets were narrow an cobblestone.

We were too excited to be depressed at how our town compared to the others and our excitement turned to humility as we were welcomed by members of the local Club 4S at the Ag Extension Office on the main plaza.  I remember that it was a emotional experience accepting a small bunch of local flowers from a shy kid, Gonzalo, and how we looked forward to beginning our work among these interesting people.

A revolution only six weeks later resulted in our being pulled from the site for security reasons, and the rest of my service was in far different circumstances.   

I wonder to this day how different my entire experience would have been had I remained in Arani.

I returned there in 2007 and was pleasantly surprised to find a vibrant, renovated town, especially the church, and to find a beautiful plaza.  We were honored to visit the the current volunteer. 


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“Sunset at the Railroad” by PCV Nicholas Baylor Hall. Namibia, 2011.