Quinoa grown in the Salar de Uyuni, where I will do my research.
I found my way back to Wageningen with only a few hitches. The morning that I was meant to leave I realised that I had read my ticket information incorrectly and was actually leaving 3 hours before I had thought; I went directly to the ticket office and managed to get a new ticket later that morning. Aboard the train for Paris my fellow passengers and I might as well been in an icebox. For whatever reason, the train was absolutely freezing. Nevertheless, I made it to Paris and after a mad 30 minute dash between train stations I found out that my train was delayed due to snow (about 2 cm to be exact). I waited about a half hour, which was nothing compared to the 1 and a half hours more that we would be delayed once I was aboard the train. I finally arrived in Rotterdam about 2 hours late and caught the first train to Uttrecht where I caught the LAST train of the day to Ede-Wageningen at 7 minutes to 1 am. Once at Ede, I learned that no more buses were coming to bring me home. I faced three choices: 1) Stay at the train station until 5am and catch the first bus (not so bad compared to spending the night in the Lima airport actually) or 2) finding a hotel in Ede to spend the night or 3) finding a taxi. After not much deliberation I found a cab and luckily shared the price with a fellow traveler. Finally, I arrived at Wageningen at 2 am yesterday morning. It's amazing how a few cm of snow can completely throw the perfect public transportation out of wack!
After I nice relaxing break in France I've been reintroduced to a busy life in Wageningen. I recently was informed that I have been accepted as a board member of the Wageningen Student Organisation and will start training for the position tomorrow afternoon. I am excited to work with WSO and hope that I can continue what I started at SDSU with South Dakota Students for Fair Trade.
I've also found new direction for my thesis in the past month through literature, emails, and conversations with professors. For now, I am planning on going to Bolivia (specifically Salar de Uyuni, see pictures above) to study how the growth of the export market for quinoa has confronted the livelihoods of producers. This meaning that I will investigate how the farmers' practices are a product of not only the quinoa market, but many other variables (subsistence, social values, environmental values, etc) and which of these values is directing farmers in their farming style choices. I hope that this research will contribute to development projects by better understanding the livelihoods of Bolivian quinoa farmers. I will be writing a kind of pre-proposal this week and should have a better idea of how I will go about doing the research afterwards. In that sense, this post is a kind of pre-pre-proposal.
Our plans considering the new and old developments is as follows. We will fly back in early July and get married on 1 August. We will both then leave for wherever I will do my internship. This will very likely be in Latin America and hopefully in Bolivia. The internship will last 4 months, after which I will begin my thesis research in Bolivia. While I research Amanda might volunteer with an ngo, work in tourism, or something else. Research should last until late May when we will return to the United States. I will work on writing my thesis for a month or so at home before I return to Wageningen for 2 months to finalise everything.
After this we get much more speculative. It's possible that we will both go to Wisconsin-Madison where Amanda will study for her (French, History, Women's studies, or otherwise) master's and I will pursue a docterate. After that, we will live happily ever after in the land of make believe.
Thanks for reading my ramblings, Andrew