A Travellerspoint blog

November 2014

Hard Days

It's not always easy.

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I knew that when I chose to come to Bolivia that I would be giving up certain things, to gain other experiences, and I thought I could do it. I also understood that it would not always be easy. This has been one of those weeks that made me realize that I’m not as tough as I thought I was, but on the other hand, I made it. I have always known that I thrive on being busy and having excitement in my life. I’m not one to sit and read a book for hours on end. I’m not the kind of person that watches TV either. In fact I haven’t watched TV in 4 months. I’ve see 3 movies on Netflix and have gone to 4 movies here in Bolivia. I’m happiest filling my life with people and activities. I remember before I came here talking with my sisters about how maybe I would learn to relax and spend quiet time reading. It’s just not my personality. So, this past weekend, when there wasn’t much going on, our weekend hike was cancelled, and I knew there were family activities going on at home, I had a bit of a meltdown. Don’t get worried! I’m fine now, and I made it through. It was a learning experience and one that I will remember next time I have these feelings. I Can Do Hard Things.
It was good to go through this weekend because I’m in the process of making a decision to stay in Bolivia for another year, or go home. I realize that I told them I would give them two years, but things change. The school is not what I was told it would be, and while I really love the kids I teach, they are very difficult to manage. It is totally different working with kids that come from very rich backgrounds and some of them just don’t care! How do you make someone care about school work?
Today one student was rolling his eyes at me, and I told him that someday he will have a boss and can’t do that, and he told me, in a snotty tone, that he will never have a boss and that his parents will give him a business and he will be the boss. My teaching partner agreed with him and said it’s true. His parents will give him a business and he will have it made. He later knocked over a chair on a girl’s leg and refused to apologize. Later he kicked the aide. The aide that the parents are paying to “babysit” him, so he can stay in the school. And it goes on like that…..

The weekend ended up being great. I caught a movie with a friend, and spent some great time with my favorite Bolivian family, so I made it.

Meanwhile one teacher up and quit yesterday. I hear another isn’t coming back after Christmas. And several teachers aren’t coming back next year, for one reason or another.

I’ve been making a list of pros and cons of staying another year or leaving and it’s a tough decision, but one I won’t make until after the holidays.

Loved chatting with family over the weekend. Missed the Thanksgiving dinner they had early, but looking forward to Thanksgiving in La Paz. It will be good I’m sure.

Posted by dianeski4 13:34 Archived in Bolivia Comments (2)

Bolivian Mail System

Patience.......lots of it!

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Don’t mail me any packages!

My sweet sister mailed me a couple of packages over a month ago. We have been tracking them and trying to figure out where they were. We finally tracked them into Santa Cruz, so yesterday a friend from school was at the Post Office downtown and asked about them. They told her they were at a different Post Office on the 2nd ring, and she sent me a photo of the address. So, just for a little more adventure (cause I don’t get enough), I headed out after school to see if I could retrieve the packages. They don't have mailboxes or mailmen here to deliver mail, so everything needs to be picked up.

I took a taxi and he dropped me off in the middle of a neighborhood, with a small building. I almost asked him to wait, but I figured it would take a while. With my little Spanish speaking skills, and the help of some people that spoke a little English I found I was in the right place. However, the window to obtain the paperwork was closed. The sign said it was open until 5:00, so I inquired at the other door and the lady came out and changed the sign to 3:00. Yep… the hours changed right then. Acting dumb and not being able to speak the language well helped me, I think. They somehow told me that I had to come back at 9 am tomorrow and I told them I couldn’t because I was traveling to La Paz, and besides that I am a teacher and can’t get off work. By then, I think they were either feeling sorry for me, or didn’t want me to think Bolivia was crazy. In fact, someone who spoke English told me that Bolivia is crazy and asked me what I was doing in Boliva, and I told them I had not idea and that I was crazy. We had a good laugh.
They asked for my ID and I handed over the copy of my passport, cause my real passport is who knows where in the process of getting a visa. They said they had one package and I told them two, and somehow they found another. Makes me wonder what would have happened had I not said 2. I had to sign for them, and then I waited another 10 minutes while they helped other people. I honestly think they were trying to figure out if they should charge me for them. I did see some people had paid, and I heard they probably would charge me a tax on it.
Finally a guy opened one of the packages, poked around in it and handed them over.
Mucho Gracias! And I was out of there.
Nothing, nothing, nothing is easy in Boliva!

Posted by dianeski4 13:13 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Busy Bolivian Weekend

Yes, I love my job...most the time...but I like weekends the best.

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The weekend started with a girls dinner out celebrating Dora’s birthday after school on Friday. We headed to a Greek restaurant and had some yummy gyros and visited. I love the teachers from my school, they are fun to be with and very supportive!

Cotoca - Saturday Morning trip with Susan

Susan, our principal, invited us to ride with her to Cotaca, a city about 60 km from Santa Cruz. Melissa and I had been here a couple of months ago, but we were happy to go again.

From Wikipedia:
In 1799, the Catholic Church authorised the building of a shrine to the Virgen de Cotoca, an image of Mary (mother of Jesus) that was seen in the town. The Virgin is now the patron saint of the entire province of Santa Cruz and her feast from 8 to 15 December draws thousands of Bolivians.

We looked at a nice ceramic shop and then walked around the city, including the church.
I bought a few ceramic piggy banks for the grandkids, some wooden spoons and an interesting water bottle made from the hooves of cows. Hmmm…..I think the boys will enjoy this!

We bought some yummy cornmeal/cheese fried “cakes”, thanks to Vivi’s suggestion.

Shortly after getting home Dora, my teaching partner from school, picked me up to take me to her families Saturday dinner. They live about 20 minutes from my house and near the orphanage where I volunteer.

They have a house on about 2 acres and it is beautiful. So many flowers, and trees including papaya and grapefruit trees. A large pool, caretaker house, extra kitchen near the house to keep the smells out of the big house. Dora’s in laws and family were so welcoming and kind. They had some yummy soup, drinks, bread and dessert. Dora’s mother in law was so sweet to cut open a grapefruit from her tree, and even gave me one to take home along with a beautiful bouquet of flowers from the yard. And this is why I love Bolivia. The people! They are the best part of Bolivia.

They took me on a tour of their chicken farm that is behind their house. Several acres with over 105,000 chickens. They employ over 40 families, which is great for the economy of that city. I remember when my grandpa had a chicken farm. We didn’t get to see much of it because by the time we were growing up he was downsizing, so it was fun to learn about a working farm.

She took me home later and I hurried to the pool to get in a few laps because I hadn’t gotten any exercise that day. Then I hurried home to shower and get ready for the principal to pick Melissa and I up for a guitar concert. It was downtown at the plaza and the guy was awesome.

On the way home we felt a big bump while Susan was driving. I didn’t know it, but Susan had hit a parked car and didn’t know it. I asked Melissa why she didn’t say anything and she said, “What was I supposed to do, tell my boss she hit a car?”.

While riding a bus today holding an ice cream, trying to pay, and dealing with the bus lurching I fell onto this guys lap. Totally embarrassing. I think he was embarrassed too.

Today was the Primary Program. There are about 25 kids in the primary. It was so cute to see the kids get up and try and give their little talks….in Spanish….and I didn’t understand…LOL Some of the kids were so shy and didn’t want to do it, but the parents would patiently help them. It was awesome to know that all around the world our church is growing and thriving. I even saw our church in Cotoca.

I am still playing the piano for church and good thing they are patient with me! Cause I don’t play well! (Of course, I’m pretty much all they have) Today I started a song and it came out all wrong, and I had to start over! The problem is that I can’t read the song in Spanish and I need to know the names of the songs because I can’t read music that well. Then I have to hurry and look up the song with the “cheat sheet” that a former missionary gave me for the Spanish Hymn book, and then I can see if I can play the song or not. By that time the meeting is already starting and I have to wing it. I always pray that I can just get thru it and bring the sprit to the meeting, and not detract from it. I’m so grateful that the church is here and that people are so supportive of me.

Posted by dianeski4 14:35 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Sucre, Bolivia

The most beautiful city I've seen yet!

Sucre Main Square

Sucre Main Square

Sucre

Sucre

Mormon Church

Mormon Church

View of Hostel

View of Hostel

View from top of Hostel

View from top of Hostel

Top of Hostel

Top of Hostel

Hostel

Hostel

Yummy lunch

Yummy lunch

Sucre

Sucre

Sucre

Sucre

Sucre

Sucre

Airport

Airport

Yum!

Yum!

Cari, Melissa, Geutilo, Kelly, and I took off on a trip to Sucre because we had a 3 day weekend. Yeah for a day off from school. We really needed it cause on the Friday before we left it was Halloween, and they do it up big here! The kids were crazy. We got off at 11:30 on Friday, but had to be back to the school for the evening activities. They had a ton of activities at the school including food booths, huge rubber slide, pools for boats to float in, dunking booth, train to take kids on rides, ferris wheel, talent show, costume parade. There were prizes for the best costumes and some people spent a ton of money on their costume. There were a couple of standout ones. They used this big cedar chest and had two kids dressed as ballerinas and they were supposed to be a music box. Another was a shower curtain made from PVC pipe. Another one was this huge cave that someone made with a couple of kids dressed up in there. I can only imagine how much money was spent on these!
We left for Sucre on Saturday morning early. We headed to the hotel when we got there and loved the hostel we stayed in. It was beautiful and quaint and included a yummy buffet breakfast. There were 3 floors and each room was so cute and decorated with neat old lights and decorations. Beautiful flowers and the view was awesome.
This city is one of my favorites so far. Mountains and hills and cooler weather, in fact I even wore a light jacket several times. I enjoyed walking up the hill to overlook the city!
We spent Saturday exploring the city, which is full of many church’s, including mine. I was so happy to find that it was only a few blocks from the hotel. We walked and walked in the cool weather. Bought a few trinkets like blankets and jewelry. Ate a yummy lunch which cost about 5$.
Saturday night we went to a cultural show next to the LDS church. For about 20$ we had dinner and a couple hours of dancing with gorgeous costumes. It reminded me of cultural events in Utah. I miss those activities.

I was able to attend on Sunday and I played the piano for them. Seems that not many people play the piano in Bolivia. Course it was all in Spanish, so I didn’t understand much, but the people were friendly.

Sunday after church, I met up with the group and we had this taxi driver take us to the “castle”. It was closed and we think he knew that, but just wanted our money. He said he would take us to the cemetery since it was “The Day of the Dead”. It was really interesting. They stack the coffins on top of each other and there are some really tall “buildings”. There were also “houses” that the wealthier people would have where they could also put many deceased people in. Lots of people were out. It is like our Memorial Day. The taxi driver charged us extra, which made us pretty mad. Later we heard from another taxi driver that he does this all the time. He told us he had been a taxi driver for over 30 years. I guess you have to do what you have to do to survive.

We went to a movie theater later that night, after another yummy and cheap dinner. It’s been nice to find movies here in English.

Monday morning we walked again in the morning and did more exploring. We headed for the airport, with a different taxi driver, and made it home by 3. We went to the Factory for a lunch of hamburgers and fries. And then it was home to catch up on laundry and get ready for school on Tuesday.
Laundy –
I don’t have a washing machine, and I’ve cut down the maid to one day a week, so I try and do hand washing daily so it doesn’t pile up. I do have the maid wash the sheets, kitchen towels, and rugs.
I have a small tub that I keep in the shower. I usually soak the clothes overnight and then in the morning scrub and wash them and hang them out to dry. I noticed with the humidity that the laundry had started to smell, so I bought some bleach to help with that. I surely miss my washing machine, and clothes from the dryer!

Posted by dianeski4 06:51 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

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