Sunday, September 27, 2009

Filling In the Blanks

This could get lengthy, but I will try my hardest to streamline it.

Last Sunday marked the 53rd birthday of my Uncle Fernando. Because he lives in La Paz with his wife, Ximena, and was in Sucre all week, we ended up throwing a party in our home. A huge portion of the family was there, and I am pretty sure I was the only person below the age of 30. It sure was nice. Adults know how to party. Just a nice, breezy afternoon spent feasting under umbrellas and enjoying the company of family is as good a party as any. I much prefer that over a dark room, high heels, blaring music, sweaty people grinding other sweaty people, and trying to avoid stepping in vomit thanks to all those that find it fun to get completely wasted. The party started at 1:00 in the afternoon and everyone was out of the house by 8:00. I thoroughly enjoy watching a family be happy together. It is something I haven't seen too much of in the states. We seem to neglect our family members because we know they will still love us when we treat them horribly. We treat new friends amazingly in the hopes that we will have another person to call when we want to complain about the family or cry about our problems. Friends are the only people that understand us, right? I realize now it should be opposite. Friends come and go, and family is always tied to you. Family always comes first. Bolivians just seem to get that.

Next on the list of Randomness. Student Day, Valentine's Day, and the first day of Spring all occur on the same day in Bolivia. My morning started out as a big party at my school. All the teachers and students participated in various skits, dances, and musical performances. The day was most special for me and my graduating class. After the performances, my class continued the party as the younger children left to attend class. As my classmates sat before the school's stage, various groups of very young students entered the stage to perform traditional Bolivian dances for us. All my friends were remembering when they were young and had performed for the graduating class. After the adorable performances, we lined up to enter the stage. As we stepped on stage, each child greeted us with a hug and a kiss as they gave each of us a flower and a pin. At this point, my class started singing some sentimental song. I grinned cluelessly at the front of the stage as all my girlfriends started getting teary-eyed. Thankfully, that ended quickly, and we returned to our seats to feast on empanadas and Fanta while Chompas and various other wicked-awesome teachers toasted to OUR awesomeness. I was deeply greatful for a direct address from Chompas, my art teacher, and Leche, the class president. They are really trying hard to make Laura and me feel at home. From teary-eyed speeches we headed back to the main plaza for a dance in the fresh air until lunch time. It was at this time that Valentine's Day flowers, chocolates, and balloons were passed out. It is the equivalent of Ho-Ho Grams for Christmas at DHS. Very fun, and I received a flower from Chesko, the class clown. The festivities finally wound down that morning, but I was prepared for a little more fun in the afternoon.

I offered to take Jorgito to see a movie since we were both free. I don't know the title, but it was a great comedy with Eddie Murphy. We were both alone in the theatre while waiting for the film to start when "Thriller" started playing. Jorgito is absolutely obsessed with "El Rey de Pop," so we decided to have a little fun. I walked him to the front of the theatre and we started dancing like maniacs. Cory and Carl, only you two would know how fun that could possibly be. ;) When we caught our breath, the movie began, and Jorgito just loved it. Surprisingly, I understood all the Spanish, more or less, and I loved it as well. We both left the theatre laughing as we walked to Abu's home a couple blocks away.
From there, we all took a nice long walk. Our hope was to find a vendor of futbol jerseys, and we were successful. Jorgito and I are now looking quite lovely in our matching Sucre University futbol jerseys every time we cheer before the television. "Gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool! " On the way back to la Casa Rodriguez, the three of us stopped for a gyro. Abu is a regular in the restaurant, as she lives right above it. She was insistent that I try a gyro. It was tasty. I shall return. Nana, nobody could ever take your place, but Abu really makes a great substitute when in need of a little grandmotherly love. So that was the end to a great day. I returned home that evening and slept like a baby. "Como tronco," as Jorge puts it. Jorgito and I still chuckle about the movie. He just gets cuter by the minute. His birthday is this Friday, so I am sure I will have a nice blog about that soon.

Next on the chain of events is a birthday party of two of my friends, Fercha and Cecilia. Two very unique girls that I have come to love. I got all dolled up that evening and arrived with Ori at Cecilia's home by 9:30. I wasn't entirely prepared for such a party. It was like right out of an American film where all the kids are crowding in the kitchen trying to get at all the liquor. The table was packed, and the booze kept coming. As soon as everyone walked in the door, alcohol was the first thing on the mind. Laura and I finally found a comfortable seat so we could just watch everyone rapidly grow dumb. After chatting for a good two hours, I was thrilled to visit with two girls. Because they too do not enjoy grinding with a bunch of drunk people, they made plans for a midnight trip to a concert in town. Of course, I was all on top of that. We made it to the concert by midnight and I was in heaven. Hippies, tourists, great Blues music from a local band, graffiti, and good sober company in Sucre, Bolivia. I don't think it gets any better than that. Does it? It does.
We were accompanied by William, a completely adorable classmate of mine. The last time I had talked to him was when he was stuffing his mouth full of coca leaves on our trip to Potosí. I was a little put off then, but last night was just adorable. All the boys are such gentlemen here. As I was the only one in high heels that night, and we had to do a bit of walking, William was always at my side ready to catch me in case of a fall. And, of course, I nearly fell. He stood by my side the whole concert and kept staring at me because he and the girls were so thrilled that I was loving the music. Every time I smiled at the music, I looked at him and he was already staring at me. How funny and completely adorable. Now if only I wasn't 5 inches taller than him. In the middle of the concert, he asked me if my friend Bernarda knew where I was. I was confused. I am a big girl now and can go have a little fun on my own. He sensed my attitude and explained that he didn't want Bernarda to worry about me. Does that get any cuter?! It isn't as if he is entirely unique in his gentlemanliness though. All the boys are generally the same. I will miss that. And this is coming from the girl that used to hate all that gentlemanly conduct bullhonky. I can fend for myself, but I certainly don't mind if someone else wants to step in and do the fending. I am a sucker for a gentleman. Hint, hint. :)

So we made it back alive and happy, and that was pretty much the end of my night. I reentered the party to say goodbye while Jorge was on his way to pick me up. Everybody was nuts and one was passed out on the couch inside the door. Definitely amusing. I don't know if I will ever adjust to such partying, but I can sit there and laugh at least. I am going to end this blog finally, and go make a delightful fruit salad for dinner while the rest of my family eats burgers and fries. By the way, I got sick one more time. Hopefully the last time, though I am happy because it has given me a good excuse to not eat hamburgers anymore. Maybe I will get skinny after all.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Where to begin. Well, I am way too exhausted to have any thoughts for the day, so I will settle for a nice narration of my incredibly chaotic week.

What started as a nice Friday afternoon in the plaza, ended as a very eye-opening and frightening one. So far in my life, I have been lucky enough to avoid any major suffering or hardship. I realized for the millionth time just how lucky I have been in life when I watched a taxi run over a very young boy that Friday afternoon. I heard what sounded like a popped tire, and I turned my head in time to see the rear tire resting square on the child's chest. What am I supposed to do as the people shout and wave the clueless driver forward? What am I supposed to do as the mother picks up his limp body in her arms? What am I supposed to do as the people instantly crowd around the scene? How am I supposed to feel as I watch all the terrified girls reach out to their boyfriends looking for comfort? How am I supposed to feel as I watch a band and a parade of dancers LITERALLY march through the scene as the police move the incident to the other side of the street?! What am I supposed to do? Well, I sat there glued to my bench crying like a coward and repeatedly murmuring, "Oh, my God. Oh my God." What was I supposed to do? After putting on a happy face for the clueless Jorge the rest of the afternoon, I eventually burst as we left the office that evening. I don't know what ended up of the little boy's life, but mostly I was preoccupied thinking about all the onlookers. I still can't seem to understand how people can see something so eye-opening and just move on with their lives in such a quick and seemingly tidy fashion. Life moves on. I have always struggled with that concept. When the time comes that I shall lose someone very close to me, I imagine I will have a very hard time coping. I don't like the concept of 'moving on.' Well, life does move on, but now it moves with a worry every time I walk the streets with Jorgito. He ALWAYS walks on the part of the sidewalk closest to the building now, and his back is never without the touch of my hand prepared to yank him out of the way. Life moves on, but just a little differently for me.

Last Friday afternoon also marked the start of La Entrada, which explains why there was a parade marching through the scene of the accident. La Entrada is a festival which occurs in the cities of La Paz, Oruro and Sucre, and it is basically an incredibly gargantuine parade which consists of hundreds of historic and folkloric dances and music of Bolivia. All kinds of people come together, wealthy and poor, to participate in the dances. The real festival starts Saturday morning and lasts all hours of the night. I was out until 4:00 Sunday morning and thought that meant the end of it all; however, I was shocked, and a little irked, to hear music blaring still as my family and I drove to lunch on Sunday afternoon. I can only handle so much partying, and I normally am not one for parties at all anyway. I had had enough partying for one weekend, but it certainly was an unforgettable and marvelous experience.

The fun really started in the late afternoon. My family and I stationed ourselves in the main plaza where all the action is. By 7:00, all my aunts and some crazy uncle were beyond drunk. This resulted in some serious fun and great pictures. My uncle was screaming at every beautiful woman that danced past, and if she didn't respond he simply chased after her and started dancing. Or was that more like stumbling? Hmm. Every time the band for each dance passed us, he felt some urge to attack the drummers. He just ripped the bass drum mallet out of someone's hand and started hammering the heck out of the drum as if it were perfectly normal.

After seeing an uncountable number of dances, we decided to wrap it up and head to la Casa Rodriguez(my family's wicked-awesome home in the plaza) for a party. It was there that my migraine started. Yay! So, at 11:30 I popped a pill and ran upstairs to shut my eyes in the hope that it would pass in time to enjoy the party. Luckily, I was functioning by 12:30 and finished out the remainder of the party getting hit on by drunkards in the street and dancing like a maniac with my aunts and uncles until 4:00 in the morning. The Rodriguez family definitely knows how to party. My writing expertise fails to convey how much I truly loved that night, but I do believe the pictures I posted on will do the evening justice. Bolivia kind of stole my heart that day. The people are so happy despite their obvious hardships, and they have so much pride in their history. Please go check out the pictures!!!!

And you thought that was the end of my "chaotic" week? Yeah right. Somehow, I manage to get all rested up for school on Monday. The day is going well, and that afternoon I return to town with Jorge. Because I have no classes this afternoon, we get to work on dealing with extending my visa! Fun. After running errands all over town in the heat of the day, I take a break to go chill at the supermarket and start writing this exact post among other things. I am feeling a little dizzy, and finally I realize I am really just not feeling well. After rudely and abruptly ending all my facebook discussions, I ran outside in time to puke in the populated streets of Sucre, Bolivia. So, now I am standing all alone with just myself and my blond hair getting stared at by what feels like a million people as I puke and cry in the streets. Why aren't romantic love stories ever true? Why couldn't some gorgeous man just come pull back my hair and sweep me off my feet to dash me to safety? Come on, people! Instead of relying on my fairy-tale ending, I start traipsing back to Jorge's office. Once there, I managed to be sick 4 more times. Never in my life have I had so many people worried about me all at once. On top of all the office staff, I even had aunts and uncles there to fret over me! Besides help from Mom, I have always been kind of good at taking care of myself when I am sick. I wasn't sure if I was crying that afternoon because I was scared, or because I felt so incredibly loved. That is not to imply that I do not feel loved by my family in the states. :)

So, I made it home alive, though that was the longest car ride of my life. I would rather fly to Bolivia and back ten times than take that car ride while sick. Bolivian driving is already atrocious, and the addition of a miserable stomach and spinning head certainly don't make it any more bearable. I made it up to Jorgito's bedroom with the help of Jorge's arm and continued my labored breathing. I swear I am never having children. I can't even handle an upset stomach. Bolivians doctors are all gung-ho for house calls, because after more vomitlicious fun the doctor arrived and jabbed my belly a bunch of times. I swear he just got some sick pleasure out of seeing me wince in pain. Once he had enough fun with that, he jabbed me with an IV and I crashed a short while later. I stayed home from school the next day to recuperate and was feeling much better. And the day after that even better, but with a little bit of pain in my gut. It felt like someone punched me right in my gut below the ribs. Ugh. Today, I am up and running. I finally got to pass on chicken broth, and I ate pizza for dinner tonight. Heaven.

In short, this last week has been a long one. Long and interesting. Finally, I have finished this post, and now I must leave the comfort of my bed to stay out late on a school night. Definitely sleeping in physics tomorrow.

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Potosí and Rotarí

Thought for the day: Trying new things, and RE-trying old things, can be fun, but just going for it even if you don't like it at all is best. I do not eat raw tomatoes or carrots. I do not like nuts. I DO NOT dance. I definitely do not volunteer to go climbing in the middle of a mine. I never thought about tasting a beer or even so much as looking at a bottle of whisky. All this until I arrived in Bolivia, of course. In all my attempts to be polite, I have discovered a few new things. Raw tomatoes and carrots with salad and rice are actually an incredibly good meal. Nuts on chocolate cake and ice cream aren't entirely as bad as I remember them. I have rhythm and can actually dance decently. Though my level of physical fitness might hinder my climbing capabilities, it results in a parade of support and cheers from new friends. Beer really is disgusting, but atleast I can say I have tried it. Mom, Dad, and Rotary, this was completely legal and normal. Relax and it shall be explained. I know there is more to add to this list, but this should suffice. In short, just force yourself to do something different. And don't do it because you don't want to offend anyone. Do it because you sincerely want to discover new things. If you truly have an open mind, you will like anything. Just find the good in things.

Potosí. Last thursday, I left for a two-day class trip to Potosí. Potosí is a mining town located three hours away in the heart of the mountains. This experience could not have come at a better time. It was the perfect opportunity to really bond with new friends and see more of Bolivia. Our first stop was at the cervezería/brewery. Again family and Rotary, you will have to wait for the full explanation. From there, we grabbed lunch and headed for the mines. After gearing up, we began our lengthy hike through the dusty, dark, dangerous mines of Potosí. It was here that I really started to bond with people. The guys yelling "I lov yoo Hailey!" and "Halp mee!" in their adorable little accents made for roars of laughter that echoed all the way through the mine. At one point, a small group of us chose to do some climbing. Somehow, I ended up nervously being the last one, but it resulted in a roar of cheers and support from my classmates when I finished. Nothing feels better than fitting in and having my own spot amongst my new group of friends. The mines were magnificent, and I am thrilled to say I have that experience under my belt. After mining, the day wound down and we eventually found ourselves in bed. The next day included a tour of la Casa de Moneda and the Santa Teresa Convent. Should you care to hear about those and learn more about the previously mentioned, you can visit a new website to see photos of my trip. I will continue to use this website for my entire exchange, and I have already posted many more photos than just those of my Potosí trip. Have a look and leave some comments. Andrew, I have a feeling you will like that much better, seeing as how you seem to have some crazy aversion to reading. And mom, I hope that will make you happy, seeing as how I can't seem to blog enough for your happiness.

Alcohol. Okay family and Rotary. Here comes the full explanation of my boozer behavior. We made it to end of the cervezería tour, and the students all started hootin' & hollerin' as the guide grabbed a couple beers off the bottling line. My thoughts: No way in hell. These kids are dreaming. The teachers are standing right here. The guide isn't really that stupid. Well, my thoughts were ass-backwards. Apparently, the drinking age of 18 doesn't really matter too much here, and the teachers know how to have a good time in Bolivia. I watched nervously with the 4-D's of Rotary passing frantically through my mind. I passed on all the invites until my philosophy teacher took a swig and passed me the bottle. Weird. Did my TEACHER really just offer me alcohol?! Okay. So I tasted my first beer in Potosí, Bolivia. I am now a hypocrite. Sorry everyone. But I find hypocrisy can be a good thing depending on the situation. No worries. I will return home and abide by the law, and I only had one sip anyway. Oops. Make that two sips. Rotary, I hope you still find me to be a good, innocent young lady.

This subject only gets better. When we arrived home the following evening, I was to dart straight off to my first Bolivian Rotary meeting to display what a good and gracious young lady I am. Nothing spectacular happened until the evening's end. As we all finished our late-night meal, I noticed a little saucer being passed around the table. When it made its way to me, I drew one of the little papers off it. Number 9. Ooh yay. A drawing. I never win drawings, and I don't particularly care if I win or not. Whoopie-doodle. Well apparently that was my lucky night, because after the president called my number I was welcomed by a roar of laughter. A man quickly entered from the other room with a bottle of whiskey in his hand and presented it to me. Is this a joke? Rotary is offering me whiskey? No way. They are screwing with me. What the hell am I supposed to do? I laughed with a nervous thank-you and brought it home with me that evening. Now my bedside table is the happy home of whiskey and a bottle of beer. That looks really great. Thank you Rotary for turning me away from my personal NO ALCOHOL policy! And to think I used to be a good girl.

Random news. The other foreign exchange student is here. Laura Bainbridge from Bend, Oregon. She has never taken Spanish class, she doesn't have rhythm but she does boast a 4.2 GPA, and her hair is BRIGHT red. And I thought I stood out. Definitely no red-heads here. We are in the same grade, but different areas.

I am currently craving avocadoes. I saw these massive avocadoes at the supermarket one day, but I returned later to purchase some and they were gone. This makes me sad.

Bus trips with Bolivians are loads more fun than those of Denison, IA, though I will admit I had some pretty damn good ones in Iowa. The whole three hours included music, singing, and cheering. Non-stop both ways. Those who wanted to sleep, just went ahead and slept without bitching about the noise. Everyone is always happy.

I had my first attack by a group of rowdy students forcing me to say stupid things. Annika, I apologize for that now. ;) Of course I don't remember what I was told to say, but they eventually got it out of my mouth and laughed for hours on end. Whatever. It made for more laughter, and I definitely need more laughter here. I miss literally falling to the floor in non-stop laughter. :(

Elise: My friend, Sergio, is entirely jealous of my shoes. I wouldn't be surprised if he placed an order.

I think that is all for now, everyone. Later. Go check out picasaweb!

Posted by Picasa