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. picasaweb.google.com/hmnelson12. 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!