Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tarcos, History, Puzzles, Musicals...? I don't know.

Not too much too say right now. At least not too much of anything specific.

The first image you see is of a Tarco Tree. They are very popular in Sucre, and I understand why. Absolutely gorgeous. They are everywhere and it seems like they are constantly flowering. For at least the last month they have been in bloom, and flowers fall every day. I can't seem to figure it out. When I come home every night and see a new blanket of purple flowers under this tree, I am always amazed to see it just as full again the next morning. These trees must be magical. I am serious. Like the Energizer Bunny, they just keep going and going and going. My little brother, Jorgito, begs Jorge for his sunglasses every time we drive toward this tree. The tint in the lense makes the flowers' colors even more vibrant. How cute.

Also, I was observant enough to note some very strange plant. It grows at an astounding rate, and it is the funniest plant I have ever seen in my life. It is like an aloe plant on testosterone with a giant asparagus in the middle. Again, totally not kidding. I noticed the plant a long time ago, but I noticed the other day that it had sprouted a giant asparagus in its center. I will post a picture of it on picasaweb at the end of this month. It is the funniest thing. I actually am chuckling right now. ;) Enough of that randomness.

Last weekend was Jorge's birthday. 52, but he claims to be only 2 years old. Because Vivi was out of town until Saturday morning, we only had a very small celebration with some of Jorge's siblings on Sunday. It was quite nice and relaxing. We have a sauna(yay!), and Jorge took his celebration as an opportunity to get it running for the summer. Most of the family came with swimsuits and we made a great time of it. I honestly had never used a sauna in my life before that weekend. I loved it. Mostly because it worked miracles for my disgusting teenager-skin in just one night. Also, I must say that I love the Bolivian attitude of pride and confidence about their bodies. For the first time in my life, I didn't particularly care that my thighs are a little freaky lookin'. Nobody else cares, so why in Mother Earth's name should I? Bolivians got it figured out.

I called it quits once the majority of the guests began to leave. A few of my aunts remained while Jorge and the boys watched a futbol game in the house. I took that as an opportunity to whip out the dessert I had baked as a surprise for Jorge's birthday gift. Lucy Norelius' Strawberry Shortcake! I attempted baking it that saturday, but I was super nervous. Apparently, Bolivians don't like thermometers with their ovens. That freaked me out, as I had already been panicking about making conversions for the extreme altitude, but it actually turned out alright. The shortcake baked in just under 20 minutes, but it is supposed to bake for 30 minutes. It was a little "burny," too, but actually edible. Also, half-&-half is nonexistent here. So, I found sweetened condensed milk and mixed a little in with milk. I know that is so not a substitute that makes sense, but it tasted pretty darn good so I went with it. Also, I found some beautiful fresh strawberries in the Central Market on Saturday that tasted just delightful. After preparing a heaping portion for Jorge, I fixed up the remainder to share with my aunts. It was a hit with everyone, thank goodness. I still can't believe it turned out alright. I can't even bake chocolate chip cookies in Denison, so to do cake at altitude without a thermometer seemed nigh impossible. I was pretty happy with myself. My dessert was the perfect topper to a great day.

Randomness. Because Viviana works with the government, she was required to take language classes in Quechua. Quechua is the native language of the "indigenous" peoples of Bolivia(wink, wink, Nana). Evo Morales, being Bolivia's first indigenous president, is generally hated by anyone who DOESN'T speak Quechua. And because Viviana was required to take these classes, she hates him even more. Every day for two hours. In the end, she was a good sport. We spent the afternoon before her final exam going over her vocabulary. She kept telling me all these words, and I only remembered one. Information Overload. Anyway, now I keep asking Olga, our maid, new words in Quechua. Cachita means pretty. Cachi means salt. Unku means poncho. So I will keep that up, but I will stick to Spanish. ;) Quechua is a strange and beautiful language. Very difficult to pronounce properly, and even harder to write. So in short, now Viviana can understand the basics of Quechuan. Super cool. If you go to this page( you can listen to a girl singing in Quechuan. Very unique.

More randomness? We were playing basketball in gym last week and I made a glorious shot, but it was for the wrong team. That made for a good laugh. Wow.

So you are probably wondering why I have a picture of a bunch of castles in the middle of this post. Well, I have been dying to find a puzzle, and I finally did. St. Basil's Castles, it was called. Good puzzle. Finished it with all Saturday morning and one hour of this morning. The weather is gorgeous here, so I worked on it outside on the patio. I just left it sitting outside all day and knew I wouldn't have to worry about the wind or anything. What a great way to spend a beautiful morning outdoors. By the way, the Spanish word for puzzle is 'rompacabeza.' This translates directly as 'headbreaker.' I know I am goofy, but I just love that. Is that not the cutest thing ever? Also, when you cross your fingers for luck here, you say "conejitos!." This translates as 'little rabbits.' That just makes me feel all cute and playful inside. I don't know why.

And now a segue into an actual story.

Yesterday for lunch, Vivi drove Jorgito and me to a construction site. After getting lost numerous times, we reached the destination. Apparently, it is Bolivian tradition to feast and fest at the site of construction when it is first getting started. This party is referred to as a "challa" in Quechua, and is a superstion for good luck. This building and the land on which it lies actually make this specific party very important for Jorge. This will be Jorge's first personal project with his construction company, as opposed to building bridges and tennis courts and other such things for the city. It is critical that this project is a success. Also, Jorge's family once owned a massive portion of land on the outskirts of Sucre. That land is very special to him, and it is where he has chosen to build. While we were eating, he took a while to explain all the history to me. As we sat on an unfinished deck overlooking the valley, he showed me the vastness of their property. The land on which we stood was once the family farm. And it had to have been a big one with five mountainsides to its name. The mountainside was covered in peaches, chocla(massive Bolivian corn), pears, avocadoes, artichokes and more. Besides crops, they owned dairy cows, horses, chickens, pigs, rabbits, a dog, and I am certain there were more animals also. Jorge remembers spending two months or more of each year on the family farm when he was a young boy. He has so much pride in his family's history. Besides just imagining the no-longer-existent beauty of this ancient family homestead, I actually got a tour of their home that has been standing since 1820. I couldn't believe it. I must return with my camera soon. A huge white colonial home complete with arcs and stunning, original murals that are still visible today, despite their exposure to the elements for the last 180+ years. This home is packed with history. It sits right at the top of the hill overlooking the valley that was once covered in crops. It survived an earthquake, and the damage can be seen in a nice crack running sort of diagonal from top to bottom in one corner of the house. Also, the adjacent mountain was once home to the family chocolate factory that was the first such factory of its kind in Bolivia. Jorge also remembers the long walk through the valley to get to the factory. I am charmed by the extensive history of this family. Jorge and his brother, Fernando, plan to restore the home to its original state and turn it into a sort of clubhouse that will be adjacent to a pool and tennis courts. This will be literally right next to the apartments. I really can't imagine being a true Rodriguez, and having the honor of being a part of that history. Amazing.

That was just a phenomenal day. So relaxing and yet fascinating. I know this project is a big deal for Jorge and his family. I wish him well. Perhaps I can return someday to see the home restored. Fernando knows an artist that plans to restore all the murals to their original beauty. I just am thrilled for the whole project, and the party was delightful. I was honored to be a part of it.

I need to learn some more 'enticing' adjectives. ;) Nana, help me out here.

After that splendidifrous afternoon, I prepared to meet up with Ori, her brother Pedro, and Nicole. We had plans to see a musical titled Hoy No Me Puedo Levantar. This translates as 'today I can not rise'. Though I didn't understand exactly, I still quite enjoyed it. Pretty much, it was the equivalent of Rent, but placed in Spain. I think. :) Struggling musicians, love, drugs, sex, Spanish. Ori, feel free to correct me if I am way off the mark. ;) The musical was based on the music of a great 80's band whose name I can't recall. Moneco, or something like that. It was enjoyable.

So that was a late night, but a night well spent. I slept like a rock and now today I am lazing around. Finished the puzzle this morning, ate at El Huerto(The Orchard in English) with my aunt Elena and uncle Juan Carlos, and afterward chilled in my bed watching Top Gun in Spanish. Yayah. That movie never gets old. Now I must go, because my family must think i am a recluse for sitting at the computer for the better half of the afternoon.

By the way, I would like to apologize for any spelling errors I have managed to committ in this post and others. My writing is going down the drain. A shame too, since I used to be Little Miss Spelling Champion. I find myself making the goofiest errors. Please be nice to me, Summer. I know you will probably have a few choice words to say to me if I keep destroying the English language. ;)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

This is Not a Blog.

I am kind of going out on a limb here. I hope noone finds my words too foolish, but I guess that is life. "What have I got to lose" in expressing all this anyway. I would absolutely love to hear some words of wisdom if you should have any to offer. I am always up for a hearty discussion. I advise you to read with patience and an open mind. My mind is confusing, and it gets worse when put to paper. Good luck.

A couple days ago, sadness struck. And it struck hard. I wanted a hug. A hug from a certain Someone. A certain Someone of the very few Someones who try to understand what really goes on in my warped little brain. I wanted so badly to curl up in the arms of Someone so I could cry for fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes to express myself--in English. I thought I needed those fifteen minutes of weakness until I sat teary-eyed through two depressing hours of class the next morning. It was then that I started writing(expressing my Self in English!), and I am not sure how I ended up with all of the following, but it just kind of happened.

In my sadness, I decided I did not need that love. I thought, "love is weak." If all I crave is that physical hug--that moment of weakness--then I do not need that love. That weakness that is love would only prevent me from accomplishing what I came to accomplish. Isn't love supposed to strengthen two people? That's how I always envisioned it. But then, this vision is coming from a girl who has never been in a relationship, been kissed, or been loved(by another boy of similar age, mind you, Mother), so how could my vision possibly be correct? Well, it probably isn't correct, but who defines 'correct' in today's goofy world?

So here I am, a romantic yet loveless girl, thinking way too much about love. I asked myself, what if 'soul mates' don't exist? I mean this in the non-cheesy way, of course. Why should two people stay together until their death? I will gladly claim the following and, in turn, accept any criticism you all may have to offer: No two people, as a faithful couple, can remain together for the entirety of their lives in complete bliss. No way. When I get annoyed with a friend, I can take a different direction and forget about that annoyance. And I can always return later to that friendship acting as though such an annoyance never happened. A day to clear my head. A break. We all need that sometimes, right? So why in Mother Earth's Name would we want to commit to a marriage?! I can't imagine telling someone I want to spend the rest of my life with them and truly meaning it. Seems like a pretty hefty promise to me. No breaks for a fracken eternity?! Well, if you think about it, what was that 'break' really from in the first place? A break from working on a relationship? A break from putting up with something I didn't try hard enough to understand? A break from growing as a person? What?

I once thought I would be a better person if I stood with the support of just my own two feet. Why not be a strong person without all those weakening hugs I always seem to want? Why not 'take a break' from all those little annoyances in my life? Annoyances cause stress, right? WRONG! I am the cause of my own stress. My weakness lies in failing to understand the annoyances, and from my weakness grows stress. So maybe we need to promise our commitment to another person. Maybe we need to work through those annoyances.

I have lived eighteen years under my parents' roof, and with that I have also been able to watch their marriage and life together from an outsider's perspective. If I could graph their life together with a scale of sadness to happiness, there would be many peaks and valleys. I have witnessed their good times and bad times--both together and as individuals. From my observance of their lives, I have proof that "annoyances" and unhappy times in a marriage can in fact lead to happiness. Maybe, in the end, a relationship with a rocky road is the best kind. Maybe, with all that struggling you both do grow stronger in the end. Maybe you can have the best of both worlds--weak moments with an occasional hug, and, after having worked through those weak moments, strength. Together.

I could choose to go through my life alone and strong, but maybe we really do need that hug--that 'weakness' that isn't really a weakness in the end. Or maybe we actually grow through a lifetime of 'weakness' only to learn in the end that we could, in fact, have been strong on our own. I don't know. But then, atleast you will have learned that lesson with someone at your side as opposed to only thinking you might know the lesson from the start and going through life alone. Someone to "witness your existence." "Happiness is best when shared." Happiness sucks when no one else is there to feel it with you. I say that from experience. Lots of experience. Maybe you just gotta go through the whole long cycle. Maybe that's how we get through life without being bored. We gotta work on our character. We gotta try to be better people. Why not complete that hard task with someone at your side to help you learn in ways you never even imagined?

I definitely don't think any two people are perfect for each other. I think people gotta work really hard to make their lives work together. I have friends--each with certain qualities I have come to adore. If I could put all those qualities into one body, I would not love that body. There would be no flaws for me to hate. Nothing to change. Nothing to work on. Nothing to get me through life's tedium. We need 'flaws'--if that's what you choose to call them. Those 'flaws' are the building blocks whose presence we must not just knock out of our way, but rather work around and adapt to. Flaws are Goodness in Disguise.

I am not saying I want to get married any time soon. Heck, I am not even saying I am in love. I was just sad in loneliness, and on such a down day my mind searches for inspiration. My romantic personality finds inspiration in love. All kinds of love. I don't know why inspiration is more easily found in sadness than in happiness, but that is how I function. I am a thinker.

So this is where I begin wrapping things up. As the romantic and dramatic young woman we now all know I am, we realize that I love to love. I am about as emotional as they come. In many cases, I am offended far too easily. In other cases, I don't let a silly offense get in my way. Taking care of people delights me. Random acts of Kindness inspire me. On the other hand, I am equally good at being mean. I have a way with words when I am angry, and they can really damage a person's livelihood. They have damaged a person. Many. Do I like all this about myself? Ya. I think I really do for the most part. I let my passions lead me. Everything I do is sincere. Am I sincere when I talk down someone's esteem? Well, my anger and pain are sincere, and I wouldn't feel them so strongly if I didn't really love the person toward whom the words were directed. I can always change the way I deal with those feelings. Thankfully, I have. My passion--my 'flaw'--is a building block I have used to my advantage. I learned how to become a better person by realizing and working with my 'flaw.' My passion. I can't change the feelings. Only how I react to them. I am passionate. Dramatic. Inspired by love and its many forms. War and death really put a damper on my delight, and I truly believe in the power of "love, love love." The Beatles were on to something.

So perhaps all that is why I am so impassioned on the subject of love. When I love and hate(which is really just another form of love), I do it with passion. I don't think many people love in the same way I do. People love in different ways. Ways I don't understand. Ways I haven't felt before. I am just too sentimental and self-absorbed to recognize these forms of love. I know I am. I am too much of a stubborn ass to appreciate love even when I DO recognize it. For example, a prayer. When someone tells me they will pray for me, I honestly get a little annoyed, but I know now what they mean. That is how they love. How they feel it. I get so giddy when I do something sentimental for someone, but sometimes that person doesn't seem to understand it. And if they do understand it, sometimes they don't seem to appreciate it. I think, maybe, this is because people really do love in different ways. If one has never expressed their love in a manner similar to mine, how could they understand it? So now, through understanding, I can appreciate the love, power, and feeling behind a prayer and other forms of love. I can recognize other forms of love now, and I won't get too hung up when a receiver of my sentimental rewards is a little confused.

So, I can't have that hug, but I can keep on spreading the love I have to give. I thrive on that. I decided that a hug can make a couple strong. In the end. But I am not A Couple. I am A Lone. This year is one big exercise for my Way of Being. I have to find the strength to be strong on my own, because no matter how bad I want a hug from that Someone that understands me, Someone will not ge able to fly to Bolivia and hug me. Even if Someone wanted to do so. I gotta tough it out and learn a lot about myself. I have to love myself before I can love another. I have my own life to live, and if I haven't figured out my own life, why waste time trying to figure out someone else's?

So that's all I got. That's me. Though I was pretty sad, I am now ecstatic. I found creative inspiration in my sadness. Anyone who has ever been lucky enough to feel that will understand me right now. It is sad to think that many people have never felt so. Either way, I am happy now. I can't stop buying myself flowers in the market and walking alone down the streets with a certain sense of happiness and bounce to my step. Inspiration hits and it just sets me off. Without access to the artistic materials I desire, I have resorted to writing for the expression of my inspiration.

Happy day to all.