Where to begin. How about the beginning? Since before my arrival in Bolivia, Sucre has been preparing for the Bolivarianos. The Bolivarianos are basically the Olympics for 6 countries of South America that were liberated by Simón Bolívar. So I have mentioned this all before, but this week has finally come and we have officially started the Bolivarianos. The opening ceremonies were last Saturday the 14th, and I got a front row seat. Actually, I was in on the action.
All the high schools in Sucre were selected to perform acts for the opening ceremonies. I don't know how Laura and I got so lucky, but our high school got to be one of the most important acts, and on top of that, Laura and I were front and center...probably 45 feet or so from the president, Evo Morales. We practiced non-stop for over two weeks before. Our routine included hula hoops and ribbons and would actually have been kind of cool if we would have worked together and followed the music. I thought Bolivians had rhythm. I am starting to think otherwise. We were to perform to a beautiful song that was comissioned specially for this event. Being the strict percussionist that I am(sorry drumline), I nearly went insane in practices. So the music has this nice beat that would have been very nice to follow with the routine, but instead, our teachers just counted for us with a loud-speaker. Even though it was not in time with the music, that was nice at first...until the actual performance! Basically we all kind of counted in our heads and hoped that we were all counting the same rhythm. That drove me NUTS! Rhythm people. Rhythm. That is all I am asking for. So it was quite amusing to me in the end. It was cool-looking, but could have been way cooler. Rhythm. Please. So we got done with the hula hoops and we started the ribbon routine. It was equally frustrating for me, but amusing all the same. I will say that I miss the precision and perfectionism that band class demanded of me in Denison High School. I was well-suited for that. Either way, Laura and I were completely thrilled to be a part of such an important event, and we made some cool friends in the process. I loved being goofy at practices. It was a chance for me to loosen up and really be myself. Laura and I are probably 2 in a select few of the foreign world that got the chance to perform in this event, and for that I am greatful. After the performance, we all stuck around to finish out the celebration. The lighting of the torch and the march of the athletes. It was good fun and in good company. On top of the fun, we received really nice t-shirts and passes to enter free to all the events.
A week or so before the ceremonies I met a man from Venezuela. Julio. We met in a shoe store, and I hardly understood any of the many eager words he had to say to me. He left and I sort of brushed off the confusing discussion while realizing I would probably never see him again. Well, a few days later we spotted each other walking in town. I decided to put a little more effort into the discussion and it turned out great. I learned that he was here for fencing--a sport I had never really seen before. He told me his life story in five minutes and told me where fencing would be taking place and the best days and times to go. I left at that and was pretty excited. I got to meet a man from Venezuela while living in Sucre, and on top of that he is inviting me to come check out what he does best. Kind of cool, I would say. I was all giddy and happy after that, and became even giddier a few nights later. That was when I ran into him and a bunch of his Venezuelan buddies at my favorite restaurant. Of course, being the enthusiastic blabber that Julio is, he grabbed a chair next to me and continued with his life story and then some. It was amusing. I got to set eyes on one of his buddies who also happens to be the 6th best fencer in the world. So we parted and I decided I would certainly be going to see fencing at 1:00 on Tuesday afternoon. The third acquaintance was the last acquaintance until that Tuesday.
That Tuesday, Laura and I decided to grab a bite to eat in town with a friend, Ericka, and then head to the fencing site. This was in the same building as gymnastics, so we checked them both out. I ran into Julio and introduced him to my girls as we were leaving fencing to scope out gymnastics. He told us to be back at 3:00 to see the final fencing match for the gold medal. That match was to be with the 7th best fencer in the world, so I was surely going to return. We watched gymnastics and learned the names for all the events in Spanish, which are either similar to their English equivalents or just really easy and obvious to remember(even for non-Spanish speakers). The gymnasts weren't too phenomenal, but it was fun none-the-less. Ericka is absolutely adorable, so she was great company. There was always something to talk about with her. Laura and I decided that she needs to learn English and go live in Eugene. She so does not fit with Bolivia. We headed back to fencing a little before 3:00 and ran into Julio again. Of course, we got a Kodak Moment. A great picture actually, which I will post on Picasaweb as soon as my computer is up and running again. We got to hold his sword, which was pretty cool. The match ended and he got us a picture with the winner(yes, the the 7th best in the world). So that was a great day getting to meet people from Venezuela. Fun stories to tell. We hit the road afterward and called it a day.
Tennis started this morning, so I stopped by around 2:00 with Jorge, Jorgito, and Laura. Very fun to see a game with professionals. I have only ever watched the players at DHS, and even then I didn't really watch. I preferred chatting with Shelby and picking the grass. It is way more fun to watch at a professional level.
Jorgito also got a chance to participate in the events. The boys in his class get to go to all the fútbol games. They enter with the teams before the games to sing the national anthems. Completely adorable. He definitely enjoys that.
All-in-all, a great and once-in-a-lifetime experience. I almost can't believe I get to tell this stuff to my grandchildren someday. Thanks Rotary. Thanks Mom and Dad. Thanks everyone I love.
How amazing. By the way, sorry for my excessive and probably incorrect usage of hyphens in this post. I can't help it. Tina, you are probably cringing(I think I spelled that wrong, too) as you watch my writing skills go down the drain. My English is horrid now. Should you feel a need to teach me about the proper use of hyphens, I would eagerly accept your knowledge. ;) I just like hyphens.