As promised in my previous blog, I am writing one more blog for the month of January. It has been an interesting month. I don't really know what happened when I sit down and think about it. Thank goodness I have a whole bunch of pictures to remind me. Time seems to have moved very quickly this month.
At the very beginning of January, the exchange students had their Rotary trip across Bolivia. I decided to not participate in this because I plan to do my own traveling with a friend and family here. This will be much cheaper and I will be able to stay in one place for a much longer amount of time. Anyway, the four students staying in Santa Cruz started their trip in Sucre. I definitely wanted to get to know them a little, so I spent the day touring Sucre with them and thoroughly enjoyed myself. All four were from the United States, so we enjoyed a day of speaking in English. Frances and Forest were the two I probably related to most, but Chaz and Kiana were interesting as well. We did all kinds of random things throughout the day. I finally got my touristy photo session with the lion statue in the Plaza 25 de Mayo. Something about having a big group of fellow non-Bolivians made me comfortable enough to finally do that. From there we made a trip to Parque Cretacica. This is a park that is home to some massive dinosaur tracks. I honestly didn't pay attention. I couldn't stop laughing at how touristy it felt. But I had fun anyway and bought a nice little dinosaur keychain to place proudly on my Rotary jacket. After the park everyone went to the Casa de Libertad. I opted out of that part as I had already visited before, and instead walked to the Recoleta where we planned to reunite. I met some random guy named Edwin there, and we worked on his English for a good hour and a half. At last my amigos made it to the Recoleta and we hung out there for a while until heading back down the hill for dinner. After dinner we stupidly walked through the Plaza to go check out the fancy fountain in Parque Bolívar. I say 'stupidly' because the festival Carnaval is nearing and it is celebrated by throwing water balloons. All the senior guys from my high school here saw us as the perfect targets. Luckily I got away with only a wet sandal and foot, and I saved a balloon and whipped it perfectly at Diego's chest. Payback is so sweet. Forest, the photographer of the group, was quite unhappy to discover his camera got wet. Luckily it was fine. So after escaping that situation we made it to the fountain that I had not yet seen previously. There I learned to waltz with Frances, I miraculously convinced Forest of a Kodak Moment, I congratulated a wedding couple, and I stared at lights and moving water. Woo-hoo! That was a fun day, and I am glad I got to meet all the students. The next morning they all headed off for the rest of their journey, and I hear they had an amazing time of it.
A few days after that I finally received my Christmas package from Nana and Papa! It was filled with three puzzles, pez, shoes, and lovely cards. I immediately got to work on one very difficult 750-piece puzzle. I started right after lunch one day and finished it the next day immediately before lunch. Vivi was astonished. The whole family was. I just love puzzles. And once you get me going, I don't stop. It must be finished as soon as possible. That puzzle was probably one of the most visually straining puzzles I have ever done. I will probably never do it again. Well, maybe I should. I am pretty sure I have the details of every piece memorized now. Hmmm. :)
The next weekend I took a walking trip with Oriana. I felt an urge to do some walking outside of the city's center, and I was not comfortable wandering alone. Plus, I was looking for some photographic inspiration. Walking the same exact spots day after day gets a little boring. Ori took me on a tour to the southern side of town until we came across the cemetary. We made a morning out of touring the cemetary, which turned out to be quite interesting. The place is HUGE, and surrounded by double walls. Those double walls are lined with square holes to place the bodies. People decorate the front of each space just like we would decorate a tombstone in the States. I will be posting pictures that go with this blog on picasaweb.google.com/hmnelson12 as soon as wi-fi kicks back in so you can see just what I am talking about. Anyway, inside these walls are many many mausoleums for the wealthier families of Sucre. Politicians, Presidents, the Prince and Princess of the Glorieta, and all kinds of other famous people. Those were pretty cool and very well maintained. The whole center was just a giant garden with mausoleums in it. Surprising that I could find a cemetary beautiful. Very randomly, as I was walking the outer walls, I came across a tomb that said Juana Calvo de Rodriguez. I recognized the name to be of the family so I snapped a few fotos. Jorge got a nice thrill out of that when I showed him pictures later that evening. Amongst the millions of tombs I just happened to see that one. Interesting. At the very back of the cemetary there is space for the people that can't afford tombs among the walls. This spot is just like a cemetary in the States, but completely crammed. After curving back around to the front of the cemetary, we descended some steps. Along that wall we descended there were grated doors set in. A peek through showed more steps that actually led to underground tunnels to more tombs. Weird. That was super creepy. We left a bit after that to walk to Chula's nearby home and watched a very creepy movie that neither Oriana nor I enjoyed. :) From there I called a cab home and called it a good day. I spent the rest of the afternoon toying with fotos. Check them out in 'January Randomness' on picasaweb.
The next week Ori and I finally planned a trip to The Glorieta Castle. We met up at Chula's house and took a bus from there. Chula's friend, Victor, came along as well. We had never met, but he felt some need to pay the entry fees for all of us. Hey, I didn't mind. :) So I got the privilege of being the photographer for the trip, and I played the role well with my touristy blonde hair. The place was amazing. I am not going to explain it all here as you can see those fotos on picasa web as well. My favorite part was climbing the prince's tower. After the tour ended, I am pretty sure we did a little rule-breaking. There was no sign that said off-limits to climbing steps at the other end of the castle, but we were pretty sure it was off limits. Of course we didn't care. The steps led to a giant balcony overlooking the property, but then there was a little path that led all the way behind and around the castle to the other side. It was quite fun sneaking around there. I love feeling like a little rebel, even though it wasn't really rebellious at all. I am such a goody-two-shoes. That proved a fun morning as well, and I am glad I finally made it out there.
Next on the list of randomness is Haiti. Oriana is súper-excited to be studying medicine in the university, and she is already taking on the traits of a doctor. She was so excited for the blood drive here and was trying to convince every person she knew to go give blood. Well, she convinced me despite my fear of needles, and we made an afternoon of my giving blood. She is too young to donate blood, and she felt so devastated about that. I thought she was going to cry after I got done with the whole process. She had a huge hug built up for me afterward. Gosh that girly is great. She will be a very compassionate doctor. I got through the process quite quickly. The nurse jabbed me twice to get my blood sample and then went through the whole questioning process. She was a little put off when I laughed about all the questions involving sexually transmitted diseases. Sorry. I am immature. But I am pretty sure I don't have to worry about STDs at this point in my life. I learned that my blood type is O+, which is good and sucky. Anyone can take my blood, but I only get O blood. Whatever. I figure some kid in Haiti must be pretty happy about that right now. I only gave a half liter and it went quicker than normal according to the nurse. I spent more time resting in the chair afterwards than I did actually spewing blood out of my vein. And I felt fine afterward too. Hmm. I got a stress ball, cookies, and orange juice after that. I felt like a little kid at the bank when they give you suckers. I miss that. :) That was a good experience that I am glad I did. Thank you, Oriana, for raising awareness. I would never have done that if I had not heard about it from you. Yay!
That same afternoon we walked to the movie theatre to buy tickets for New Moon. We went the next day. I guess it was alright, but I still just could watch Twilight over and over and over. Nothing too thrilling. If there was more scenes with Jacob, I would definitely watch it over and over and over. :)
The next thing on my January agenda was volunteerism. I spent the week running all over town in search of an activity to do with the young boys of Hogar Mallorca. Finally, soccer came to mind. I was so excited to take the boys to play soccer, but the field got cancelled at the last minute. Thankfully the director found a different field. I went to the home to play with the boys a while before taking them to the field. There was a group of 15 travelers that planned to participate that afternoon as well. Some were from the States, others from England, and others from Belgium. It was nice having them there. It made the prospect of entertaining 30 little boys far less overwhelming. We all broke up into groups and Laura and I got grouped with Rory of England, Juli of France, and some girl of Belgium. It was a blast playing with the children. Eventually we all gave up on groups and played freeze tag. There was a group of young girls from a different home that came that afternoon to play with the boys. I was like a magnet to them. I was the girl they clung to and hid behind every second of the game. From there we all walked with the kids to the field about ten minutes away. I had about five girls stuck to my body as we crossed streets. We all talked and took photos of eachother with my camera at the field while the guys played soccer. Upon leaving, I thought they were all going to cry. I thought I was going to cry too, in all honesty.
I fell in love with those girls, so I promised to come over to their home the following week. I printed off all the photos the next day to give to them. This last week I went to their home and they were ecstatic. They loved their fotos and were begging for me to take more. I hung out with them for a morning, which proved to be quite interesting. They trusted me as someone to talk to, and they immediately started fighting with eachother. I was very uncomfortable with their taking sides and expecting me to defend them all. I really didn't know what to do, so I just decided to take them all downstairs to play. Of course they did not all want to play and I felt really bad for those that didn't want to play and la dee da dee da. It was a confusing morning. I just want everyone to be happy and get along, but that isn't how it works there. They don't have anyone to talk to, and they all wanted that from me. I left there promising them I would be returning to work on an almost-daily basis. I feel horrible now to have to break that promise. The director told me to get in contact with the Volunteerism Coordinator of places like that in Sucre. I searched her out the next day and was told that I would have to pay 60 dollars if I wanted to work with the children there. That just made aggravated me, so I told her I would get back to her. I love those girls and want to help them, but my donation will not be 60 dollars. My donation is my time, love, and a person to trust and talk to. That just boggles my mind, so I will be calling the home tomorrow and see if that is really necessary. Whatever. These people claim to be helping this home, but they are just turning me and my money away. Hmm. I will be looking into that this week, or I will be finding a different place to volunteer at. The most important thing for me is what I took away from the whole experience. I have never done any volunteering like that. It was an incredible feeling. I am so excited to do more volunteering here and in the States. I was a completely different person when I was with those young girls, and I was a person I liked. Now I am faced with the difficulty of having to choose who needs my time and love the most. That is hard. I want to help those girls, but there are so many other children out there too. We shouldn't have to choose who gets helped in this world. That is hard. Either way, I have some amazing photos of these children that will be posted on picasaweb as well. Just gorgeous.
Next on the list is my zampoña! I almost forgot. Upon my arrival from Iquique, I was searching for an activity to get involved in as I will not be returning to high school here. I stumbled across music lessons on a traditional ancient Bolivian wind instrument. I love it! The instrument is very much a part of the culture here, and I love being able to walk around the city and practice at the same time. I get looks from all kinds of people and I find that deeply amusing. Girls don't play traditional instruments, so it must be shocking to see some tall blonde chick doing so. My teacher is actually part of a group called Los Masis that is sort of famous. They travel all over the world playing traditional Bolivian music to raise money for their music school. This music school is great. I went one evening to listen to them play with their group of very young students and was simply amazed. The music is so lively and passionate. I started working on my first song and it sounds pretty decent now. Yay. I am happy with that.
That is all I have to say. I am going to bed now and I plan on sleeping on a rock. In the meantime, if anyone would care to search some college scholarships for me, please feel free to do so. Also, if you want to come up with some reasons as to why I am worthy of scholarships I would be forever in your debt. I shall go wallow in my misery right now. Good night.