This is an email I wrote to my mother on Easter Sunday. It pretty much explains everything that was going on at the beginning of the month.
Oh my goodness today was great. We didn't really do anything for Easter, but the week before was 'celebrated,' if you wan't to call it that. Vivi didn't eat beef the whole week, we had a really yummy seafood soup for lunch on friday, and Vivi made two batches of arroz con leche. Arroz con leche=rice with milk. It is a dessert. Today was elections for mayor. My uncle Fernando is running, and though everyone thought he would lose he is actually at a close tie for first but running second. I doubt he will make it. So I walked a mile with my family, Lucho and Sandra and their son Danny, and our neighbor and her daughter this morning to the poll booths. They use ink and fingerprints for voting. There were absolutely no buses,cars, or anything on the roads, so it felt like the Apocalypse again with the streets filled with people walking. After voting we got back to the house and I helped Sandra prepare lunch. Everyone came over and I just got home now....Jorge and Vivi are still there. Jorge has consumed a lot of alcohol, and I find him quite amusing. He slurs his words together. And cusses a lot. He is funny. And he always drinks with Julio, who is the brother-in-law of my Aunt Sandra. Julio is awesome. He is going to take me out four-wheeling on the mountains and stuff sometime. Everytime he drinks he speaks in English with me. He wouldn't stop pointing at the newspaper and saying "my newspaper!"tonight...he is the owner of the newspaper in Sucre. He is hilarious, and you should be forewarned that he will be visiting us in Iowa in a year or two....I kind of invited him. And you can bet that he WILL come. Which is a great thing because he would fit right in down at the bunk house with our family. He would love it....and you would love him. And his english is super good too. So his tushy is coming to Iowa. Ummm....I love talking to him and Jorge when they are drinking. Tonight we talked about the Amazon and piranhas. He loves the jungle and would take me on a trip there if I had more than two months left. He went fishing in the amazon and a guy he was with swam with the piranhas, but they didn't even harm him because he had no wounds. But apparently they caught a whole bunch of piranhas, went back to the hotel, and had a wicked-awesome chef prepare them. I didn't know piranhas were very good to eat, but apparently they are amazingly delicious. What more....ummm, I officially understand everything when the adults are talking in groups. I love family get-togethers so much more now. Jorge and Julio are a riot. You need to come with me to Bolivia some day. I swear I am going to be furious if you don't. I swear.
So I am happy. Yesterday I spent all afternoon baking oatmeal choco chunk cookies at Laura's home. The first batch sucked, but we got it all figured out and they are really yummy. We had fun as usual, but it was even more fun when her grandmother came down and chatted with us...well,'argued' with us would be the proper description. Blunkie is her nickname. She is psycho, but I absolutely adore her. Our conversation started with cookies, went to the existence of aliens, and then to the latest invention of the atom smasher and how the aliens put the idea into our heads, and then to gay people, and to how gay people have to do artificial insemination, and I didn't understand her spanish so I thought she was saying that gay people are gay because their 'reproductive systems' don't work, but then we got that clear. Then we talked about how hyper Laura was from eating all those cookies, and Blunkie said she can't eat lots of sugar or she gets worms, and then we argued about the teas that Laura's mom brought from the states as a gift for Blunkie, and I miraculously convinced Blunkie that the Chai tea was amazing and she promised me she would give in and try it. Laura and Blunkie argued the whole time while I sat there and laughed at them. I mostly went against Laura every time just so Blunkie would keep talking. That woman is a hoot. If you spoke Spanish, she would be another reason for you to come to Bolivia.
This is a good month. I absolutely could not believe that I had only two months left at the time of writing this letter. Now I absolutely can not believe that I have less than two months! It is insane how quick the time passes, and it will be passing even quicker now. A week from tomorrow I will be going on a trip with a friend to Lake Titicaca for a few days. I will get back from that on the 27th. Then I will be spending my last few days with Line, a great friend I met through volunteering. Perhaps we will be making a trip to the jungle on the first of May, but that is unlikely.
Line is a Danish sweetie. She started learning zampoña as well, so we are going to get together and teach eachother some songs tomorrow. We did a really long walk through Mercado Campesino, one of the 3 main markets here, the other day and were warned by some women that a guy was trying to rob us. That was great, so we flew out of there pretty quick. We went there to find 'pito.' René told me that I have to try pito before leaving Bolivia. I guess I would compare it to MaltOMeal. And I like MaltOMeal, so ya. At the end of my lengthy walk with Line, I had a pain in my leg. Line, being an occupational therapist gave me a detailed account of what it was and how to get rid of it. She said it could last for amonth, but I think it is getting better already. I went to aerobics the morning after the pain started, and that was really really really unintelligent. It was horrible and hilarious. I couldn't even lift my leg up steps without grimacing. Getting into Jorge's Pathfinder is amusing as well. I literally had to lift my left leg into the car with my hands. It feels much better now though and I think it will be fine for hiking all over Lake Titicaca's islands in a week!
Jorgito has to win everything. He is very competitive, but not really, because if he loses he is a baby. So he always is competitive over really really stupid and annoying stuff like sitting in the front seat of the car or beating me to the door of the house when we get home every day. Really annoying, but whatever. He is 9 years old. He had a national tennis tournament last weekend and played very well. I was really proud of him the first match because he lost and left the court with a smile. He never once started crying or throwing his racket like he did when I first arrived in Bolivia. He has improved much in that aspect. The second day he came back and played really really well. I am proud. It is a big thing to overcome in less than a year. It took me years to get over my poor sportsmanship.
Tomorrow afternoon I am going to meet up with a woman named Daniella. She is a young mother of two and in her last year of college studying foreign languages. She wants to have tea tomorrow and work on her English. It is very random, but she seems harmless and sweet and it could be a good chance to make a friend.
René, my music teacher, just turned 24 a while ago. I had been wanting to explain to him my history with music and all that crap that I wrote in my last 'cheesy/sentimental' blog because he is a sentimental person as well and we are often 'on the same page.' So I wrote a letter and had Oriana help me in translating it to Spanish. Oriana loved the letter. She is just as sentimental as I am, if not more so. So though I was nervous about expressing this stuff on paper, she had me convinced that it would be the best gift in the world. Reluctantly, I gave René the letter on his birthday. Turns out, I probably shouldn't have given it to him. He has never said a thing about it. Not one word. The lesson after I gave him the letter, he brought up the topic of age. He kept saying I was really young and that he is 'un viejo'--an old man. Afterward I was thinking, 'hmmm, does René think I have feelings for him?' He was being weird. Plus, he is in a very very serious relationship and will probably be married in a year or so. So much time has passed since I handed him that very heartfelt letter, and not a word has been said. No way in hell will I ever bring it up to him either. Yes, the guy is gorgeous and I think he is an amazing person, but really?! What the heck! Can't a girl just appreciate someone without them getting the wrong idea. It is things like this that lower my self esteem and make me hide who I am. But whatever. René can interpret it how he wants. Not my fault he assumes a little girl might have the hotts for him. I was told by someone that the way to fixing this possible problem is to tell him that I have a serious boyfriend. Sounds alright, but I just can't do it. It would be a flat out lie, and I would not even be able to embellish it accurately due to lack of experience. Oh my. What an amusing predicament. Sigh. That wasn't at all what I intended by the letter, but I guess that is just how people take things like that anymore. I would have done much better back in Shakespeare's world.
On the topic of Easter Sunday. Abu kept attacking me about not being Catholic one day, and then Vivi caught on. She assumes I am atheist just because I am not Catholic. They kept attacking me with questions. "If you don't believe in God, then how did you get here?" Honestly, it kind of pissed me off at the moment. I have been nothing but open to their customs and lifestyle, but everytime I try to explain my lifestyle I end up having to defend it from their judgements. It is hard, but I am not going to change their views. They can believe what they want. I still love them.
That is all the randomness I can think of for the moment. I am really happy here, and super super excited to step foot in the Omaha Eppley Airfield on June 9. I swear I am going to be a big hugger when I get back home. I really really crave hugging and contact.
Speaking of hugging, I am reminded of Laura's family! Laura went on a trip to Argentina with her real family and then they all came to Sucre for a few days before heading back to Oregon. I made sure I got to meet them, and we went out for a great lunch at El Huerto. They were everything I imagined. If I ever get back out to Oregon some day, I will be making a stop to visit them in Bend. They are absolutely hysterical. I got two great hugs from her mother and father before we parted ways, and it felt great. They were great substitute parents for a day, but it did make me a little mellow for the rest of the week. I missed my parents after that. I am fine now, but it gets a little bit difficult again as my time here comes to an end.
I just realized I should fill you in about my uncle Fernando and elections. So he ran for mayor, and he lost. The interesting thing is that the whole family was happy that he lost. Why? Because, had Fernando won, he would most likely have 'disappeared' or been jailed for opposing the wonderful Evo Morales. This is so typical Bolivia, and I think it is fascinating to be a part of it. I am not kidding either. Since the elections, I think 5 people have either disappeared or been jailed. It is horrible.
I will try and post pictures on picasaweb, but I am just too lazy right now.