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3-29-2002  Final thoughts on Bolivia

Well today is my last day here in Bolivia. In a couple hours I will be going to the airport. My plane leaves at 10:45pm. I arrive in Mexico City around 5:30am. Then I make my way to Guatemala were I arrive at 2:30pm.

The reality of this hasn't hit me yet. My time here in Bolivia has been awesome. It has been great getting to know all the children, the volunteers here, and the new administrators. Iíll miss Bolivia for itís beauty, and especially for the wonderful people here. It has also been wonderful to get in touch with where I grew up as a child. At the moment I am in the same room I stayed in 10 years ago.

During this time I have really grown in my relationship with God. Itís been a time where Iíve been able to throw off everything that hinders and fix my eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2) and what He has in store for my life. His word has really come alive for me during this time.  I thank God for this awesome opportunity of learning and maturing.

Let me just share what Iíve been up to in my final weeks hereÖ

Wednesday (March 20) I got back from a week long trip to my cousinís Mattís place. Matt lives in Southern Bolivia in a place known as the Chaco. What a trip! I went with Brian Fencer. It took 12 hours by bus to get to Viamontes. From there, Matt picked us up in his 1960ish Landrover and drove 3 hours on a dirt road to get to his farm.

He lives with the Kaufman family who are also originally from the states and now live on a large farm in the middle of nowhere. At the moment they are in the process of clearing the brush on their farm and putting up fence for cattle and crops in the future.

It is quite the place. As a lad I read the book series Little House on the Prairie. That took place a couple hundred years ago and it was about a pioneer family developing new uncharted territory. Today we live in a much smaller world of air flight, trains, and autoís zipping us from place to place. Yet still in this smaller world, pioneers continue to exist.

While I was there, I went to the bathroom in a hole in the ground, peed on trees, took a shower from a bucket, survived without electricity, rose and went to bed by the sun, and enjoyed simple life in the middle of the Bolivian chaco many miles away from any sort of civilization.

It was relaxing and quiet. I would go to bed after sun down (around 8:30pm) and wake up at 5:30 before sunup, well rested. There is something quite attractive about a quiet life like this. I however personally am not ready to abandon electricity and everything I know to live out there for the rest of my life.

While I played soccer with the workers, went out with one of the Kaufmanís children to shoot parrots, and teased the croc which had 18 little croc babies while I was there. My brother Devin should love the video I took of that.

Last week, my roommate Brian Fencer left, and I got booted out of our room, because of a new volunteer name Suzzy from England arrived. So I moved back into my old room in the administratorís house. Iíve been sharing the room with 6-year old Jose who has been sick. Heís been off and on well and has been an interesting roommate. One morning he woke up at 5:00 and started singing. Another night he woke up and couldnít stay in bed and ran all around the house. This morning he was yelling out the window bright and early.

During the past week I have gotten to get to know the new Chilean administrators a lot better. They are quite the hosts. Mama Juanita makes me breakfast often in the morning and they are always inviting me to have coffee (another thing I have learned to enjoy from this trip).

The playground that I have been working on is still not done. I am leaving that for Tony Seimons to finish.

So thatís all she wrote. My next journey entry will be from Guatemala! Abe you are missing out!!!

 

3-8-2002 Blood Experiences

Three more weeks in Bolivia. Time is going fast. Currently I have been working mostly on a park project for the Daycare Center. I will be happy to see the completion of that project. 

Today I donated blood for the first time. My cousin Lora was going because a missionary guy down here needed some A+ blood for a bypass surgery. Apparently A+ is rare here in Bolivia, so they seemed glad to have me come along. Cora also came. She has type O blood which I guess is universal.

It was an interesting experience. From what I understand, the process in the USA involves going through many papers and questions before giving blood. Here they just stuck in a needle and went at it. They are going to do test later to make sure it is all right I guess.

I think I must have given blood to fast. After I filled my bag I was feeling all right so I went to sit down to let Lora have my bed. I was seated for more then a few minutes when I started feeling woozy. I thought I could fight it and be all rightÖ Well next thing I knew, I was back on the bed with a couple guys hovering around me running for an oxygen mask. So today I also got to experience my first episode of passing out. J

Next week I am planning to go to my Cousin Mattís place out in the country. I am leaving Wednesday, and probably taking Brian along.

 

2-27-2002 Alive in Bolivia

A month left till I head for Guatemala. Time keeps ticking. Here's what I've been up to the past couple weeks.

Last Tuesday, (Feb 19) I did some filming at the International Womanís club. It is a group of English speaking women that help raise funds for various organizations including the home. It was interesting experience being the only male present surrounded by older women. They had a speaker that talked on health issues in Bolivia.

The rest of the week involved some more filming and working on some electric stuff with Brian such as putting in a fan, fixing a shower head, and working on some clothes driers. Iím learning more and more about electricity. Wednesday I got shocked twice, because of stray and bare wires.

My shocks werenít bad, but electricity down here isnít cool. It is 220v, twice the amount of the 110v that is in the states. Last Friday, Kelly Fehr, a senior at the school where I went to when I lived here, was shocked while washing his dog. He had tied his dog to the air conditioner and somehow the current passed through the chain, through the dog and to him. The shock instantly killed him. It is a hard time for many friends of his friends and family right now. Kelly had visited the orphanage about a month ago and I chatted with him briefly.

Brian Fencer, Tony Siemens, and I have started working on the park in full swing now. Yesterday we cemented 6 posts into the ground. This came as quite a challenge, because our posts are basically trees and had bends in every which direction. Considering how bent our posts were, we did all right.

Today can almost be labeled a complete disaster.

This morning we were rained out from continuing the project. It rained from maybe only 2 hours in the morning. But that rain was enough to flood a good portion of the roads, which lack ditches, or any other means of letting the water escape. Roads are a mess for several days after such a rains.

In the afternoon, Brian and left for a couple of hours to pick up some things to send to Matt Steiner, my cousin who lives down in the jungle somewhere here in Bolivia. Our little trip didnít go very well. Not even 10 minutes into our journey, a micro bus slammed into the side of our taxi. Luckily I donít think anybody was hurt. The micro hit our taxiís driver door. Our Driver came out clutching his shoulder, but I think he was fine.

I have always been amazed that for as crazy traffic is down here, I donít see accidents. Traffic is loco. Stops signs (when there are any) donít mean squat. Red lights donít always stop people either. There is a certain flow to traffic which involves cutting people off, and being the first to hit the gas to make it through an intersection. Most two-way roads are just wide enough to fit 3 vehicles across, and don't have any center lines, so whoever has the most guts is the one who uses the center lane. Because of all this, I am surprised  I don't see more accidents. Well today I got to witness a big old micro coming at me first hand. 

Brian and I walked away, and grabbed another taxi, and rented him for an hour while we ran around the city try to do Mattís errands. The first spot we stopped at was a seed place to figure out why Matt hadnít received some feed. After much difficulty finding the place, we found a closed office and after some talk with the locals, deduced that the whole thing was a scam. 

Next stop we went to pick up some jeep parts. There was some confusion as to what to get, and the guy didnít really have the stuff, so we left empty handed. The last stop was for a tractor part. Well they had the parts, but we didnít know the size. So we returned home, having done nothingÖ What a day.

So I am still in alive in Bolivia, something I shouldnít take for granted. We really donít know how long we have on this earth. We must be prepared to meet our maker and live everyday for Him.

 

2-18-2002 Filming Update

Tonight I got to sit in on a Directors meeting. It was interesting. My purpose for being there was to film some of it for the Stansberry video. Got to see some old faces, Jenny and Jake Derkson (it was at their house), and Phil Bender.

The new administrators have slowly making a few changes. The volunteers are now going to be called Tios and Tias (uncles and aunts). So I am Tio Denver, or Uncle Denver. The goal is for us to be respected more, and looked up to like family. The other volunteers have each been assigned a smaller group of kids that they take a special interest in and do thing with. I donít have a group, since my stay is short. 

The kids started school today. They were thrilled by that. I went with Chuck to video tape a little of the school today. Bolivian school is interesting in that they only go for half a day. The older kids go in the morning, and the younger kids go in the afternoon. I went for 7 hours in grade school. And they are complaining about 4!  

Other than what was already mentioned, my day was rather uneventful. I started working on the park building for the Guardaria with Tony Seimens. Tony is a Canadian who was here through MCC and was a photographer. He married a Bolivian, and they are awaiting a visa to come for her to live in Canada. Today Tony and I planed some scrap wood down and cut it to size. 

I have to give you account of when I uploaded my website updates yesterday (Feb. 17).  I have to go to an internet pub which is only a dialup connection. Well it took me 3 hours to upload everything. I have a Lan card for my laptop, and hook in. Yesterday it worked fine. The day before we couldnít get it to work for anything. NetworksÖ. I was sick of looking at a computer after 3 hours waiting for it to upload.

 

2-16-2002 Reflections at the Halfway Point in Bolivia

I am past the halfway point of my Bolivian journey. Putting that into perspective, time continues to fly. Iím thoroughly enjoying my time down here. The country is beautiful. I miss people back home, but itís been nice getting back in touch with my roots this past month and a half. I've been growing as a person as well in my spiritual walk and maturing process. The reason for this growth  has been partly because I am thousands of miles away from home, and I have 60 eyes watching my actions. This third world culture has also helped me focus my outlook on life and gives me a different perspective for my future.

Be praying for Bolivia. Bolivia is currently in an economic crisis and on the brink of civil war in some cities due mostly to the USA's push to eradicate the coca plant. Drug money had been big part of the economy. I don't feel any danger here in Santa Cruz, but I've hear of cities such as Cochabamba that had been blocked off.

Also be praying for the orphanage. It is currently under an administration change which seems to be going well. Pray for the kids as well. Many have had a hard life of abuse. Pray for them and their futures and the volunteers who show them love each day.

Updating my website has been a little slow, my apologies for that. Internet access is not as readily available as it is back home. It sometime is a 2 hour affair at a local internet pub to upload all the pictures etc.

Time has also been an issue lately. I think the more comfortable I get down here, the more I get involved in. I have been keeping myself busy.

 

Trip to Santiago - click to access pictures of trip

I just back yesterday (Feb. 15) from weeklong trip to Santiago to visit an old friend Milton Whittaker. 

Santiago is  a beautiful place. I went with my cousin Lora. We left Friday, Feb. 8. It was a 12 hour train ride to Robore. We arrived in Robore at 5:30am the next morning and then took the hour long taxi ride to Santiago. The taxi broke down about halfway there so we were picked up by someone else going that way.

Milton sells Yogurt, so I went around with him Saturday selling yogurt. It was a long day, and I was happy for the bed when I got back.

During the rest of the time there I did some hiking up the mountains near his place as well. Santiago is so beautiful! The view from above was especially nice. A couple of days we were lucky to see rainbows.

This was about my 4th visit to Santiago. Not a lot had changed other than they had 24 hour electricity and warm showers which was very nice addition from when I had been there previously. I got to know Miltonís family pretty well. He has four cute kids. His wife Catheryn was wonderful as well. Lora and I ate very well while we were down there. We had pie, cookies, sweat buns, more pie, waffles, and other great food I havenít had for a little while.

Originally Lora and I were planning to leave Tuesday to go back to the city, Santa Cruz were we work. But we hit a holiday wrong here. In Bolivia they have a 4 day festival (from Sat to Tuesday) called Carnival, literally translated ďday of the fleshĒ. It is sort of a Catholic festival before Lent where everybody gets drunk and indulges in things of the flesh. Once Lent comes around I guess they confess everything, but Carnival is their final binge before that. So we couldnít get train tickets back till Thursday night. Thursday night we arrived at the train station being told the train was arriving at 9:45. Well it was right on time according to hora Boliviana (Bolivian time). It pulled in about 1:15am.

The extra couple of days in Santiago were nice. It was nice and quiet out there. Plenty of time to catch up on sleep and relax. I started and finished the book The Testament by John Grissman towards the end of my stay there. It was very interesting. It was especially interesting because the story took place in locations familiar to me, Virginia  (mentioned the Shandadoah Valley) and the Pantanal in Western Brazil (were I have previously visited). It was funny because it mentioned the same airport that I flew into in Brazil, so I could relate to many of the settings in the book.

 

Work Experiences

The past couple of weeks before my trip, I have had a variety of work experiences. Each day seems to bring its new surprises and events. Hereís the summary of some of the interesting jobs Iíve been up to:

Windmill Fix Ė Monday Jan 28

On Monday I helped fix the windmill. We had to pull up the entire pipe and reconnect a rod. I also got to see the awesome view from the top, although it did test my comfort level when it comes to heights.

Bull Butcher Ė Tuesday Jan 29

We butchered a bull. It was interesting to see how it was all done. In the morning we killed it at Ron Larsonís ranch, stuffed it in the back of a pickup, and then cut it open when we got back to the orphanage. In the afternoon, I helped slice up the meat and cut out some of the fat.

Sewage Cleanup Ė Friday Feb 1

Most of the week we had been working at cleaning out some pipelines. Well Friday they decided that one of the sewage pits needed cleaned out. Somehow I got the job cleaning out the pit full of human waste. It was a messy job. I borrowed a pair of boots and gloves and went at it. Thankfully it didnít smell too bad. Some of the newer stuff wasnít too pleasant though.

Welding Ė Monday Feb 4

Brian Fencer and I worked on a lid to cover a section of a sewage trap Monday morning. Took us much longer then what it should have, mostly because we didnít know what we were doing. But I had fun welding. Maybe I have it somewhere in my blood

Electronic Repair Ė Tuesday Feb 5

Brian and I tried our hand at fixing a couple of fans and some juicers. Didnít have a lot of luck with the fans.

Video Ė admist this all, Iíve been working some at the video for the Home and getting a script ready.

Park Building Ė Present and Future

We are going to build a small park piece for the Daycare coming up.

 

2-3-2002 Soccer Experiences

The past couple of Sundays Iíve been going with Albert, the Bolivian volunteer, to play soccer in the afternoon. Itís been an interesting experience. I am the only gringo around and stick out quite a bit.

I am now part of Albertís league. We have to have to have a little card with our name and picture to play. The first Sunday I tried to play I had a little trouble because I didnít have a photo, only a copy of my passport. The other team raised a stink about me playing and wanted to throw the game, but Albert slipped 15 bs under the table to the guy in charge so I was allowed to play.

 But now I am Ďofficial.í Itís a higher level of play which is nice. I think more is a stake so competition and tempers are higher. I've heard that there are rewards such as chcken, a pig, or a bull for championship winners sometimes. We play 8 vs. 8. The soccer field that we play on, like many others around is about half dirt, and half grass. It gets used a lot.

 Wednesday we usually play soccer as well at the orphanage with people from the church. Usually we play with 3 teams of 8 players each. We play to two points, winner stays on the field. The other night I had 5 goals.

 

1-25-2002 Third Week Reflections

Time is flying, I have been here three weeks now. I think have settled into a routine now, and I am accustomed to life down here once again. I am fairly confident with my Spanish and usually have no problem communicating.

Iíve been spared of illness so far. I feel fortunate because every volunteer  except me has been sick this past week. So I feel fortunate to remain healthy.

I haven't had any problems with any of the food down here, I like most everything. I've acquired a taste for plantanoes (fried bananas) which I use to hate as a kid. I am also learning to drink coffee. I love coffee with milk which is popular here. I think the cook loves me, because I eat all my food, and she usually gives me an extra scoop. She wasn't happy the other day with some of the other volunteers though, when she found them eating subway sandwiches instead of her dinner. She likes me though. :-) I usually have to sneak some other food as well though, because breakfast and supper aren't very filling.

This week was a busy week. I did a lot of cleaning up around the orphanage and some painting. Tomorrow is the Dia la Lugar (Day of the Home). Itís sort of an open house of the orphanage. So the place is in top shape for that. Lately Iíve been working a lot with Chuckís brother, Paul. 

Tuesday while cleaning up a wood pile, I came across two possums. The kids got all excited and were ready to knock them on the head and have them for supper, but they escaped and are safe for now. Apparently the possums have been pinned with the death of a kitten litter.

Wednesday was my free day, so I went to the zoo with Cora, Sarah. Two of Coraís friends, Logan and Jamie came as well. They are from Canada, and are traveling all over South America for 6 months. They left today. The zoo hasnít changed a whole lot. Logan had a funny incident with a leopard. He was standing about 5 feet from the leopard cage, and the leopard lifted his hind leg, aimed his thing, and peed on Loganís feet! It was very funny. Afterwards we ate supper at the Irish Pub. It is a nice little place near the main plaza that serves English food.

That evening I went with Paulino, a guy who no longer lives at the home, to play some soccer on an outdoor cement court. He is in some league. I was the only white person around.  I donít think they think gringos can play yet. Weíll see. They were good.

Tonight Paul and I felt adventuresome went into town by ourselves. Had a fun evening.

 

1-23-2002 All in a days workÖ

In America we take work for granted. We turn our nose at jobs at fast food. Others in the world do whatever they can to sustain themselves.

Here in Bolivia the economy is so poor, people invent work. 

I have seen men filling holes in the middle of the road. They donít work for the government. They take donations from anyone driving by. 

When stopped at a red light in the city, little boys will run up and wipe off your windshield in hope of payment. Or others run up to your door to sell any sort of food.

They now have these little Internet stops. Some guy networks 6 computer together, shares a single dial-up connection and charges 5bs an hour.  

The number of vendors that sell the same thing continually amazes me. A classic example was when the home went camping. At one of stops on the way there, about 20 kids and older women bombarded the bus selling the same pop, and the same juices. At the marketplace, it seems like every stand has about 10 others selling the same stuff not far away. 

Then you find those who are trying to gain an edge on the others. Each day I hear a lady with a load speaker come rolling by on her horse drawn cart selling various foods. You canít miss her, cause you can hear her loud speaker a mile away.  

There are also plenty of scam artists. Top two on my list are police officers (or police impersonators) and money changers. Money changers try to get you with a ridicules exchange rate, and then donít give you the correct amount. Today Chuck stopped for two ĎPolicemení who were selling Inspection tags for vehicles. Needing a new one, Chuck bought one, only to realize later that they were for the year 2001 and not 2002.

We have to be kind of careful about crime down here as well. Erin was riding the bus and had her arm out the window, and someone ripped off her watch as they went around a bend.

 

That's Bolivia folks.

 

1-18-2002 Out of the House

Well I got kicked out of my house. L New administrators are coming Sunday from Peru. So they moved me into the Volunteer house, which is all right. I enjoy the company of the other volunteers. More food over here too. I am currently the only guy in the volunteer house, so I'm not sure how the 3 girls feel about me infiltrating their bathroom.

Wednesday I had my dia libre, or free day. It nice not having anything to do an not feeling like I have to do anything. I was planning on sleeping inÖ That didnít happen, the world awakes at 6:00 here. I fell back asleep till 8:00, and then just couldnít fall asleep, so I got up. In the afternoon, I went into town with Erin (one of the volunteers) to La Feria. Although itís location has changed, the hundreds of little stores selling the same stuff as the neighbors next to them has not. I bought a hat and some nice flip flops. Erin and I had fun trying to find some clothes for Sandraís birthday, and not being sure of her size. I think we did well in our selection though.

Wednesday night we played soccer with some of the church people. It was nice playing with a little higher skill level. There were a few good players. Our team won ever game but the last. I had a hat trick (3 goals). I think my play is a little aggressive from what some of them are use to though.

Thursday morning I moved out of the administrators house. I got the babyís room. They moved the baby out into the main room. Last night was miserably hot without a fan. I stole one for tonight though. I woke up last night at 1:30 drenched in sweat.

Last night the volunteers plus my cousin Lora went out to a Mexican restaurant.  Was good. Today though 4 of the volunteers are sick with the flu for some reason. We donít think it was the restaurant. Iíve been feeling all right though. Iím really tired though.

Past couple of days Iíve been working mostly at cutting up a tree next to the Shop. It should be done by now, but the chain saw has been giving me fits.

 

1-15-2002 From Pigs to soccer

They found ways to keep me busy around here. Iíve been working mostly with Don Quito. Yesterday we fixed the pig pen in the morning, to stop a certain pig from always getting out. Then in afternoon we cut down a tree near the shop, but not before we had an afternoon soccer game. It was a pleasant game for once. Not extremely hot, and it was raining lightly. Also in the afternoon we had a volunteer meeting. 

This morning Don Quito and I butchered a pig. It was an interesting experience. Whack it on the head with a hammer, punch a hole to the heart and bleed it. Thatís probably enough information.

Iíve started into the video for the orphanage. Chuck and I sat down today and went over the script. This afternoon we of course played futbol. Around 4, the kids had a volleyball tournament among themselves. I was the neutral ref.

Tonight I tried my hand at milking a Cow. Went all rightÖ Iím glad though they have invented electronic milkers for poor farmers with more than 4 cows.

Oh and I had the honored todayÖ Sort of. A calf was born a couple weeks ago. Today they voted that itís name should be Denver. I feel the love. J

 

1-13-2002  First Week Reflections

Well I have been in Bolivia for a full week now. I think I am starting to get into a routine and I am getting accustomed to this life once again. I still need to get to the store to buy some munchies. Many times the meals here donít completely cut it.

Thursday night, menos Albert and Cora watched Seven. Was pretty good movie. Except sound hardly worked, so I got to practice my Spanish with the Spanish subtitles. It's nice that we can rent movies. Things have changed since I was here.

The video rental store is something else. It is right across from our old house in the barrio (were we lived for half a year after our term was up at the home). We talked with the lady, and she said she started it about 5 years ago, as a way give teenagers something to, instead of walking the streets. Interesting way to look at, since ALL the movies are pirated, and can be rented for 4 bolivianos (around 66 cents).

Last Friday I had the day off which was real nice. Played some soccer in the afternoon. Later in the afternoon I went into town with Joe, a volunteer from Seattle. Dillon, one of the administratorís kids, came along. We watched Lord of the Rings in English with Spanish subtitles. After my experience with video rentals here, I wasnít expecting much. But I was very impressed. At 17bs, ($2.25) it was a very nice cine, good picture and sound, and didnít appear pirated. J

After the movie Dillon left, and Joe and I went to the plaza. I changed some money with some local guys. Those turkeys, I should have never done any business with them. They tried to rip me off twice. They did rip me of one way, but I caught them the other. I changed $40, which at the current exchange rate of 6.82bs should have come out near 272bs. I knew that going into the exchange, but to avoid the hassle took 242bs (later figured their rip-off exchange rate at only 6.05). The guy only gave me 222bs, and when I caught him, he didnít even act apologetic, but acted like it was perfectly normal thing to try to do. I did get the correct change out of him. Still got ripped off for 30bs ($4.40). Oh well, I guess thatís how the guy makes his living.

After that we went out to an ice-cream place afterwards. We both got chicken sandwiches and banana splits later. I was happy for the change of food, and ice-cream. I had good guys talk with Joe as well. He said he was glad to have a guy his age around that talked English (all other English speaking volunteers are currently women).

Saturday I worked at the Guardaria (Daycare place) making a sand box. We made the ring out of cement and bricks, and then dumped in the sand with the sand with the Steiner tractor. It still needs a little more sand dumped in.  Tomorrows project.

Saturday night I went to Carlos and Joselo's brother's 15 birthday with Chuck, Cindy, Ana, and Don Quito. The 15th birthday is a big event. The birthday party supposedly started at 7:00 pm. We got there at 8:40 pm and were one of the first people there. As they say, hora boliviano (bolivian time). There had very load music and DJ that ran the show. Lots of dancing. We snuck out before food, cause it would was going to be a long night if we hadn't. Good to see Carlos and Joselo again. They have  really grown up.

Church today went all right. Itís very nice that they church is right next to the home now. Itís a nice building. It reminds me of a outdoor concert hall. It has a roof, but walls are open allowing a cool breeze to come through. Music I had a hard time singing along because they lacked projectors for the Spanish words to the songs (apparently stolen). I didnít catch a whole lot of the sermon, partly because I was sitting towards the back and also cause the song leader came and sat down next me, and talked to me the entire service, which was all right. Nice guy. Looked like he was 25, but was only 17.

Tonight we picked up my cousin Lora at the Airport. It was good seeing here again.

 

1-10-2002  Camping Trip

Well Camping is over. Was an interesting 3 days. Was fun though.

Most went in a big red bus. On the way there, I went with chuck in his truck.

We stayed at Chira Camping, near Semipata. It was about 3 hours away. Nice place for our group. Most of the girls stayed in the main cabin that had a kitchen and other stuff. The others stayed in little cabins that had two double bunk beds in them, for 4 people.

Josh, Dillon, Daniel, Bruno, and I were the lucky ones to stay in the Ďcampingí or tent.  

The place was nice. It had a pool which was filled using water from the river. So when it got hot, I jumped in a couple times. Today I practically got thrown in.

HighlightsÖ

VolleyballÖ I had an advantage over most, with my height and vertical (Bolivians arenít very tall), so I did all right up near the net. Played quite a few times.

Talent showÖ Last night we had sort of a talent show. Us volunteers tried to put together something on spot.

HikeÖ Even though a lot complained, I enjoyed the hike up the mountain. Wasnít much of a hike because we were on roads the entire time, but had a good time.

Volunteers night outÖ Last night we went into Semipata. We walked around the plaza some, and then went over to a restaurant afterwards. It was Dona Cindy, the volunteers, Quito and his older two daughters, Zulema, and the new librarian from Argentina. 

 

1-7-2002  First Work Day

Well I have completed my first work day. Went all right. Got to reacquaint my self with the old Steiner. Learned which bearings to grease. Tractor has some problems. I think it either is getting to hot, or isnít getting enough air, because after it has been running for awhile, it doesnít work very well. I mowed most of the day. Got sunburn to prove it. In the afternoon I played futbol, Gringos vers. I think we lost. It was very hot though. I took a cold shower just so I didnít overheat.

At 4:00 I went into town with chuck to buy some feed. We also went by my old School SCCLC. It hadnít changed a whole lot, a couple additions, but the area around it has been developed.

Tonight I took Karate lessons from one of the volunteers, Sarah, with some others.

Tomorrow leave to go camping.

 

1-6-2002  Trip to Chuck's place in the Country

Yesterday I went with Chuck and his family to his house out in the country. Albert, a Bolivian volunteer went along. Their house was about 1 hour away. The trip reminded me of the early days of Santa Cruz when I first arrived. Outside the city, the roads were dirt and full of holes. It had rained, so many were full of water. We got to his place around 11:30 and worked around the house. I worked at chopping down some of the weeds. Chuckís roof was built poorly and showed signs of leaking, so he spent a bit of the afternoon trying to find someone to fix it. We ate lunch around 2:30. After lunch the rain came down, and with winds from the south, got cold (quite a change from the hot sun earlier.) So we got the rest of the day off.  

This morning we went through some of the Mennonite colonies, and ended up seeing some of the Rio Grande. The river had eroded much of the bank. The Mennonite colonists were interesting. There tractor tires were metal, but many of their wagons and combines had rubber tires. Josh said the tractors had metal tires so the sons couldnít go into the city.

Met Vickyís dad (awkward greeting, I didnít think it was the custom to kiss the man in Bolivia. Maybe he is from Argentina. (Donít know his story.) Met some of Brunoís relatives at well.

Other notes:

Chicken dinner for under $1! I guess I will probably get use to the cheapness of that. But we each got a piece of chicken and rice with ajui (hot sauce) for under 5 bolivianos, I think maybe including some drink. Exchange rat is about 6.80 to a dollar or something like that.

Ants are insane here. I left some twizzlers on the coffee table during our movie, and by the time it was over, ants were already in it.

 

1-5-2002 First Day

Well it is my first morning in Bolivia. Many things have changed, yet many things are the same. Yesterday I got off the plane around 6:00 Bolivian time. Chuck and Cindy Petkau were there with Mari Luz to greet me. I got through customs without a hitch. We went over to Ron Larsonís first and stopped to chat with him awhile. Then we went to see Devinís great aunt. She was happy to see me, but disappointed I didnít bring Devin or any of the others along. I showed here pictures of Devin on my laptop of playing in the snow and opening Christmas presents. The custom of kissing the right cheek almost caught me off guard, but I think I got it now.

My the city has changed. I hardly recognized anything on the way home. Things have sprung up everywhere, much busier. Traffic is crazy! Iím almost glad I canít drive here.

The home looks a little different. The girls have a new dormitory. Other than that, most is the same. Brings back old memories. Most of kids I grew up with are gone. Some of the younger ones are still here. Zulema and Debora are the only ones left of my age group. Same group, new generation of kids.

My Spanish is doing better than I thought. Itís becoming clearer and clearer. I have a few more names to remember. The volunteers I have met so far seem nice. 

It is hotter than blazes! I got out of the airport and just about died. Not quite that bad, but definitely warmer than the 30 degree weather I left in Ohio. It was a hot night also slept with the window open, no shirt, and no blankets or sheets.

I am staying in our old house, the administrators building. The volunteer house is full, and the Petkaus have there own house.

 

1-4-2002   Final Plane Ride

Well I am on my last flight to Bolivia. Air flight has been kind of crazy. This is my third plane. Yesterday (Thursday Jan-3), I left Cleveland at 5:40pm. I arrived in Texas at 6:30pm something (having crossed a couple times zones).

Then I left Houston, Texas about 8:00 pm, and arrived in Brazil this morning at around 10:00 something (they are 3 hours ahead of Texas). So I hung out in the Brazil airport for 6 hours, no idea what I was doing. I needed to check in and get my ticket somehow, but was getting very different messages. I couldnít leave the area, because I didnít have a Visa to be in Brazil. And two flight people told me the wrong loading dock.

I got it figured out somehow, and am on the right flight now. So it is like 5:30 Brazilian time, but 2:30 home time.

The flight from Houston to Brazil wasnít too bad. Each seat had their individual video screen, so we could choose from 10 video stations, and 16 audio stations. So that was cool. More airplanes need to move to that. 

 I donít think what I am doing has totally sunk into me yet.

 

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