Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The little things

There are a few differences between living in Bolivia and living in Chicago...

...finding scorpions (and a lot of other weird bugs) in your house. I have officially started checking my shoes before I put them on so there you go Mom (she made me promise to do that when I moved to Ecuador and six years later I started doing it).

...we also have a bird that tries to get into our kitchen by knocking his beak on the window. And its a big, orange beak. He comes every morning and knocks about twenty times at the same spot then flies away. on a street that doesn't have a name. And we don't have a house number either. It makes it interesting telling someone how to get to your house...especially in Spanish.

...throwing out toilet paper instead of flushing it

...buying milk in a bag

...listening to the radio and thinking "This song, really? I forgot it existed!" Also feeling like you've stepped back in time when watching T.V..

...boiling water for 15 minutes before you use it to cook anything

...public transportation not being learned by a map but by observing where each bus goes. It's a guess and check type system.

..starting to think that 35 Boliviano's is too much for anything then remembering that it's less five dollars. Your perspective of money and how much everything costs shifts once you've been here for a couple months because everything is so much cheaper.

...seeing the owners of your house every few days just because they decide to stop by...with the whole family. I'm talking spouses, kids, grandkids, everybody.

...the only post office in town being closed for three weeks

...spending only about half your time on paved roads

...something that would take maybe an hour to get done in the States takes at least three days here

...being held up in a street by a herd of lambs at any given moment

...if you need something, anything, you've got to go to the market to get it. I had been taking Target for granted all these years. can expect that anything you're planning on not to get done in the way you have planned.

It's kind of hard to think of the things that are different because I think we are already getting used to the way of Bolivia. In some ways I think it suits us better than the hustle and bustle of America. Time seems to pass by rather than rush by. It's refreshing in a way but can be frustrating in another.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

In Chapare

Last week, I (Elsa) spent the day in Chapare which is in the jungle. We have two orphanages there so I was going to check them out. One of them is almost complete and the other is in the process of being built. It was about a three hour beautiful drive in the mountains to get there. It is really hot there and I was sweating just sitting in the shade. There are also tons of bugs and mosquitoes that come out as the sun is going down. One interesting thing is that one of the villages where we are building is the hometown of the current President of Bolivia, Evo Morales. He came personally to the orphanage this year on Christmas Eve morning for a visit.

Anyway, it was a good day even though it was a lot of driving. I spent a bunch of time playing with some of the kids that lived near by. They were very anxious to have someone to play with and they were very sweet. They shared a mandarin orange with me that they had just picked from a nearby tree and one girl held my hand most of the time I was there. It will be fun to go back and see them again.

Oh, bunny ears. I guess some things
are just universal.

In front of the church that is partnering with one of
the orphanages. Sadly, it has been damaged due to recent
flooding. It's right next to the home.

One of the homes in Chapare. If you're wondering why
everyone is gathered looking at the ground it's because
there is a yellow, poisonous snake right there.

This is the son of one of the builders, Alejandro.
I just had to put it in cause he's so cute.

We were playing a game of throw the leaves up in
the air and see how many you can catch. And here are
some action shots.

A big restaurant in the village. Compared to everything else surrounding, this was quite fancy and I was actually surprised that such a nice building was a restaurant. There was a huge river right behind it.

More buildings in the town.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Dia de los Ninos

This past Saturday was "Dia de los Ninos" in Bolivia. They have Mother's and Father's day like we do but also children's day. I thought it sounded like a great idea. We spent the day with all the kids and the parents from one of the orphanages. We went to this HUGE park where we played games and played with them all over the park. It was quite an accomplishment just keep track of all the kids since there were hundreds of other kids there. It was fun to celebrate the children and be with them for a day of fun.

A bunch of kids were playing "slide" on the half-pipe.
I thought it would make for an interesting picture.

An interesting thing from that day...there were a bunch of "photo op" spots set up with a bunch of big stuffed animals. There were big stuff Barney's, leopards, lions and ponies. They were set up so that kids and parents could take pictures by all the stuffed animals. As I got closer to them I touched the mane of one of the "ponies". Then I looked more carefully at it and realized that it was not a "pony" but a real, stuffed pony! I could see the spot where it had been sewn back together. Unfortunately it was after I had touched it that I realized this. Oh, Bolivia.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

My Grandma

These have been a challenging past couple of weeks as my grandma unexpectedly passed away. I am told that it was peaceful and I´m thankful that she wasn´t in pain. She was a wonderful grandma and I will miss her tons. It has been tough to be away from family during this time but I´m doing okay. It just hurts not being able to say goodbye and not be able to attend her funeral or memorial.

Thankfully, we spent our last day in the States with my grandma and grandpa. We had breakfast with the whole Erickson side of the family. It was a wonderful morning and I am so thankful for such a great last memory with my grandma. Here is a picture from that day...

I know a lot of people have been praying for us and that we would have peace while being so far away. We just wanted to say thank you for that. It means a lot to us.
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