Cochabamba and Holy Week

I arrived in La Paz yesterday morning at about 5 am only to find that every single flight to Cochabamba had sold out for the day. I got a cab with a great guy named Umberto who told me about his four daughters and 11 grandkids, how much he loved Evo Morales, etc etc. I made it to the bus terminal in time to get a 6:30 bus to Cochabamba, 7 hours and several frightening mountain roads later, I made it to Plaza Sucre where I met Jonathan and FINALLY got to take a shower at the Sustainable Bolivia main house. The whole compound is three large buildings, the art studio, patio and herb and vegetable gardens. We have a gorgeous view of the Cristo de la Concordia statue and easy access to pretty much everything great in the city. So far, so good!

Today one of our Spanish students, Ollie from London, and I went on a long ramble through town. It’s Good Friday and many parts of the city are totally closed down, but the market was largely opened and the streets were still packed. It is sunny and hot today, so we found a cafe to get a beer and rest. Since it is Holy Week, all alcohol sales are prohibited, but a apparently it’s a law that is widely publicized but not greatly enforced. In any case, Ollie and I had a wonderful conversation about neoliberal economic failures, the Euro crisis and the problems with higher education systems in our respective countries, three topics so depressing they are best discussed over beer, thank god we found some.

Being out and talking with people made me forget all my worries about not remembering how to communicate in Spanish. I am shocked by the amount that rushed back the minute I stepped off of the plane. We speak mostly English at the headquarters, but only Spanish with the Bolivian staff and it’s been very easy. I still have problems substituting Portuguese words to fill in gaps and sometimes my Brazilian accent affects words that have a ‘t’ or ‘d’ in the end (turns out ‘fuerte’ is NOT pronounced ‘fuer-chee’), but the differences are so minimal whoever I am speaking with understands what I mean.

But it’s sunny and perfect out, I feel like I am wasting daylight sitting in the shade on the patio, so this is all for now. Stayed tuned to photos and more visually-arresting content 🙂

-G

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One more day…

I am leaving on Wednesday, 10:30 am, O’Hare-> Miami-> Lima -> La Paz -> Cochabamba. I think everything on my to-do list is completed, but I will inevitably worry about irrational eventualities all day tomorrow.

Today was my last day at work, but because it was spring break, I missed many of the people I wanted to see. However, the happy faces and hugs I received filled me with joy, I cannot wait to see everyone in June. My going away party was on Saturday, it was was full of food, drink and fun. Both of my beautiful sisters and many of my coworkers were able to attend, those warm thoughts and memories will last well beyond this trip. Thank you Margie, Bean, Matthew, Nick, Ana, Aaron, Joe, Andrea and Mac for coming by and celebrating with me. Also, major thanks to Christina for providing some delicious singani for the festivities and the professors at MOL for their kind, supportive goodbyes. I know when I leave Bolivia, I will feel like my time was too short and will equally miss the people I leave behind, but at least I know that I am coming back to a city and people I adore.

Now onward. The road ahead is exciting and fraught with minor (yet irritating) challenges. My study will be on environmental grassroots movements in Bolivia and will involve three NGOs and countless people, both Bolivian and American. Much of my study will be based on conversation and those who know me understand that I speak better Portanol than Spanish, Quechua or Aymara. I can only hope that the Spanish I learned during my 6 months in Spain returns within a short amount of time so I will be able to communicate effectively. Speaking a language is much like riding a bike; you may not have needed it for a long time, but when you do, the skill comes rushing back. That’s how Portuguese has always been for me and I trust that I will readapt to Spanish in the same way.

That’s really all for now, just my worries and saudades. Tomorrow will be a long day of packing and cleaning, but when it’s finished, I’ll be on my way.

Let’s go live life!

-Gracia