Posts Tagged With: Sucre

4th Annual Festival of Reading

On April 25th Biblioworks hosted their 4th annual Festival de Leer, a festival to promote education and literacy through Sucre and the surrounding barrios. Held in the Casa de la Cultura, the festival included organizations that included libraries, human rights defense groups, disability centers, and local cultural engagement projects. Over 100 children attended, some with their schools, others brought by their parents or older siblings.

The warm, sunny day was filled with balloons, laughter, and stories. Mimes entertained children with gestures about reading while many stalls were packed with children drawing, creating a poem, or reading a book. Children as young as four to teenagers crowded the courtyard, which was filled from the morning to the afternoon.

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Education is not always considered important in Bolivia, particularly rural areas, and books are expensive. Families that value education and reading have difficulty finding affordable books.

Natividad Esquivel Ticona, 14, said she enjoyed learning about the fables of Bolivia and that she owns five books. Many of the other children attending said their family owned five or six books as well.

Génesis Medrano, 15, said that though she enjoyed reading and thought education was important, not many children read. “We need to learn more about books, education, and discrimination. Many children cannot study because their parents cannot pay,” she said.

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Literacy and reading is a problem, Viccenta Santivañez agreed. As a  government worker in the barrio libraries Santivañez spends much of her time showing children how reading can be interesting.

“I think participating in games and reading here, at the festival, helps the kids find interest in it later,” she noted. “I believe more options for books will help kids learn. Now many teenagers and children only play on the internet.” Santivañez had many books at her stall for children to read, from “Good Night Moon” to Laura Ingalls Wilder books to fables of Bolivia. Her only criticism is that she hopes next year the festival will be in a larger area. “We have outgrown our space,” she said. “It is a good problem.”

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Volunteers Alice Molyneaux and Rory Donnelly, both from London, were excited to be a part of the festival through helping Biblioworks. “We are only volunteering for two days,” Molyneaux said, “but we really like it. It is rewarding to come as a volunteer, doing something important and seeing the kids’ energy.”

Donnelly said he was particularly impressed with the variety of activities and booths at the festival, such as the stall for braille and the booth on sexual health. “I can tell the kids are really excited to be here,” he said. “This is fun to be a part of.”

Molyneaux agreed. “We are traveling for six months, and this festival with Biblioworks is making us think about volunteering other places. It is a good chance to practice more Spanish, too.”

Teenage girls from private Catholic schools to little boys that sell food and magazines in the plaza all agreed that the festival was “very nice and fun,” and that they would come back next year.

 

Sylvia Tamares brought her daughter to the festival after hearing about it on the radio. “It is interesting,” she said, and thinks she will return with her children next year as well.

José-Hernando Copa, 7, came with his younger brother and older sister, none of whom can read yet. He said his favorite stall had drawing activities. He works regularly in the Sucre plaza selling food or magazines for his parents, and thought the festival was a nice pause from work. “I like the festival,” he said. “It is very nice.”

 

Biblioworks hosted the festival. Founded in 2005, Biblioworks focuses on building libraries and promoting literacy throughout rural Bolivia. For more information about Biblioworks and the work they do, click here.

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Categories: Bolivia, Culture Quirks, Lost in Translation | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mercado Central of Sucre, Bolivia

While Sucre has three grocery stores, one being a derivative of Walmart, the place most locals go to buy food and household supplies is the local market. Set up something like a grand farmers‘ market, the maze of passageways and splitlevel stairs make the building a world of its own.

Jordan and my hostel is a block away from Mercado Central, the nearest market to the city center, so we trek over there often to buy food, spices, and other random things we want.

IMG_3963Everything is cheaper here than in a supermarket, so we buy here what we can. A whole baguette at mercado central is usually 2 bolivianos, which is dirt cheap.

It took us several trips to the mercado to realize it, but there are signs on walls and hanging from ceilings to direct people to the various corners of the market. For example, on the second floor are the local spices and sauces that the Aymara women sell.

IMG_3968The colors and noises of the market are fun to explore. However, if you aren‘t careful, you will get sold produce at gringo prices, and chances are the produce is already overripe. Jordan bought rottingt fruit on more than one occasion, as well as meat that was not what he ordered. We decided it was because he didn’ t know as much Spanish as I did, he was a man, and he didn’t know as much about developing-country shopping as I did. So now I go out and buy all of our food.

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The market isn‘t a place to barter on prices–those are already set, though they might try to raise the price on gringos. However, if you are friendly and polite, chances are you will get good food. I always test the fruit and vegetables they give me, gently squeezing and looking it over, of course. I also avoid stalls where the woman calls out to me. If I approach a vendor on my own, without her trying to get my attention, I think it is more likely to get fair, local prices. If you are nice enough, you might get a sprig of parsley for free.

IMG_3965The first floor is devoted primarily to meat, vegetables, and nonperishables. I bought my shortening, sugar, and pasta from the woman who also sold cat food. The smells in the market are an odd mixture of raw meat, stray dog, and spices. The stray dogs, of course, spend their time at the meat section.

IMG_3973Here you can tell they‘re selling real cow meat because of the faces set out on display. Still, if you’re buying red meat, I think it is better to go to an actual butcher. The prices might be higher, but you know you’re getting real cow and that it is still fresh and safe. Chicken I buy at the market because I know a dead chicken when I see one. No one will sell me a different animal because I’m not a stupid gringa. I do try to buy meat in the morning, when it is freshest, and cook it as soon as I get back to the hostel, however.

IMG_3977In the far courtyard of the marketplace are the juice sellers, right next to the row of potatos vendors. These people make smoothies or juice mixes. It is delicious and very cheap. Two glasses cost me seven bolivianos, or a dollar. Interspersed through the fruit sellers and flower vendors are household items, such as plasticware, spatulas, and bowls. Beside the egg aisle is the cake aisle, where women have  pasteleria shops with beautiful cakes. Above them is the spice section and along a forgotten hallway the flower vendors sell their wares. It looks like spring exploded.

In the highest level is where people sell prepared meals. This is usually soup or some sort of chicken-and-rice concoction.  Usually only local go up that many stairs to eat there, and the tables and floors aren‘t exactly clean. But if you do brave the food up there, you can probably get a full place for 10 bolivianos.

Don’t miss the local markets if you go to Bolivia! They are a good place for cheap food and practically a tourist attraction in and of themselves.

 

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INTI children and the weariness of poverty

Every afternoon, rain or shine, weekday or weekend, around a dozen children swarm the central plaza of Sucre to make a little extra money for their mothers.

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Most of the children, around nine years old or younger, spend over 20 hours a week trying to sell INTI magazines to tourists and locals. When they sell as many as they can (five is the daily goal), their mothers or mother’s friends hands them bags of seed to sell.

These children come from the countryside and the barrios, or suburbs, and live in poverty. Their mothers usually fooled around with a machista 15- or 16-year-old boy just out of the military and get pregnant with their first child by the time they are 14 or 15. Then, if the boy is good, they marry and have a few more children. Or the father leaves his family to go find another 13-year-old to seduce. So most of these kids have no father at home, either because he abandoned them or because he lives in a different city, trying to find work to feed his family. The children go to school for four hours a day, then walk into the city to sell things. Their mothers also sell things on street corners, but usually not near her children.

Biblioworks, a nonprofit in Sucre dedicated to encouraging literacy and education, works with a British expat to create and publish INTI, a short magazine for children and tourists, in both Spanish and English. They distribute the magazine to the children, which costs only four bolivianos. Two stay with the children and the other two fund the magazine.

These children are sweet, smart, and polite. Many of them are embarrassed that they have to approach strangers with merchandise to feed their families. They are all fluent in Spanish and Quechua (they don’t understand why I can’t speak Quechua) and have big, wonderful dreams. 10-year-old Carlos said he wishes he could take his whole family to France to see the Eiffel tower because he heard it was nice. One of the boys told me that Washington, D.C. was the capitol of my country. Two weeks ago Biblioworks took the kids to the movie theater to watch Home. It was the first time they had been in a movie theater.

Selling the magazine gives the children a greater profit than a bag of seeds, and it helps them practice their social and communication skills. They get very little attention at home. This isn’t to say their parents are bad (though domestic abuse is a serious problem in Bolivia), but when you are extremely poor, all energy goes into putting the next meal on the table. Basic survival trumps hugs and cuddles.

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As a volunteer with Biblioworks I walk around with the kids, talking with them and encouraging them to communicate with the people on park benches. I am supposed to offer a chance to socialize as well as safety. Child disappearances are a problem in Bolivia, and the police are either unable or unwilling to do much investigation. Also, these kids walk from the suburbs to city center and around very busy streets. We volunteers are there to make sure they don’t get hit by a car while trying to make money.

Last week I walked one girl to a bank building so she could sell in the offices. Unbeknownst to us, her four-year-old brother followed, his trying to sell his bag of candy behind us. We crossed two intersections and walked in the street because the sidewalk was under construction. We didn’t see him until we were halfway through the bank building. The older sister, who is nine, started yelling at him and boxing his ears. I assume she was yelling in Quechua about how dangerous it was for him to walk by himself. I finally got them to stop, but by that time both little boy and his sister were in tears. As an oldest child myself, I understand full well the weight of responsibility one assumes, especially if the parents are absent like hers (mine never were, thankfully). Family ties are extremely strong; the poor girl was probably almost as terrified for her brother’s safety as if he was actually her son and just as anxious to protect him as a mother would.

So I calmed both down, had her carry his bag of merchandise, and held his hand as we crossed the busy streets back to the plaza. We both made him promise not to follow us again. It was so sad to see how hard these children’s lives are. And yet they are some of the sweetest, happiest children I have met.

Seeing their lives shows me two things. First, we need very little in order to be happy. Nice cars, iphones, and great clothes really aren’t necessary to wake up with smile and enjoy our day. We learned in kindergarten that the most important things in the world aren’t things, but people. Our relationships with neighbors, friends, and family are what really give us the most joy in life, and this is something that Latin America (and many poor people) realize. Once basic needs are met, some of the poor in the world are probably happier than the richest, just because they know what really matters in life.

Second, poverty is wearying. When we struggle to obtain the basics for our survival, we are exhausted physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The worst part of destitution and extreme poverty I think, it’s not actually the lack of money, but the lack of a purpose in life. You can’t go to school. You can’t get a job. You can’t fix the hole in your roof. You can’t plant a garden. You can’t talk to interesting people. Most of life’s goals are completely inaccessible because poverty closes all doors in society. It makes you doubt yourself and become apathetic. People so poor they slap together sheets of tin for a hut are desperately unhappy, unfulfilled, and unmotivated because poverty (not just of money, but of soul as well) robs them of their humanity and agency. People that send their children out to work aren’t quite as bad off, because their basic needs are being met through great toil and struggle, and are therefore probably much happier than the poorest of the poor. But they are still exhausted.

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I hope the shoeshine boy gets to see his father again. I hope these nine-year-old girls don’t become mothers in four years. I hope the Down syndrome girl gets the help she needs. I hope they don’t drop out of school in a year or two. I hope their mothers have the energy to kiss them goodnight.

For more information about happiness and money:

  • UNDSP Happiness Report 2015
    • In the past, Scandinavian countries have always ranked highest in happiness, and several half-developed countries like Mexico rank higher than their GDP and other economic indices would suggest. The United States, which one might assume would rank highest in happiness as it does in economics, does not. Hypotheses include: Mexico and Sweden both have strong support systems for individuals (Mexico through family, Sweden through social welfare programs), making sure people know they will be helped and not forgotten. The United States (because of a strong tradition of independence or a reliance on money rather than people, or the odd mixture of ethnicities and SECs, take your pick) does not guarantee support, community, or belonging for its citizens, and the country’s wealth can only make up for some of that social/spiritual/human deficit.
  • Gross National Happiness: Buhtan
  • $75,000 The Price of Happiness
  • Planning for Sustainable Happiness: Harmonizing our External and Internal Landscapes, by O’Brien (2005)
  • Anything by economist Amartya Sen, such as this Reuters interview
Categories: Bolivia, Spiritual Life | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Casa de Libertad

Along the main plaza in town are the oldest buildings in Sucre. One of the more striking is the Casa de Libertad.

The house of liberty was built by the Jesuits in 1592-1621 as a university for the Spanish and Charcas living in Sucre. It was one of the oldest universities in South America, and because of the center of learning that was cultivated by the Jesuits, it became the center of political philosophy and debate for the country two hundred years later. As a side note, although I am not well-read in the history/politics of colonial Latin America, I do believe the Jesuits were one of the better religious groups that went over during colonization. They were one of the only groups to live among the natives and learn the indigenous languages. To the Jesuits, Christianity was Christianity, not Spanish culture.

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While the Spanish made a lot of wealth off the backs of indigenous people working in the silver mines, their hold on Bolivia was never as strong as other South American countries. Throughout their time presiding over the Andes, there were many revolts. In early years, the region of Bolivia was closely tied with Peru, and during the first full-fledged rebellion by criollos and mestizos in 1809, Bolivia and Peru worked together, calling the region Upper Peru. The next sevenish years are full of complicated manueverings between royal groups, rebel groups, and others through what is modern Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina.

In 1825 all political delegates met in Casa del Libertad to decide whether to join Upper Peru to Peru, to join with Argentina, or to be an independent country. Apparently General Simon Bolivar, who orchestrated most of the military efforts in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia, was not convinced this country could govern itself. So after voting to be independent, they named the country after him, to placate him: Bolivia.

One of the more striking characters we were introduced to during the tour was Juana Azurduy de Padilla. Born in 1780 to an indigenous mother and Spanish father, she was mestizo. When she was orphaned at 12 she went to live at a convent with the plan of becoming a nun. She was expelled when she was 17 because she rebelled too much.

She and her criollo husband, Manuel Padilla, had four sons together, but when the revolution broke out in 1809 he joined the fighting. The Spanish military began hunting him down, and Juana brought their two sons and two daughters along to the guerilla group. She fought as well. A year or two into fighting, they decided it would be safer if they split up. Juana had to run, hiding in the wilderness with their children from the Spanish. Her sons died, either as a result of wounds from Spanish soldiers or from sickness. Her daughters eventually died of dehydration before they could reach a military camp.

After that, her husband became ruthless in his battles with the Spanish, and she reunited with him. She became pregnant, and gave birth to a daughter on the edge of the battlefield. When she thought she had recovered from childbirth, she grabbed a saber and went back to fight. In a battle in 1816 she was wounded, and her husband was killed while going to rescue her. The Spanish took his body, beheaded him, and displayed the pieces in a nearby city. It took six months for Juana to recover his body. Now widowed, Juana took up more leadership, at one point commanding 6,000 men. She eventually fought in Argentina under an Argentinian general. When the wars in 1825, she returned to Sucre, Bolivia with her daughter. No one remember her, her husband, or what they had done. She died in 1862, poor and alone.

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But now Juana and Manuel are considered folk heroes and patriots. Their ashes are held in a box in the Casa de Libertad, probably not far from where she was born over 200 years ago, with a Bolivian and Argentine flag draped over them.

 

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Dinosaur footprints!

Sauropods and titanosaurs and ceratops, oh my!

One of the more unique attractions near Sucre is Parque de Cretacico, a museum for dinosaur footprints.  They also have some pretty cool, life-size models of dinosaurs that lived in this area during the Cretaceous period.

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Back in 1998 a cement company, Francesa, which operates primarily on the edge of town, discovered a wall of dinosaur footprints in their quarry. So they left that area of the quarry and built a museum. When you arrive to visit the museum, the first thing you see is the cement plant and their trucks, then the entrance to the museum. The park is still owned by Francesa, which was kind of interesting. I had never visited a museum owned by an industrial company before.

Prices for extranjeros are 30 bolivianos apiece, with 5 extra bolivianos if you want to take photos. If you plan to visit, we strongly suggest arriving between 11:50 am and 1:15 pm. And to wear close-toed shoes. I wore sandals and almost did not get to walk down to the wall. At noon and at 1 pm there is a guided English/Spanish tour down into the quarry by the wall, but only at those times. If you miss the tour, you are relegated to an obersavtion deck with binoculars, and the price to enter the park remains the same. Our backpacker friends who arrived too late for the tour were not pleased with their visit to the museum, but those of us that went on the tour were moderately excited about the trip.

IMG_3824We were able to within an arm‘s length of the wall, which was kinda cool. I’m not a huge dinosaur person, but the 5,055 footprints up the wall were interesting.

Many, many years ago this area was flat and muddy, due to being next to a lake, and a few animals tracked through the mud while getting to the lake. As the Andes mountains formed (due to the shifting tetonic plates and such) the land bunched up like an accordion, so now the flat land is a vertical slab of rock.

Other attractions as the museum include a BBC documentary on dinosaurs, the models, a children‘s play area, a replica of a skeleton, and information about ancient geological sites and tetonic plates. They also have a cafe on a viewing platform. The drinks were fairly priced, but the portions were quite small for the prices they charged.

We bumped into a Norwegian couple that was staying at the same hostel. Vegard and Caroline also enjoyed the park, but had a few unmet expectations, like us. All in all, the four of us agreed that it was interesting and worth our money, but not quite as exciting as we had anticipated. We did just look at a rock wall in a quarry for an hour. At the cafe, though, they told us about Norway, Norwegian food, and how difficult it is to learn English when a Scandinavian language is your native tongue. The grammar, it seems, is similar, and due to the fact that Norway never dubs American movies, English is present throughout Norway, making it easier to learn.

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We thought that if we brought children along, they would‘ve loved the experience of the models and play area. The wall, for kids, probably not so much. It involved hiking up and down a steep hill, which is a little hard in high-ish altitude (9,000 ft or 2,800 m). 

Last tips:

  • To get to the museum you can catch the dinosaur bus at plaza 25 de Mayo, which is designed for tourists. Or you can get the local city bus, #4 or #12 work just as well. It is about a 40 drive from city center, depending on traffic. The city bus is 1,50 bolivianos per person (so a total of 3 for a couple)
  • The city bus dumps you off outside the Francesa plant, which was confusing for us because we did not know about the ownership. Just go into the white gates and walk toward any signs you find regarding the park/museum, and you should be fine
  • Wear closed-toed shoes
  • The earlier in the day you return, the less likely you will be stuck in traffic for an hour (like we were)
  • Enjoy the view of Sucre as you travel along the hills at the edge of town!

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The White City

We arrived in Sucre, Bolivia about a week ago now. Our first impressions were a little worrisome–we showed up at 5:00 am at a filthy bus station with broken down buses.

We split a taxi with our Swedish friend, and the driver charged us 15 Bolivianos per person from the terminal to near city center, which now we learned is close to double a fair price. Oh well. We were carrying luggage and it was still dark out. Jordan and I planned to work at a hostel in Sucre, and we showed up a few days early due to bus schedules and the election day.

Sucre, with a population of near 300,000, is the capital of Bolivia. Everyone knows La Paz, which houses most of the government buildings, but Sucre is the official capital. Because of its colonial architecture, its nickname is the White City. At 9,000 feet above sea level, it took us several days to adjust to the oxygen. We had no other symptoms of altitude sickness because of our Uyuni trip, but it did take a while to stop huffing and puffing after half a block walking.

Sucre’s city center is primarily made of white buildings built between 1538, when the city was founded by the Spanish, to the ealy 1700s. Their main plaza has many trees and flowers in the grass, something I find very attractive. Although Bolivia is known for being a poor country (and it is cheap for travelers), I haven’t seen much abject poverty, at least in cities. The median standard of living is obviously much lower than in the States, but in the cities I haven’t seen a lot of tin shacks with dirt floors and people out of work. I think the current president (the first indigenous president, not mestizo) has worked hard to improve the quality of life among other indigenous tribes in Bolivia, who also are usually the poorest.

Sucre was founded to be near the silver mines. Because of its proximity it was wealthy in the past. Education centers sprung up in the region, which made it a perfect place to debate the region‘s liberty. Sucre’s motto is “Where Bolivia was born,” for the political elite of the region did indeed declare it a sovereign country (separate not only from Spain, but also Argentina and Peru) and create the capital in Sucre.

IMG_3905(Gorgeous view, but an NGO with a electrical bent would be welcome in most of Sout America. Those power lines are everywhere and have to be fire hazards).

Now Sucre is a bustling town always filled with backpackers. It is the prettiest city in Bolivia and choc full of language schools. I can‘t count the number of hostels and Spanish schools in the area. There are even a couple of Quechua language schools, too. I think I’ll stick with Spanish, though the idea of learning an indigenous language does sound interesting. Bolivia probably has the most fully indigenous people groups of all of South America, and the most common language among them is Quechua. You can easily tell the indigenous people from the others because of their short stature and the women’s tradition dress.

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Fun fact: In Star Wars IV: A New Hope, a character speaks to Han Solo in Quechua. Supposedly the person in charge of linguistics was told to come up with a language, and he balked, saying there were plenty of wonderful real languages than few have ever heard of, suc has Quechua. So he used a simplified version of that instead.

Sucre, more than most cities in Bolivia, has a thriving arts culture. We attended a Barroque festival of music during Holy Week at the Casa de Libertad. They brought in musicians from all around the country, and played a variety of famous composers (Bach and Vivaldi–two of my favorites!) and music the Jesuits composed in Sucre during the Barroque period. That was very interesting. We listened to compositions written in the 1600s by Jesuit priests and teachers in Casa de Libertad, which originally was a university in the 17th century.

20150402_182854(0)Yes, the biggest portrait in the middle is of Simon Bolivar, whom the country is named for.

We plan to stay in Sucre for a month, working at a hostel in the night and morning, and spending the afternoons in Spanish lessons or visitng the city. So far, this place looks like a great break. There are interesting sites just outside of town and with a wealth of tutors and teachers, Spanish lessons run cheap (35 to 50 B per hour). The only problem is that internet tends to be bad here. In fact, we were told, “The internet is bad here. Welcome to Bolivia.” But we will manage with runs to internet cafes and searching out the best times of night for wifi. All of our planning and communication with home is done via internet, so it‘s a little important to us.

We‘ve been in town a week so far and have been very pleased with the area. If you’re visiting Bolivia, Sucre should be high on your list

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Easter Monday

He is risen!

I had been anticipating Easter for a while, since I was in Catholic South America. Worshipping with people from other nations and languages is one of my favorite things to do– diversity among unity is beautiful. Triniterian living at its best.

South American Catholicism is known for being particularly fervorful and devout, so I was excited to be a part of the Easter celebration in Sucre, Bolivia. Things started off well on Good Friday, when Jordan and I were hanging out at a cafe on the main plaza in town, soaking up some decent internet. We heard music and loud voices, and suddenly a parade came into view.

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Lead by several banners, the procession entailed priests, locals, musicians, and life-size ceramic Jesuses. After the banners, the priests held a glass casket of Jesus, bleeding from his side. Locals with woven palm fronds followed, keeping time to the music. Behind the first group of local Bolivians was the military playing brass instruments. More locals, then the police band on horns. They marched around the plaza until they reached the cathedral on the other side, and entered the building.

More stores than normal were closed on Holy Saturday, and mass was a little later than usual on Easter Sunday. Our hostel is in the city center, roughly three or four blocks from Plaza 25 de Mayo. We dressed nicer than we had in a month, probably, and stepped out to walk to church. All the one-way city center roads had been blocked off from cars so foot traffic could get to the churches and cathedral in town.

As we walked to the cathedral, whose mass was at 9 am, we passed by a large group of youth waving balloons and firing some sort of smoke-and-noise-maker in the air, frightening all the pigeons in town. At the front of the line a man wheeling a PA system repeatedly shouted something along the lines of “Christ is risen!” We cut through the plaza to beat them to the cathedral, and entered.

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Jordan was fairly nervous about attending mass–it was his first time at mass and listening to Spanish in a formal setting. He is also a good foot taller than most Bolivians, so he sticks out. While I was a little nervous about being one of the few gringos in church (and yes, we stick out. I was in Bolivia for a week before I met a Bolivian man I was shorter/same size of), I have attended mass twice in the States and twice in Nicaragua.

We eased into a pew two-thirds in the back, near a nice Bolivian gentleman that made sure we got programs. Church was not nearly as energetic or packed as we had expected. The service included two traditional dances from six teenagers in typical Bolivian dress: The girls wore their long hair in two braids and wore bright blue skirts, the boys wore white shirts, dark pants rolled up to their knees, and a colorful, striped shawl tied around one shoulder. Their shoes had metal discs sewn on to create noise as they danced, and a few of the other gringos in the service videoed the experience with their phones.

Jordan and I had not expected to take communion at the cathedral, because we are not catholic, but the man on my left side insisted that it did not matter, that we should go ahead. Everyone filed into the main aisle whenever the wished; there were no ushers to assign rows. After receiving the sweetest wine I ever had at the eucharist, the service finished with a benediction. I understood about 30 percent of the sermon and music, and probably would have understand 40 percent if the sound system had been better. On our way out the door we were pleasantly surprised to see roughly 20 foreigners at the cathedral, and I would bet that most of us were there to worship, not to experience Bolivian culture.

Our Easter afternoon was very low-key: I took a nap and listened to a few Easter hymns on my ipod, and we cooked lunch and hunted down some avocados at the local market.

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In the end, our Easter experience was not quite what we had expected, but it was wonderful to be inside a church again.

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Morgan S Hazelwood

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