We were so blessed at the end of May to have Tom’s WHOLE family come down to visit us here in Montero. There was plenty of pre-trip stress getting plane tickets, hotel reservation, vaccines, visas, and travel medicine for five people but they prevailed through it all and landed here in Bolivia May 17th. They toured in La Paz on their own for two days and then we met them in Sucre for a weekend of touristing.
Everyone was healthy and happy when we met them in Sucre and oh what an amazing feeling it was to be standing at the Sucre airport and see familiar faces for the first time in 8 months! In Sucre we hit a lot of the major tourist sites such as the Crustacean, er I mean Cretassic Park (largest collection of dinosaur footprints in the world!), the Casa de la Libertad, Cathedral, Cementery, Folkdance show, and Folklore masks museum.
Yes those are Dinosaur footprints!
And on Sunday the family went for a beautiful hike on the Inca Trail. Unfortunately I had arrived from Montero with some lingering food-borne illness and spent most of Saturday and Sunday in bed.
In Sucre, we stayed at Casa Verde, a cute B&B run by a Belgian man named Rene which I would definitely recommend to anyone. He even gave me some electrolytes to drink when I was sick in bed (just a fun Bolivian-traveler note, out of the 8 bedrooms I wasn’t the only one bed-ridden. There was another German? wife also sick in bed. It’s a fairly common occurrence.) Anyway we also filled up on good food in Sucre from Para Ti chocolates to dinner at La Casona and JoyRide. It’s better to arrive in Montero fat and happy because you sure won’t leave that way! Hah…oh it’s not funny though because it’s true.
Monday we flew to Santa Cruz and were met in the airport by Madre Clara and her nephew Javier who gave roses to all the family members. Then they drove us back to Montero. It was lunchtime and we had meant to eat something at the airport but both Madre Clara and I totally forgot so we thought, oh no worries we’ll go to the Chinese place in Montero. The Chinese restaurant is the ONLY restaurant in Montero that Tom and I really feel safe eating at and taking other people to. There are some fried chicken places that look okay also but I’d say you’re always gambling, kind of like digestive Russian Roulette. And the little roadside tables that the locals eat at look just down right poisonous (note this is not a judgement on their food or their culture, but a realistic knowledge that their sanitation and food preparation practices are not what U.S. stomachs are accustomed to). Anyway, we get to the Chinese restaurant and it’s abandoned. Apparently it changed locations but left no information about where it had gone! We had lost our only restaurant! I felt like posting signs on lightposts LOST: clean Chinese restaurant If found please call: Laura. Anyway, jokes aside we swung by the grocery store and made hamburgers back at the convent. We gave the family the grand tour that afternoon and the girls at the Hogar LOVED them. Then we cooked dinner and relaxed (we were invited to a festival that evening but declined). Monday night: Kevin gets sick. Cause: snack in Sucre Mon. morn?
Tuesday Tom and I put everybody to work! While I ran around and did some errands with Madre Clara, Tom got everyone starting cleaning my Kinder computer lab, spin-rite-ing all the hard drives and trouble-shooting my problem computers. I got back at about 11am and showed Maureen and Kathleen around the Guarderia that I thought they would help out at on Thursday. Tuesday lunch we ate from the Guarderia, except that it wasn’t at all the normal food that Tom and I eat, it was beef, vegetables, and noodles made especially for them. That afternoon the Kinder put together a welcome ceremony for the family with dancing and singing. It was really sweet and I had all the kids talk to them in the few words I’d taught they so far in English. Also each family member was presented a present and hugged by a student. I think the biggest surprise of the day though was Patrick! He was a BIG hit with all the female profesoras. I thought they were going to gang up on him and force him to stay in Bolivia and marry one of them. They were just all a flutter, it must have been the beard. Bolivian men don’t grow facial hair. Kevin was back on his feet and made it to the second-half of the Kinder party.
Tuesday night we had our normal community dinner with the other volunteers except that Andrea had two friends visiting her also so we had 13 people for dinner! I had to request more place settings from the Sisters and we ate over in the Guarderia dining room, where the Kindergarteners usually eat. It was a regular loaves and fishes kind of meal. Despite only have one chicken to cook, everyone ate well and we still had food leftover. Everyone had a good time visiting afterwards and there was also time to go over and observe Tom teaching his class.
Kevin, Kathleen and Patrick talking with Melia and Andrea (Hogar volunteers) and Andrea’s two visiting friends (front two) on our front porch area.
Tuesday night: Despite mostly avoiding the vegetables all day, Maureen and Kathleen get sick. Cause: lunch from Guarderia? vegetables at dinner?