From the Halls of Montezuma…

It’s Friday night and we survived another week in Montero.  In some ways it’s getting easier, in others harder.  As we understand more of what’s going on around us we feel more connected but it raises new cultural questions.   Just a few highlights from this week:

Every day at lunch time 12-2pm the marching band at the neighboring high school (colegio) practices.  So far their regime consists of “The Ants Go Marching,” and the  Marines’ Hymn and a third we don’t recognize.  We’re slightly curious if they know the association of the Marines’ Hymn with the U.S. Marines.

The city’s main vegetable market is just across the street from our house.  Somewhere in the market between 5-6:30am every morning someone feels the need to blare traditional Bolivian music for about an hour.  I appreciate the culture, but this disrupts my sleep pattern immensely.

It rained today!  The rain here is like a water spigot.  It turns on full blast and then turns off completely.  There’s not much inbetween (yet).  Everything got soaked and flooded, including our living room, from 5:30-6:30pm and then it was done.   By 7:30 most stuff was drying out except for the dirt roads.

Crazy kids.  I’ve been in the Preschool (Guarderia) all week in the mornings.  The kids are cute, sometimes, but the kindergarten-age ones are really out of control.  They don’t listen, they don’t stay inside, they don’t sit still.   Twice the teacher left me alone with them this week.  The first time I hadn’t figured out to lock the door yet so when I turned my back, kids would just run out the door and then not come back when I yelled.  One climbed the fence and ran out to the market and came back with two ice cream bars he had bought!  Unfortunately my spanish is not good enough to make children feel ashamed of their actions yet (which I have realized does take a certain amount of sophistication and knowledge about the culture and the child) so I couldn’t do anything.  Keep in mind that this kid is 5, maybe 6.  They are just crazy precocious.  They’re not smart though.  A lot of these kids can barely count to 10 and can’t write their names or numbers, but they have a lot of street smarts.   Today I finally calmed them down with some hokey-pokey singing but that was only after two other workers came over and yelled at them for me (and chased some of them down and returned them).  I had the door locked today too.

In other events, one of the 3-4 years olds dropped his pants and pooped in the playground (dirt floor) and then proceeded to bury it like a cat, acting as though this were normal.  I’m concerned that it might be.  The kids in the kindergarten are taught how to brush their teeth once a week but they do it in the playground area and all just spit on the ground.  Lesson learned:  never touch the dirt in Bolivian playgrounds.

Fireworks. We had fireworks tonight.  I think we may have mentioned this in a Sucre post but you will see fireworks here any time of the day or night, anywhere.  Oftentimes you will see them outside churches after weddings and at futbol (read: soccer) games.  Sometimes they’ll just be going off in the middle of the day which scares me because it kind of sounds like gun fire but I don’t think guns are very common here.  My point here though is that there are NO regulations against fireworks anywhere at anytime.  Even in VERY dry places such as Sucre we constantly heard fireworks.  At the Sucre Expo we were practically hit with one (these are city sanctioned fireworks), they were shooting them off so low that the fire balls were coming down in the crowd.  It’s just….surprising for a place where life already has plenty of obstacles to staying alive without having to worry about exploding fireballs.  (It’s like I’m living in a Super Mario Bros game, if I could just find one of those sparkly stars….)

Also, there’s an American kid at the Kindergarten.  I haven’t gotten his whole story yet but he was born I think in the US and knows limited English (he’s only 6).   He looks as if at least one parent is from the US.  I’m not sure why you’d move to Montero for business, but I’m sure there most be a reason, maybe family.

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