A Travellerspoint blog

Pork chops and pop concerts


semi-overcast 20 °C

After having lost my previous blog entry due to a connection problem, I kind of lost inspiration to rewrite it, but since some small but fun things have happened that I think are worth sharing, I will force myself to rewrite it.

First of all I wanted to tell you about my new home. As I wrote in my previous blog, I am now living with doña Nancy and don Mario, a couple that rents out about 5 bedrooms to Bolivian students upstairs and 3 downstairs, which is where my room also is situated. All rooms face the central patio, where people can wash and dry their clothes, play with the dog, or just chill. Next to the front gate, in a room that was presumably once built as the garage, is doña Nancy’s grocery shop. This room is divided in two areas by a big cabinet with shelves. The front part, facing the street, is obviously where clients from the neighborhood come in to buy their groceries and catch up on the latest gossip, which doña Nancy meticulously keeps track of. The area behind the cabinet is a common area where the other tenants, many of who have found a second mom in doña Nancy, sit down after school and keep her company for a while, before heading up to their rooms.

Since I don’t really have that much stuff with me and don’t have my own tableware, pots and pans, doña Nancy takes special care of me. The fact that I am foreign also makes me an interesting object to have in the shop, so she can brag to her neighbors and clients about how she took me in and saved me from the dangerous outside world… In the mornings she calls my name into the patio and yells that there is water ready in the thermos. I then shuffle over to the common area and drink tea and eat whatever she presents me, while watching Chapulin Colorado, or another program from the Chespirito-series. Don Mario and her go to the market every morning at 5:30 to buy bread, empanadas and tasty stuff like cuñapé and salty rice bread.

Don Mario is a really endearing guy, who has been driving a taxi all his life but now put it for sale and is working on the paperwork to retire. He looks younger than he really is and I wonder if he’s really ready to stop working, but he told me he wants to be close to his Nancy a little more, so she’s not alone all day…. How sweet is that…? In a way he reminds me of Richard, from Keeping up Appearances, you know? The husband of the bucket woman, aka Mrs. Bouquet? He’s a pretty smart guy too, the only Camba, up till now that I have been able to discuss politics with, without having to bite my tongue (too much). Doña Nancy usually asks me a question about how this and that works in Europe, but I always see her attention fade after about 2 sentences (mostly because that’s when the commercials finish and it’s time to refocus on the telenovela), so I try to keep my answers short and simple with her.

When everyone else is out, the dog keeps her company; a sweet little cocker spaniel named Linda. And last but not least, there is Piquito. Piquito lives in a kitchen cupboard and I didn’t know he existed until one day I wanted to make some tea for myself and was looking for the kettle. I opened the cupboard and was greeted (which was more like attacked) by a little green parakeet. The little door doesn’t completely cover the entrance of the cupboard, so he can hop in and out as he pleases and sometimes he walks over to the shop to get something to eat and the rest of the time he just hangs out in the kitchen. His wings have been clipped and I kind of feel sorry for the little fellow, even though pet birds kind of scare me, but I sit down in the kitchen with him once in a while, when I’m waiting for the water to boil, and share my tangerines with him.

Last weekend Doña Nancy invited me to come to her grandson’s first communion and asked me if I could help her bake the cake, which of course wasn’t a problem, though she has a way of saying things that doesn’t really leave you with an alternative… :P It was a nice way of getting to know the other people in the house, who she had also “invited” to help her out. Sunday morning we all crammed ourselves into Don Mario’s old taxi and drove over to the church, where a bunch of white gowned kids were posing for the cameras, with their hands folded. As the godparents of the grandson in question, Doña Nancy and Don Mario, were special guests.

The church ceremony was conducted by the funniest priest I have seen in my life. He was a guy from Japanese descent, and though his Spanish was ok, he still had a Japanese rhythm in his speech, which at times made the sermon sound like an Asian action movie. Though I thought it was hilarious, everyone else seemed to think it was quite normal, so I tried to keep my giggles down as best as I could… After having soaked up a healthy portion of praise-the-lords and Amens, it was time to celebrate. Family and friends all came over to the house, where a tremendous amount of meat was ready to be prepared on the BBQ and eaten, along with the salads and cake we had made earlier. Hallelujah! Hail to the best pork chops ever…. After lunch, we helped clean up a bit and all went back to our rooms, though a couple of doña Nancy’s friends stayed up until the early hours, sipping an interesting mix of red wine and coca cola and giggling at anything that moved.

Another interesting thing that happened to me was Marc Anthony’s concert, last week. All the newspapers have been writing about it for weeks and everyone was super excited about it, so I reckoned it was sold out the minute ticket sales opened… So Thursday afternoon, when I was having lunch, I saw the waitresses watching Marc Anthony videos on YouTube and I asked them if they were going to the concert. They told me they were and after a short conversation they said I should definitely come and that I should go get a ticket immediately so we could go together… And that’s what I did! It was a madhouse at the stadium and the concert was great. I’m not even a fan of his music but everything is different when you see an artist perform live, and you get to feel the intense atmosphere. Loved it.

And oyah, I also got some work done. :P I spoke with a guy from an organization called CIPCA, which is a 10 minute walk from where I live. When I called, the guy, Ramiro Valle Mandepora, told me he would have time until 12:00 but when I arrived (at 10:45) he said he unexpectedly had a meeting in 10 minutes, but that he would have time after 12:00, that he wouldn’t be going out to lunch and that we could talk then. So I went down to their library and sat there for a while, until Don Ramiro invited me into his office. The people he had had a meeting with had brought him a bag of coca leaves as a token of their appreciation and if I ever see him again I think I might bring a little something as well because he was very helpful. He talked for an hour and a half and promised me he would send me an email if he had any information that he thought could be useful for me. He also told me a bit about his own background, which was quite impressive. If I would have known more about him before the interview, I probably would’ve asked him different things, but my brain was sated with all the info he had just given me so I didn’t dare ask him any more. Maybe next time.

My main focus now is to organize my next trip out of town and into the campo. I have decided the region of Guarayos up north and el Chaco further down in the department, will be my main areas of focus, and I hope I can find an organization to take me there sometime next week. There are some things in the pipeline and I will let you know when I know what the destination is going to be exactly.

That’s all I’ve got for now. This blog is nothing like the one I wrote last time but it pretty much says it all. Un abrazo.

Posted by Evita 14:56 Archived in Bolivia

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