Friday, January 8, 2010

Beat It Pervs!

While the Shoeshine/Gum Slanging boys in Sucre were nice young kids, for the most part, the kids in Cochabamba are little perverts. One group in particular, which I'm pretty sure made a game out of trying to slyly cop a feel on nice girls whilst trying to sell gum to them. We were sneak attacked by them in a restaurant while eating dinner. One kid used the old, "It's my birthday!" line to justify giving me a hug. Whiiiiiich ended up with him planting a 14 year old smooch right on my mouth. Teenagers are honestly the most annoying people on the planet.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Here's A New Nickname I Came Up With For Laura:


As World Maps Have Taught Us, Bolivia Is A Landlocked Country

And yet...It has a Navy. Riddle me that.


Welp, I'm a dumb dumb. Somehow I mixed up that age old tale about digging to China with the fact that the water spins the other way in the Southern Hemisphere. Where I am. I'd like to make an addendum to my previous entry "Bells Will Be Ringing" and say: Much like the water spins the wrong way here, Christmas is celebrated opposite also!

Thank you for you time.

Cool Infrastructure Evo

Ok. While we're being honest with each other, Laura came up with that blog title. Currently, I'm too lazy to think of something clever. I was going to use, "A Landslide Epidemic Has Hit Bolivia" but we really only got stuck on the outskirts of the aftermath of one landslide and saw about 4.5 paint buckets worth of mud slide down the side of a pretty small hill so....I just felt it was a bit of an exaggeration.

Here's what's not an exaggeration: Laura and my's frustration levels hit maximum Tuesday night during our overnight bus ride from Sucre to Cochabamba. I don't even know where to begin....I could start with the ever present B.O. (body odor, for those unaccustomed to acronyms) or the fact that NOTHING WORKS LIKE IT SHOULD! BAAAAAAH! On the real, Bolivia's awesome but if another unaddressed landslide causes a 17 bus backup for 3.5 hours I will lose it. Get Nextel walkie talkie's, report the slide and get that ish handled. There is no reason we should all be festering, sans information about the situation, for hours in the middle of the night watching the mountains slowly collapsing around us. Rant done.

After the initial terror of unstable hills sliding down around us, the terrain flattened out and we headed into the valleys of Cochabamba and slept for the rest of the bus ride. When we awoke, we were in a city that looked shockingly similar to Fife, WA. We checked into the nastiest hostel on accident. The beds were not....temperpedic, per say. Nor were they as comfortable as the llama hair mattresses we slept on in the mountains of southern Bolivia. They were in fact, super old, thin and covered in boogers and semen. Sorry family and grown up friends, but that is the factual truth. And I'm not talking a Hartung Fact, for those of you familiar with the overconfident, underverified statements made by some members of the Hartung family...

Anyhoo, Cochabamba has turned out to be pretty fun! We took a sweet Gondola up to see the Christo of Chochabamba our fisrt day. After that everything was pretty much closed for New Year's weekend so we just chilled, learned about spiritual/supersticious burnings to ward off evil spirits in the new year aaaaaaand watched a lot of Pixar films geared towards 11 year olds. All in all a success!

I take that back. Laura lost her jacket to the sheistyness of two Colombian hood rats who didn't have the moral wearwithall to return her accidentally-left-in-haste-to-leave-the-grossest-hostel-ever NorthFace jacket and sweatshirt to the front desk of that stupid hostel. This recent situation has been the breaking point of our tolerance with 3rd world countries. I'm sure tomorrow, we'll wake up and be sunnyside up, but for tonight we are tired of no toilet paper, no drainage systems, people who aren't aware of other people on the sidewalks, food that causes momentary tasteful bliss and then diarrhea and dumbass teenagers and stray dogs running rampant in the streets. Here's what I'm not tired of: Tupak on the radio at this restaurant. This is awesome.

Bells Will Be Ringing

It's common knowledge that Laura and I spent Christmas in Bolivia but here's a lesser known fact: Just as toilet water in China flushes opposite ours, Bolivians celebrate Christmas by carrying out the big to-do on Christmas eve. All the feasting, presents, dancing and family awkwardness is held the night before the big day. It really throws off the inner-holiday clock of a person used to gearing up for the 25th. It also makes me wonder if and how Santa factors in and if he doesn't, what the hell!?

Anyhoo, Laura and I spent Christmas Eve Day at the Guarderia with the kids you all so generously helped raise money for! I've been wanting to make baked apples for someone since last Christmas and conveniently there was a building full of 30 filthy children just waiting to have their minds blown with a cinnamon-sugar-apple combo. And they were already ridiculously sticky, for some reason, that day so I didn't feel that bad about the aftermath of the baked apples and their caramelized sugar syrup...whoopsies. They were unsure about how they felt about the treat but in the end decided as a group that they were in favor of the apples but still preferred strazaight sugar

Laura and I were invited to the family dinner along with a creepy German who came out of no where. We gorged ourselves on the traditional holiday meal, Picana, which is a soup with whole potatoes, whole chicken legs, whole steaks, and whole corn on the cobs. In my opinion the recipe is one of the worlds best soup ideas and I might even go as far to say it is a Christmas miracle...

In hindsight it was a really nice Christmas but also sent Laura and I spiraling down a funnel of homesickness and restlessness. We left Sucre shortly after Christmas, instead of staying through New Years, due to this emotional warping, contrary to what all our Bolivian friends were asking. The day we left, nay, the hour we left, the BIGGEST STORM rolled in! It was CRA...........ZAY! Sucre is so high up that you feel like a tiny molecule in the midst of a hurricane in a storm there. But this one was extra spectacular! Lightning, that seemed larger than life and three feet from our faces, cracked the whole sky and shook windows and roofs! A sheet of rain that looked solid as a curtain was moving across the hillsides towards us as the owner of our house was ushering us out onto the street to call a cab before the downpour hit and the streets flooded. We mad it just in time into the backseat of a cab with a driver who was 100% sure it wasn't going to rain. 3 minutes later the streets had turned to rivers, the staircases to waterfalls and we had pretty solid "We told you so's" going. Anyhoo, made it to the bus safe and sound. Please see the "Cool Infrastructure Evo" entry for details on our bus ride from Sucre to Cochabamba.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

If Laura And I End Up In Bolivian Prison

It will be for trying to steal a child. I've got my eye on at least three orphan babies and one kid who technically has parents but I think would have more fun hanging with me. Between taking Spanish lessons, attempting to teach English lessons and sunbathing, Laura and I have been spending time volunteering at an orphanage for babies and recently at a nursery for children who's parents work as street venders during the day. The orphanage just got a premie in and he is so TINY! And looks exactly like this:

Ok, no more beating around the bush. Here’s the deal: One of the institutions we are volunteering for, El Ciruelitos, is a little nursery/daycare in the valley outside of central Sucre that is funded by the Bolivian government 10 months out of the year. Unfortunately, the government cuts off funding for December and January, but the kids have nowhere to go because their parents are mostly poor workers who get ZERO days off. The women who run this place are amazing and decided to keep working without salary in order to keep the kids in a safe place during the days. Fox Institute, the language school Laura Huysman and I are working for, has raised enough to pay the women almost as much as they normally make, but there’s no money to feed the kids. Luareezy and I are working on getting them set up for the next two months with at least enough food for the roughly 30 kids that spend their days there, but we can’t do it by ourselves. Dear Family, Friends and Conrad Herberholt: what better time than the holidays to help people out who don’t have very much!?
The upside of donating to Ciruelitos is that literally 100% of your hard-earned dough goes straight to the little ones. Laura and I go to the market with the ladies who run the place, they haggle to best use every last boliviano, and literally work miracles in feeding so many kids with so little money. You have our personal guarantee that your cash will be spent on weird food that Bolivians like.
Examples of how far US dollars go:
$10 will buy enough red meat to feed the kids for a week
$7 will buy enough chicken for a week of soup
$20 will buy enough vegetables and pasta for the week
In conclusion, we've set up a pay pal account where you can anonymously or non-anonymously donate to the cause, the button's up top! Also, God can read minds and knows whether or not you intend to donate. Think of each dollar as one brick on your house in heaven, and if you're Erica Waliser each dollar represents one fist in the air for agnostic social justice!!!

Love you all!