Technically, Carnival is over. Technically. Rumor has it that the waterballoons may continue in a dumbed down fashion until Monday of next week. I almost got hit today so I gotta say its true! It looks like the whole city had a great big block party, and thats because they did! There are MILLIONS of broken balloons litering the street. But by far, I missed the worst (or the best, some would say) of carnival by going on a church retreat for 4 days.
In some ways, I almost felt like I was on a youth retreat in the States. Except everything was in Spanish and my shower didn´t have any hot water. When my friend invited me to go with his group I was hoping to practice my spanish and make new friends and enjoy a little bit of a break from my day to day life. And that is exactly what I did. Here are some pictures for your enjoyment.
We actually ate about 5 times a day! 3 meals and two ¨snack¨ type meals. This was our dining hall and these are some of my new friends. All the food was Bolivian, which I´m now acustomed to so it didn´t make me sick. However, camp food is still camp food and I missed my Bolivian Mom´s cooking :)
We had church services 2 times a day. There was always a lot of music and a message. Most of the speaking was lost on me except one service that a friend translated for me. These pictures are from 2 different services. These Bolivians don´t sit down and sing, they stand and shout and dance. More often then not, the chairs got stacked up, and they would worship in a great big circle like in the picture below. I took comfort in knowing that God knows my heart and God knows Spanish, even if I don´t understand every word I´m singing.
Perhaps the most important part of the weekend for me was making new friends. Going into the retreat I kind of knew 3 of the guys, I didn´t know any of them very well. And I didn´t know any of the girls. The first couple of hours were rather ackward for me but by the morning of the first full day I suddenly had like 5 girlfriends! Alcicel, Maria, Dani, Cecy, and Marcela. These girls immeditaly felt like my best friends and we hung out all the time, sat with each other in services and at meals, ect. I tried to get to know as many of the older people as I could. Side note, youth group here is a very broad group, you don´t graduate out of it. So we had like 12 year olds and then like 33 year olds. We had about 50 something in the group. This group is also in a more upper class in society and many of them speak English. Good and bad for me at the same time. But they helped me with Spanish and I helped them with English. It will never cease to amaze me just how accepting these people are. How many people would you welcome into your group gladly that didn´t have a firm grasp on your language? I love these people!
And finally there are the silly games, like in this picture.
In down times, I played a lot of frisbee, sat around with my new friends trying to talk to them, and generally just chilled out. Its rainy season here and the sun has been scarce. That would be the reason I never thought to pack a hat and sunscreen... my face is terribly red at the moment and very painful. My phrase for the weekend ¨Lo siento, soy gringa¨. I´m sorry, I´m a white girl!