Saturday, August 23, 2008

Road trip

Yesterday I woke up at 4:30AM to make a day trip into Chapare. 5 of us met up at 6AM to make the 4-5 hour trip into the jungle (or the rainforest, whatever you want to call it). On the trip this time was our SEDEJES social worker, the psychologist for our homes, the construction manager for the 2nd home, my teammate Nate was driving, and of course I was there too.

It was a dreary morning with low clouds that made it so that you could only see about 6 ft in front of you. It was cold and rainy too. Mountian roads in Bolivia are something you just have to experience. Even though this is the road that connects Coch and Santa Cruz, its a two lane road and is made with stones in some places and is paved in others. You are either surrounded by mountians or very sharp drop offs. There are no emergency exists, or exit ramps, or turn around points. Or if there are, they are very few and far between. And don´t even think about there being street lights. Every other vehicle is a semi truck loaded with heavy something or other that makes the trucks move at a snails pace. The rest of the vehicles are inter-bolivia buses, also called Flotas, that travel between all major Bolivian cities. They are a very cheap way to travel around Bolivia. When a friend and I traveled to La Paz earlier this year we were told one or two very specific bus lines to travel on, not all are safe.

Well... about an hour into our travel we came to a dead stop. Everyone was getting out of their cars to see what had happened up ahead. So we joined to crowd. Less then 1/2 a mile ahead a crowd was gathered looking over the side of the road into a short ravine of sorts. And thats when we saw the huge inter-city bus lying completely on its side, all wheels in the air. It was laying about 20-30 feet down from the road. The cause of the traffic stop was not a gaukers delay but rather an equipment delay as the heavy machinery was blocking both lanes. We got there in time to see them pull the bus back onto its wheels. My friend took a picture and I´ll send it as soon as he sends it to me. As soon as that was done, the crowd started hightailing it back to their cars (and buses and trucks). It looked like a stampede. And we joined them of course. So we had sat there for about an hour, more or less.

We didn´t travel far at all when we again came to a stop. This time there was no one getting out of vehicles, no explaination at all. But there we stopped for almost another 2 hours. I had the unpleasant experience of using the bathroom in a bush on the side of the road. Every now and then we´d move up a couple of feet and then stop again. Turning around wasn´t an option, plus the other side of the road wasn´t moving either. Finally we were on the move again. Thank God there wasn´t any more delays. We finally arrived in Chapare and pulled up to the orphanage at 1:30PM, after 7 hours of traveling.

And the first word out of my mouth, and the psychologist was laughing at me, was ¨wow¨! Same in English and Spanish by the way. And here is why:

This home is HUGE! It will very easily be able to hold 12-15 kids. Its even more imposing for two reasons. Its on stilts of sorts and the houses surrounding it are small, nothing more then shacks. There is a very good reasons why the house is raised up. And these houses tell you why.

The blueish looking house during last years rainy season had flood waters past the first board of the house. Every house has stilts, every year it floods. In other parts of Bolivia, people literally lose their houses every year and rebuild them because they live in poverty and cannot afford to move to a different area.

The return trip was mostly uneventful, just normal traffic and normal stops. Until we reached the place were the bus had gone off the road. By now its about 8pm, over 12 hours since we had been there. The bus had been pulled up to the road and was now on something that raised it up off the ground and there was a man with his head in the engine. I couldn´t believe they were trying to fix the bus on site, but then again, this is Bolivia. So traffic was taking turns going around it on the one lane road. In addition to this accident we saw about 4 other trucks turned on their sides against the mountians durning the trip, no of which were obstucting traffic. I finally arrived home at 9:30PM and went stait to bed, it was a long day. My house mom had heard about the bus accident on the radio and assured me no one had died, though some had been injured. If it hadn´t been for the mountian, the bus would have surely rolled. Thank God for the mountian!

So that, friends, was yesterdays adventure.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Moving at the speed of... a trufi

I spend a lot of time traveling around the city in Micros, Trufis, and taxi trufis. It is the cheapest form of public transportation available but its not without its downside. Somedays I spend close to 3 hours in these things and believe me, I feel every minute of it. I often times come home and need to just rest to relieve the ¨trufi headache¨ that is pounding inside my head. A LOT of missionaries skip this cultural transportation and simply buy a car. Which I could do if I wanted to except for the fact that on average, my teams vehicles are in the shop about twice a month. It would save time but waste a ton more money, something I really don´t want to do. The other option is to take a taxi everywhere I need to go in the city. And that folks would get expensive really fast as well.

So even though I get a headache, or get frustrated with the traveling speed, I continue to ride this transportation because I do actually like it! I like seeing the people, making little babies smile, watching the culture out the windows and knowing, whether I ride for 5 mins or 1 1/2 hours, it will only cost me about 25 cents. :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sunday´s results

The best that I can understand that voting went as follows. Something like 60% voted in favor of Evo´s new policies, effectively keeping him in presidency. There was also a vote taken on all of the department govenors. The govenor of Coch´s name is Manfred and he has always been against Evo and actually ran against him in the last presidential election. As of Sunday, Manfred was voted out of his position. Manfred is yelling that such a thing is unconstitutional and the whole ordeal will now be going to court. I heard that there has never been so many people to show up for a vote in the history of Bolivia.

Watching the ongoing coverage on the TV was almost painful. Watching video of someone reading the ballet while someone else marks the vote on a chalkboard... not my idea of fun. The interviews were nearly impossible to understand, not only because it was in spanish, but because microphones and the sound stuff is really not great. You end up with a lot of white noise and background junk and bad speaking (mumbling). But I did try!

So what does all this mean? At the moment, not much. There is peace in the city and thats good. For the future of Bolivia... I can only hope and pray. Because I really don´t understand what Evo is trying to do, I do know that he is doing a lot for the extreme poverty, even if I can´t see it. I have been told several times now, if you want to know what Evo is trying to do, look at the governing styles of Fidel Castro and whats-his-name in Venesuela (sorry, brainblock). And thats all I have for now folks.

Friday, August 8, 2008

6 de Augosto

Happy Bolivia Indepedence Day, well, two days to late anyway. There is really not too much to say about Aug. 6th except that you saw a lot of Bolivian flags. There was a very long military parade that lasted almost all day. I only saw a few different divisions march by, it does get rather boring after a while. And I didn´t know that I would be seeing it so I didn´t have my camera with me. And when I was warned that it was dangerous to go to the parade, I kinda shrugged it off. If I always listened to things like that I would never leave my house! As it turns out, it was good to be warned. I was with a friend and was getting VERY squished. I had a small purse and my cell phone in my pocket. I was very paranoid about being pickpocketed. In the end, I didn´t loose anything that day, praise God! So the parade completley changed traffic routes that day and I ended up walking to just about anywhere I wanted to go. So that was Happy Birthday Bolivia Day.

The good thing about that day was that it was a break from the blockades and protests and everyone was celebrating. Thursday it was back to normal. The referendum is in 2 days now and the tension is getting worse. If the vote passes with the majority accepting Evo´s new policies Evo´s stays in power. If the majority vote against the new policies then Evo is not allowed to stay in power and a new presidential election will be held. When Evo was elected he won with 54% of the vote. My church has partnered with two other churches and there will be someone constantly praying for 72 hours strait. I had 6:30 last night, a time just to pray for Bolivia.

For the first time since I arrived in Bolivia, church is cancelled on Sunday. Mostly because 1) they want people to vote and 2) there are no cars allowed on the road that day. People will walk to their nearest school to vote. I was told today by my spanish teacher that ¨you are too blonde to go out of your house on Sunday.¨ I just had to laugh! I love my teacher. I had no intention of going out that day anyway.

And with that I will let you know what happens on voting day sometime next week.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

In response to John

I recieved this comment from a blogger named John who I can not reply to personally.

¨Believing that your heart is in the right place, I can only believe you are somehow misinformed. In an effort to inform you, as you attempt to inform others, I am left to ask in amazement--HUH? You want us to "Pray for President Evo and that his heart might be changed by the power of God?" I can understand the first part all right--it might be good to pray for others--but the second part?
In what way exactly, would you like "God" to change Evo's heart?
To be less good to the poor, the less educated and the elderly?
To reinstate the governance that has kept the impoverished in destitute circumstances? To not redistribute the 50% of Bolivia's arable land now owned by .2% (yes, that's point 2% or .002) of the population, much of which was stolen or gained through graft? To not gain for all Bolivians, the excessive profits that before nationalization went to foreign owners while Bolivia received a mere pittance?
I understand you not wanting to debate your blogged views, and ask instead for clarification. Precisely how would you like "God" to change Evo's heart?

So here is my clarification...
I have never claimed to be a political expert on Bolivia´s government. I hear bits and pieces of things both for and against Evo. I do believe that he is doing everything that you mentioned in your comment. However, I know that he and others in power hate the US, which is my home. They are making it nearly impossible for me to obtain a Visa even though I have come here to HELP with his countires over 200,000 orphans. And not just me but thousands of vounteers like me who don´t care about coca and cocaine and stupid politics. I know that he takes advise from other presidents from other countries and that he wants to president for life. I know that because he is indiginous that his religion does not focus on God, the creator and sustainer of life. But that is where my knowledge of the man ends. I DO know that everytime there is a vote like this the Christian churches spend DAYS on their knees praying to God for their country. Now if Evo was such a wonderful man doing such great things for their country, why would they be petitioning God in such a way? I realize from your comment that you think praying to God is some kind of joke. Thats a whole nother issue I´m not going to address here. And with that I think I am done responding. I´ve intentionally linked my email to this blog and you can feel free to respond via that link. However, I can not debate something such as politics that I don´t fully understand. And as for God, prayer, faith, ect... I still don´t understand that fully and thats the most wonderful part about it. I don´t know it all and never will. John, this is the best I can do. respectfully, Kim

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Pray for Bolivia

OK, here is a bit of a political update. Those are always fun. But just in case something manages to make it into the US world news reports I don´t want anyone to worry.

First the fun stuff. Aug 6th is Bolivia´s Independence Day. There is no school, most business will be closed, and there will be a city wide party. I hear there will be a few parades as well. There are Bolivian flags for sale everywhere and trufi´s are being decorated with colored streamers. I´m not sure what I will be doing that day but I would like to see at least one of parades. Hopefully be able to take some pictures without my camera being stolen.

Aug 10th (a week from tomorrow), there will be a referendum regarding the president. From what I understand, if the vote passes, Evo remains president. If it doesn´t, then he is not allowed to stay president and there will be an election. With the elections in the states fast approaching, it is good to remember that Bolivia is a different world. When this kind of vote is coming up, inter-bolivia travel is nearly impossible due to the blockades on all major roads between cities. There will quite possibly be blockades within Cochabamba as well as the two political parties try to make their point. All of this is normally non-violent but its recommended that white folk like me stay away from demonstrations, stay home the day of the vote, and watch the news carefully. And to stock up on food as business will more then likely be closed for a day or two. And I´m no fool, I will do as I´m told.

So please pray for Bolivia in the coming week. Pray for peace, but most of all pray for justice. Pray for President Evo and that his heart might be changed by the power of God. I´ll let you all know how things go this week!