Well, we’re back in La Paz again. This is our third time here since arriving, this time to participate in a concert for the Casa de Esperanza, the orphanage next door to our home, and also to buy some Christmas presents and food. Nick and I are doing six songs with some other adults for the concert. Then there is a cute group called the MK 7s, I think. There are 8 of them this year. They are some of the missionary kids from Caranavi. The three older Kraft kids are involved with that group. Then there is also a group of about five kids from the Casa de Esperanza. The point is to spread awareness about the Casa de Esperanza and also raise some money for them. All 60 of the kids at the one next to us (there is also a home for teenagers much closer to the town with 26 teens) could use some new clothes and some more meat in their diet. Comparing my life to theirs, I feel so blessed. I don’t have a lot of clothes here compared to what I am used to having, but I really have more than I need. I don’t have all the food I am used to, but we have more than we need and I think I am even gaining weight being here! I have a job that I enjoy and that more than covers my living expenses. The list goes on and on.
I am staying in La Paz with my usual family, Mauricio’s mom and sister. His other sister comes around a lot as well. I am also staying with my friend Keilan from the CEC (where we live). She is turning 22 today and is from a town between Caranavi and La Paz. She lives at the CEC and helps out with all of the goings on there. She is also singing with us in the concert. It is a blessing to be with them, as I don’t have my English crutch, the Krafts, and I have to try to speak independently or sometimes use charades and pointing.
Teaching is going well. I am enjoying it, and the kids are doing well. They have improved a lot, as I think usually happens as students figure out what the teacher wants. The one on one thing is good since I can let them go faster if they can or we can review things if they need to.
Our Christmas weather looks to be hot, humid, and rainy, at least if it follows the pattern of most days here. It rains mostly at night, though sometimes in the day as well. The rain in Caranavi is cool. The clouds come and surround us, sometimes we can hear the rain hitting the hill across from our house before it comes here, and it doesn’t usually rain for too long except sometimes it seems to rain all night long. The rain always brings cool clouds. It is rainy season from about mid December to mid February, I hear. That is also the summertime. I don’t know how much it cools down when it isn’t summer. I don’t really think it will be too much cooler.
Here in La Paz the weather is much more Christmas-like (of course, by my northern United States standards, which is probably nothing like in Bethlehem). It hailed yesterday and covered the ground with little ice balls that looked like snow. Even though it is summer here, it is still pretty crisp-my ideal winter weather (no, I am not sure I want to visit when it is actually winter here! I bet it’s freezing!)
We have a lot of banana trees on our property, and I am excited for them to start producing. When we were here the first time, our host always told us there were 8 kinds of bananas here in Caranavi. I regularly notice the red ones and the baby yellow ones in town, and I hope to eat more of those. I think I will be sick of bananas, though, since we will probably get a lot all at once. It will be nice to have them around at first, anyway! Mangos and mangas are in season now, and yes, they are different. Apparently mangas don’t have all the hair that mangos have, which make them impossible for me to enjoy. I do like mango juice, though. It is fairly easy to come across pineapples (we have four growing right outside our door!) and oranges as well, and though apples and grapes are around, they are much more expensive since they’re not native.
Speaking of food, I am doing really well with the foods here, though most of what I eat is made here at home and is a mix of American and Bolivian foods. We made 6 homemade pizzas the other night. That was a lot of fun and a very enjoyable dinner with our company. I have gotten sick, but only twice, and only one of those was definitely from food. I treated myself like a Bolivian and ate some stuff I guess I shouldn’t have. I can’t avoid everything!
We usually have all of our windows open (I have NEVER closed mine, but the Krafts have). That leads to a very loud house. In the morning there are bird parties outside my window and at night there are the sounds of summer bugs and crickets mixed with tropical bird sounds. One bird has a sound like a drop of water falling into a pool of water in a cave. I like that one the best.
We have a dog. Her name is Chachi, but we are halfheartedly trying to change it to Chacha because there is someone we know named Chachi and I guess it is a bad thing to have a dog with the same name. We also found a baby bird smaller than a chicken egg. It didn’t have feathers yet, just a tiny bit of hair-like stuff. We tried to take care of it, but it didn’t make it. We also have more bugs than I have ever seen in my life. Once I had a worm in my bed. I check every night now.
I do miss home. I miss my family right now. It is my first Christmas away from home. I’m sad that my parents got to go to Florida to visit my brother and sister-in-law without me, and I miss seeing my other brother and sister-in-law as well. I miss hearing from people regularly, being a part of my friends’ lives. It is fun to be a part of something new, as always, and I am enjoying my new friends. I can’t wait to be back in touch with people more regularly though! If you feel like sending a letter, I can give you my address on request!
I hope you have a great Christmas. Eat some chocolate chip cookies for me! But not too many, I don’t want to get sick ;-)