Thursday, October 23, 2008

Week 9

So, two days ago I hit the 2 month mark.. I decided that since I seem to be limiting the amount of blog posts, I´ll just switch to counting the weeks. Therefor, I am now into week NINE.. Time seems to have gone by so quickly, yet... thinking back to that day that I arrived, it seems way over two months. Even worse, thinking about the last few days I had in Penticton... YEARS have gone by. So I´ve got some slightly negative things to talk about today (just to get some stuff off my chest) but had quite the interesting experience today, so I´m not giving you the impression that I´m fully depressed here on my exchange hahaa. So lately, I´ve been slightly... detached from everything for some reason. I feel like this exchange has been having reverse results for me lately. I´ve been becoming more and more shy. I thought that I´d work out of it when I got here, but I feel like I crawl back into my shell half of my days here. Being more shy is also affecting my spanish.. I feel like I´m regressing. Too shy to talk to people, some even in english. It´s not helping me at all! And I know that this is a year to try new things, find out who you are.. get yourself into those situations where you feel uncomfortable until you feel comfortable, but I don´t know.. it´s so hard. And I feel so antisocial, like.. days that I don´t even feel like conversing with my good friends. I don´t know what the heck is going on. Partially, I feel like.. I´m tired of the whole vanity of this society, so I don´t want to try. I don´t want to be so stressed about my looks etc, but so much pressure is put onto those kinds of things and it makes me feel like.. I can´t really relate to a lot of people here. But on a brighter note, I hung out with a Bolivian that can´t stand the superficiality as much as me today! It was a great afternoon too.. had lunch and I found a hair in my omlette, we went shopping and I pretty much got raped by the lady at the underwear store, bought some movies that I am super stoked to watch.. and I learned about the stone they have here called "bolivianita". I always wondered why the bolivianita I saw was only half purple, and half some clearish stone.. but now I know that bolivianita is half amythyst, half citrine. Bolivianita is technically not a stone at all, but a certain combination of stones, only found here in Bolivia (fun fact for the day!). But I guess I´m done with my.. weekly rant. Everyone, keep in touch!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Day 57

Ahh I have been dreading this post for quite some time now.. the FOURTEEN DAY catch up for all of you. But I shall hunker down, skip over some unimportant facts, and let everyone in on what I´ve been doing for most of the month of October. Today, I really experienced the South American culture. AKA, I didn´t have to go to my afternoon classes because there was a soccer game on tv! There are two major events that I will update you on, for the rest is mundane, daytoday bull :) Last weekend (the 3rd-5th) I went on a spiritual retreat with my school. They´re set up for bonding experiences, to make the class tighter and more friendlier as a whole. It was definitely quite an experience for me. First off, I have to mention that it is DIFFICULT to stay awake when overtired and trying to understand another language. We spent a lot of time in a chapel, discussings things, or having something preached and I could barely even keep my eyes forced open. The pastors, or the youth group that was hosting the retreat were all really young; the oldest had to be no older than 24. And yet, they were all PASSIONATELY into their religion and preaching what they believed. Saturday night was the intense, peak of the weekend. Everyone croweded into the chapel, where it was lit with candles and a couple people playing guitar and singing some chill youth groupy songs. They started everyone praying (at least the most part, since a few of us were more observing). The guy up front was talking about accepting Jesus etc.. as well as the music playing, and the soft undertones of everyone mumbling their prayers to themselves. Then another pastor (I really don´t know what word to use) got up and was talking even louder over all the noise, talking about the Holy Spirit, letting it in etc and... speaking in tongues. It was all very stressful, even for a spectator, so I can´t imagine someone actually standing there, eyes closed, fully body mind and spirit into it. Then the youth crew started coming around, praying for people one by one, where the student would then "pass out from spiritual exhaustion" and they would be... passed out of sorts for a few minutes. There was a lot of crying among other emotions, and the whole situation was quite overwhelming. Even Maija and I, who were clearly not getting involved, were prayed for that night. The next morning, Sunday was a full day of church singing, and a little more speaking in tongues and passing out thrown in there. We ended the day with a bunch of hugs, which I loved. The whole weekend was a VERY interesting experience, and I was really glad that I got to be there, with all of my classmates.. Even if I wasn´t spiritually involved, I still got to bond with kids that I go to school with. Stuff happened during the week, which I can´t fully remember, and then it was the weekend again, and time for a Rotary trip to the town of Concepción for an orchid festival. All of the exchange students from Santa Cruz, as well as Ethan from Sucre (told you I´d give you a shout out) hopped on a bus, for a five hour ride through traffic hell in 40º+ weather. We stopped at a lagoon to go swimming, and saw some buffalo on the way there. Stopped for lunch in a little pueblo called San Xavier, where we checked out an AMAZING church, one of seven I think, and part of a Jesuit Mission circuit you can go on to check out all the churches. We were then back on the road to Concepción. It´s a quiet, dusty little town that we rolled into just in time for dinner. Saturday was quite the day. We drove for quite some time to a TINY little village in the middle of nowhere for lunch, and some traditional music and dance. We saw a couple orchids wrapped around rocks on the tables! We started to hike down the road, where we saw a few more tables full of purple orchids. Then it was time to see the orchids in their natural habitat... it was a hike in the straight on heat and sun for almost 2 hours. I was dying , and by the time we got to the bus I realized that no hat and lack of copious amounts of water hadn´t been a good idea. I could tell that my body was not going to enjoy more walking, so I camped out in the bus while some of the rest of the group hiked the remaining 20 mins or so to the orchids. Afterwards, everyone being as dirty as humanly possible, we hoped to go back to the hotel to rinse the 3" of sweat and dust from our pores, but instead we stoped in another small pueblo, for some traditional food, drinks and dancing. When we finally got back to the hotel and showered, we were then off to check out the rest of the festival in Concepción, with the booths they had set up in the town plaza. It was a pretty quiet night. Sunday was an early start to the day, to hit up the church, museums etc of the town. We didn´t too much, as we had a 5+ hour bus ride back home, at the hottest point in the day (with at least 40º weather). Getting home was actually a relief, a comfy bed, familar settings etc.. and the family was pretty stoked to see me come home. I have to let you know that I don´t think the blogs will be coming as frequently, since I´ve been on the computer less and less.. But I will try and keep you updated as often as possible (I´ll try for once a week, since this blog was pretty painful). Keep in touch!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Day 43

Alright. So I´ve been putting off posting a blog for the past few days, at first because I had nothing interesting to say, and then because I had too much stuff to say. But since I´m going away this weekend, I figured I should get everything out before I jet off to my "Spiritual Retreat" tomorrow. Where did we leave off? Ahh Monday, nothing too exciting happened, so I´ll skip that day. Tuesday, was a super long day. It was my first FULL day (aka morning and afternoon classes) since possibly my first week of school. I took advantage of being out of the house all day, and went out for lunch with Leah. I once again had that heavenly salad from Med.. Uuugh drooling just thinking about it. Well worth the 30bs. It was then back to school for the dreaded clases en la tarde. Chemistry, Philosophy and Biology. Not exactly the way I would choose to spend an afternoon. But we had another university presentation during Chemistry (I think they always schedule these presentations for this block) about some school in Cochabamba. The presentation was hilarious, and to top it off, I understood a huge part of it! It really made my day. Buuut then we get to Wednesday. The day from HELL for all white people in Santa Cruz. We went to school as per usual, and then found out that we all had to go to Migration, to get our visas all worked out. Now this was my first day, but some of the exchangers had been at this place twice before that week, waiting all day (5+ hours) in a hot room full of people. We waited in many lines, got some things checked out etc.. Some of us found out what we were missing from our packages to get our actual visas. At the moment, I think all of us are illegally staying in the country, since all of our temp. visas have run out quite some time ago. Anyways, Brodie was there trying to get her passport back, which she hasn´t seen in over five months. She ended up finding that it WAS there, in Migration (and whew not sold on the black market) but she can´t have it back. She switched host families, and all the information that they have has her OLD family´s names on it. She has to prove that this new family is her.. legal guardian of sorts, and now she´s probably going to have to get legally adopted by her present host family before she can get her passport back. Sarah´s temp. visa had something wrong with it, and some Rotarian tampered with the information on it.. so now it´s quite the possibility that Sarah could get deported. I don´t know what I´ll do.. And to top that off, she was told to take the blame for screwing with the visa. After spending the whole afternoon in the sweaty visa office, and finding out that my host dad filled some papers out wrong, we decided to leave and go out for coffee. There was supposed to be a Brasilian performer at a local café we usually go to. So a few of the exchange students got together, to meet up at Lorca, the café. There were only a few of us sitting there at the time, and we were chatting away in english, being completely oblivious. Next thing I know, I realize that my bag is missing from by my feet. I am usually quite diligent about keeping my eye on my bag, but shiiit let your guard down for that split second, right? We instantly realized that it had been the two men sitting right behind us. The café had been pretty empty, and they could´ve sat anywhere, but they chose to pick the table right behind us (uncomfortably close). They had ordered the cheapest things on the menu, and hadn´t even finished their beers when the rocked out of there. I knew it was them as soon as I saw my bag, and them gone. It hadn´t been more than a minute probably when I noticed that they were gone, so we ran outside to see if they were there (which of course they weren´t). Brodie and I took a little walk down around the corner, checking to see if it had been thrown anywhere, but we had no luck. We ran into a guardia, who is a man that stands in a certain area, keeping the peace. We chatted with him for a while, and asked if he´d seen two men walking past with a brown bag. He had, just moments ago. Yet, this being Santa Cruz, he said he could do nothing about it, not being able to leave his assigned corner. Brodie and I decided that it would be a bad idea for two little white girls to wander off down a dark street, so we turned back to the café. In the end, I had probably over $600 worth of stuff stolen including my camera (and 4g memory card), my ipod, my glasses, my wallet (with my id, $75, credit and debit cards) and a book I had borrowed from a friend. I got my cards cancelled within ten minutes and thankfully never got used. It´s really disheartening, especially knowing that the only things they will be able to use are the cash and the electronics. I had so many sentimental things in that bag, and it´s all just going to get thrown in a garbage bin somewhere. It frustrates me that I had to let my guard down at that moment, when I´d had so much crap on me that shouldn´t have been out downtown late at night... Yet, I know that there is absolutely nothing that I can do about it, and therefore C´EST LA VIE. I´ve gotten my things stolen before (I love Vernon with all my heart), and it´s very difficult to get over losing things.. But you need to remember that everything you truely need aren´t the tangible, materialistic things. I´m so glad my friends were there to support me, and didn´t let me flip out too much. Now, I´m fine with everything... and almost enjoying not having a heavy bag to drag around (hahah yes I´m just trying to be optimistic about it!). To top off the gringo hate of the day, another exchange student named Dalton came in to the café, telling us a story about how he´d been walking down the street and some man yelled at him "Get out of my country!" and kicked him in the crotch. Lowwww blow indeed. Moving on to todaaaaay, I got to go out with my councillors for lunch again! It was a lot of fun, and nice to switch up to awwwesome food again. They had some sort of spaghetti in a sauce with a ton of vegetables. JC (councillor)´s brother, from La Paz was visiting, and I had a good few chats with him about other cities in Bolivia. I was so proud that I could recognize his paceño accent (and the fact that I could carry on a conversation, at least with someone very talkative). I had some mate for the first time since arriving! I miss drinking tea.. Apparently I´m having a meeting on Monday with my councillor, my host dad and another Rotarian.. talking about family situations etc. I think I´ve figured out my problem is that no one really talks too much in the family, so I feel really alone. I have also figured out that I am horrible at starting conversations in spanish, but can have a decent conversation with someone willing to keep the conversation going, asking me a lot of questions. I´m better at answering :) Later this afternoon, we went to the police station to get some paperwork done (via typewriter), and then Brodie came over to make... the Bolivian version of rice crispy squares. They a) didn´t have white marshmellows, only pink strawberry flavored and b) didn´t have plain rice crispies, so we settled for chocolate flavored and frosted flakes. They were the strangest thing I´ve ever made. It probably took us longer to clean up than to actually make. Afterwards, we took them over to Melissa´s house, another exchange student that was having a little get together with food from the homeland (they actually said American food, forgeting that a few of us were from other countries). It was pretty much just a bunch of junk food like mac n cheese, cookies etc.. But nice to get to hang out, especially when there´s a pool. Well.. I´m tired, it´s late and I have school tomorrow. I´ve gotten out everything that was needed to be said, so I hope you had a good read. Until next time!