Monday, November 24, 2008

Week 14

Well, sorry to not have updated in a couple weeks but I´ve been having major issues with my internet here. We´ve now switched to a new server, and I will hopefully now have reliable internet service. Now.. to catch you up on the past two weeks. It´s been quite exciting, especially last week, because of my graduation and prom events.

Last week, the exchange students tried to organize a trip to Noel Kempff National Park, and park up in the far NE reaches of Santa Cruz to go explore the Amazon jungle. I was quite excited about this proposition since I had wanted to go to this park prior to even arriving in Bolivia. As we organized the trip through a travel agency, I found out that the cost was going to be far above my budget (mostly because I´d be going to Brazil less than a week after getting back from this trip). I brought my dilemma to my trusty mother, and we figured out that it would be best if I didn´t go (she was also worried that I would catch malaria, being in the jungle without any medication). I was quite upset, thinking I´d be in Santa Cruz by myself for a week and a half.. and then I found out that Rotary had cancelled the trip, finding the jungle unsafe for the exchange students.

I spent a Saturday with my councillor´s family last weekend and they took me to Las Palmas Country Club. Upon arriving, I found out I was in heavan. This was where all the rich people of Santa Cruz were hiding from the heat of the summer. It was absolutely gorgeous, and maaaaassive. Tennis courts, golf courses, pools, restaurants, a gym.. eveything you could need to kill the heatstroked afternoons. We spent the afternoon tanning, and then jumping into the pool (which had a swim-up bar might I add) to cool off. My councillor´s wife offered to write a letter saying that I was their new hostchild to see if I could be a part of their membership, since it´s quite expensive ($60 per month, $15 per guest a day).. so hopefully I´ll be able to swim away my summer, and go to the gym there (they also have a swimercise class in the mornings!!).

Last week was quite a busy week, leading up to graduation and prom time. I was so busy (as well with the on again off again internet connection) that I forgot to hand in my Rotex Roundup paper. I got it sent, a day later but I don´t know if they accepted it or anything. I had to get my cap and gown etc.. which was a little hectic, having to also pick up Brodie´s because she was in La Paz with her family. We had a graduation practice one morning. There had also been a couple others (apparently, according to Brodie) but none of the exchange students had known about it. Graduation went really well. We get to walk down a red carpet with our parent (usually father for girls, mother for boys) and then receive the certificate.. no walking across the stage for us. After graduation, we had a going away party for one of the exchange students, who was leaving to Argentina the next morning (her american club felt it was unsafe here).

Then it was prom time, which was equally as hectic. My host mom went out and bought me jewlery for my dress, which were absolutely perfect and I can wear with stuff other than extremely formal wear. I picked up my dress just in time, and it was PERFECT.. and it only cost us $50 which was relieving, since my family insisted on paying for it (I was afraid that they were going to want to pay for a $150+ dress). My host mom also found a hair salon to make an appointment with, which we waited at for over an hour, and then they curled my hair with a straightening iron... girls, do you know how much that hurts? For future reference, stick to the curling iron hahaha. Prom evening, it didn´t take too long to get ready for me, but my family took forever. I wanted to be on time (the invites said 8pm) but we didn´t get out of the house till 8:45! When we got to there, I found out that we were very early and ended up rushing for no reason. I still can´t get use to this Bolivian lateness thing. We were supposed to do the "parading" of the graduates at 9pm, which ended up happening two hours later.. I ended up taking my brother with me since I didn´t have a date. I found that since families were invited to this event (and everyone took advantage of this, some people inviting up to 45 people) it was a lot more fun, a lot bigger..

My family also had taken me out to buy a graduation ring, which they presented to me on prom night. It´s very cute, a star with amythystI need to get used to everything happening really late here. We ended up eating dinner way past midnight, dessert at around 130am and then dancing. A bus arrived at 3am to take us to our afterparty (we had changed into actual clothing at Brodie´s) and then we drove the 15 minutes to a classmates quinta (country house) outside of the city. It was a massive place, with a pool and everything. It was definitely hard to stay awake, it being so late... but I made it to about 630 before I fell asleep. I got almost two hours of interrupted sleep (it´s hard when the massive stereo system never turns off) on a cement floor, and then it was off to lounge around the pool. I wasn´t expecting there to be a pool, so I had no swimsuit.. but ended up getting dragged in with my dress on, which was quite refreshing. The bus ended up coming at 230pm to take us back home.

I was so exhausted, and napped for a bit when I got home.. but then the family told me that they had another prom fiesta to attend that night, a cousin or something, which I had to go to as well. They reassured my look of horror by saying that we´d come home early, since everyone had to work in the morning. We didn´t leave the house till 1030pm (and this is me functioning on 2 hours of sleep), at a formal event, sitting there (starving I might add) not knowing anyone and trying to keep my eyes open. By 1am, they decided that it was enough pain for me and took me home, right before the food was brought out.

There´s an Enrique Iglesias concert coming up soon, which all of my girly friends are planning to attend. I really can´t wait, especially if he sings some of his English songs (hahah I really only know what´s been on the radio). I'm going to Brazil in a few weeks so the next little while so I´ll be slightly hectic, running around trying to get visas and tickets organized. We're celebrating the American Thanksgiving in a few days, since most of the exchangers are from the States. I´ll give you another update when I´m home from Brazil!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Week 12

Well, this week has been pretty quiet. But hey.. week twelve.. AKA THREE MONTHS! I´ve finally settled down into the whole "being out of school" routine, and it involves a lot of lazing around hahaha. I definitely need to find something to pass the time. I´m planning on joining a gym, and want to start taking some classes. Perhaps, if possible even some french classes (since I seem to be incapable of remembering anything from the past 7 years of schooling). I also want to take up a traditional cooking class, and maybe even get up the guts to take a dance class hahaha.

Minus the sitting around all weekend, Sunday was a realy great day. My mom told me that she was going to this town for mass, with some people from work and wanted me to come with her and keep her company. I figured, why not, since I´ll also get to check out more of the countryside, see more villages etc. What I didn´t know, was that the bus left at 5am.. aka wake up time 4 in zee morning!! Jolt to my system for sure. But I needed to get out of the house, so I was up and raring to go at 5. When we got to the school, where we were meeting the bus, we found out there had been a car accident just minutes before we´d arrived. A drunk guy had plowed his big SUV thing into the back half of this woman´s car (thankfully the car was parked and she´d already been safely out of the car). But as I was standing there, watching this guy get out of his car.. I was thoroughly disgusted. He was so smashed, he could barely get out of the car. I mean, yeah I guess I knew that drunk driving occured out there.. but I didn´t really know people were THAT stupid, to be driving when barely able to stand up. It´s so scary.. but I´m glad no one was hurt! Anyways.. after all the drama, we got on the bus and drove a solid 2, 2.5 hours to this pueblito called Bien Retiro. The whole place was pretty much based on the buisness and tourism of the church, since the place was so small. The church was dedicated(?) to El Divino Niño, aka Baby Jesus! So we went for mass, ate lunch and checked out the stuff for sale (I bought myself a nice little rosary). Then it was back on the bus, to spend another 2+ hours in the heat, to Santa Cruz. Getting back home, I was exhasuted.. and ended up falling into bed right after lunch.

I finally got my visa on Monday. I had been sitting around all day, and my brother comes into my room, mumbling something about changing my clothes because of Rotary, bla blah migración something or other. So.. I ran into the shower and barely had time to brush my hair before they were outside honking, telling me that we were going to get my visa. I was in Migration for less than.. ten mins, and then they handed me back my passport (that I haven´t seen in almost three months) with my new Bolivian visa inside. Now, I have to go back to get my ID card and I shall be finished. This also means that I can now go and apply for my Brazilian visa, for my prom trip in December!

Last night I had a dream that I was already home from my exchange, but I could only remember up to now, the three month point, so it was like I´d left now. I was freaking about how I couldn´t remember saying goodbye, or my flight home or anything. But my brothers were there, and I was like freaking out crying. So weird... I remember waking up and was like "Oh thank god I´m still on my exchange"... Which is really strange since I´ve been having difficulties here lately. Must be my subconscious telling me to stick it out here. Which I guess I´m off to do.. chau!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Week 11

Well, so much for the update every week. But I will catch you up, for the most part, on the interesting events of the past two weeks. I´ve got a few things to mention, skim over some events.. but overall, life has not been too eventful lately.

I still don´t have my visa. I know that I said I had it a while ago... I went to immigration, handed in all of my papers. They told me it was all complete, I just needed to come back in 10 days after processing. Yet here I am, almost 20 days later, and it´s still not done. The corruption is endless. I have to pay for every day that I am not legal in this country, almost $1 USD.. yet this is not my fault! This is my Rotary club, who should be pushing them to get everything done.. because they don´t care how long it takes, since I´m the one paying for it to be overdue. So frustrating! Three months and I am still not legal!

Halloween was a week ago. Yes, they celebrate here too.. although it seems to be a new custom. They don´t trick-or-treat or anything, just the dressing up and partying side of things. It was on a Friday, and it was also my last day of Spanish classes. So this was a good day for me. I dressed up as a fairy, with Brodie, and we went out to a club that was having a dressup night. It was PACKED. Wearing wings on your back while sardined in a discoteque is definitely a difficult task. I also wore shoes that ended up murdering my feet by the end of the night. They also celebrate All Saints Day here (although not Day of the Dead, booo) so we got to have an actual holiday, no school because of it!

Friday was my last day of school. FINALLY, I am done high school hahaha.. Who knew it would take me so long. Now it´s the summer vacation (yes, come Christmas I will be outside in a tanktop!) and I don´t know what to do with my life. Prom and graduation are coming up soon (20th and 22nd of November), and buying tickets for both events has been a difficult task. You need to pay for this, and that, and you can invite this many people to this event, but that many to that one etc.. the good thing is, I´ve figured it all out (minus the prom date) and have even checked out my prom dress that I´m getting custom made. It´s going to be quite cute, and can´t wait to wear it in a few weeks..

I traveled to a town called Samaipata this past long weekend, with Maija and her family. It´s a slightly touristy town, approx 3 hrs outside of Santa Cruz.. famous for the pre-incan ruins at a temple called El Fuerte. She has a house there, so we drove out for the night. We ended up not being out there long enough to go to El Fuerte, but we got the chance to relax. It´s a nice, small town that´s very laid back (full of hippies) and you can´t help but just let loose when you´re there. The highlight of my trip: I found a VEGGIE BURGER there and it was acually pretty decent. You can obviously tell this was a tourist town, if they had multiple vegetarian options. For Melissa and Julia if you read this; there was even a restaurant that had Lassies on the menu (and the place was called Chakana)!! It´s nice to just get out of town for a while. And my family has even offered to take me there again, just to make sure I get to visit El Fuerte.

Other than that, we had an end of the year bbq at a classmates house, and it was my mom´s birthday (we had a huge bbq at my place). There was also the American vote, and all the American exchange students (aka 99% of them) had a little party to watch the votes come in. I, among the rest of the youth of today, was pretty stoked to see Obama get in.. I guess we´ll just have to see what he does with this in January!