Friday, August 20, 2010

Miriam's eye view of Bolivia

I could fall into the easy pace of time in Bolivia where the people sleep until it's warm enough to wake, work hard, eat and sleep again.  There are schedules in Bolivia, but they run according to the body and the sun, rather than the clock.  It's perhaps the thing I miss most about being there.

I showed up to work today thinking it's Thursday and it's actually Friday and I am still a bit sleepy, perhaps from the jet lag, but more likely from the fatigue of working long days followed by a very long flight home. I had a great time in Bolivia.  I am already getting teased about my pictures.  I guess in some ways, the photographs I took are more revealing the photographs taken of me. So anyway, here is a Miriam's eye view of the experience.

Dead Baby Llamas in the market.
A Happy Wall

Excellent dental services

Scary mannequins
Ministry of work
Church where we went to get pipe for water project
View from the top of the hill where we hiked to actually start the project.
It was a very long hike. That is Wade looking at the valley below.

I found two of these flowers while we were digging.  
They seemed very happy to me when I found them.

Tyler Berg sitting on his shovel while I reapplied sunscreen.
It did not prevent sunburn, it only limited how bad the sunburns were.
Chris Peel explaining to me where the adobe bricks came from.

Scenic view
The shovel balancing act and proof that there were girls besides me on the trip. 
From front to back: Jordin, Richard, Chalyce, Megan and Tyler Berg.
I did interact with girls.  There just isn't much photographic evidence of that.
Jordin and I washed each others hair and talked ballet (she is a dancer).
Chalyce and I spent a lot of time figuring out iphoto and milling around La Paz together.
Megan and I talked digital textbooks.
I did spend time with girls*.

Tommy taking pictures of everyone while he is standing directly in from of the water source.
After the water project, we went to Lake Titicaca.

Jeff paid my way and claimed me as his date.  He jumped in four times.  It was freezing cold.  I know.  He got me very wet.

Tyler Delange also jumped in three times.
And here they both are warming up.

We went to some ruins where I hung out with Nick and his sister Megan (not in photo).

This is a picture Megan took of me at the ruins.

And Tommy again back at camp.

There are a zillion more pictures on Facebook and whenever Tommy uploads his 8000 or so, there will be zillions more.

*I would like to add at this point, that I went to school with mostly men and I work mostly with men, and I have figured out how to participate in male bonding (by discussing making bombs and blowing stuff up) and I am much more comfortable hanging out with men, than discussing them with the girls.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Battleground in Bolivia

So, I  have spent the last week battling poverty in Bolivia and I am covered in battlewounds.  I look a bit like an over ripe and bruised piece of fruit when naked.  There is a bruise developing on my foot from where a jumper seat in a van got slammed down on me, my legs are covered in bruises as are my arms.  I think most of them are from shovels and rocks while digging and filling trenches for the water project we worked on. 

Everyone here wants me to say something profound about this experience, and I think that will come, but right now, I am worn down and beat up and there isn´t much I can think of to say.  I am leaving La Paz in an hour and when I am done with the flight, I will see Tom.

We hiked a mountain here that reminded me of Tom some.  Day 2 in Huancuyo started with a three mile hike that began at 13,000 ft and ended somewhere closer to 14,000 ft.  We didn´t know we would be hiking that far.  We were going to lay pipe and fill trenches and we thought we would just have to go about .5 miles from camp to a white church where the pipe was stored.  When we got there we were told we had to hike to a farther point and when we got there, we had to go to the top of the mountain right to the water source.  I was slathered in sunscreen and covered in layers of clothing, but I still got burnt.  I am in pretty good shape, but still found it hard to breathe.  I didn´t know we would be gone so long and I had no water.  I worked for a few hours like that and found myself thinking of Tom.  

The specific instance I remembered was a hike up above Yosemite when we climbed to the top of a mountain and there was no trail.  I got stuck in a rockslide and everytime I moved, the ground fell out from under me.  I called for help and Tom started working his way over to where I was.  We were too far apart for me to see him and I didn´t know he was coming.  I got tunnel vision.  That is the only time that has ever happened and I don´t like it, but it did make it so my entire focus was centered on boulders stably embedded in the ground and I made my way from one to the other with the ground falling out from under me as I went.  Just as I was about safely out of it, Tom appeared and took my hand and teased me about finding the most fun way up the mountain.  He stayed with me while I was at the top and the helped me pick a safer path down.  As I thought about Tom, I knew I would survive the hike and the trench digging.

As I filled in trenches, I thought about a decision I made a while ago to bury my weapons like the Lamanites.  As I looked at my bruises, I thought about that decision again. And I thought about Michael a bit and how when we got in a bike crash, his first thought was about my safety even though his own hand got smashed.  He was more concerned about my own bruises than his own.

 There are big enough battles that leave bad enough wounds that we don´t need to create any more.  It is not really the place of one person to fight with another.  We have disease and poverty and hunger to fight.  Maybe the best way we can fight them is simply through kindness.

I am grateful to have brothers who show me how this is done.

Friday, August 6, 2010


I am in La Paz and I´ll post pictures when I have a camera cable again.  It is crazy here.  They sell dried out dead baby Llamas in the markets.  I do not know what one is supposed to do with those.  There are clothes on some of them.

I am tired and I should be hungry, but I´m not.  It may be from having no sleep for two days or from altitude sickness.  I am leaning towards the tiredness.  I did get some sleep in the Lima airport, and I was impressed that no one balked when I blew up my air mattress.

I have avoided any major catastrophes so far!

Mostly I am incoherent and so I will stop before my typing denegrates to the same level as my Spanish.

More later!