Walking the tarmac

Our plane trip to Miami went well for the most part. Of course there was the requisite waiting in various lines for lengthy periods of time. But one thing was very different: we got to walk on the tarmac and climb the stairs to get into the airplane, like they used to do in the old days. I guess something was wrong with the jetway. However, before I could get to the tarmac, I was informed I had been selected for extra screening. So Yoli and the kids walked on, while I stayed behind to take my shoes off and let a security person swab my clothes and luggages checking for contraband substances.

Photo of our airplane, taken from the tarmac.

I had to walk to the tarmac alone, because TSA chose me for extra screening, while the rest of my family continued on.

Stairway to the plane

The flights themselves went well. Ludi and Yoli had some problems with their ears, and I had sinus pressure throughout the flight, but nobody got sick, thankfully.

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The last day

Yoli and Eliza chat while carving the chicken

Wednesday was our last day in Bolivia before returning to the U.S. We planned to visit Yoli’s sister Eliza at her home in the eastern reaches of Santa Cruz.

Our visit got off to a late start, though. One of Eliza’s daughters took the wrong bus and got lost, and she had to go rescue her. That gave us extra time to work on packing our bags and cleaning up the apartment.

Eventually Eliza arrived in her car, and drove us to her place. It sits in one of the newer neighborhoods in the suburbs of Santa Cruz, but it is fairly undeveloped. Right now there are a series of rooms built by the previous owner against the wall on the right side of the property, but Eliza hopes to build a better-planned house someday. Eliza’s mother-in-law, and Boris’ twin brother Ronny, both live on the property.

Eliza has a lot of baby toys that her kids won’t play with anymore, but our kids found ways to be entertained with them. They even managed to learn how to play a child’s accordion.

Joseph plays with the toy accordion. Photo by Jadzia

Rebecca rocks the hammock with Josie inside. Ludi looks on.

Daniel and Joseph visit after Daniel got home from school.

Eliza, Yoli, and Melany made chicken milanesa for lunch. Melany has begun studying at a culinary school, so we were watching for moments of culinary brilliance. As the food was being prepared, we all drank mate, even our kids. We also played keep-away with a soccer ball. The kids also took turns swinging in Eliza’s hammock.

Ludi in the hammock. Photo by Jadzia

Joseph drinks mate.

Rebeca prepared a drink from fresh maracuyá growing on their property. There were a lot of fruits growing there.

Rebeca prepares maracuyá

An unripe maracuyá grows on a vine at Eliza’s house.

The lunch was very nice, but eventually it was time to leave and see the abuelitos for a final goodbye. The kids had found 10 bolivianos in the street, and the money was burning a hold in their pocket, so they purchased a sizable quantity of candy and gum from abuelita’s kiosko. (There were a couple such purchases during this trip. Afterward, the kids would hold secretive meetings in which they divided up their spoils. At least we know they can work together when sweets are at stake)

Ludi purchases some snacks from abuelita.

Don Hector and Dona Lucila watch as we prepare to go home.

Don Hector and Doña Lucila wanted to have mate with us, but we didn’t have enough time. We were hoping to get back to El Jordán in time to visit with Corina. There were more family classes scheduled for that evening, like the ones they held last week.

As it turned out, there were too many demands on Corina for us to have an extended visit, but Yoli tried to chat with her before we headed over to Hot Burger for our final meal there. She and I had lomito sandwiches for old time’s sake. After eating, the kids played in the play park, and then we went back for final packing and our last night’s sleep.

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Shields up!

Joseph, Ludi, and Josie make shields with other kids in Ms. Heidi’s class.

Ms. Heidi invited Ludi, Josie and Joseph to attend her children’s class at El Jordan on Tuesday morning. Joseph was reluctant (I pretty much had to drag him), but it turns out they had a lot of fun.

They started the class by crumpling newspapers into balls and throwing them at Ms. Heidi. Just about everything was hitting her. Then she suggested that a shield would help her avoid being hit. She took a lid from a large plastic container and managed to deflect most of the balls. She then linked this object lesson to the armor of God and talked about how the Bible is like a shield against the devil’s fiery darts. After class was finished, Ludi helped to clean and sweep the room.

Joseph makes his shield. He wrote the name “H.M.S. Syren” on it.

Ludi sweeps after class

Later on we went to see Don Hector and Doña Lucila. The kids immediately went to play in the sand. Meanwhile I helped Don Hector with some technology stuff. We tried to figure out how to work a small portable camera he had purchased. Then I helped reroute the audio out of his television down to his stereo. Now he can watch his local news without having to have use a backup black-and-white television to hear the sound.

Ludi makes some sort of transaction with Don Hector at the kiosko.

Don Hector and Doña Lucila’s chickens

The kids were right back to playing in the sand. Josie made all sorts of things she was eager to show me: flying saucers, Mt. Marble, a lamppost, the Arch, Truckfoot (a Spiderman leg connected to a yellow truck), and Barad-Dur.

Josie shows off her creations, sitting next to Jose Miguel.

Joseph, Jadzia and Ludi play

After a while we had some mate. Doña Lucila prepared arepas and wanted to make masaco, but eventually we had to get home since Yoli was expecting visitors at El Jordan in the evening.

Joseph eats an arepa while Don Hector prepared some mate

Our first visit was from Cesia, Yoli’s friend. She recently lost a son, and there was much to talk about. Later on we received Lucy and Yonatan and Yessy. It was our last visit with them, so we took photos and said goodbye.

Yoli and Cesia

Yonatan, Yessy, Yoli,and Josh

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Exploring downtown

View of San Lorenzo from the plaza

This trip has mostly been spent in the company of family. Adventure and exploring were overdue.
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Singing, catching, praying

View of the church service at iglesia Esmirna.

It was hard to wake up Sunday after the late quinceañera. But church is important, and I want our kids to have a different experience of church than what they get back home.

Yoli’s old church, Esmirna, is right next door to her dad’s house. It’s a small neighborhood church full of people Yoli has known since she was young. Though I don’t really know any of them, I recognize many, and I know some names.

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Lights out!

Alcides, Aby, Noemi at Aby’s quinceañera

A quinceañera can be a major production. This year it was Aby’s turn, the daughter of Noemi and Alcides. We had swept and mopped, and later set up the tables and chairs.

Then came my favorite part of any special event: forcing my kids to shower and wear dress clothes.

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Meeting Tio Efraín

Don Hector, Tio Efraín, Josue, Alcides and Yoli at the table. Tio Efraín brought a whole pig to Santa Cruz from his farm in Ipatí, which they cooked for lunch.

Saturday morning Yoli went with Josie to buy bread. Jadzia and Ludi were still sleeping on the other side of the city at their sleepover. Yoli had seen on WhatsApp that Tío Efraín, Doña Lucila’s half-brother, was in town and had brought a pig.

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Also spotted on our walk home from the book fair: Zegarra’s Factory, a boxing gym that shares the name of Yoli’s family. We stopped for a few minutes to watch a couple guys sparring inside

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Anita’s Gourmet

I didn’t realize my mom had opened up shop down here!

(A nice-looking bakery we passed on the way home from the Feria Internacional del Libro de Santa Cruz)

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Electric showers and a book fair

We got off to a slow start Friday. Eventually it came time to run the kids through their first showers of the trip. Electric showers.

Longtime readers of this blog may recall that relatively few homes in Bolivia have water heaters. Those who want warm or hot showers install an electric shower head, which uses a heating element to warm the water.

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