In the aftermath of getting engaged and having the opportunity to remain here for another week, I’ve been somewhat busy. So I’ll just fill today’s entry with a few anecdotes you’ll probably enjoy.
First, let’s talk about sandals. On Saturday, Yoli took me to the Feria, a giant place filled with different vendors selling all sorts of things. It’s mostly nonperishable stuff like clothes, furniture, etc. I was hoping to find a pair of sandals.
Well, let me tell you, there were a lot of people selling sandals. There seemed to be 3 different classes of sandals available… Really cheap ones, imitations of foreign shoes, and then popular Brazilian and Bolivian brands.
The Brazilian ones were the most expensive, usually about 70-80 Bs per pair. But I was most intruiged by the foreign imitations. The shoes usually had a somewhat stylish American look, and I was fooled by a few of them at first. They had the Nike and Reebok logos stitched in the right places on the shoe. The soles, though, were always conspiculously void of any logos. The real giveaway, though, is that there would often be two identical pairs of shoes next to each other, but bearing different brand names.
The problem for me was price. I wanted to spend less than 50 Bs. Most of the really good sandals, though, were more than that. The others were generally very inexpensive, but also very low quality.
After much walking and asking “¿Cuanto cuesta?” over and over, we finally found a decent pair at 30 Bs. That’s about $4 to $5 in U.S. dollars. Pretty darn good, in my book.
The great thing is that I’m going to get to wear these sandals longer than I originally anticipated. You see, I get to stay in Bolivia a week longer than planned. I’ll be departing NEXT Wednesday, giving me 7 extra days to try and tan my pearly white feet.
My trip extension is quite a story in itself. It started when Rusty emailed me Saturday, asking me to stay a week longer. He offered to pay any penalty I incurred for changing the ticket date. But I didn’t get the email until Monday morning.
Well, it seemed to me that it would be great to stay, and God had already done part of the work — when I got to Bolivia, I was stamped with a 90-day visa instead of the normal 30-day visa. I have no idea why…I certainly didn’t ask for it. But they gave it to me!
In the afternoon Yoli and I called LAB (Lloyd Aero Boliviano) and they said it would cost $50 to change the LAB tickets, but they weren’t sure about my Delta connections in the States. Rusty said he’d drive me out their office so we could pay the $50 and get my new tickets. Since Yoli and I had planned to eat a brief dinner with a couple that evening, we decided to call them and reschedule for later in the week when we could spend more time with them, since I’d be staying in Bolivia longer.
Rusty and I went to the LAB office. The lady helping us said it would cost $50 to change the LAB ticket, but that if we changed our departure date, we would actually forfeit my Delta tickets. It would cost $900-1100 to buy new ones.
Well, this was bad news. Rusty couldn’t cover that much, and I certainly don’t have that much. The lady made us wait while she went and talked with another lady. They spent 15 minutes on the phone and on the computer.
Eventually, she came back and told us that there was some sort of rule or law that said that if you change your departure date within 3 months of purchasing the ticket, the airlines can’t penalize you. So she changed all my tickets to next Wednesday at no cost — not even the $50 they were originally going to charge. We spent a total of 3Bs on parking.
That was really amazing. God took care of the need!
Perilous Pool Pockets
You pool sharks (Yes, Tom, Brian, and everyone else.. you know who you are) would have an interesting challenge here. Yoli told me prior to coming that the pool tables had narrower pockets. It’s one thing to hear and imagine it, and a completely different thing to actually play the table.
I believe it was Thursday or Friday night that Yoli and I went with her dad and her brother-in-law Juan to shoot some pool. And sure enough, the pockets were very narrow. The only other difference between this table and the ones I’m used to playing on is a line running across the table on one side (which they use for scratches).
We didn’t play regular pool — and I’ll display my ignorance here, because I think it’s called “8-ball” but I’m not sure — but a different game that I think they made up on their own.
The idea is just to sink as many balls as you can, no matter what they are. It’s a good thing they play that way, because the set of balls we were given contained at least 3 duplicates (two 11-balls, for instance). If you scratch or fail to hit a ball with the cue ball, you lose a point. If you make a shot, you score a point and get to continue shooting.
Don Hector and I were on a team, and I sank two or three balls. I had many close shots but was robbed by those infernal tiny pockets. The game took a long time but it was fun, and our team ended up winning.