Cakes and weddings and sheep

The last few days in Bolivia I was unable to get to a computer to update the weblog, so I want to fill you in on how things went. In this entry, I’ll talk about our two and a half days in Samaipata when Yoli worked on the wedding cake for Corina.

Arriving in Samaipata – and poop

We got to Samaipata Monday afternoon. We took an express taxi from Santa Cruz since we had so many wedding cake supplies to bring with us (not to mention the various cakes themselves). The road was decent, but as we got up into the mountains the road got bad in parts. There was major flooding earlier this year, and though most everything has been cleaned up, parts of the road are still very bumpy or much narrower because part of the road slid away.

We were staying in a cabin at a place called Cabañas de Traudi. It’s a large property with several cabins, a pool, a slide, a swing, and some animals. This would be the place where the wedding reception would be held. The wedding itself would be held at at La Vñspera which was across the road from Traudi.

That night we mostly just got everything adjusted. Doña Traudi herself was not in town, and her husband apparently didn’t know we were coming early, so they had to set up for us upon our arrival. We decided to walk into town and get some dinner and also buy yogurt for Jadzia. The road into town was all dirt, and quite rough in some parts. It was also downhill most of the way. Going into town when there was light, was not too much of a problem (though it was difficult to maneuver the stroller), but coming back was tricky because it was totally dark in some spots, with no light at all. We ended up making this walk at night several times during our days in Samaipata.

While we were in town eating, Jadzia decided to make life interesting. She pooped. And the poop escaped from her diaper and landed on my pants and on the floor in the restaurant where we were eating. It doesn’t get any more embarrassing than that.

Her blanket also needed to be cleaned. And once we got home, we washed it and hung it up to dry. This became a serious problem, because Jadzia refused to go to sleep without it. She cried and cried for ever and ever. We were awake quite a while. Eventually it was somewhat dry enough we could give it back to her and she went to sleep.

Sleeping was also interesting. It was my first time under a mosquito net. Yes, our cabin had mosquitos every night. They weren’t too bad, actually. But there were other biting, flying insects near the pool that left itchier marks on us.

Cakes and babies

Tuesday Yoli spent most of her time preparing the cake. I spent most of my time with Jadzia, keeping her occupied and happy. We spent a lot of time watching animals. There were sheep on the property, plus a few cats, dogs, and a parrot. Jadzia loved to see all of them. There was also a young boy who began to follow us around after a while. He came back to the cabin and I let Jadzia and he play. It actually gave me some time to relax and enjoy the semi-solitude. But then he started playing “smash bricks into little pieces” and I didn’t want Jadzia to be involved in brick-smashing. Jadzia also tried out the slide and the swing, and these kept her somewhat happy as well.

Yoli made decent progress on the cake, putting the layers together and giving them their coats of buttercream. But that night and the next day she ran into serious trouble with the fondant.

She had prepared her marshmallow fondant recipe ahead of time in Santa Cruz, using marshmallows she brought from the U.S. with powdered sugar and shortening she got in Bolivia. At the time she prepared it, it seemed good, though there was a little trouble with the sugar (American powdered sugar includes corn starch to keep it from clumping. Bolivian powdered sugar does not). The problem with the fondant in Samaipata is that it was very hard — unworkable. Yoli tried to solve this by heating it and continuing to knead it and fold it. She got it pliable, but when she would roll it out, it would be full of cracks and imperfections instead of smooth. She spent hours kneading and rolling over and over. It improved a little, but not enough for her expectations.

The problem was that time was running out. It was about noon or so Wednesday and the wedding was set to start at 3:30 p.m., followed by the reception at 5:30. She covered the bottom layer of cake with fondant and told me she would skip lunch. So I took Jadzia into town to eat at the “Vaca Loca.”

When I got back, Yoli had covered all three layers of cake and was drawing the buttercream lacework on top of the fondant. She showed me that the top layer, which had much smoother, nicer fondant than the other two. Apparently Eulogio, one of the workers at El El Jordán, had arrived with his family. He helped Yoli knead the fondant and really worked it hard until it was very nice. Yoli called him her angel.

All in all, the cake turned out pretty well, though obviously Yoli wishes the fondant on the bottom had been better. I had to practically drag her away from the cake in order to get ready for the wedding.

The wedding

The wedding was held across the street at La Vñspera. This place was nicer than Traudi, with beautiful gardens. The wedding was held on a patio overlooking the gardens, and was just gorgeous. Corina looked very nice in her dress and Marco was humorous but nervous. Corina’s father led most of the wedding, giving a nice talk in Spanish. But Bolivian weddings are different from American weddings, because a civil registrar must do the official job of wedding the two people. A preacher cannot pronounce them man and wife. The particular registrar they used is a Christian, but it was sort of weird for me to hear her reading aloud all the various marriage forms (including Corina and Marco’s national ID numbers). Anyway, it was a nice wedding, the first Bolivian wedding I have attended.

The reception went fairly well, though Jadzia was fussy so Yoli and I ended up taking turns playing with her outside so the other one could eat in peace. The cake also seemed to be a good success receiving several compliments.

Heading home

As the night wound down, we had a bit of trouble working out our return travel arrangements for Bolivia, but finally all was settled and we drove back. As we descended from the mountains, I began to feel more heat and humidity in the air and I immediatlely missed the cooler Samaipata climate.

We got back to El El Jordán late, and were out of yogurt for Jadzia. Yoli went to two nearby kioskos, but one was closed and the other had no yogurt. I ventured out and found some yogurt way down the avenue and brought it back. With that, Jadzia was a happy camper and eventually went to sleep. And so did we.

About Josh Renaud

Josh Renaud is married to Yoli and together they have four beautiful niñitos. Find him on Twitter (@Kirkman) or Google+.
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One Response to Cakes and weddings and sheep

  1. Odile Bosch says:

    I found your blog through one of the Google Bolivia alerts I have received and find it very interesting, so I had to write you a note. Our daughter is in Bolivia as a Peace Corps volunteer (she has been there since August 2005) and lives in the Santa Cruz area, in a very small village two hours from Vallegrande (Pucar�). We went to visit her for Christmas and spent 4 days in Samaipata, at la Vispera. We spent Christmas there in fact. What a lovely place! I remember vividly the places you mentioned. I am glad everything worked out well for all of you ; I am sure the cake was beautiful.
    Enjoy the rest of your stay!
    Odile