After several nice days at Cabañas de Traudi in Samaipata, it was time to head back to Santa Cruz — to celebrate Ludi’s birthday.
The girls didn’t want to leave … They had enjoyed “cooking” in the sandbox, sliding down the long wooden slide (Josie would do it forwards or backwards on her belly), petting the black dog, and swinging in the hammock (all three at the same time).
Overall, our time there was wonderful. I loved the quiet (discounting the noise from our children), the beautiful views, the animals, and the wonderful weather during the day. There were a few drawbacks: the shower was lukewarm at best (common in Bolivia), our breakfasts and dinners were pretty much all bread, and there were no couches. Also, we found two frogs in the bathroom: one swimming in the toilet tank, the other hiding in the corner of the sinktop. But really, this is to be expected at such a place.
Speaking of weather, in Samaipata the days were pretty warm and the nights were pretty cool. We all slept with three layers of blankets at night. Over the last day and a half of our stay, the wind really picked up. By the time we left at 11:45 a.m. Friday, the wind was whipping up dirt everywhere.
Yoli explained that this wind is likely a sign that a surazo is coming — a cold front from the south. After a few days of strong wind comes cold weather followed by rain. We’ll see if that comes to Santa Cruz.
The trip home was much better than the trip to Samaipata. For one thing it was downhill. For another, our driver went really fast. Most important of all, we timed it so that we would hit the big construction roadblock when all the workers were on a two-hour lunch break, but far enough into it that the congestion had already cleared.
The way was still bad. The road is really in truly awful shape in a lot of places. It is far worse than we remember from previous trips, even in the lowland parts coming in to El Torno or La Guardia. And everywhere the road goes out or where there is a construction zone, we could count on terrible choking dust because of the wind or trucks or whatever.
Still, I marvelled at the bridges under construction. At least one of them will be an impressive suspension bridge. Maybe by the time of our next visit to Bolivia the road to Samaipata will be vastly improved. I hope so.
When we arrived home, almost the first order of business was baths. Yoli bathed all three girls, then she and I each took a shower. Even this was a workout… but it was sorely needed, the girls (and me, too, I suppose) had gotten filthy during our time at Traudi and the dusty road home.
Today was Ludi’s 3rd birthday.
Two years ago, we had a big birthday party for Jadzia during the first week of our stay in Bolivia. The idea at that time was to use the party as a way for Jadzia and Ludi to connect with their cousins. The party was fun, but it also had a lot of hassles related to preparing the cake and cooking food for all the people who came.
This time around we elected not to have such a big party, but to keep it just us and Ludi. But to make it special, we took the family to Dumbo. Their logo is the same image as that of the Disney elephant. It’s a sort of ice cream and cake place with a large kid-friendly menu and tons of play equipment.
The girls loved it. They played in the ball pits (Ludi was most enthusiastic about that, jumping everywhere), drove play cars, climbed through big jungle gyms, came down slides, screamed, etc.
The girls had Bolivian hot dogs (served with crispy chip topping, with cheese and pico de gallo on the side), and Yoli and I shared a chicharron de pollo (crispy fried chicken … but not breaded and nothing like American “fried chicken”)
Ludi got a special ice cream: a carnavalero shaped sort like a clown using fruit and strawberry ice cream and cones. She also got a little toy, a baby doll with a play bath kit.
Later, after we returned to El Jordán, Ludi opened her b-day card from Nanny. It was a musical Winnie the Pooh card, which all the girls loved. Ludi danced with it, and Josie went crazy over it.
We were exhausted … and after finally getting all the children to sleep (SWEET FREEDOM!) we have spent hours talking and updating Yoli’s Facebook page and writing this blog entry and drinking tea.
Tomorrow we will go to Yoli’s sister Noemi’s house to do laundry. At some point we will also see her sister Lucy who is travelling overnight from her home in a far away town.
P.S. — Coincidences — Our children’s devotional tonight talked about thanking God, using the example of receiving a gift on a birthday. Perfect timing for Ludi. Our chapter in “Little House on the Prairie” was about the family getting sick with malaria from a mosquito bite… We had put the girls to sleep in mosquito nets the night before for fun.