This year is the 25th anniversary of Yoli’s high school graduation (or “promo” as they call it here).
Getting together with her classmates was one of the things that motivated us to come on this trip. I haven’t mentioned it so far in our blog entries, but coming to Bolivia in the summer first required us to travel to Washington DC to get Yoli a new Bolivian passport and ID card (“carnet”). We turned that into a family vacation as we try to do, and we had a lot of fun. But dealing with the Bolivian consulate was decidedly NOT fun. They informed us that they had no record of our marriage, despite all the paperwork we did six years ago, when we last traveled to DC. We had to do everything over. Getting all the necessary papers required more money and a couple months.
All this to say that: it takes a lot of time, effort, and money to travel here. It’s more than just buying a (pricy) plane ticket and getting on the plane.
Yoli has been talking with her classmates about this trip for a while. Once we finally had her Bolivian documents in hand, and we knew for sure we would be coming, she tried to pin down dates and times for the reunion.
This was not easy. Everyone lives in different places, has different schedules, and not everybody uses Facebook. But eventually a plan did come together.
About 9:30 Saturday night we met with some of Yoli’s classmates at a Hipermaxi supermarket. They drove us to a very nice house in one of Santa Cruz’s outlying “urbanizaciones” (subdivision is the closest concept).
A couple things to know about Bolivian fiestas. They usually start late, people love to cook and eat very late, and they often involve very loud music.
I wasn’t crazy about the eating late part. But it makes sense in Santa Cruz, where summer days are sweltering and the only relief is late at night and early in the morning. Of course you would have your parties when everyone is off work and things are somewhat cooler.
As far as the music goes, I have walked past many loud parties over the years, but I’ve never actually attended one. For a fiesta, a family might hire a mariachi band and dance until morning while unbelievably loud music plays all through the night. On this trip we talked with one friend who sighed and told us his neighbor’s loud party had been going for two days straight.
Well, Yoli’s classmates had a set up big TV, speakers, microphones and everything you need for karaoke.
Everyone had a good time chatting, visiting, reminiscing, and joking. I had just as much trouble as I usually do in following any part of the proceedings.
The house was really impressive. There was no yard, but instead a beautiful tiled patio with a large grill and a roofed-in area where the karaoke equipment was arrayed.
When karaoke time came, Yoli and I flipped through the song book. There were hundreds of songs, mostly Spanish, with a sprinkling of English pop and rock.
This exposed my cultural shortcomings. I grew up listening exclusively to Christian Rock and CCM, and I don’t really know the lyrics to any Beatles or Michael Jackson songs beyond a few choruses. They had one Jaci Velasquez song, but I wasn’t going to sing that. I would have belted out some Switchfoot or Five Iron Frenzy if they had it.
In any event, a couple of the classmates were really good singers. Hopefully that was some consolation to the neighbors. Because the music was put-cotton-balls-in-your-ears loud.
The food was very tasty. I’m not sure exactly when we started eating, but it was probably midnight or thereabouts. I ate sausages, some steak, arroz con queso, yucca, and some veggies.
Yoli’s classmate Abrahan had two of his children with him. His youngest daughter was crying and he spent a lot of time pushing her in a stroller trying to comfort her. I remember those days very well, and it made me (again) realize the blessing of this trip where I don’t have to worry about my own kids because my mom and dad are watching them.
We finally got to bed after 2 a.m. But there was to be no sleeping in … The next day was Sunday, and that means church!