Despite the events roiling parts of Bolivia, Yoli and the girls are doing just fine. Yoli taught three days of cake decorating classes for girls at El Jordán, and she also spent some time teaching quilling techniques.
She’s been spending a lot of time with family, too, including showing some of her sisters how to bake American treats like chocolate chip cookies. She said the batch she did down there was better than any she has made up here! That’s a real reversal, because usually her American recipes don’t turn out so well down there — ingredients like baking powder aren’t formulated the same, and the heating in ovens is inconsistent.
Jadzia is speaking Spanish almost exclusively, but there are a few English speakers around who engage her (plus Marco has been trying to practice some English on her). I talked with her for a bit on the phone yesterday and she sounded pretty good.
Eight people were killed yesterday in fighting in Bolivia’s Pando province. The protests and violence led American Airlines to cancel all flights through Saturday. Flights should resume Sunday, just in time for Yoli. But we’ll have to keep an eye on that.
Evo’s decision to boot the American ambassador led the U.S. to (obviously) do the same to the Bolivian ambassador. Then Chavez joined the fun and deported the American ambassador in Venezuela. As Jim Shultz points out, this diplomatic tit-for-tat comes at a time when Bolivia sorely needs diplomatic intervention from the outside.
There’s little hope for peace. In fact, Miguel at Pronto passed along this bit of news from La Razon: A pro-Evo civilian group called the “Poncho Rojos” are mobilizing to recapture the government installations captured two days ago by the “civicos.”
The news out of Bolivia, specifically the eastern provinces of the country, is bad. Civic groups in Santa Cruz have taken over almost all public institutions, including the headquarters for the phone company Entel. You can get a very good summary of the events at the weblog Pronto.
Bolivia’s president has responded by accusing the U.S. ambassador of fomenting the breakup of Bolivia and ordered his expulsion from the country. As Miguel points out in the Pronto weblog entry I cited above, if the U.S. ambassador is indeed expelled, it will be the only time a Latin American nation has ever done so.
The Bolivian newspaper La Razon says that American Airlines has suspended flights to the country. I am trying to get in touch with AA to confirm if this is true. Yoli and the girls were set to fly home Sunday night. I’m not sure what our options will be if AA is no longer flying to and from Bolivia.
I spoke yesterday with Yoli for about an hour on the phone. She had been aware of the Entel takeover, but beyond that didn’t know much of the news. It hadn’t affected her much, beyond a big delay in the arrival of the buses she needed to get from place to place. Most of this seems to have taken place downtown. El Jordán is between the third and fourth rings, while Yoli’s family live mostly on the eastern side of the city near the river Piraí, all relatively distant from the city center.
Anyway, please pray for this situation.
First, that there would be peace. It appears that much worse violence could be at hand in various parts of the country, and I hope that can be averted.
Second, that Yoli and the girls, our family, and our friends in Bolivia would be protected. And that Yoli and the girls could return home safely and in a timely fashion.
UPDATE: American tells me that they cancelled some morning flights, but that the evening flights from tonight through the weekend are still scheduled. I’ll just have to keep checking and make sure that doesn’t change.
My journey home Saturday was pretty uneventful. The flight from Bolivia was packed.
When I left Santa Cruz, it was still in the midst of a surazo, or a cold front caused by winds from the south. The last day and half or so were somewhat chilly, but I got by with two layers of short-sleeved shirts and a pair of blue jeans.
These are the last few photos we took in Bolivia before I returned home. Yoli will be taking more photos during this next week, but may not be able to post them until she is back in St. Louis. in the meantime, here you go:
Ludi has been using a bucket as a hat the last few days.
Today is my final day in Bolivia. Early tomorrow I’ll head to the airport and get home Saturday night. But Yoli and the girls will remain here for another week. During that time Yoli will be posting some entries about what they experience (but probably not photos).
This afternoon we’ll be visiting Don Hector again to do more video interviewing, plus I’ll scan some more family photos. After that we’ll visit Eliza and Boris to say goodbye to them and Dona Lucila. Also, they have some family photos I’ll try to scan as well.
Then it’s packing time. Nothing like packing the night before the flight… that’s the only way to travel!
Thursday morning we decided to take the girls to visit Santa Cruz’s Plaza.
A couple years ago they sort of revamped the plaza. They removed many trees and made other changes. At the time it didn’t look so good, but now that the trees have grown back it looks much better. There are also city guards all over the place who keep away street vendors and vagrants. This is somewhat controversial, but I suppose it does make the Plaza more inviting for tourists.