La Casa del Camba, a kind-of quince, and a bunch of cousins

We had limited our initial adventure to five days to ensure we would be back in Santa Cruz by the weekend. For us, this trip was taking place over summer vacation — but in Bolivia and most of South America, July and August are wintertime. School is in session, people are working, and it’s not easy for far-flung family and friends to get together with us during the week. So weekends are a must.

For Bolivians, this would be a three-day weekend celebrating 6 de Agosto — the dia de la patria or independence day — so our family was planning get-togethers and parties.

Daniel puts up the Bolivian flag for the 6 de Agosto national holiday.

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El Jordan’s workshop for boys

The boys all come to El Jordán after school to get help with their school work.
The boys all come to El Jordán after school to get help with their school work.

For many years we have supported El Jordán, which calls itself “a crossing ground for those who desire to change and find freedom from the daily struggles of life on the streets.”

These struggles include drug addiction, delinquency, abandonment, and abuse.

Initially the ministry reached out primarily to “street moms” and their children in Santa Cruz. These women could come to El Jordán, take classes in practical skills like baking or sewing, and get medical and dental care for themselves and their children.

In recent years Corina and Marco have added a center which focuses on boys from ages 12-16. Until this trip, Yoli and I had not been able to see this boys’ ministry. But Monday, Marco took us out there.

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A rocky return and a reconciliation

At last it was time to say goodbye to La Víspera and Samaipata and return to the big city.

I woke early and climbed back up to El Trono to try to take more panoramic photos. I’ll have to stitch those together when I get back to St. Louis.

We ate the rest of our bread, cleaned up the cabin, and prepared to get a taxi.

The thing with taxis is that no matter how clearly you explain that you want something, such as an express taxi straight to Santa Cruz with no stops to pick up passengers, the drivers always seem to be unaware of the arrangement you made in the phone. One side of me thinks this is innocent; another side can’t shake the feeling it’s a ploy to charge higher fares, since it’s happened to us three times so far.

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Jesy’s quinceañera

Yoli works on the cake

Last night was our last hurrah in Bolivia: Jesy’s quinceañera.

Yoli worked on a chocolate cake for her, but the decoration didn’t go quite as well as she hoped. Still, it proved very tasty.

We went over to El Jordan where the party was to be held. Lucy was there, but nobody else. It soon became clear that the party, which was supposed to start around 6:30 would instead start on Bolivian time.

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Climbing the cathedral

Friday morning we headed over to the Plaza 24 de Septiembre at the heart of Santa Cruz. The scenic cathedral at one corner of the plaza, the Basilica Menor de San Lorenzo, opened a mirador several years ago. In 2008, we tried to go up, but could not because we got there after 11:30 a.m. and it closed at noon.

We got a late start to our morning (as we usually do), and it was looking like this attempt would turn out to be a repeat of two years ago. But we got to the cathedral right on time and had no problems going up.

Maybe we are a little crazy, climbing twisty stairs with four children in tow, just for a nice view. But we like church towers, faros, and observation towers. That’s the way we roll.

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More pics than you can shake a stick at

I was able to borrow a USB cable Saturday and worked on our trip photos later in the evening.

I had originally planned to update my previous blog entries with the photos that matched the stories. However it has taken too long to work on these photos (my Pismo PowerBook G3 is getting long in the tooth), so I’m just dumping them all into one big, new blog entry. I hope you enjoy.

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Putzing around the Plaza

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.

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We’re here, it’s raining, and this internet cafe sucks

We arrived yesterday after a long flight. Jadzia did well on both legs of the flight and in the airports. We were surprised.

When we got to Bolivia, Yoli’s mom and two of her sisters were there to greet us. Unfortunately after such a long trip, I don’t think Jadzia was ready for anymore new people or things. She cried for a long time. We eventually calmed her down and were able to nap a few hours (neither of us got much sleep on the plane, unlike Jadzia).

Since then, Jadzia has done well. She’s met her grandparents, some aunts and uncles, and some cousins. I can tell the weather is a bit warm for her, but she’s doing well.

An interesting note: In the U.S. almost everyone would tell us how much Jadzia looked like Yoli. Here, it’s different. They all say how much she looks like ME! Go figure.

I would like to write more, but this internet cafe is really awful and I’ve already lost this entry once and had to re-write it. When we find a better cafe, I’ll post more. Anyway, we’re safe and sound. Hope you are, as well!

P.S. I am pretty dumb. I left both my computer’s power cable and the iPod’s firewire cable at home. I’m not sure yet if I’ll buy replacements (or be able to find them)