February 11, 2018
Currently I sit here at the kitchen table in our truly lovely AirBnB, waiting for my coffee – not only to take in it’s enchanting taste, but also to warm up my frozen fingers, hoping that warmth cascades down to my toes and maybe even makes it’s way up to my nose. Or, perhaps I can just dunk my nose into the delicious coffee and kill two birds with one stone? Now, please don’t confuse this with a grievance…it is simply information for anyone wondering what part of daily living is like in Bolivia and many, many other parts of South America where there is a lot of rain, morning temperatures of 6-8 degrees and no heating systems outside of a few space heaters that are reserved for bedrooms. Just an FYI.
I have not done a blog entry for quite some time, not because I have had nothing to say (you can corroborate this with my family); but this does leave me at the proverbial “Where to start?” place. I suppose the first thing that stands out for me is that we have been gone for over four months now, leaving us with barely over two left. Without sinking too deeply into my psyche, suffice it to say that that sentence alone causes a lot of mixed emotions!
I have had many people ask me, “Is the trip what you had hoped for?” or something along those lines, and I find that a complicated question to answer. Mostly, the answer is absolutely yes! It has been sincerely amazing! However, the answer does not come without some personal doubts or fears of potential regret for not making it “all that it could have been”. Uh oh…this is feeling awfully close to the precipice of my psyche, I shall move along 😉
Where there is no doubt in my mind, is that I have had an abundance of experiences in all of the countries that have been remarkable for many different reasons, and those experiences have been shared with my beautiful family. This is what leaves a glorious imprint on my heart. The “things” that I can assuredly say impact me the greatest are those where I feel I am truly catching a glimpse into someone’s life and culture that is vastly different from my own. This can come from walking down a nondescript, residential street in La Paz and catching a peek through an open door to see, hear and often smell what life lives within; or from hiking up the mountains in the Sacred Valley of Peru past a tiny village where they cultivate a small crop of potatoes, and two little girls with grubby clothes and curious, but tentative smiles watch us weirdoes hike past; or from visiting a local, collective farm in Sucre, Bolivia where four women have been certified in organic farming and they share with us their methods before we get to sit with them and enjoy a delicious lunch they have prepared from their vegetables.
I know it sounds obvious to acknowledge how many quirks of South America have become normal for me over the last four months, but it especially intrigues me how these quirks have become normal for the kids. For example, the traditional dress of the women initially was something that warranted finger-pointing and picture-taking, but now we don’t bat an eye at it. It’s things like the little tiendas (stores) selling a complete hodgepodge of items where they have bars on the front that you have to make your transaction through; the shoddy condition of roads; women and their small children selling a small pile of limes on the side of the street; crossing the streets where pedestrians essentially are playing a game of Frogger; buying milk and yogurt from the shelves not the fridge; tons of stray, homeless dogs living in all sorts of places including on top of roofs; seatbelts as optional and often non-existent (ugh); the colourful, crazy markets that I just adore no matter how normal they have begun to feel; Myles completely towering over almost everyone; old women the size of Jasper and Macy walking up steep roads carrying loads heavier than each of the two kids; putting used toilet paper in the garbage, NOT the toilet; 10 people piled into a taxi; homes made from anything and everything that look as though they may fall apart; electrical wiring systems that would scare any average Canadian; and the list goes on…..and on.
These are the things that I have come to find odd comfort in.
All of these quirks and idiosyncrasies of South America are one piece of the experience here that fades into our background of novelty, but will forever bring wonderful memories. What I haven’t mentioned, and perhaps won’t dive into in this blog, is the immense natural beauty of these countries. I have fallen in love with the Andes Mountains and all of the environmental magnificence that is around every corner I turn. Don’t worry Rockies, you will always have my heart and I cannot wait to return to your loving arms!!!! I have pictures upon pictures of the radiance and exquisiteness of these mountains and skies and rivers, and often I cannot find the right words to accurately define how I feel…but I hope to return one day and walk on the trails and meet the mountains that viscerally seem to be calling me to explore.
That is all for now, as we are off to one of the many Carnaval celebratory parades today!