Yummy, very large, ice cream sundaes at the market with Me, Monica (my current site partner), Amber (previous SLM still living and working in Coch), and Christy (my future site partner)!
There are many different types of dishes which reflect the culture and when you are a guest it is advisable to come with an empty stomach. The few times I have gotten to go visit Monica’s Bolivian family’s house I have left quite satisfied with usually having eaten both a meal and evening tea.
After dinner and dessert we put on a dance contest for them. It was so cute to see all of them dancing alone and with each other. They even organized themselves into two different groups and were making up their own dance designs, including a large pyramid. The next time there was Cochabamba day which included two masses and a big night time celebration on the church/school grounds. It is common for parties here to have foosball and trampolines. Odd combination yes, but the children definitely seem to enjoy them!
The most recent parade that I went to was one in which three of the girls danced and a couple of the girls went to watch. Many of the schools throughout Cochabamba participated and each represented a different type of dance from Bolivia. Some of them were repeated but it was still very cool to see how each dance was portrayed by each school. Of course all of the dancers were dressed in the costumes that were appropriate for the dance. They were so beautiful, colorful, and fun. I was reminded by watching one of the first few groups of the resourcefulness that Bolivians have. Instead of juice boxes here they have a company called Pil which sells juice in small plastic bags. One of the school collected tons and tons of these empty plastic bags and used them to make beautiful, ornate dresses for their dance. They had also made the boys costumes out of recycled cardboard.
The girls from the Hogar participated in two different dances. One dance was a slave dance which is in memory of or to represent the African slaves that were in the Yungas. When people dance this they usually paint their faces black, where fake afro hats, and make music with bongo drums. I don’t remember the name or the significance of the other one but they some of the dancers were playing recorder-like instruments and the girls were wearing black dresses with other colors and hats with strings hanging down on all sides. I've really enjoyed being able to watch them dance, support them, and see what they know about their culture, which is a lot.
The most recent celebration I went to was this past Sunday. Monica (my current site partner) was at another Hogar for her first year in Bolivia. While there she participated in a bible study and through that met some wonderful missionary sisters. They were celebrating their annual celebration and invited her, and consequentially me. So I journeyed an hour across town, went to mass at this gorgeous Franciscan church with a precious polish priest, and then went to the convent with Monica. When we got there they were selling food, drinks, and desserts. We both got pique which is French fries, with chorizo (bright red sausage), hard-boiled egg, beef, and vegetables, with ketchup, mustard, or mayo on top. It is commonly sold on the streets during parades or festivals and is quite tasty! Monica introduced me to her bible study friends and the sisters who live at the convent. They were all wonderfully welcoming and very friendly. Later on the entertainment began which included some skits done by children and even the bible study, music with many different instruments, and even some traditional dancing. It was quite a party and reminded me that I have so much more to learn and experience. After a month and a half I thank God for all he has shown me and that I have gotten to experience but remember that I have to continue to keep my eyes, ears, and mind open to all the Bolivia and the people here have to teach me. Both inside the Hogar, on the streets of Bolivia, and at the various events there is so much richness in culture, life, and celebration here!