Thursday, May 28, 2009

My Newest Blog Ever

I have proven myself to be horrendous at updating this thing, especially this month. And I have no excuses. If you only knew how much time I've wasted on Facebook.

Today was a very odd day. (You're going to have to catch up now with mainly current way am I recounting everything in May. If you're really distraught about that, join Facebook. It's a lot easier to write a one sentence status than a 40 paragraph blog.) Last night I had a dream that someone died. I was woken up this morning by a phone call stating that one of the babies named Joel had died in his sleep last night. Only 3 months old. He was being taken care of by 2 of my friends, Nikki and Alie, at their home for a long time, and was back in the orphanage when he died. They're still not sure what happened, only that his lungs filled up with fluid, and his heart stopped. Needless to say, Nikki and Alie are heartbroken, as are many of us who knew baby Joel. He was precious. One of the cutest kids you've ever seen, to the point that people regularly stopped Nikki walking down the street with him to hold him, kiss him, whatever.

In conjunction with the grief of today, it was the first cloudy day I've had since being in Cochabamba...exactly one month ago did I arrive. I can't help but think that God was responsible for that, showing His nearness in our grief, as He is described in the Bible as one who is near to the brokenhearted.

If anyone who reads this prays, pray for my friends Nikki and Alie, a mother and daughter from New Zealand, who are dealing with Joel's loss deeper than anyone, as they were the closest to Joel, essentially his family.

In spite of today's grief, I can say honestly that the past month has been a month of happiness, of great work, of great friendships, and of my plans to leave Cochabamba being continually foiled. In a good way. As for the building that was my "purpose" for coming...well, I'll just show you...

From this:

To this:

To this:

Didn't turn out too bad. They're going to hire out the rest. Dan and I didn't get as far as we wanted, but whatever.

The construction allowed a lot of breaks and time with the kids. I have had an absolute blast with them, especially the babies at Casa 1 (the house I've been working at...there are 3 total). Here are a couple of my faves...

Not uploading right...

Beyond the kiddos, the people I've met have been amazing here. Dan, for one, is the dude. Officially. He and I had a blast climbing mountains, riding motorcycles (to his credit, I rode on the back of a motorcycle for the first time with him. I may be hooked...), and other troublemaking that shan't be mentioned in a public forum. I was sad to see him go back to the States, and figured I'd be ready to leave for Ecuador soon after, as was my plan...not so much. When he left, I started realizing how close I was with my host family here, as well as everyone else I'd met. Long story short, I'm still here. People are still coming up to me and saying "I thought you already left!" Yeah, yeah.

I've gotten quite attached to the place.

I'm tired. I'll update more when I'm not tired. Cool? Cool.

Friday, May 1, 2009


Hey everyone.

I'm way too tired to be doing this right now, but here's to trying.

So I'm in Bolivia, finally. Paid my $135 gringo tax at the border, got to go through the "special" customs process while the rest of my non-estadounidense bus waited on me, and off I went to Bolivia. The trip from Chile to La Paz was absolutely stunning. Some of the craziest, most beautiful mountains I've seen in my life. Here's a sample:

La Paz is a crazy city. I was only there for like 14 hours, but it was enough for the time being. I'll go back and experience it for real sometime. All I got from it was that it's crowded, full of traffic, no roadsigns anywhere, construction everywhere, and cold as junk.

La Paz = Loco

So after my one night there, off I went to Cochabamba. Just like 7 hours, not bad at all. Got there, called the orphanage director, and she sent Dan to pick me up. Dan is the guy who is doing the construction of the extra room with me. He's from Indiana, he's a fellow bassist, fellow homeschooler, and he's only 19. He and I have been getting along great. I was pretty stoked to have someone like him to work with. Having the wrong person to work with in a job as intensive as this one for 3 weeks would be miserable. My host family is awesome too. They're currently out of town on a church retreat, but their kids, parents, and tons of other relatives are staying here in the house for a big family get together this weekend. So I've been a little anti-social so I don't have to have too many awkward introductions.

Construction has been going, well, ok. You'd think from my sunburn and the blisters on my hands that we would have made tons of progress. Not so much. When I first got to the job, we were mixing concrete for the foundation in a wheelbarrow, and we finished that part well enough. Dan had already laid the molds for the foundation so all we had to do was mix and pour. Next was the floor. That was exhausting. We did that on Thursday, and got about halfway done. We also bought all the bricks for the walls. It was a long day.

I got there today (Friday) and was supposed to meet with some construction guy so he could give us tips and pointers and check on our progress. He proceeds to walk right past me when he comes in, walks around to the room, looks close for a couple seconds, and the first words out of his mouth are, "Excuse my language, but this is ****." Well that's not what I wanted to hear. He picks apart everything we'd done and tells us we've got to tear up the floor and start over. I was quite honestly ready to walk out at that point. Dan wasn't there at that point. He refused to talk to me, he just talked to the director of the orphanage and talked about Dan and me in 3rd person and all we needed to do. Not cool.

So, I began to crush the floor apart that we'd worked all afternoon to make the day before. Now, we get to start over on Monday.

The worksite, after laying the foundation, and pretty much what it looks like right now as well after ripping up the concrete.

On the back of the truck with our bricks, heading back to the orphanage

Dan smoothing the cement for the floor

I've gotten to be with the kids more than I expected. The orphanage actually has 3 different houses. The one that Dan and I are working at is the 1st one, and it houses kids between infancy and 5. Lots of crying, pretty constantly. Everyone's got a cough or a fever or something as seems to be the case with young uns. They're precious. Tonight I got to go to house 2 and work. Those kids are older...anywhere between 3 and 12. We had a blast doing dinner, playing tag, even watching Fox and the Hound and Dora the Explorer. It was just me and one other "tia" (aunt - all the workers and volunteers are tios and tias - uncles or aunts), and we had our hands full, especially when trying to put the kids to bed. They can sense lack of authority from a mile away, and they knew immediately when they saw me that I had no control over them whatsoever. Thus, getting them to go to bed, brush their teeth, say their prayers and then shut their mouths was a lengthy task. But I loved it. Hope to get to work with them some's cooler for me with them, because it's easier to make a connection than with nursery aged kids.

So yeah...all is well for the most part here in Cocha. Tomorrow, off to do a hike and test my lung capacity so far. We're not at the La Paz altitude, but we're also not anywhere close to sea level. Sorry this has been uber-boring. I'll try and update next time when it's not 2am and I'm dying for bed.


Let's backtrack, shall we? Valparaiso, Chile

Before moving on to current are some pix from the trip, starting with the ridiculous, crazy city of Valparaiso.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Chile hangs on for a couple more hours...

Ok so now, I'm stuck at the border of Chile, Peru, and Bolivia in a Chilean city called Arica, and I'm waiting for buses to La Paz. There aren't any until 10am tomorrow morning...that's what I get for traveling on a Sunday. Whatever. The finish in Santiago was awesome, which made it all the sadder to leave. Great people, great times, great memories. Will fill in the gaps when I (finally) get to Bolivia. The poor orphanage is going to kill me when I do ever get there. I've been backing up my date of arrival for about a week now. Welcome to the explosive combination of my lack of planning and the South American bus system.

Peace childrens.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

um...still in Santiago

Hey there all you patient people. I have been a slacker, there's no denying it. Oh well. Where to start...

After my last entry, I was in Santiago another week or so. The hostel here, Casa Roja, is awesome, but it's a black hole too. No one ever seems to leave. It's so much fun, an old mansion that's been restored and has tons and tons of rooms, housing I would guess 70-80 people at a time. I have met a ridiculous amount of people here from all over the world, and I've made so many contacts for future travels. And all this has been through my normal ebbs and flows of socialness. I still get a little ancy for time to myself, and half the time find myself choosing the empty table out in the courtyard even if I have friends out there. Even so, I've found some great friends that don't take offense at my inconsistent social habits.

One in particular, named James, from California, had been working here at the hostel for about a month and a half, and he approached me the night before I left for Mendoza, Argentina, asking if he could catch up with me in a couple of days, at which of course I was thrilled to have someone else to travel with. So I left for Mendoza on Thursday, April 2nd. Got there, and the hostel had given away my bed even though I'd reserved it. I got in late, and that's a long story in and of itself which I can go over later. If you're lucky. So they put me up in another hostel down the road, and then I went back to the first hostel the next night. It's called Hostal Independencia, and it was much smaller than Casa Roja but still a great place to meet people and connect. James arrived a couple of days after me and I was able to save him a bed, because they stayed pretty full. While we were there we ate good steak which is one of the things Argentina is known for, and we did tours, and just walked around the city. It is a beautiful city, very green, lots of plazas, etc. Great vibe altogether. We also met some cool folks there - 3 girls from Holland that made every place and situation interesting - a 19 year old South African rugby player named Zach, and a Canadian named Joel. We did a good bit together.

James and I spent a week altogether there, and then headed back to Santiago to Casa Roja. After a day or two here, we went to Valaparaiso which is a city on the coast of Chile, just a couple hours from here. I was blown away by was full of graffiti, but really stunning graffiti. We spent a whole day just wandering and seeing as much of the graffiti as we could. It's a fascinating city to just get lost in because everyone agrees that the roads make absolutely no sense whatsoever. They wind up hills, around, you take back alleys, through neighborhoods, and you never seem to get to the end of them.

We stayed in Valpo a week as well, and came back to - where else - Santiago. It's been really nice coming back here repeatedly, as it's a nice familiar place that's really easy to live in and get your bearings about you.

A big question has been where to from here. James and I had been planning to head south together and get as far south as we could in Chile before winter makes travel impossible. However, my current cash situation has sort of limited my opportunities as well. It's been a big question for me if I need to go ahead and find work here in Santiago (which honestly wouldn't be too hard), go on south and be as cheap as possible, or find a viable 3rd option. The 3rd option, thankfully has surfaced and worked out well. I've been talking to an orphanage in Bolivia for a bit, and at first, they told me they were full and didn't need help. But they got back with me a week later and told me that they were working on a construction project there at the home, adding a room, and there was only one guy working on it. He's obviously desperate if he wants me to help with construction :). And so long story short, they've accepted me there at Casa de Amor in Cochabamba, Bolivia. I'm pretty stoked to be doing something with a little more purpose to it again. Of course I will have to find work eventually, but for now, at least for 3 weeks, I'm squared away.

The plan was to leave tomorrow, but I am feeling a bit under the weather with a pretty nasty cough. So the orphanage has been very cool with me, and so I'll probably wait till Friday to leave now so that I'm not traveling sick.

In other news...some of you heard my iPod got stolen, which was royally crappy. Fortunately, the staff here at the hostel found out who did it and got it back, which I certainly was not expecting. The bad thing is, it was wiped clean by whoever stole it, and all my music is back in Ecuador on my hard drive, sitting there in Quito. I also have music on Tyler's network back in Roswell, and I am attempting to transfer it to my friend Oli's laptop as we speak. I've been on his computer for probably 3 hours now transferring files, and it has transferred...wait for it...0.1 gigs out of 15.4 total. Not looking real promising.

Whatever. I've met so many people who have had their iPods jacked or broken and they've been without music for up to 4 months now. And they still seem to be living and breathing like other human beings with iPods. There's still time, sort of.

Ok so this was way too long. Thanks if you've made it this far. to hear traditional Chilean music with friends. Even with a cough and without is good.

Cheers folks.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

more pix...

I realize some of you don't have facebook and have not seen the 1st pic from the trip...thus, here's a random sampling of Ecuador, PerĂº, and Chile...enjoy.