Bolivian Futbol y El Campo

Trip Start Feb 06, 2011
Trip End May 03, 2011

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Flag of Bolivia  , Cochabamba,
Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Futbol Game

 Last Wednesday Jean Carla surprised us with tickets to see the local futbol team, Wilsterman, play a team from Brazil.  Vivian let us skip class on the grounds that it was a "cultural event".  After service work Nora and I met Justin at the stadium.  We had "preferred" tickets and Jean Carla lectured us about not going into the cheaper section with the crazy fans.  In our excitement Nora and I followed Justin into the gate.  As we made our way into the stands we quickly realized that we were in the wrong section.. the crazy section.  But, the view was good so we sat down.  Then we started wondering why there really weren't many people around us.  And.. a while later an old man came up to us and expressed that he was very worried about us because this section was "peligroso".. meaning people get drunk and get into fights.  (Nevermind the fact that he just described the student section of a WVU football game.)  We decided that we would just avoid the problems and move to the correct section.  However, when we tried to leave the gate an overweight policewoman stopped us and explained (not so nicely) that we couldn't leave.  We were stuck!  So.. after a few minutes of debate and a phone call to Jean Carla we were able to convince the men at the other gate to help us.  We received a police escort to the correct gate where I'm sure everyone involved in the situation was thinking, "ahh.. stupid Americans".    
  Once we settled into our new seats we decided that the "dangerous" section had a better view and looked like more fun.  When the game started the stadium seriously exploded.  People were setting off fireworks and throwing paper.. specifically shredded newspaper and rolls of receipt paper.  The videos and pictures of this are hilarious.  We began to realize why they had told us to move out of our first section.. although we still agreed that it looked like more fun. 
  The game itself was pretty uninteresting.  Brazil easily won against the Bolivian team.  The real entertainment came from watching the fans.  Partway through the game someone started a fire in the other fan section across from where we had been.. and we watched it grow until it covered two bleachers.  We don't have much time left in Cochabamba but we have decided that if we have the opportunity we are going to go to another futbol game just to sit with the crazy fans!

El Campo

  Thursday morning we got up early and started our trip to the countryside.  Jean Carla arranged for us to stay with families in the country in order to practice our Spanish and experience a different way of life in Bolivia.  The community that we stayed in was called Mallcorancho, located around 50 minutes outside of the city.  I was placed with a really sweet family that makes their living producing and selling soy milk to workout facilities.  The family consisted of three people, the father Omar, the mother Marina, and the sixteen year old daughter Mariel.  I loved them from the moment I arrived at their house. 
  Living conditions in the country are really different from those in the city.  None of the houses have indoor bathrooms and some don't even have showers.  Nora's homestay was very primitive because they didn't have a shower and the house was really small.  Her bedroom, which normally served as her host sister's bedroom, was also the living room.  I was fortunate to have my own room.  I found it really interesting that my bed had a straw mattress but the country air made me so tired that I hardly noticed.  My family had two outside bathrooms.. one did have a shower.  They had a big outside sink that served the purpose of a kitchen and bathroom sink as well as the place to washing clothes.
  My first day in the country I got to help package the soy milk.  It was awesome to do some physical labor and really see the results of my work.  I took pictures of the whole process but I'll briefly describe it too.  The night before I arrived the family had been up until 3am preparing the soy milk.. so by the time I arrived it was separated into huge containers.  Next they mixed in the different favors such as strawberry, banana and chocolate.  Then, someone had to strain off the foam.  In the next step Marina held the plastic bag (milk is processed in bags here.. not jugs) while Omar poured the milk into it.  Then he used a machine that sealed the bag closed using heat.  My job was to carry the bags into the adjacent room where they were put into pots of boiling water.  A boy that lives with them and helps with production would remove the bags from the boiling water once they were sterilized and throw them into huge tubs of cold water outside so that they could cool.  Once cooled, the bags of soy milk were stored in large refrigerators until they were delivered the next day.  Each day that I was in the country Marina gave me a big glass of soy milk.  It was delicious! 
  On our second day in the country we got up early and walked with Jean Carla to the Viloma school where other Amizade groups have been building classrooms.  We happened to be there close to Father's Day and the kids put on a show for us and their fathers.  We were able to witness globalization in action when a group of girls performed a dance to a Justin Beiber song.  Check out the video I've attached. 
  The best part of the country was getting to enjoy the outdoors.  It was so green, sunny and beautiful!  I spent my two days there playing with my families three dogs and five cats.  It was a great time to reflect on my trip and relax.
  There was a downside to the country.. the food.  The problem wasn't that the food was bad but that there was too much of it.  Each day Marina made me huge plates of rice, eggs, tomatoes and potatoes.  I tried to tell her that I didn't want that much food but she just looked hurt if I didn't accept it or eat it all.  So, I ended up eating more food than I usually eat in a week.  On Friday alone I ate five eggs!  This is a typical problem for host students in Bolivia because the more food your family gives you the more love they are showing.  It is their way of making you feel welcome.  Needless to say by Saturday morning I was ready to return to my vegetarian house where Susana understands that I don't need a lot of food.
  We left Mallcorancho early on Saturday and the first thing Nora and I did was take a shower.  After showering we did the most city thing we could do.. we got manicures and pedicures.  Together my manicure and pedicure cost ten US dollars!  In the US I rarely get my nails done because I can't justify the cost but here it is amazingly cheap and the service is even better. 
  Unfortunately that was the highlight of my Saturday because by the evening I had gotten sick.  I spent Saturday night puking and most of Sunday in bed.  All of that food in the country had come back to haunt me.  Today is Wednesday and I finally feel fully recovered from that unfortunate experience.   
  Now life is back to normal.. a lot of homework and service work.  Right now Nora and I are sitting in our favorite cafe having coffee and doing homework (or blogging in my case).  We come here at least four times a week and the waiter has stopped giving us a menu. Haha.  I've been struggling this week because the reality of leaving Bolivia is starting to set in.  I am in love with Latin America and a huge part of me wants to delay graduate school and find a way to live in this part of the world for a few years.  But.. those are thoughts for another time and another day.  I think that the rainy season in Cochabamba is finally lifting so I'm going to go out and enjoy the sun!

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