Alto Beni

Trip Start Mar 01, 2006
Trip End Dec 01, 2007

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Saturday, July 21, 2007

Waking up at dawn, we found out that we had a flat tyre, so that was the first duty of the day.
We left Chiara and Marco sleep, and with Ricardo, Roberto, Marco and Fabio we went to Palos Blancos, a town 20 minutes from Sapecho.

There we needed to get wood and tools and nails to fix the house of the NGO in Santa Ana. Ricardo and Robero had to see some other people too, on work-related issues.

It was market day, so it was nice to wander around. The shopping and meetings took time and nothing was simple, as usual, but finally we got back to Sapecho.

Off we went to Santa Ana. We stopped at the petrol station to fill up the jerrycans for the boat ride. On the way we had lost two of the four jerrycans. We left Fabio at the petrol station, went back looking for the jerrycans, which had already dissapeared from that 1km stretch of road, of course. So we had to go and buy other ones. At that time we realized that one of the brake pads was seriously leaking brake fluid... so no way to go to Santa Ana like that. We drove slowly to Palos Blancos, where Ricardo stayed to have the car fixed.
We bought jerrycans and some yummy cheese and fresh bread, mandarines and bananas, and chartered a taxi to go to Santa Ana. Picked up Fabio and the fuel on the way, and got in Santa Ana, where the boat was waiting. We bought a couple papayas, a couple coconuts, and picked up some lemons before embarking.

The river cruise was great, and we visited two other villages downstream, before coming back to Santa Ana late in the afternoon.

Ricardo was waiting for us, the car had been fixed. We went back to Sapecho for a shower, and then headed back to Santa Ana for the evening festivities.

It was the Toma de Nombre at the high school: when a promotion of bachelors graduate, there is a ceremony during which the promotion takes its name (Toma de Nombre).
More importantly, it was the first promotion of the Santa Ana high school, a great step for the Mossetene community, as their kids would not have to go to Palos Blancos or further to study.

The ceremony was quite old fashioned by our standards, strict and almost military at time. There were speeches, and songs, music, etc... When they unveiled the name of the promotion, they explained that the majority of the parents had voted for Ricardo's name. Obviously a great man, he had been visiting the community and working with them for the past 15 years. His speech was very inspiring I think, giving more perspective and a longer time vision to the achievements that were completed in that community.
Ricardo is very respected, and beloved, in the community, and we benefited from that, with a fantastic hospitality.

The kids were incredibly alive and chatty, having fun, talking a lot and playing with us. When the kids are like that, it tells you good things about the adults they live with. In just that short time, the Mossetene appeared to me as great people.

A word about the dancing, which is very conservative: a man and a woman dance in pair, the pairs are aligned. Man and woman can change side, but they just don't touch, and they almost never look at each other. It seemed more like they could watch everybody else but their partner. Some of them loked very bored. The Italians were trying to input some bolder danse moves (like lifting the feets higher, or turning the shoulders 45 degrees instead of 5), it was a welcomed atraction, but nobody would accept to do the same.
After 3 or 4 songs, witout changing partner, everybody would return to their tables, drink some more, and get back for another round wth someone else 20 minutes later.

A very nice evening, thanks to Ricardo who took us there and the community of Santa Ana.
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