Miscellaneous Updates

8 06 2009

I guess I will try for another short update, since I’m online and not really busy tonight.  Actually, I do need to write a short paper for tomorrow, come to think of it.  This will probably be miscellaneous stuff.

I have made my final adjustment to my plans, I hope.  I really tried last week to work in a visit to my professor from last semester in Brazil, as he and his wife had invited me to visit them.  But no matter how I worked it, it was going to cost more than my budget for the whole four weeks.  So I thought I would give up on it, but then I found out that Friday’s classes here were cancelled, and decided to give the Lake Titicacatrip one more shot.  I stopped in at one of the travel agencies here on Saturday, and one of the ladies there promised to email me the information by noon today.  As I had no emails from her, I stopped back in at noon today, and she had forgotten (predictably).  So she went ahead and arranged everything while I was there.  I might have paid a little too much, but every detail of the trip is arranged for me this way.  And it cost well under $200 anyway.  I have economized pretty strongly on this trip so far, and I am going to do this much here at the end.

The flights leave at all the wrong times, so I couldn’t make it by plane.  I will be taking a sleeper bus at 8:00 p.m. Thursday night for a 12-hour bus ride.  At 8:00 a.m. the next morning, they will pick me up at the bus terminal in La Paz and get me to Copacabana (visible at the above link).  I think we do some sight-seeing there, and then I am to spend Friday night in a hotel on la Isla del Sol (Isle of the Sun).  Actually, I guess all of Friday afternoon and Saturday morning is to be spent in seeing everything there is to see on la Isla del Sol, after which it is back to Copacabana, and then La Paz, on then a 12-hour bus ride back to Sucre through Saturday night.  I hope to be able to make one last service here in Sucre at the mission.  Then I’ll collect my stuff from the Magariños’ and at five or six o’clock fly to Santa Cruz.  I’ll leave Santa Cruz at 10 or 11 Sunday night, and arrive at home about 1:30 on Monday.  I should be thoroughly exhuasted.  I’m afraid that this La Paz trip is going to be far, far more “touristy” than what I want, but I was afraid I couldn’t effectively arrange it by myself.

I am so not ready to leave.  I feel like I am just starting to get the hang of things, and I would give a lot for another two weeks here, if I could.  But it really isn’t possible.  I do feel like I have used my time about as effectively as I could.  The first two weeks I packed a lot in – getting to know Sucre, a 1-day trip to Potosí, visiting museums, the hike in the mountains – it felt quite full.  I was afraid then that it would settle into … not exactly monotony, but not getting anything new in.  I don’t feel that that’s been the case at all, though.

I have spent quite a few hours at an orphanage here in the last couple of weeks.  It is kind of tough.  You like to work at things where you know you can make a difference.  Here, you can’t make a difference.  You go in, and there are 20-25 children, ages 2-5, and they have no mommies and daddies.  And whatever you do, you can’t give them mommies and daddies.

They call everyone mamá, except for the boy volunteers, whom they call papá.  The younger ones still say mamá to them sometimes, though.  The simple fact is that a lot of them don’t really know what mamá means.  I feel like I can’t begin to get it across by writing about it.  They brought me in to show me around, and took me to the toddlers’ room first.  Then we went through the babies’ room, where they showed me a baby that had been abandoned in a church and was 3 weeks old now.  After that, we went to the oldest group, where I stuck.  I’m one of 3-5 mamás at any given time.  In two minutes, children at different tables had hold of both my hands, and were pulling me in different directions, and wanting to touch my clothes and undo cuff buttons and pull my hair.  I stayed an hour and spoon-fed a little girl who is actually quite old enough to feed herself, but finagled me into giving her that attention that day.

The little one that monopolizes me nowadays is 2-year-old Juanito, or Juancito, or Juanchito (depending on who’s talking to him).  I guess he isn’t adoptable; it’s just that his mother has mental problems and they had to take him away from her, they told me to day.  She evidently comes in sometimes in the mornings to see him and help out.  He is jealous of any of the other children who want to share me; sometimes he even slaps at them.  He likes me to lift him onto a railing and walk back and forth, back and forth with him, lifting him around the planters, and with my arm around him all the time.

On the other end of the spectrum is Sebastian, who always scowls, or throws stuff at me, or tries to hit me, if I try to speak to him or show him any attention.  They told me today that some people in the US were going to adopt him, and everything was ready to go, when they found out that he is missing one ear, and decided they didn’t want him.  I would guess he is 3, maybe 4 years old.  He smiled at me today, for some reason.  He came up and was showing me a doll, and he liked it when I made it wave at him and say, “Hola, buenas tardes.”  He made it wave back at me and repeat the greeting.

The only constant in the childrens’ lives are a few of the nuns.  The older one comes out at mealtime, and sometimes leads the children in a prayer, and lectures them about being grateful for their food, and scolds any of the little ones who are eating with their fingers, and goes around and checks to see they are all sitting properly in their chairs and so on.  I know she really does care about them, but the problem is that children weren’t mean to be in that sort of child/adult ratio.  They have to be overly strict to keep the place from being a madhouse.  It’s lots better than Oliver Twist or Nicholas Nickleby, but it still makes me hurt.  There are four younger woman hired to come in shifts and do most of the caretaking.  It’s done in assembly-line fashion, pretty much, and the children are pressured to fit into that mold.  It’s a matter of necessity.

I will try to post pictures when I get back to the States, as I mentioned.  Right now I can’t connect the camera to the computer.

Yesterday, René and his wife were bringing me back from church, and I asked them what part of town they lived in.  René told me, and added, “We live with these children,” gesturing towards the SUV-load we were riding with.  I knew that they brought 8-10 children to church with them, but I thought they were neighbor children that they collected.  I kind of laughed at his joke, although startled, and responded, “But not in your house.”  Quite seriously, he said, yes, in their house.  I was dumbfounded … I asked, did they have their own orphanage, then?  He said that basically they did.  I am still shocked.  The two of them are in the neighborhood of 30 years old.  They have one school-age little boy and a toddler.  I can’t imagine how they do it.

They invited me to visit them tonight; they were going to call around seven and pick me up.  But I messed up in riding the bus back from the orphanage, and was very late, and they forgot to call anyway, I guess.  Hopefully it will happen tomorrow night.

Well, I’m going to go ahead and get off of here.  It was random, as I promised.  Thanks for reading!

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3 responses

8 06 2009
Corina Dodson

Amy, I am really enjoying your posts! Do you have any information on adopting any of the children there in Bolivia? If so, I would love to get some. My heart bleeds reading about the awful conditions they have to live under. Maybe I can help a little. Thanks!

9 06 2009
AmyR

Corina, last night I googled “adoptions from Bolivia,” I think, and there is a lot of useful information. I think it is a long, expensive process. They don’t make it easy. Between 2002 and 2008, there weren’t many adoptions, if any, but it is opened up again now.

9 06 2009
Corina Dodson

Thanks Amy, I will look into it!

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