What Can I Say?

15 06 2009

So the last change of plans was last week, right?

Not in Latin America. I noticed yesterday in Sucre that there actually was enough air movement that I, a Kansan, was ready for the first time to admit that there occasionally is wind in Sucre, Bolivia. At times and in places, anyway. I didn’t really think any more about it than that till I had been standing in line for half an hour or so at the airport, said line not moving perceptibly, when they announced that my flight for Santa Cruz was cancelled due to a tail wind.

That meant, obviously, that I was not going to make my Santa Cruz-Miami flight. Or the Miami-TX flight, or the TX-KS flight. Which means that I am not writing this from my living room as I expected to be.

Which doesn’t mean that I’m depressed at all. I wanted another two weeks in Sucre, but if I have to settle for 2 1/2 days in Santa Cruz, I guess I can handle it. I was pretty stressed out through mid-afternoon today, simply because I didn’t know what was going on or how it would turn out. The airport put me up, with several others, in a really nice hostal in Sucre. It was great. I had fresh pineapple juice with my breakfast this morning … if that’s not enough to make you feel that all’s right with the world, I don’t know what would.

Then they got me on the next flight to Santa Cruz at 11:20 this morning. It would have been 11:20, that is, if we hadn’t set so long in the airport before takeoff. After I got here, I asked the customer service folks, and they were kind enough to tell me where American Airlines had an office. Another passenger had given me a hint in Sucre that I should get a letter certifying that my flight had been canceled (or anyway that they bumped half the passengers), and the taxi driver eventually found the office without charging me excessively.

To make a long story somewhat shorter, the folks here kindly took care of changing the flight – I almost got one to Rio, but that didn’t work – and recommended a hostal to me. They let me leave my luggage at their office while I walked a couple blocks, made the arrangements there, and came back and got a taxi for my luggage. That was the part that bothered me; I didn’t feel like I could afford very well to get hit for $30-$50 per night. This place only costs about $10.50. It is decent enough, just bare bones rooms and shared bathroom. It is pretty outside the rooms, with foliage plants all through the patio areas.

I will be flying out (Lord willing) on Wednesday night and arriving Thursday just after noon, only three days later than planned.  I got a map of Santa Cruz from the hostal – It was actually free! – and started walking around.  I haven’t even consulted the map excessively; in the last 4 weeks I have developed a capacity for orienting myself in Bolivian cities, I think.  I looked up Lonely Planet, and found a Museum of Natural History, a zoo, and another sort of wildlife thing outside of town.  I think I can fill three days pretty easily.

When I got here, I felt like I had left Bolivia.  I was sitting in that office, with loud traffic outside.  Across the street was a department store with a sign in English about “Sale – up to 30%.”  I really missed Sucre.  But after getting out a little, I can say I am definitely still in Bolivia.  Just stuck outside on my own, finding my own things to do. 

Marcelo explained to us a while back that the comparative friendliness of Bolivian cities is due to the diiferent climates.  He wasn’t joking a bit, either.  He said that in Sucre, it gets pretty chilly, and the people are pretty closed.  In La Paz it’s really cold, and people there are clear unfriendly, generally speaking, not even wanting to look at you on the street.  In Santa Cruz, it’s very warm, and the people are open and friendly.

Pardon my former skepticism.  I still can’t quite attribute it to the climate – it get’s colder in KS than La Paz – but I was shocked this afternoon as I walked down the street when a lady smiled at me and greeted me with, “Buenas tardes.”  I don’t think I even responded in time.  The people here are mostly friendly.  The folks in café’s are patient if you walk in and have no idea what they sell or what you want.  No one has seemed impatient with me yet.  In Sucre, once people have seen you 2-3 times and think they know you, or if there is a business relationship or mutual friend, they are quite friendly.  But I haven’t found them to be so as a general rule.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I miss the people and places in Sucre, and the sleepy, small-town atmosphere.  But I think I will enjoy myself here.  I have seen Sucre and its surroundings.  Last weekend I got to see little bits of La Paz.  Now I get to meet a third face of Bolivia, and I don’t have a problem with that at all.

If you’re wondering, I do still plan to be back in time for my reception Saturday. 😆  Just pray that nothing else happens.  It was windy here when we came in, and nobody cared; I would guess that there is just a lot more wind here.  I actually felt right at home as soon as I got off the plane, and I need hairspray more than I have in the last month.

So here I am with nothing to do but be a tourist.  I will try to hang onto my money … they do have a lot of crafts here that they didn’t have in Sucre … and I hope to see you soon (those of you that I know in person).

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