It’s already Wednesday! Time is really flying by! Soon we will be joined by our fellow classmates and supervisors. We can’t wait! Today started off with another delicious breakfast here at El Rey Palace Hotel where we have been met with nothing but kind and polite staff. My personal favorite is the yogurt with bananas and my fellow classmates have enjoyed eggs, toast, croissants, pancakes, and many other delicious things to start off the day. Everyone seems to enjoy the coca tea with has helped with the affects of the altitude which seem to get a little bit easier day by day. The weather is a lot warmer than expected. *Note to those joining: it has been very cold at night, but warmer during the day. When we go on long walks we tend to take off layers! Don’t forget your sunglasses because the sun is SHINING!
Spanish lessons have proved to be very helpful and tailored to each’s groups needs. Currently Elanna and I are working on grammar (Subjunctive in particular) while fellow classmates focus in on vocab, other aspects of grammar, and more advanced areas of comprehension. The teachers have proved to be extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Today as part of Spanish class Elanna and I were taken to the San Francisco Museum by our Spanish Instructor Carlos. This tripped proved to be very informative.
Before even entering the Museum we encountered a protest in the Plaza of San Francisco. Carlos informed us that last week there was a protest against the current president of Bolivia, Evo Morales. This time the protest was in support of President Morales. Hundreds of supporters were gathering together to show their support of Morales’s policies.
Once inside the Museum we were greeted by a tour guide who took us the rest of the way. Unfortunately pictures were not allowed inside but I did manage to get some pictures of the outside and the inside garden (which was allowed). Inside the Museum there were beautiful paintings which were done by many various anonymous painters (mostly indigenous). One interesting fact that was relayed was that the indigenous people who painted these works felt a strong connection with Jesus. Therefore instead of painting the Roman soldiers in a traditional manner, they were painted as Spaniards in many of the works in the San Francisco Museum. Currently there are 4 San Franciscan monks still living at this location, and there is an active school at this location as well. We hope to return here with our fellow classmates sometime as soon as one part of the tour was closed.
The trip the the Museum was a welcomed addition to our Spanish lessons. We learned that this location has been the site of many important historical moments in Bolivia’s history. This would include being an integral part in the Revolution of 1809.
Returning back to our classmates also proved to be another adventure! During midday here in La Paz we witnessed two separate protest. Carlos was sure to keep us out of harms way as sometimes these protest can get out of hand. During these protest traffic is completely stopped. Carlos explains that the people of La Paz have become some what accustomed to these weekly occcurances.
The first protest is by “Los Medicos”, which here would include the doctors, nurses, dentists, and all those in the medical field. Carlos explains that they are protesting against working an 8 hour shift. Right now they are working 6 hours shift. “No tenemos miedo, No tenemos miedo!” ( We are not afraid! We are not afraid) We hear them shout, as we look for an alternative route back. Then we encounter the students protesting against the 8 hour shift as well as the minimal wage. Carlos explains that here in La Paz roughly minimum wage is about 800 bolivianos a month (roughly $114). We return to meet our classmates safe and sound. We make a quick stop to pick up some much needed refreshments and snacks and head the the hotel for a midday siesta. Lucas and the other teachers have arranged a wonderful afternoon! We will need our rest.
We have returned from a wonderful afternoon at el Instituto Exclusivo where Lucas and the other instructors invited us to a traditional Apthapi. Apthapi is a traditional Aymara way to share typical food. This is a native word which means brings to the city. It was explained by one of the instructors that this was originally done as a meeting after the harvest where everyone came together to join in the goods of the harvest. This tradition is carried on in Universities, schools, and is commonly celebrated with typical Bolivian food as well as fruits, breads, and cookies.
Tonight’s menu included:
Carne seca frita de llama (dried llama)
mote con queso frito (grain, with fried cheese)
huevo cocido (hard boiled egg)
llagua (picante tradicional) traditional spice
Typical Bolivian drinks:
Fresco de Canahua (Marina de Canahua negro)
Willkapatu (refresco de semilla)
linaza (semilla de linaza)
Bread/ Desert included: Sarua, Kavcas, and Marraqueta.
Food was delicious with my personal favorite being the fried cheese and the kavcas. Fellow classmates recommend the Linaza beverage as well as the carne seca frita de llama. Lucas as the fellow instructors were very welcoming and it was a great time!
We meet some new friends!
At instituto exclusivo we meet a great group of girls who are in La Paz volunteering their time at a local orphanage. They are here from London for 3 months and are also taking Spanish lessons at I.E. It was an instant bond as we talked about our individual programs and what we were doing here in La Paz. We received many insider tips on how to survive here in La Paz including where to eat, where to shop, and some do’s and don’t about visiting el Alto Mercado. Our new friends have been here for 3 weeks and have traveled to many places including Lake Titicaca! They said we are going to have an amazing time. After some more bonding we joined our friends at a local cafe for coffee and drinks to chat more about our experiences. We learned about the orphanages here in La Paz and the amazing work these girls are doing. We explained about our future work in Camino and CEREFE. They were very interested to hear all the details and about the SLP program in general. We had a great time! We hope to meet again with them real soon!
Now its off to do some homework and rest up!
Tomorrow we have another full day ahead of us as we are heading to El Alto! Keep you posted!