The adventure begins

August 20th

I arrived safely in Bolivia yesterday after 24 hours of door-to-door travel. I was weary, but in good spirits. I slept nearly the entire flight from Miami to La Paz and was happy and more than a touch relieved that my Mexican Spanish was well understood in this South American country.
Yesterday I met with one of our employees in Santa Cruz — Bolivia¬¥s largest city of more than 2 million people. She showed me around the city and took me to an excellent restaurant for a traditional Bolivian dinner. The food was muy sabroso, as they say. Grilled chicken seasoned with lime juice, white rice with parsley, pinto beans, grilled yucca with tomatillo salsa. Yes, I could easily be fat and happy in this country.
I asked Ruth why there were so many tourists from Japan on my flight to Bolivia. I wondered if it were a strange coincidence, or if she knew of a Japanese community in the country. She said after WWII and the bombing of Hiroshima, the city of Santa Cruz extended their friendship to the Japanese and let the country know that anyone who wanted to come farm in Bolivia was welcome. There would be land available for them to start over. Many Japanese took up the offer and today this large city is peppered with pagoda architecture, TV stations in Japanese and a market full of Hispanic and Asian delicacies. It is the odd cultural story like this that makes me love travel. Who would have ever guessed central Bolivia was the home to a large Japanese farming community?
No photos yet, but I promise tomorrow to take many. I´m off to a rural community for four days to work with our surgical team. Apparently they are short a nurse, so I am actually going to work in the operating room as a helper. I´ve never been anywhere near clincal health in this manner, so I´m more than a bit nervous. Hopefully I don´t faint at the sight of blood.
One more quick note — when I was in Santa Cruz with Ruth, she kept pointing out the indigenous people who were selling different trinkets on the streets. Many weren¬¥t selling anything, but were begging. I couldn¬¥t help but stare. Their clothing and features are so distinct. The woman have long, jet black hair they plait (thanks Min!) in two perfect braids that run down their backs. Their babies are swaddled in brightly colored blankets that look hand-woven — blankets not terribly different from those of the Native American reservations in northern Arizona. These women are tiny and their skin is dark; their black eyes shine with beauty. Ruth could tell the region the women had traveled from by their clothing. The brightly colored blankets were from Potosi — the silver-producing region of Bolivia. The other ladies in more current clothing were from Cochabamba, to the north.
Off to find my group and get something for dinner!
Wishing you well,
Kelli

P.S. In the US, no toothpaste or deodorant. In Bolivia, no knitting needles or scissors. Damn it! I am going to be stinky and miss my needles once I ditch my checked luggage and travel to Peru next week.

P.P.S. Alma, if you read this, bring books! I´m already through two of the four paperbacks I brought. (No knitting.)

Posted in
Journal, Public Health, Travel
Follow the comments.

16 Responses

  1. kelli,what an interesting mix of culture you are experiencing.
    good luck with being a nurse and everything else.

  2. Glad you arrived safely…Have A Great trip!

  3. I’ve been thinking about you. Glad to hear you arrived safely.

    Can’t wait to read of your adventures (as a nurse!!!).

  4. You write about your travels so beautifully. I don’t know if I will ever travel much outside of the US so it is really nice to read about your trip to South America. It is fascinating to read about the Japanese.

  5. Hello! i’m happy for you!

    the colored blankets name is “aguayo” and are so so beautiful! so colored, i like it!

    have a nice week!

  6. Hey – stay safe and don’t faint! Great to hear about your adventures.

  7. Yay! You’re there safe & sound. I was telling my relatives about you & your adventures yesterday at the shower (and they all loved the fruit bag, btw). Looking forward to hearing about more of your adventures!

  8. Glad to hear you arrived safely. Good luck in that OR! I can’t wait for the next installment.

  9. That was really interesting about the Japanese farming community. Thanks for sharing that with us.

    I think your surgery helper job sounds exciting!! Can’t wait to hear more of your great stories!

    Stay safe, doll – have fun!

  10. Weee! The Donk has arrived! I love that there are Japanese farmers in Bolivia — how randomly wonderful! See, I’m already smarter today thanks to you. Fanks, Donk.

    Also, super happy to hear you arrived safely. Be careful in that hospital room. You’ll be great 🙂

  11. Im so glad to read that you arrived safely and also about the wonderful “surprises” you have already had. Cant wait to hear more. Blessings!

  12. Kelli,
    Thanks for posting about your travel adventure. We kind of travel with you when we read your post. And good luck with the surgical group! Take care!

  13. Can’t wait to hear more! Hopefully you will be able to post again soon. Stay safe and get some toothpaste! 😉

  14. Oh, this was so interesting to read about the pockets of Japanese folk! When I was living in México, I realized that there were pockets of Japanese, Chinese, and Germans scattered through parts of México City. . .all arrived after WWII. Interesting!

  15. Google is the best search engine

Leave a Comment: