Bolivia Service Trip - 2011 Blog
For many of us, this morning was a very eventful morning. Many of us joined Mr. Mitch on a trip to the local barber to get a haircut and a professional shave. Unfortunately, Kevin Quinn refused to cut off his luscious locks even though the barber was begging to cut it. The boys were looking good with their fresh cuts and were ready for a big day. After the fresh shaves and haircuts, we embarked on a trip to the German Urquidi Hospital in Cochabamba.
The German Urquidi Hospital is a maternity hospital. At the hospital, we gave out clothing to newborns, premature infants, and pregnant women. It was very interesting to see the differences in how Bolivian hospitals are ran as opposed to American hospitals. One of the main differences was the lack of technology. On the second floor of the hospital, we saw all of the hospital records filed on shelves in folders. The nurses were taking notes on typewriters instead of computers. We slowly but surely managed to give out all of the clothing that we had gathered for the people in the hospital. We gave out outfits, bibs, small stuffed animals, and pacifiers. The women were so thankful to receive these items. Once we finished handing out clothing to every single mother of a newborn in the hospital, we left on an adventure to Freddy Kotoriy’s house in El Bosque, an upscale development complete with beautiful homes and a pool.
The boys and Senora Breen met Mr. Kotoriy at the airport in Bolivia on the first day. When he found out about the service we were doing in Bolivia, he wanted to show his appreciation for what we were doing for his country by inviting us to his house. Mr. Kotoriy is the Bolivian ambassador to Chile. He is fluent in five languages including English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Japanese. He was an unbelievably nice man who treated all of us to a generous lunch of saltenas and even to dessert. We swam in his pool and played soccer in his yard for a couple of hours before departing.
After leaving Mr. Kotoriy’s house, we went to mass at the Maryknoll House where Senora used to teach Spanish. She actually taught the priest that said our mass. The Maryknoll House teaches college age students Spanish and Quechua. The students get a one-on-one or two-to-one student to teacher ratio. The program lasts for five months of classes and then three months of living with a family in Cochabamba. By the end of the program, one should be fully fluent in the language and have no accent.
Then we went back to the hotel to freshen up and get ready for dinner at Eli’s. Eli’s is a pizza place with an “Interminable” pizza. It is 71 centimeters round and is supposed to feed 12-16 people. Surprisingly the pizza was very similar to American pizza. After exhausting our stomach muscles in order to finish the “Interminable” pizza, we waited and debated whether to get ice cream. Senora decided that we should have a talent show back at the hotel however by the time we all arrived back at the hotel, we were exhausted and needed to blog.
Kevin Quinn and Alex Lintner
on Thursday July 28, 2011 at 01:31PM
Up Hill Both Ways
We woke up at 6:15 to go to the airport for our flight to La Paz. The flight was only 30 minutes long and soon we were driving in two vans staring at a bowl-shaped city packed with buildings with a giant snow-capped mountain, ominously looming in the background. After 45 minutes of hitting the open-or shall I say winding-road, we arrived at Hotel Copacabana and got situated into our rooms. The city was much different than Cochabamba, seeming more metropolitan with towering buildings that seemed to touch the sky. Facing yet another interesting smelling city, we headed out for lunch. We all had a mild case of homesickness, so decided to eat at a more American meal and headed to Burger King. Everyone ate a great meal then got ready to hit the Mercado. After consuming our meal, we hung out in a small park. Ms. Forsythe was then convinced that she was covered with ants after seeing that they were gathered in the area where she was sitting. Her terror for these tiny insects was quite hilarious!!
After lunch we headed to the market for some shopping. The Mercado was quite interesting to say the least. It was situated upon a mountainous terrain and consisted of stores selling fascinating items ranging from llama gifts to vibrant clothing to instruments. We all bought hundreds of gifts (at a cheap price due to bartering with the shoptellers) to bring home to our families. After spending an hour and a half at the market, we returned to the hotel for a short nap.
We then climbed up the steep streets until we reached a restaurant to have dinner and a show. Several of us ordered llama steak to try something new. After eating dinner, a live band came out on stage. They played a song or two, and then a new band came on stage. Along with this new band, traditional Bolivian dancers came out in vibrant costumes. The music was extremely lively and soon enough the entire audience, actually mainly just us, joined in with the fun. We clapped along with the beat and they realized just how much fun we were having and the dancers began to invite us to dance on stage with them. The majority of us ignored our shyness and got up in front of everyone to dance to the cultural music. The show was great and I’m sure all of us can say it was more fun than the show in Cochabamba, due to the fact that we actually took part and helped make the show more interesting. We all took pictures and videos of each other dancing. At the end of the show, many of us bought CDs to take home to our families and remember the experience. We then headed home to enjoy a good night’s sleep.
Ya know, by our second day in La Paz, one would think Sra. Breen might have run out of energy, but she was up, bright and early, ready to show us the appetizing capitol of Bolivia. We began the day with a scrumptious breakfast of bread and tea on the second floor of the hotel. After filling our tanks for a day full of walking and fun, we began our trek to the capitol building. If you have ever been to La Paz, your memory could possibly be filled with visions of towering hills. Well we can all agree that in the city of La Paz, there is no such thing as downhill. We visited the capitol courtyard, fed some pigeons, visited the cathedral where our group received a blessing, and wrapped up the first half of the day at the National Museum of Art. We even had a guide give us a tour (in English) of the Art Museum, which was really nice! We then ate lunch, and visited the market for a second time. After which we hopped on a plane back to Bolivia where upon entering the airport for a second time it felt as if our trip was starting all over again.
-Alex Chrostowski, Fiachra McDermott, Chris Kurtis, Michael Koerner
on Thursday July 28, 2011 at 01:25PM
After a quick breakfast, we traversed the mountains to our service location of that day. We loaded the bus and were on our way for the scenic ride. Pat was not feeling well, so Senora helped make him comfortable in one of the classrooms, while the rest of the guys began helping the community outdoors. However, that does not mean Pat did nothing. He taught the little Bolivian kiddos about the wonders of Pokemon. Soon all of the children were gathered around Pat trying to catch ‘em all. They loved his Nintendo game system and he shared with them while they kept him company.
Once we arrived at the site, it was time for work. Our task for the day was to mix concrete and help the community pave a sectioned off area. We started off with a prayer, in English and Spanish, and then got to work! First, we began to collect stones to help fill in the gaps in the stone field which we would soon be filling with concrete. The reason we first filled in the area with stones was to decrease the amount of concrete used. This saves money which is very important to the people of the community, who need every possible dollar…err boliviano. It was like the opposite of a giant Jenga game. One had to find the perfect stone to fit each gap. And if it wasn’t perfect you just stomped on it until it fit. Or like Evan you just hit it with an even bigger rock. After an extremely long and tedious task of trying to find the perfect rock, we finally finished laying the stone.
Once the first part of one row was set, the men had to touch up and set up the wooden blocks to keep the concrete in place. This was a long process because they also ran out of water to mix the new concrete. Because of this minor setback, no one could work with the concrete…..so what did we do in the meantime???.....play futbal!!! Needless to say, the men killed us in the first half. Obviously they were used to the lack of oxygen, whereas when we started running, we were out of breath after a few meters!! We played as hard as we could and fun was had by all as the game ended and we were back to work!
Once the men came back with water and the concrete was done mixing, we went back to the site and got our wheel barrows ready. When the concrete was poured it splashed everywhere. Many a shirt was ruined that day. After the wheel barrels were full they were teleported to the Bolivian men spreading and flattening the “crete.”
It was a group exercise to apply sunscreen. Sunglasses were essential and those that lacked made sure to put it on their list of stuff to buy at the Mercado (market). Many triple applied sunscreen to be extra safe! Although the sun was extra hot, we always found relief in the shade!
While resting from the laborious work of moving concrete over a large field of rocks we discovered a great sight. Three puppies huddled together in the shade provided by two conjoined rooms. After our discovery the locals brought over the other two pups and we all gathered around to bask in their cute aura, until their mother came over and we left to eat lunch.
For lunch we had pig roast that the people of the community prepared for us in thanks of the work we were doing for them. It was delicious and was accompanied by fried banana and potatoes. The roast was delicious and we could tell by this kind gesture that the people were truly grateful we were there to help.
After lunch, the Bolivians wanted to thank us. They gave Senora a necklace hand-made of beautiful flowers and sprinkled us in paper confetti. Then each of us was given a pin and was granted access to the village if we were ever to return. Then the pequenos (little ones) sang us a goodbye song and we took a group picture.
After we returned to Cochabamba, Senora asked us if we were still hungry after that huge lunch. She was answered with cheers of BIFE LOMO BIFE LOMO (the name of everyone’s favorite steak)! Although surprised she caved and took us to our favorite steak house to finish the day. We had a delicious dinner and were ready for bed!
BIFE LOMO! –From Bolivia
Evan Quain and Mike Mars
on Thursday July 28, 2011 at 01:07PM
Hola de Bolivia!
We were up bright and early today to enjoy our first Sunday in Bolivia. After a speedy breakfast, we all piled onto the bus and headed off to The Sisters of Ave Maria Church, a convent and church near Senora’s childhood home, for 8am Mass. It was a fun experience to be part of a mass in a different language. Even some of our hombres were part of the liturgy. Mike K. and Kevin C. each said a reading, even with an array of slight mispronunciations. The mass helped show us how religion can unify all of us, even though the mass was in a different language. After the mass, we were greeted by the affable hermanas (The Sisters of Ave Maria), who we got to know and spoke some English which was great! We also met a very friendly cat at the convent, that we all loved dearly and were sad to see go.
After the mass, we took the bus to the local Cristo, the 200 foot statue of Jesus Christ. But before we could enjoy the statue, we had to get up there. It was one heck of a climb, with us climbing over 2,000 steps. By the end of the arduous trek, everyone was panting for air. But it was well worth the climb. Once we were up, we could finally take in the sheer beauty of the statue and the majestic view of Cochabamba and the adjacent mountains. For 1.50 bolivianos, (about 20 cents USD), we got to climb a labyrinth of assorted stairs, but we got an even better view from inside the Cristo’s tiny peepholes. Everyone got some great pictures, and even some souvenirs. We took the classic group shot of us on the stairs, with the Cristo overlooking us.
After the climb down, we once again meandered our way onto the bus and went to lunch. We went to a local Bolivian restaurant, where the specialty was chorizo, a long, thin sausage that was unlike anything we had had before. A few brave people got a stew that contained cow stomach, and Senora got “mushrooms”, aka kidney soup, which many students tried. The lunch was very palatable, and reminiscent of our experiences earlier in the week.
After an hour long trek on the highway, we went to a family friendly, recreational facility. There were many fun activitidades including; a zip-line and paddleboats. Most of us zip-lined, and even a few of us got some specialty Bolivian ice cream. Before we left, we took some more fotos at the dam nearby, overlooking a small lake. After we dropped Senora’s mother off, we went to the futbol field near her house and played some hardcore mini soccer. The field was about 20 feet long and many balls were kicked out of play. Our five best players went up against a team of local players. We didn’t stand a chance against them!!!!
After a long day of fun, we went back to the hotel to relax for a little bit, before going out to the festival. The festival was a lot less crowded because all the kids had to go back to school the next day. This gave us the opportunity to buy a multitude of sweets, without having to skim through the crowds. We brought the desserts back to the hotel, and made a dinner out of them with hot tea. The day ended with a bunch of us watching Home Alone. Mr. Mitch came to send us off to our rooms but even he had to say and watch the hijinks. At 11, we were off to bed, ready to start another day of hard work in the country side.
Preston Murray and Anthony Mercader
on Monday July 18, 2011 at 11:33PM
Our day began with breakfast and we were all looking forward to the work in the countryside that was ahead of us. We had breakfast and were off to Senora Breen’s mother’s house to pick up bags of clothing, rice, noodles, and sugar, along with oil that Senora graciously bought at the market the day before. Once we loaded all of these things into the already crowded bus, we embarked on a journey to the countryside. No journey is complete without a pit stop, so we stopped at a store called iC Norte, where they sold all kinds of American food including a good old Snickers Bar. After we got our fair share of home treats, we continued the journey to the countryside.
Upon arriving at the school in the countryside, we were greeted by a niece of Senora Breen’s and the head master of the school. We quickly unloaded everything into her niece’s house, but this was no easy task. The only entrance to her house was a wooden plank since the rains had basically cleared out a trench around her house. Once we had everything settled in the house, we brought the five bags of clothing into the school and were promptly greeted by the entire community, including their pet llama. The community was extremely excited for us to be there and even had a sign made to welcome us to the school. Before we began to give out the clothing we brought to the community, all of the women of the school community came up to us and put confetti in our hair signifying their gratitude for us being there. We began the work like we always begin it by saying prayers in both Spanish and English with the entire community. After prayers, we got settled into the classroom that the school graciously lent to us and began to give out the rice, noodles, sugar, and oil. The school director sent in the people who needed the food and oil the most. We continued handing out food to all of the community who was in need. We handed out supplies until we had none left.
After handing out all of our food supply, we brought out the clothes. We separated the women’s clothing from the men’s to be more productive, especially since there were so many people in need. A few people were allowed into the room at a time and were handed a piece of clothing or two, as well as a toothbrush and toothpaste. All of the children in the community received clothing and almost, if not all, of the adults also received some clothing. The children were extremely grateful, as well as the adults. They truly appreciated all of the time and generosity we bestowed upon them and it was so nice to see the excited look on each child’s face when they received their “gifts”.
After we handed out all of the clothing, we took some great pictures with the community and their llama and said our goodbyes. We then headed back to Senora Breen’s niece’s house to have lunch. We had sandwiches and also were able to try pheasant eggs and locoto peppers, which we soon discovered were extremely hot. We also sampled fruit from the region which was somewhat similar to an apple.
After lunch, we headed out for a hike up a mountain. A few of us started out running up the mountain and eventually met back up with the rest of the group before we faced the extremely steep trails. Soon enough, we found ourselves needing to climb on our hands and knees in order to scale the side of the mountain. It was a great experience as we were led up the side of the mountain by a local guide. The majority of us made it up the steep portion of the trail and reached a small plateau. Some people stopped at the plateau, while others still climbed even higher, aspiring to reach the peek. Only a handful of people reached the peak of the mountain, while others stopped nearly there. We took many amazing pictures on the side of the mountain portraying both the great views of the surrounding region and our expressions of achievement. Some people brought back small rocks from the top of the mountain as souvenirs. The climb down the mountain was just as difficult as climbing up, if not even harder. We all met back on the bus after a few hours of hiking.
When we returned to city, we had only a few minutes before we headed out again. This time, we were on our way to see a show in a local theatre entitled La Magia Del Folklore which was actually an extremely impressive display of Bolivian dance and music. Despite not understanding many of the actual folklores we were still able to enjoy the dancing and music. The dancers ranged from the ages of around 5 to 50. The dances portrayed both traditional Bolivian culture and music. There were 20 scenes in the show in total for us to watch. After the show, we went to a small restaurant that was right beside our hotel that served mainly fast American dishes such as hotdogs and burgers. We had a great day and are excited for the rest of the week!
Alex Litner and Fiachra McDermott
on Monday July 18, 2011 at 11:25PM
This morning was an adventure to say the least. What should have been quick jaunt to Sra. Breen’s mother’s house quickly escalated into an hour and a half escapade through the urban jungle of Cochabamba. Our fearless leader Mr. Mitch attempted to lead us through the concrete maze, but in the end, had to rely on asking directions, every man’s worst nightmare. It was only after the kindness of a stranger, and Ricardo’s linguistic skills, were we able to contact Sra. Breen and have her come to the rescue. Although this hapless adventure was not planned, it was a fun and enlightening experience.
Our journey through the city resulted in our belated arrival at Sra. Breen’s house. The other members of the group, who had taken a cab, had already started organizing clothes to distribute later. Upon arrival, members of our group joined the students organizing clothes while others sorted pasta, sugar, and rice in bags to be given out on a later date. When we had finished prepping items for distribution, we traveled across the street to begin a game of futball. After futball, the clothes were picked up and hauled to an all-boys shelter whose name means “wake-up” in Quechua.
We lugged our 100lb duffel bags full of donated clothes several city blocks to our final destination. When we arrived, we were swarmed with what seemed like hundreds of orphan boys. They were all smiling and could not wait to take us on in futball. After a brief welcome, the festivities began! I gave my camera to a small Bolivian child while I played soccer and returned to find hundreds of pictures of everything and everyone in the orphanage. We managed to win both of our intense World Cup style games, and developed a friendly rivalry. After soccer, we returned to the hall for post-game snacks and more competition in the form of arm wrestling and thumb wars. It was a blast and we formed a tight bond with several of the children. They were fascinated with Mr. Mitch’s arm hair and my height and blond curly hair. When it came time to leave, all the children were upset and refused to let us go. I had one hang onto my neck until I got out to the van. Visiting this shelter made us truly appreciate our families and all that we have. It was very difficult to leave and we will be sure to remember this experience. We finally said our goodbyes and headed to Donal’s for dinner.
Dinner began uneventfully, but suddenly became more interesting when Senora told us that we would have to eat our food with a fork and knife. It may sound simple enough, but it became much more frustrating because many of us ordered hamburgers and multilayered sandwiches. During dinner we were serenaded by a piano player, but after dinner Pat and Mr. Mitch took up the entertainment with a rousing rendition of Don’t Stop Believing. Mike also took a turn playing the piano and entertaining the rest of the diners!
Buenos Noches from Bolivia!
Brendan Keenan and Michael Koerner
on Sunday July 17, 2011 at 08:27PM
Today we were able to sleep in a little. After a fresh breakfast we headed to the countryside and handed out clothes to the children. The school was no bigger than the three classrooms located in Saint Michael’s Hall. There was one kid who was named Rodrigo who sang the Bolivian National Anthem. After the children finished their welcome, we began to sort and distribute the donations of clothing and shoes. We never saw so many smiling faces. Later, it was time for the game everyone was waiting for…Team USA vs. Bolivia. Though Miss Forsythe and Mr. Mitch claim winning against 7 year old children does not count as a fair win, we still held our heads high. Afterwards we assembled puzzles with the children, although most of them struggled with the concept working with puzzels, which was very difficult due to the fact that they spoke Spanish and Quechua… we are still trying to brush up our Spanish skills. One thing that amazed us was that they had never seen a Frisbee. We think they thought it was a magical flying disc. With a little too much enthusiasm we accidently tossed a Frisbee into a ravine. But our hero Hugo, a young boy we got to know, ventured into the ravine’s depths and retrieved the Frisbee for us. He received a handsome reward of 5 bolivianos. Some of us, including Phil in jeans, went on a run for a few miles down a mountain. Runners are not common in Bolivia and the police officers were confused by boys running in shorts in the middle of the day.
Upon our arrival to the second school, we were greeted by at least 200 students ranging from the ages of 6-18. The major donations we had for these children were two playgrounds. They were very grateful and the children kept trying to jump on the playground that was not yet complete. We learned the true meaning of “lost in translation” as we started to help build the playground we donated to them. As we tried to build the playground, we had many women and men directing us in Spanish, which was difficult for some of us because we are still working on our Spanish skills. We decided that us standing idly by was not any help so some of us decided to play Frisbee with the children, which amazed the children once again. We met a kid named Pablo who was incredibly “chill”, an American word that our translator Ricardo had a tough time translating to us. He didn’t talk very much but he was very cool and a few of us decided to get a picture with him, but other children steadily joined the group. In total we had about 60 kids playing Frisbee and trying to take pictures with us. Before our departure we handed out more clothes and were given gifts made of a bamboo like wood flute pins that had a little blessing attached, money purse, and key chain. Both of these schools really showed us the importance of appreciating how blessed we are to go to such a great school and have clothes to put on our back.
For dinner we went to a restaurant that had all kinds of meat. We shared a time of prayer recounting our steps of our journey that day. Our time of prayer is always a time we appreciate because we are running around everyday trying to keep up with Senora Breen. After prayer we learned a game involving dice and then dinner was served. Several of the guys ordered Courdon Bleu (with beef not chicken), Brendan ordered rabbit which was still “rabbitty” looking. I had ribs with an orange sauce. Overall, dinner was an awesome Bolivian experience and we are very excited about tomorrow’s activities!
-Mark Himler and Phil Plourde
on Friday July 15, 2011 at 10:58PM
Today we woke up around 7:30 to the smell of fresh waffles in the hotel breakfast room. Besides the waffles, they had fresh yogurt, exotic juice, eggs, ham and cheese on toasted bread, and cereal. Everyone was ready for the great day ahead of us!!
After that, we embarked on our journey to the homeless shelter in Cochabamba. Walking in Bolivia is quite an experience. The flow of traffic is extremely different than that of Philadelphia. Although none of us expected it, we made a random right through two large blue doors. Greeting us at the entrance were Bolivian women who dedicated their lives to helping the poor. Inside the shelter, our large group was split into three smaller groups. Some made juice with oranges, some set the table, and some prepared the meal. Several of us learned to chop food for the first time, but don’t worry, all fingers are still intact!!! We chopped carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers. It was amazing how quickly the Bolivian women prepared the meal, after we finished. While we prepared the meal, the less fortunate people prayed the rosary and said the “Our Father.” During this time of prayer, Ricardo and Alex C, who helped check the people in, met two boys, Oscar and Luis, who are now going to find them on Facebook. After the meal, we were happy to donate cake and a 21 inch television to the children at the shelter. The children were very excited when we gave them two cakes and loved looking at themselves in the pictures.
After finishing at the homeless shelter, we visited the market. The people at the market are open to haggling. People bought soccer jerseys, backpacks, hats, and instruments. Bartering is a skill only learned through experience. For example, Ricardo purchased the same backpack as Pat for 5 less bolivianos.
Then, we made our way back to the hotel in order to prepare ourselves for a night in town. We began our evening with a trip to the movies with estudiantes de La Salle. However, to our astonishment, the clock kept ticking and the students still had not arrived. The funny part was, they had our tickets…. So no students meant no movie. Our saviors finally arrived and we made our way to the theaters. The movie we saw was Transformers and we all wish we could tell you how the movie was, except the entire film was shown in Spanish. Thank God for Ricardo who translated for us!
After the movie, we went to dinner with los estudiantes. Our dinner consisted of a drink very similar to warm apple cider, and a funnel cake-like substance with cheese inside and powder on top. Many laughs were shared between the students and ourselves due in part to the language barrier blocking true conversation. In spite of such a barrier, we shared jokes, and taught each other different sayings from America and Bolivia. One of the most enjoyable parts of the night, was when Chris started laughing mid-bite into his food, thus, shooting the powder all over himself and the table. Despues de dinner, we watched a group of citizens dancing near a fountain and even showed them moves of our own. Finally, we reached the hotel for the final time that night, said good bye, Bolivian style, and then began writing this entry of the blog which you are reading right now.
-Kevin Quinn and Alex Chrostowski
on Thursday July 14, 2011 at 07:38AM
Today we woke up very early (at around 6:30) to take a three hour bus ride up into the countryside. Oh the landscape was beautiful with vast mountain ranges that struck all of us with awe. We also got to try many of the common snacks on the bus ride up with things such as the empanadas, which was a snack that reminded many of grilled cheese. We also got to meet Sra. Breen’s mom, who was very nice and provided other snacks for us.
Once we got to our first destination, a small agricultural high school, the group was split into two groups. The first half which consisted of mainly juniors plus Ricardo for translations started to clear out two rooms and get ready to lay a fresh coat of paint. The second group departed on the bus to a nearby farm run by a sister to set up a tarp on a big greenhouse.
As we painted, paint chips fell of the wall and on to the people painting. We painted alongside the students of the high school and made quick work of the classrooms. After painting we were given a tour of the school as a teacher spoke and Ricardo translated in to English. The teacher told us that the students washed their own clothes, grew their own crops, and slept at the school like a boarding school. During the tour we met the oldest person in the region, who was 88 and lived all by herself. The people of the region spoke a native language called Quechua which sounds nothing like Spanish. We then traveled to regroup with the other students.
As the other group headed over to the farm, they were greeted by a friendly man named Jose Maria, a man from Spain who was working with the sisters for five weeks. We were instantly put to work installing a plastic tarp for the second greenhouse, where they grow things such as parsley, carrots, strawberries, and lettuce. It was interesting communicating with the workers as we started to hammer in the tarp and secure it. As a reward, we were given delicious coconut yogurt made by the sisters. After completing most of the job, some of the kids started to prepare food while the students at the school finished up the painting and headed over.
We then had lunch in the sister’s house, which had a good dining room and a beautiful courtyard. We ate our ham and cheese sandwiches and finished the job with the tarp. We then said our goodbyes to the sisters and started to head home. The ride home was nice, as the sun was setting on the mountain side. We also learned that we could have bought a sheep for 70 bolivianos (which is ten dollars)! We finally arrived at Cochabamba as we dropped off the principal of the school in the city.
We had pizza for dinner at Eli’s which is known for having an “Interminable” (unfinishable) pizza which feeds 12-16 people. Everyone was full as half a pizza was left when Senora Breen told us that none of her past groups had left the pizza unfinished. One table stepped up and finished the pizza as we said we would not eat for another week.
-Chris Curtis and Ricardo Diaz
on Thursday July 14, 2011 at 07:35AM
İHola de Bolivia!
We arrived at Hotel Monserrat in Cochabamba, Bolivia after a hectic day of traveling. We flew from Philadelphia to Miami where we occupied our time with card games and many trips to the food court during our layover. Then we boarded our flight to Santa Cruz, where we unexpectedly met our pilot who just happened to be Senora Breen’s cousin!!!. In Santa Cruz we passed through customs and immediately got on our next flight to Cochabamba.
Once we arrived in Cochabamba at 8 AM our bus was already there waiting for us. As we were traveling to our hotel, we looked around and saw the Andes Mountains, which are quite a sight to see!! Many of the mountains were snow-capped. We soon arrived at Hotel Monserrat and quickly unpacked. Senora Breen took us out to lunch at Globos (which actually means balloons in Spanish). It was a very interesting experience, especially trying to put our Spanish skills to use trying to decipher the menu. It was our first interaction with the Bolivian people who have all been very hospitable and grateful for our service to their country. After our Globos experience, some of us exchanged money but all of us went back to take naps.
Once we were renewed, we met up with some of the estudiantes from the Lasallian School in Cochabamba. They were very friendly and willing to talk to us and even test their English skills. They showed us around the streets of Cochabamba, from the main market to the movie theater. During our tour, we visited a park and enjoyed ourselves on the playground equipment. We also took a public bus, which cost 1.5 Bolivianos (about $0.21)! The bus was packed to the limit! Also, we are still trying to figure out if there are any traffic rules in Cochabamba, because there are not as many street signs as we are used to.
After our tour, we came home and rested before our big steak dinner. Senora Breen took us to the Churrasqueria (steakhouse.) The steaks were fantasticos y muy deliciosos. We’re begging for her to take us back again! To top it off, one steak cost 40 bolivianos or just under six dollars (can you believe it?). After the meal we came back to our hotel and went straight to bed to get ready for our early trip to the countryside the next morning.
Everyone is doing well and we are all really excited for the rest of the trip, stay tuned…
-Kevin Ciasullo & Pat May and the rest of the Bolivia Crew
on Tuesday July 12, 2011 at 11:27PM