Abundance of Contrasts
Another beautiful day in Cochabamba.
Beginning my third week here, where the sun has shown every day, with brief showers passing through. The climate is ideal. Fruit is plentiful and sweet. Green mountains tower over rooftops in all directions. And I stumble across parks on my daily walks, no matter which direction, or how far, I go. An abundance of colors, odors, plants, and people confront me everywhere I turn. This city is fully alive with the richness of life — and all its contrasts. And I love it.
With so much to share and not much time to write — at least not in English — the best I can do for now is offer brief descriptions. Some of these really merit their own separate story, like my first experience using the public bathroom at La Concha — a huge, open-air market that stretches for miles and sells everything that you might want or need, from fresh produce to electronics. Let’s just say the public toilet there involves being very aware and open-minded.
Here’s a taste of my first two weeks:
The absolute beauty of the parks and the grounds of the Maryknoll language school. Both are your frequent hang outs. There’s something about being in the midst of such an abundance of flowers and trees.
Three things you can always find at those lovely parks: stray dogs, young lovers, and basura (trash).
The campesinos — poor indigenous who come from the countryside. Every day they’re out on the streets working, from morning until night, washing other people’s laundry and cars in the canal, selling their fruit or papas (potatoes) and carne (meat) from their stands, spreading their bright blankets on the sidewalk to display their wares, often with little children in tow.
Homeless dogs roaming the streets. One even walked up and down the aisles at church this morning. Guess he was hoping some good soul would have pity on him. I have no idea where these dogs find food and water.
Chicken at almost every meal — except breakfast. Meals usually consist of potatoes and rice, carne (meat), tomatoes and onions (which my host family considers to be vegetables). Whatever we don’t eat for almuerzo (the big meal at lunch time), is served again for la cena (dinner).
No salads. For health reasons, we’ve been told not to eat the lettuce here. For someone like me who’s accustomed to eating salads every day…let’s just say my body’s in rebellion mode right now.
Helado (homemade ice cream made from real fruit) sold throughout the city. It makes up for not being able to have salad. Sort of.
No hot water, except in the shower. But I am so grateful to have it there. If I can only have hot water in one place, that would be it.
Quechua women with black braids wearing white sombreros, their brightly striped shawls draped across their backs carrying babies hidden from view.
The Afro-Bolivian dancers we watched at a special celebration. I didn’t even know theses people existed.
Vendors driving slowly through the neighborhoods on Saturday mornings, calling out the fresh fruits they’re selling from the backs of their trucks: grapes, papayas, bananas, mangos. The mangos taste sweeter than any dessert.
More to come…if I can get the Internet connection to cooperate.