Saturday, December 17, 2005

Hasta Leugo Bolivia!

Well in less than 16 hours, I will be in the Cochabamba Airport waiting to catch my flight to Chile. After three months of being here, our time is up and I finally get to go to my placement site. These past three months have been amazing.

Even though I am full of excitement, I am fairly sad. Mainly becuase its "beginning to feel a lot like Christmas" and I am leaving my familia. Right now I think it is harder on them than it is me. They have really taken me in as a "son" and "brother."

Since today was my last day, they threw a small little get together and gave me my Christmas presents. They are as follows:
Strongest Soccer Jersey
A sweater
A Coffee Cup
A Scarf

Basically they prepared me for the blistering cold Chilean winters. I cant wait for it. Oh yeah, and my niece also made me a homemade Christmas Card with some dinosuar on it.

Well, I think that is it for now. Talk to yall from Chile.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

K' oa

Photo from Roy Pequeno.
As y’all should know, December 2 was the first Friday of the month. Down here in Bolivia, the first Friday is very important. The reason that the first Fridays are important is because there is a lot of “obligations” to fulfill. One being Mass, and the second is doing a K’oa (pronounced K-o-ah and which is probably spelt wrong since I don’t know Quecha).

The K’oa is a ritual that most Bolivian families participate in on the first Friday of every month. Some families even do a K’oa EVERY Friday. The ritual is basically asking for a blessing to the Pacha Mama--the Bolivian equivalent to Mother Earth. Many Bolivians believe that the Pacha Mama is a very jealous “goddess” and can bless a family with good fortune or cast a spell of bad luck on a family.

Pablo and Don Teddy performed this ritual for a blessing over their “taller.” A “taller” is basically like a workshop, and my family has a taller for welding in front of Andrea’s house. During the ritual, the “mesa” is burnt on top of coals. The “mesa” consist of incense, a grass like thing, sugar cubes, and so much more. The sugar cubes usually are flat and have decorations on them. Depending on the figure on the sugar cube, is what you are asking the Pacha Mama for. Some sugar cubes have figures of: money, love, a house, children, and so much more.

Once the mesa is burning/smoking, it is time to begin the ritual. First, Pablo went with the coals and mesa and blew the incense into every corner and over every machine in the taller. While Pablo was blowing the incense into the taller, Don Teddy would splash (kind of like when a priest sprinkles/splashes holy water on the congregation) wine and rubbing alcohol where the incense was, and Jessi would throw sugar over the wine and alcohol. After “blessing” each item in the taller, Pablo put the mesa on the floor and made a circle around it with the wine, alcohol, and sugar. Then, we drank some wine. However, before you drink your wine, you are obligated to give some to the Pacha Mama, by pouring the first few drops of wine on the floor. (It just like when you see those movies and guys pouring out beer for their “homies who have fallen.”) Every now and then, Pablo and I would take turns making sure the coals were still hot by blowing over them.

Altogether this was a really cool experience. However, just because I have witnessed one K’oa doesn’t mean that I know how they all work. Each family has their own traditional way of performing a K’oa. Ours took about an hour and a half (the incense part took like 20 minutes tops, and then we drank the wine which last about an hour). However, there are some families that use bigger mesa, more symbols and the K’oa will last several hours.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

And the answer is...

Well Ryan was nice enough to inform the group that today makes 100 days in South America. Its crazy how time flies. I would like to say that that it feels like I left the states yesterday...but that would be a feels like I left a week ago.

I know I am gonna sound like a huge nerd, but one thing I miss from the states is Jeopardy! I mean, on the few occassions when I actually knew some of the answers, I felt like a million bucks. However, most of the time I was like "man I am an idiot" or "I should've known that" or most common "I knew that!" Anyways, since I miss Jeopardy, I would like to play with y'all. Here is my Jeopardy answer "The capital of Bolivia." Now you have to come up with the answer.
You have all the time in the world...or until you stroll down to find the answer. As you think...please play the Jeopardy music in your head.

Okay here we go. Bolivia, named after independence fighter Simon BOLIVAR, broke away from Spanish rule in 1825. When Bolivia was founded my its "founding fathers" they decided on a small location. Then about some years ago ( I dont know exactly when), the government realized that it was hard for international travel to get to the capital. So, the government moved all its buildings to what is now known as the capital of Bolivia, La Paz. The interesting thing is that La Paz has never been officially named the capital of Bolivia. The only reason many people believe it is, is because the executive and judical branches of the government are located in La Paz. However, the legistative branch and the equivalent to the Supreme Court can both be found in the "ancient" capital, which is the true and official capital of the country.

Thus the next time the Final Jeopardy answer is "The capital of Bolivia" you know now that:
  • La Paz is the seat of government, and
  • Sucre is the legal capital and seat of judiciary.

Well I figured I offer some interesting pieces of information to celebrate our Anyways 100th day in South America. Happy 100th day to us.


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