Monday, July 27, 2015

Shoes, Punata again

[July 21 - 27, 2015] Tuesday through Monday

Since Hna. Valdizon had identified some locations for "big" shoes in La Cancha, we headed that way again. This time we went down Av. Brasil - and had success! The first couple of stores had size 13's, but they were too tight (I'm thinking they size them a bit small in Brazil, not that my feet have grown.)

A couple of stores later, we found one with size 14 (that's 48.5 European), and although they were a bit too big, they fit well enough that I bought them for 240 B's, or about $35 USD. I got a set of gel insoles at a Bata store later, and the combination makes them fit a bit better. They are very comfortable, so I figure, even if I wear them out in a year, it was a good deal.

And I know where to look for replacements!

My new size 14 shoes. Molly's are on the left for comparison.
On the way back, Molly couldn't help but notice all the school kids. The last three weeks have been their winter break (they got an extra week because it was so cold - it actually got down into the 30's F one day and snowed up in the mountains. Nothing here in the valley, though.)

So this week was their first week back to school, and our first week of wandering around Cochabamba (some might say aimlessly, but we at least imagined we knew where we were and where we were going). She was very impressed by their clean-cut uniforms, and how well-groomed they all were. It was quite impressive to see all these Bolivian children in modest white dresses for the girls, and shirts and ties with sweaters for the boys.

We walked to the Cine Center - a big social gathering place with food, and movie theaters (8 or more) between here at the temple and the real downtown (by street addresses, the intersection of Av. Heroínas and Av. Ayacucho is the center of Cochabamba). There is a "Fridays" restaurant (looks like TGIF in the United States - we ate there a couple of Saturdays ago), an ice cream place called "Flavor Burst" (yes in English), a hamburger place called "Tuesdays" among others.

In order to cross the two major avenues and the river (?) running across town, they have built this big elevated "tube" that you can walk through (if you get there during the right time of day. We've tried it again since, and it was closed the second time.) Here's what it looks like inside (I'll get a picture outside sometime - much less impressive outside):

Inside the "tube" walkway to Cine Center across Rio Rocha, Av. Uyuni and Av. Del Ejército.
We had hamburgers at Tuesdays, and good news, they were tasty, and didn't make us sick to our stomachs!

A week or so ago, I bought a casual shirt, since we spend most of our time in casual attire, and I only brought two casual shirts. I have a dozen white shirts, as one would expect for missionaries, but I only wear them on Sundays, and at the Temple. When we go shopping, restaurants, etc., we just wear casual clothes with our nametags on.

The problem (you'll never guess) is that my height is a bit unusual. I did find a shirt long enough, but it was about twice as big around as I am. So, today, Molly spent the morning altering it so I wouldn't look like I was swimming in it. She did a really nice job.

I'm also looking into how to get my Nexus 4 onto the Bolivian phone network. There is an Hermano in the Distribution Center here who has a brother who does all the telephone stuff for the missionaries, so we figured we'd see if he could help us. We're not sure when he might show up, though... Apparently (just as I had read before coming), you just buy a SIM card, and then charge your account with minutes/GB's through an online website. Much like the StraightTalk approach we had been using back home.

Molly mentioned to me sometime last week, that we would miss the 24th of July (I think she was implying the celebrations, but you know us literalist Lyons...). I worried that the calendar here in Bolivia might go from the 23rd to the 25th.

But, guess what, we didn't miss it! Even the celebrations! OK, the celebration weren't actually on the 24th, and they had nothing to do with Pioneers. But, we had fireworks shooting off south of the Temple here two or three nights last week. It seems to be nearly a daily occurrence for some festival or celebration.

Since the 24th of July is Sawyer's birthday, we called him and sang Happy Birthday (or some almost identifiable rendition of it.) Six years old! It was fun talking to him.

Also, we took a long walk downtown (yes, this time we walked all the way to Av. Heroínas) to find a paper store that sells photo paper. Our next-door-neighbor missionaries have an inkjet printer, and are willing to print up pictures for us if we supply the paper.

So, we walked down (about 2.5 miles), couldn't find the store, and headed back. About a mile along the way, we figured we'd better take a bus, since it was uphill, and we were afraid of getting back later than our shift at the Temple. So, we jumped on a bus that was completely packed. Molly squished inside, and I stood in the door well, hanging onto the frame. Memories of old times here in Bolivia.

We found another store closer to home, and bought a small supply that will last us until we get back to the downtown store. I was able to get some pictures printed off to give Jeaneth out in Punata. (see Sunday entry below)

This Saturday was pretty usual - a trip to the Feria for fruits and veggies, and the afternoon in the Temple.

On Saturday evenings, we get through before 7:00 pm, and all the missionaries and President Jensen and his wife (and sometimes President Hansen and his wife - the Mission President for the Cochabamba Mission) get together and go to an up-scale (usually) restaurant for dinner.

This week, Sister Chalmers had made reservations at a restaurant called Kansas. When we got there, the logo outside was the Kansas band logo, but there was no music lending any credence to an association, and the decor, etc. pretty well indicated that they had just "borrowed" the logo.

The food was very good - immense proportions, very tasty, and well-prepared. To top it off (I know, dessert really should come first), Molly and I shared a huge brownie with vanilla ice cream on it. I tried to get a picture, but it didn't turn out for some reason. Anyway, it was as "Stateside" as you could get here, I imagine.

We had been planning to get out to Punata again, and today seemed the best time to do it.

So, we caught a taxi at the Temple at 7:00 am, and headed for the parada (stop) for the Punata taxis, trufis, and buses. There was one sitting at the corner, so we jumped in and waited. It seems that they don't want to go with a half-filled bus, so it waits until it's full. I asked the driver as we got off in Punata how often they left there, and he assured me, "cada 15 minutos". (You can figure that one out without my translating it, I'm sure.)

So, after we had waited 20 minutes or so, it was full, and we took off. Talk about a flash-back. There were two women who had small trees with them (taking them home to plant them, I assume), and another with a parrot on her shoulder. On the way to Punata, we stopped every couple of minutes to pick someone up, or let someone off - this is not just a destination bus, but a regular carrier for the entire route. Here's a picture of the inside view:

Inside the bus to Punata.
We got to Punata with about 15 minutes to spare, and headed off for the church. We had to go through the main plaza (18 de Mayo - I can't find what significance it has at this point).

Here's what the Catholic church looked like 40 years ago:

Templo San Juan Bautista in 1975 (Catholic Church on the plaza in Punata).
Here it is (on the left, with a view of the plaza) today. Across the way you see evidence that the two story limit on buildings back in 1975 has been violated. :) There are a lot of 4-5 story buildings out there now, but they appear to be constructed in a similar way to the concrete frame filled with bricks as I saw in La Paz in 1975-76. Lots of worries if there were an earthquake:

Punata plaza and San Juan Bautista in 2015.
We walked around the plaza, and down Calle Potosí, and across Av. LIBERTADORES to the church. 

(Note that there are two Av. Libertadores, one lower case, and one upper case on Google maps. I'm not sure why they are named that way, but if you leave the plaza headed south on Calle Potosí, you won't find the lower case version. The two intersect and become one just east of town, on the way to Arani. I'd figure that it should be called Av. LiBeRtAdOrEs, or some such, but it appears that lower case ruled.)

We got to the church at about 8:50 - plenty of time! Just for comparisons, here is the outside of the building we met in 40 years ago:

View of the outside of the LDS Chapel in Punata in 1975.
And here is the inside:

Hna. Lopez leading a Christmas Program in Punata, 1975.
As you can see, it's pretty bare-bones. A few chairs, and some rickety wooden benches. The Christmas "tree" in the corner was just a branch we cut off from a big evergreen tree we found a ways outside of town. Pretty creative.

Here's the outside and inside of the chapel in Punata now:

The Punata Chapel in 2015.
View of the rear side of the Punata Chapel in 2015.
Inside the Punata Chapel in 2015.
 We found Sister Sanchez (Jeaneth), and sat with her. We had printed some pictures for her of the people in the Branch in Punata in 1975, and gave them to her, along with some pictures Elder Steven Gibson, one of the missionaries that taught and baptized her, had sent me of him and his family. She was touched.

Again, for comparisons, this was a pretty good representation of church attendance back then (this was at the baptism of Hna. Irma Rojas - in the center). There were a few other people that came with some frequency to church, but not a lot. An attendance of a dozen would have been amazing.

Hna. Lopez, Jeaneth holding Irma's baby, Bebita (Hna. Lopez's daughter),
Irma Rojas with her other two children, a neighbor boy,
Jeaneth's little sister Nancy and brother Antonio (I think),
Harry (Hna. Lopez's son).
Attendance on this Sunday was pretty close to 100 people. They actually have a real piano (not like the electric one in Barrio Linde where we were last week), and a sister who can play it. They sing a bit slow, but it felt like it could have been a ward anywhere in the world.

Jeaneth gave the opening prayer, and it was very sincere and powerful. It's evidence that she has deep faith, and is fully committed to the gospel.

Afterwards, we attended her Primary class - she teaches the Valientes (yes, that's spelled right for Spanish). She was amazing - she taught about Tithing, and bore her testimony of it repeatedly. The kids responded as well as any class of that age I've seen. 

Mom attended the Sociedad de Socorro afterwards with Jeaneth, and thought she had lost her brains when part of the discussion took off in Quechua. It appears that there is a pretty strong mix of native Quechuistas here in this ward, who don't speak Spanish. Jeaneth taught herself to speak Quechua during her career as an elementary school teacher. She indicated that she had taught out in the campo for many years, and her classes were typically all grades combined. She had to teach every subject. 

Molly and I were both so very impressed with how intelligent, and well-spoken she was. I'm sure her students loved her.

After the meetings, we took some pictures

Jeaneth with Hna. Lyon.
Jeaneth with Elder Lyon.
Then we went with her to her home. It was far enough that we had to take a taxi. Which speaks to her dedication as well. Every Sunday, she has to take a taxi both to and from church. And it's pretty clear that there are few forces in the world that would stop her.

She lives in a 2 bedroom "house". The bedrooms and bathroom are accessed off a central "plaza" where she had lemon, cherry, tangerine, and peach trees growing. The "main" part had a big living room, and a kitchen and dining room. 

She and her husband live there with their youngest daughter, their son-in-law, and their grand daughter. Her daughter is studying to be a nurse, so Jeaneth takes care of the toddler most of the week. It was a happy, content home. Here's a picture of the family:

Jeaneth's family:
Son-in law, daughter, grand-daughter, Jeaneth, and her husband
in their home in Punata.
As is custom here, they wanted to provide us with something to eat, so her husband left just as we arrived, and came back a few minutes later with something. The hospitality of these Bolivians is incomparable. He brought back a bottle of soda pop, and plate full of chicken churrasco (barbecued chicken), with mote (big kernals of corn) and spices. It was very tasty, but I worried about whether or not it was safe. Trusting in the Lord, and remembering I'd been blessed in these situations before, we ate along. [Monday morning - we're still alive, although our stomachs are a bit delicate. Maybe we aren't living completely right, yet.]

After, we headed back to Cochabamba. We first tried to catch a taxi (7 B's each) from the main plaza, but there were too many others in line, so we walked two blocks to where we had gotten off the bus, and saw a "micro" or small bus waiting to leave for Cochabamba (only 6 B's each!). We hopped on that one, and waited until it filled up - 14 people counting the driver. Mind you, this wasn't a 15 passenger van, but something about the size of a regular mini-van with extra rows of seats, and extra seats squeezed into each row. On the way back, we stopped and picked up two more people - it wasn't quite packed tight.

When we got back to the "parada" for the buses and such, we didn't see any taxis, so we asked around, and were directed to the next street over, where the buses up to town all started their routes. So we walked over. We realized we were right on the south edge of La Cancha, and it looked like Sunday was the biggest day of the week to go shopping there. It was really crazy.

We found our Bus #3 eventually, and got home safe and sound at about 3:30. What an interesting day!

We Skyped with parents, and most of the kids today. We'll catch the rest of them tomorrow, hopefully. It's so fun to see them all. We hooked the computer up to the TV with an HDMI cable, so we could see them bigger-than-life-sized.

My first "selfie" - see the picture in the upper-right corner.
So, here we are on Monday again. Molly and I walked down to IC Norte for the weekly groceries, and caught a taxi back up to the temple. This afternoon, we're having a pot-luck dinner for Hna. Lara, who is completing her mission and returning home, for Molly's birthday (tomorrow), and Sister Delgado's birthday (yesterday). Molly is cooking a pot of her chicken tortilla soup for our contribution. It should be fun.

That's a wrap for the week, I think.

1 comment:

  1. Love your adventures and sharing pictures both present and past. Thanks for the time it takes to do it.