Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Stonewall Cottage

 Why 'Stonewall Cottage'?  because of the simple fact of a bare stonewall running the entire length of the house.


Our humble abode is situated in a quieter part of town near to an open air theatre (so not quite so quiet when there is a concert on).  We have a ground floor apartment consisting of three bedrooms, (so for the first time in her life Alana gets a proper room all to herself) an open plan lounge/dining room, kitchen with gas cooker, bathroom, and a small yard.  There is also a small outside toilet where we can get a washing machine hooked up.  We don't hav any hot running water (just like the days of being flloded in Gloucester last summer!!!) but we do have an electric shower that generates hot water quite well.


Prior to moving in the rooms were all repainted so it has all been new and fresh to move into.  The yard has also been resurfaced making it a bit safer for Alana to play and toddle about in.  Julie (the previous tenant, also a SIS with FH, from the US) sold us some of her furniture meaning that we didn't have to go and buy everything, praise the Lord, however there were still some bits and pieces we were lacking.


Thankfully before she left, Julie put us in contact with a man who knows, and who more importantly was very happy to help us out in getting the bits we needed, and for a decent price too.


Its not quite so easy to go and buy household things here like it is in the UK.  It reqires a lot more thought and planning and lots of trips to the market, but we are finally getting there and the place is beginning to feel more like home.

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Friday, 11 January 2008

C is for Christmas in Bolivia (it should be N for Navidad but that would be way to late)

It has been hard in the lead up to Christmas to feel at all Christmassy. Firstly in being so far away from family, secondly the weather is just all wrong, hot bright sunshine (with a few intermittent rain showers), and thirdly it hasn’t been rammed down our throats with excessive commercialism (which was actually a nice change). Decorations and Christmas trees are only just catching on in this part of the world, so things in general are very low key, as well as only being put in at most 2 weeks before the big day.

We were enticed into festivities however by being invited to a number of different festive events. The first of which was a Christmas meal in a hotel with all the staff and families of the FH office. We felt a little out of place in being the only white faces amongst a sea of brown faces, particularly as we knew so few people at the time. On our way to the hotel I had to keep reminding myself it wasn’t going to be the usual turkey roast with mince pies and Christmas crackers, particularly as that image had firmly fixed itself in my mind. Instead we had the typical Bolivian Christmas dinner – Picana, which consisted of chicken and beef, cooked in a spicy stew with veg and served with ‘Chocklo’ (corn on the cob only bigger). Sadly there were no mince pies to follow but it was an enjoyable evening all the same. We also got to see some video clips of the areas in which we are to be working which was encouraging to see the places and people.

Our next engagement was a little more of what we are used to, in singing Christmas carols with a group consisting of other missionaries who are working in Sucre. This was a very enjoyable evening as we were able to have fun and laughs, enjoy good fellowship and food, and Alana had some other little friends to play with.

Sunday evening we went to the carol service at the church which as lovely (apart from Alana being a bit grumpy as it was past her bedtime). We got to sing some more carols then the children did a number of different sketches and dances. Finally it was beginning to feel a bit more Christmassy.

Christmas eve whilst Ed was busy painting cupboards at our new house I spent the day in the kitchen helping Delphina prepare large quantities of cake and other foods. Part of the plan was to prepare some mince pies, but Delphina had not been able to get all the ingredients, so sadly this year I had to forgo my mince pies. There certainly was no shortage of other cakes however. We had planned on going back to our church for a Christmas Eve service, but time had passed to quickly. We were also then due to go to mass at 10.30 with the family, but the weather had turned stormy with heavy rain so that didn’t happen either, which in part was a blessing as we didn’t really want to have to disturb Alana for a second night.

In Bolivia Christmas day is celebrated the moment it arrives, so we struggled to keep ourselves awake the whole night, with two power cuts early on in the evening. But we made it we kept our sleepy eyes open, to drink cocktails and wish everybody a happy Christmas. We then exchanged gifts and at 1am tucked into a roast turkey dinner, finally by 2am I was allowed to head bedwards.

Not too surprisingly we didn’t feel too good the next day, so Christmas day passed in a bit of a blur, and quickly became forgotten, as Alana turned ill with sickness and diarrhoea. Having never been ill before it was a bit of a frightening time for all of us particularly when she became dehydrated. We thank God though for a good paediatrician, who in fact turned out to be the auntie of our contact person in the FH office here and who herself worked for FH some years back.

After a couple of days of medication and a simple diet of rice, carrot and chicken, she was doing much better and getting back to her normal confident, cheerful self.

New year was a much happier affair celebrating with friends at church, another late night meal, but not so late as Christmas. It was something special to be with other Christians to pray in the New Year. Being the sleepy people we are, we were very happy to be home and in bed by one, unlike the rest of our household who didn’t return till 6am.

We look forward to see what God does in and through us in 2008-01-02 Happy New Year!

The midnight meal

Nativity sesne in our hosts house
Nativity sense on one of the University buildings

Christmas day pics

B is for Bolivia

This is an interesting country and has many contrasts. Where to start? To the west are the Andes that run down the country in two parallel chains. Inbetween these is the altiplano, an area at high altitude that is dry and arid, with many salt lakes (one of which can been seen from space, so its big). Many of Bolivias indigenous population struggle to eek out an existence in this harsh area. As you come down the Andes you enter the highlands and valleys where we live in Sucre. Here there is a different type of geography, still with some of the effects of altitude. Much wine is produced in this area, that’s pretty good. From this area you can travel further down into lowlands of the Amazon rainforest, a much hotter climate and home to a lot of the Spanish descendents.

There appears to be two major groups of people here in Bolivia, the ‘haves’ and ‘have not’s’, the ‘haves’ being those of Spanish descent and the ‘have not’s’ of differet indigenous groups. For years the indigenous people have been suppressed by different rulers and have felt undermined and left out. In December 2005 when the first indigenous president was elected to power there was much excitement about what the future may hold. But two years down the line people are beginning to wonder if they did the right thing, as concerns are rising as the propsed new constitution seeks to be passed through the legal system.

As a result of which it seems that’s Bolivias turbulent political history is set to continue into the new year. Local opinion is that trouble is likely to return around Febuary time after carnival season.
Over the past 20 or so years Bolivia has had its problems but in general the people have always respected the institutions. The police for example would always be obeyed, however in recent months something has changed, people no longer respect the established institutions. So please pray with us that as the time comes for decisions to be made on the proposed constitution there would be peace and dialogue with the different parties and that the president would not be able to push though a constitution that is illegal in Bolivia’s current constitution.

B is for….. Bananas

I never knew there were so many different types of bananas! I thought that there was only the standard uniform looking ones of the EU. But we have found three different types here. There is the type we get in the UK, a smaller sweeter type and finally a cooking banana which has a black skin and the blacker the skin the better it is, now there is something that would normally go against the grain! Black bananas are good!! Being in Bolivia we also don’t have EU constraints on what is a good looking Banana, and so a couple of times now we have come across in our purchases siamese bananas! Pictured below.