Jan 12 2009

The calm before the storm…

 This last weekend was pretty rough.
I mean, sand dunes, swimming pools…man oh man.
Friday we spent most of the day checking out some of the downtown area of Santa Cruz. The city so far doesn’t seem to have a big city vibe, despite it being the largest city in Bolivia. It’s rare to see an area that isn’t covered in garbage–it’s very sad. The landscape–sans garbage–is quite beautiful. It’s quite diverse. Some areas are lush, and tropical looking, some areas are scrub land, and some areas are desert–complete with sand dunes. When we stopped in La Paz on the plane ride over, we noticed that it was quite mountainous.

The city of Santa Cruz looks like it’s in constant construction. I’m not sure if this is normal for the city, or if it’s because of the new government that has recently come into place.
Saturday we went to the sand dunes that are just outside of Santa Cruz. I don’t know if I could really describe it in words. Only pictures will do.

  

The next day we went to church at an international church in Bolivia, and then spent the afternoon at Andy’s house (our host, and the brother of Matt from DTS) We celebrated his daughter, Phoebe’s first birthday, swam in the pool and got way too much sun. :) Today, (Monday) we visited the Boys & Girls homes where we will be working (though we will probably be primarily at the boys home) I am excited to start working! Hopefully I’ll be able to teach some art with the kids, which will be a lot of fun.

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Jan 9 2009

The World Travelers

Well, I might have lied.
It turns out the place we will probably be staying at three days a week has wireless internet.
So good!
So I thought I’d recount our excursion from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England–to Santa Cruz Bolivia.
It started early morning, on January 7th. Well, not so early….(not as early as our Brazil team…they left at 2am)….we left the Lodge at 8am.

After a two hour drive to Heathrow, we were greeted pleasantly by Barbie-like airport attendants from Virgin Atlantic. Many security checks later, we were ushered onto the plane and found our seats. Virgin planes are niiiiicccee!

(Photo: Deliriously happy about Virgin Atlantic, or just delirious?)

Each seat has it’s own little entertainment unit, and I’d like to list a few things that it offers:
-A wackload of Movies. I didn’t count, but I think it might have been about 50. I watched “The Brideshead Revisited”
-A copious amount of Television shows. I picked Frasier to watch.
-A smattering of Documentaries.
-Way cool retro video games–that you can play multiplayer and challenge someone else on the flight! Just type in their seat number. So cool. I challenged Dave to a game of Battleship…and won. :)
-Music galore….I didn’t even get into that because I was so distracted by everything else.
-Up-To-Date News, Travel tips on places Virgin Atlantic flies to, and a little map to follow your flightpath.

Aside from the in-flight entertainment, the food was also good. But the most amazing part of the food was the dessert. Chocolate pudding with banana caramel. Soooooo sooooooo soooooo gooooood. We were also given a little gift bag with a toothbrush, toothpaste, socks, face mask, and a pen.
So from London to Miami–wunderbar.
Then we got to America.
I can’t even remember how many times we went through security checks….Then when we went to check in to our flights with American Airlines, it was tres miserable. Here’s the thing: Virgin Atlantic has this thing where you can check in with all your basic info first on a computer console, and then go to an attendant and they take your luggage. It makes it really easy, because you just type in the info and BAM. It works. American Airlines has the same thing, but it’s more like “BAM….umm…it didn’t work.” And then you go and talk with their attendants who very rudely ask you “Do you even speak English?!”
And they make you feel like a retard.
So then after haggling with the attendants and finally convincing them that, “Yes, the Bolivian Embassy did say we could go into Bolivia” we were on our way to the gate. Or, were we?
No, you have to go through another buttload of security checks before you can get there. I mean really…where could we have gone in the last half hour? It’s not like we are allowed out of the airport. So we go through another security check and they herded us through so many different roped off areas. I felt like a sheep. Then after scanning our carry-ons, they herded us into this little glass box that had no door handle to get out. The man who was looking at my luggage was trying to speak to me and ask “Is this yours?” But I was in a glass box. And he couldn’t hear me. After pushing Dave and Sarah and me into this box, I started to get panicky, because, well, there was no way out, and there was a man outside of it trying to say something to us, but we couldn’t hear him because we were in a glass box. Then he finally let us past, and says “Now I’m going to search all your bags and have all of you pat down.” Oh, how kind. So he then proceeded to go through everything, wiping down everything with a special cloth–I presume he was looking for drugs. Of all the people they pick to search….missionaries?! I was more than peeved. Finally we were let go, and waited to get on our flight to Bolivia. The AA flight felt so old-school compared with Virgin. The coffee was the most foul tasting thing I have ever put in my mouth. And the flight-attendants were ruthless with their little carts.
But after many hours of travel, we finally arrived in Bolivia. The Bolivian airport was a breeze. Clean, easy to follow. So nice.
This weekend we have off, and then Monday we 0fficially start our work. I’m thrilled.

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Jan 6 2009

Last view from the window…

Shall I be poetic & deep?
The sun has set beautifully on our last day at The Kings Lodge.
What a powerful metaphor to use for the our TKL finale.
….*shudder* I feel lame.
Today was the last day in our little room and I must admit, it was quite lazy. Got up at 10:30 and putted around till about 2:00…We did some casual cleaning, and now the evening is free. Lately our group has been addicted to the game “Apples to Apples” It’s amazing. I think we might do that tonight.
The photo above is of the sunset today. In every place that we have stayed in England, Dave has done a picture called “View from the Window” I did this one today as our last view from Room 5, Second Floor at The Kings Lodge.

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Jan 3 2009

the Bolivia Bunch

Here’s a story, of a school named YWAM…

…No…I won’t go there.
On January 7th, we will be gone for two months to Bolivia.  Chances are, I will not be able to post a whole lot while I am there.  I’m guessing if I do, it will not have any pictures on it, as I will be using someone else’s computer for the most part.  But aren’t you lucky–after that I will have all the time in the world to blog!  So good!
For those of you who don’t know, we will be working in boys & girls homes for street teens.  We will also be going into the Amazon to do some well digging.  But past that–it’s a mystery!
So don’t expect many updates from me till after mid March. 
Until then, you stay classy, internet dwellers.
(above photo: Bolivia Team, left to right: Dave, Courteney, Megan, Anna, Taryn, Margaret, Sarah, Abbey, Matt)

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Jan 3 2009

Tasty Pheasant.

The Pheasant.

Illusive. Has been seen on occasion scurrying from bush to bush. Rarely flies. According to Brits, you often see pheasants in the English countryside. It has taken me three months to capture one though.

Fun fact: Pheasants are not actually native to Britain, but to Asia. It was brought in as a game bird in the 10th century, where it eventually naturalized. King George V shot over a thousand pheasants out of a total bag of 3937 over a six day period in December 1913, a total which still stands as the British record bag. I only shot one. And it wasn’t even with a gun. But after I shot it, I did chase it off of the property. That definitely made up for all the times it made me chase it into a bush in the months prior, just to get a shot.
Silly bird.

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