I'm having a great time with all the girls so far, and getting to know them has proved to be an entertaining process. The confusion usually starts immediately, as little kids who have grown up speaking Ketchua or Spanish can't pronounce the vowels in my name. It usually goes something like this:
Como se llama?
Hambre? (which means hunger)
Hombre? (which means man)
uh...Puede llamarme Niki. (you can call me Niki)
Y su apellido? (and your last name?)
And so on...
So far I've gotten to know a few of the girls pretty well. I'm surprised how quickly we've fallen in to a routine together. School runs in two sessions each day, so half the girls are there in the morning and the other half are there in the afternoon. It's really nice to help them with their homework or play games with them in smaller groups throughout the day. A lot of the girls have been begging to learn ballet or swing dancing and want to teach me traditional Bolivian dances and we have a blast together in the evenings. The sisters love to dance too and it seems that any occasion calls for music and dance. Last night they celebrated one of the sister's birthdays by performing all sorts of dances, including one where they dressed up as little old hunch backed ladies. They also played a few songs together because learning guitar is actually part of their formation. As you can tell, I love how important music and dance is here. It really works in our favor because singing and dancing has helped us connect with the girls and the sisters so quickly!
Last night we got a chance to see even more dancing at the festival of Maria de Urkupenia. People come from all over Bolivia this weekend to a little town where there was a (maybe legit/maybe not) Marian apparition. There was a parade for hours with the most elaborate dancing and costumes and music from different areas of Bolivia. It was amazing, I'd never seen anything like it before. I would show you pictures, but we didn't take anything but our bus fare with us (events like this attract a lot of ladrones, or thieves). While we were there we saw about a dozen other gringos (amongst what seemed like millions of people), which is pretty unusual for Cochabamba. It's pretty obvious to everyone we're from the US and it's an enlightening experience to be so painfully aware of my race (Yes, sir, I know I'm from Los Estados Unidos. No, I will not take a picture with your buddy so he can hang it on his wall and reminisce to his friends about all those crazy nights we didn't spend together).
All in all, it's been a good, but exhausting week. Happy Feast of the Assumption!