Sunday, September 13, 2009

Happy Anniversary

I can't believe it's been a month and then some. In the last week Ive had a lot of very mixed feelings about being here. Last Saturday I got pick pocketed on a micro (bus). Unfortunately, I had to choose between falling over on an old woman and giving up the five bucks in my pocket to the creepy guy smashed against me in the aisle. I started to feel really frustrated this week with my half-developed Spanish. I know enough to take care of anything Johanna or I really need, but this also means I know enough for people to expect me to pick up plans and news from the surrounding conversations, which i definitely can't do. Finally, I celebrated my one month site-anniversary from my bed after spending the night nearly sleeping on the bathroom floor with some sort of food poisoning. Surprisingly enough, getting sick really broke me out of the few days of frustration I had been building up towards Bolivia.
Anyone can point to the time lines and say "Yup, the one month slump, right on time." and tell me about culture shock and parasites and homesickness and sleep deprivation. For me, I realize that most aspects of life, even if they're not necessarily worse, are just more difficult. Speaking, making friends, making a phone call, is more difficult. Eating is more difficult. Going for a walk, with your white skin, your sea level lungs, and a city full of stray dogs, is more difficult. Sometimes we wake up and there's no water, either in our bottles or from our faucets. Nevertheless, I find that I grow to love this place a little more every week (Not quite every day. On Thursday when I had to check the toilet tank to make sure i had water before I started throwing up I was less than enamored). When I crawled out of bed on Friday, scratching my lice-infested scalp, I was so happy to see the clear Cochabamban sunshine pouring over the Andes as the girls ran across the street in the uniforms for school, shouting in Spanish and Quechua and, yes, singing Hannah Montanna. I was so glad to be wiping little noses and teaching ballet and singing along with the guitar in the garden with the older girls. I was so excited to think about going to the city and wandering through the tents of breads and crafts and colored fabrics. I love living with these people, even if the life they invite me in to is harder than mine ever has been. With the exception of the language frustrations, pretty much everything that's pushed me here is a fact of life for Bolivians. I'm not the only one who wakes up in the middle of the night with a new friend crawling around in my stomach. I'm not the only one who holds my breath when I try the faucets. I'm not the only one who eyes each passing stray, looking for the green tag that means someone has vaccinated this dog for rabies a few months ago. Even the sisters have stories about people on the street slashing their purses and grabbing at their pockets. These are the realities of poverty, and while each lesson is here is harder, I'm blessed to receive it.
So...Happy one-month site-anniversary to me.


  1. Hi Amber,

    I was really moved by your posting today. I'm wondering if I could share this with my Tanzania students. We begin discussing the Compassion book on Thursday, and it appears you have fully entered into suffering with those in poverty. And, not suprisingly, you've stated it so beautifully. I will pray that the suffering becomes more bearable and the joys more tangible. Miss you - Dr. B

  2. Hey roomie - just thinking of you, hopped on here to check up on you, and wow. Thankful you are experiencing life to the fullest down there... hard? yes. sucky? yes. But I'm convinced that's when God can really use us. Hang in there love, you are loved and in the right place. And say 'hi' to the little friends in your tummy for me! Or yell at them and tell them to leave, your choice!

  3. Amber. you are sticking through it... praying for you girl!

    Espero que tengas un buen dia. Besos.

  4. Thanks, friends! Love you all soooo much!