Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Another Bolivian Adventure~Part 1~

Our Happy Travelers

In the month of April our family was able to take a trip together. The main impetus behind the trip was a couple named Mark and Carol Mattix. The Mattixes have lived in Bolivia for over 40 years as missionaries in Camiri. Carol's father and Rudi's grandfather went to school together in the States and were close friends their whole lives. When we told Rudi's family that we were coming to Bolivia one of his aunts told us that we had to get in touch with the Mattixes. Well, after a year and a half we finally met Mark at our church one day and he invited us to come down and visit them in Camiri. (Camiri is about 14 hours south of Cochabamba.) It finally worked out that Mark was going to be teaching at a Brethren Conference in Potosi in April and he invited us to meet up with them there and then follow them home to Camiri. Now Potosi is NOT on the way to Camiri, per se, but we all thought we could see more of Bolivia this way and also meet some of the Saints in Potosi. We were not disappointed that we decided to go through Potosi. It was an unforgettable part of our loop through the southern part of Bolivia.

 After 12 grueling long hours of driving we made it. Our car did not do well on the hills and I assure you there were LOTS! We drove approx. 10-15 miles per hour on the hills... I am much more patient now then I was when we set out on the journey... maybe!
Rudi, my handsome mechanic, checking the oil!
 We saw a lot of beautiful scenery and local people on the way. The day we left Cochabamba was Good Friday and there was hardly any traffic on the roads. It was a great day for traveling.
Local woman of the Altiplano with her sheep

Local man with his burros
 I got a real kick out of these signs that said that it was prohibited to pass. Either nobody in Bolivia can read or they just don't care (I think the latter), but people pass ALL the time. It does not matter if it is a blind corner or people are coming at you, you pass! Thankfully, the driving speeds are slower, but the crosses and monuments on the side of the road do tell a bit about what happens regularly on these roads.
Prohibited to Pass
 Not an uncommon sight on these roads. All lanes full with oncoming traffic.
"Excuse me, but didn't ya'll read the sign..."
 And then we have the results of what happens when you go to fast with your truck around the corner. This truck lost his full load of glass beer bottles. Since it was Good Friday no one was supposed to be drinking anyway...

Another common sight is a moving van/people hauler experience. Not very comfortable, but lots of fresh air!
When we came up to the altiplano last November to go to the Salar de Uyuni they were just planting Quinua. It was fun to see the plants right at harvest time.

Field of Quinua

When we finally arrived at Potosi it was close to nine at night. We were met by one of the men from the local Brethren church where they were holding the conference. What a blessing to see a friendly face and be welcomed into a spacious hotel room. Since we all were starving, Rudi went across the street from our hotel and found that Potosi has the same food as Cochabamba... chicken, rice, and noodles! We feasted in our hotel room in shifts around the little table and then went to bed! Our hotel was very nice inside, but our room faced the busy street. I can't say that I slept well any of the nights we were there!

The next morning we set out for a walk through some of Potosi. Keep in mind that Potosi is at 13,000+ elevation. It is also built on a hill and almost all its streets are quite steep. None of us were too out of breath, but it wasn't super easy strolling around!
A quaint street in Potosi shadowed by the Cerro Rico
Mark and Carol had a friend named Steve visiting from the U.S. He became one of our "kids" for the day, as we took in the centuries old architecture and the museum of money. Steve reminded us of an older Uncle Ben. He was way too adventurous to strike out on his own without any Spanish to help him if he got lost! For some reason Paula decided he should be named "Uncle Bill", so that was his nickname.

Steve, Carol, Mark and the rest of the Boohers, minus Rudi.
 At one point we walked through a market with all kinds of dead animals and their skins. It was mostly sheep and goats. I think it had to do with Easter weekend and being the end of Santa Semana. I haven't seen anything like that before.
Butcher Market

A church from the 1600's
Another Potosi street

Feeding the pigeons in the plaza
Potosi is rich with mining history. The main thing that has been mined there has been silver. Starting in the 1500's the silver mined from Potosi funded the Spanish empire for at least two hundred years. I could not even start to do justice telling about the history of Potosi, so those of you who are interested can Google it for yourselves. Our family was able to take in the museum where all the coin for Bolivia and many other countries was minted. It was a cold, LONG tour, but quite interesting in some places. We took the "English" tour because a couple from Belgium needed more than five people to have an English speaking tour guide. Unfortunately, her English was so difficult to understand it would have been better if we had taken the Spanish tour!
The Rudi Boohers in front of the Mint Museum. (I think Ruth needs some classes on how to pose for the camera)
One of my favorite parts of the tour was seeing the original equipment that was used to make the coins from the 1700's. It was mule powered of course!
Emily, Clancy, Clara, Myles, Paula, and Ruth (much better Ruth)
This chest has something like twelve locks and was used to ship the coins.
Emily modeling a treasure chest on steriods!

Armor made of pure silver! Cool!

Some of the old coins minted here.
Us again towards the end of the tour!
 After the museum tour we went to lunch at a local park with the Mattixes and Steve. Some of the folks from the church had bar-b-qued more meat than we were able to eat and all the fixins for lunch. The Saints in Potosi were so friendly and kind. We were blown away by the hospitality of everyone there.
Wilson and Sonya

Eduardo and  Evette

The view from our hotel window...
 Sunday afternoon while our car was getting a going over from the mechanic, Rudi and Clancy were able to visit the Cerro Rico (Rich Mtn) where all the mining has taken place for the past hundreds of years.
Rudi and Clancy on the Cerro Rico

Clancy in front of one of the mining entrances!

Potosi below the Cerro Rico
Quite a bit of our time was spent at one of the local Brethren Churches in Potosi. Saturday evening we were able to sing as a family for the congregation and also listen to Mark share. Sunday we shared in breaking bread and remembering the Lord with our brothers and sisters of Potosi. It was a super sweet time of fellowship. The Saint's there all have hymnals in Quechua and Spanish. The majority speak Quechua as a first language. I loved hearing them sing in Quechua. It reminded me of the verse in Revelation that speaks of every kindred and tongue and nation worshiping the Lord. What an incredible experience that will be!!
Once again a large lunch was prepared for us in the home of some new believers. We were so blessed by their hospitality and generosity towards us. Myles was able to practice some of his Quechua with them and came away from our time in Potosi inspired to learn more. We all got a laugh out of how surprised they were to hear Myles speaking Quechua! It is not usual for a young gringo to be learning one of the native languages of Bolivia!

Myles, Emily, and Rudi with some of the "band"!
Sunday night was the last night of the conference and instead of having a message we all sang for an hour and a half or so! It was so much fun. They again sang a few songs in Quechua and the volume was twice as strong as when they sang in Spanish. Rudi also was able to share a short message for the first time Spanish. He did a good job.
All we had was Clara's camera and it does not take very good pictures, but I wanted to put on a picture of us with some of the families that hosted us so well.

Our family with several of our new friends
I will finish with a quick story about the generosity of the Saints in Potosi. When we got to our hotel Friday night, Eduardo, the man that met us, told us that the church there in Potosi would be paying for our lodgings. We were surprised, because we had definitely planned on paying. Rudi and I thought that it would be a good idea to put a 1,000 Bolivianos in the offering plate on Sunday morning to help with the cost of our hotel room. You can imagine our surprise when Sunday night at the end of the conference, the church gifted us with 2,000 Bolivianos for coming and ministering to them. The amount they gave us was equivalent to a months worth of wages for a Bolivian. We learned that you can't out give God or His people!

Coming next...the journey to Camiri...

1 comment:

  1. What a blessing this post was! Reading about the generosity and hospitality of the saints you met in Potosi encourages my heart and causes me to thank our Father for the love he sheds abroad in his children’s hearts. Truly, we are one in the Spirit; we are one in the Lord. No matter where in the world we travel, when we meet our brothers and sisters in Christ, there is an immediate bond because of Jesus Christ dwelling in our hearts.

    I rejoice with you that you were able to sing praises to the Lord together in another language and look forward to the time when people from all kindred, tongues, and nations will sing together praises to the Lamb of God. What a blessed future we anticipate.

    As usual, your pictures made your trip come alive! I liked your selection of cultural pictures:

    dead animals on the city street (and the ubiquitous CocaCola sign in the background) woman with sheep
    man with burdened donkey
    quinoa (seemed like a sparse crop, even though it is the most nutritious grain in the world!)
    beautiful OLD church building
    narrow city street with all the crossed electrical wires tying the buildings together
    the view from your hotel room (another CocaCola sign)
    the quaint street and the city at the base of the Cerro Rico

    And then there was the overturned truck, which looked like a nice one, with a cave or tunnel on the hill behind it
    The colorful clothes of your children
    The silver museum photos
    Myles standing almost (or as?) tall as Emily Jo
    The saints who welcomed, out-gave you, fed and blessed you! :)

    In case you haven’t guessed, I really enjoyed the photos! Thank you for sharing. :)

    I am thankful that you survived the roads and were able to bless and receive many blessings on this trip!

    I look forward to Part II.

    Much love,