Monday, November 30, 2015

Fun at the Fountain Park

Cochabamba has just recently opened a park that is full of fountains. The main purpose is to run and play in them and get wet, but some are just for looking at. We have been wanting to go for awhile now, so this past Wednesday we "took the plunge" and went! It has been really hot lately, but the day we went it wasn't that hot. Everyone who got wet was pretty cold!
The kids that we took to the park!!

The parents!

This picture pretty much sums up David's reaction to getting
in the fountains!!


 The only fountain I got in or under was this one that had arches. It was really pretty and you could stay relatively dry.

Love this picture of Emily and Peter!!

Adriana's reaction to all the water!
 And last but definitely not least, this past week our Peter has finally decided to start walking on his own! We are super proud of him. The first day he walked around with his hands out in front of him, with this look of awe on his face that said, "Wow, I am walking!"
And they are off....

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Another Trip to Camiri

First road trip for our new kids. They did great!
Adriana, David, and Paula with Daddy at the wheel!
    This month found us on the road again! We were gone for a total of 11 days and traveled about 40 hours round trip in the car. I am going to do one big, long blog about this trip with a lot of pictures and not much commentary, just for the sake of getting it done!

    On this trip we took our good friends Danyelle Graves and Franco Moron. I think anyone who knows them very well, knows that they are pretty serious about each other!! (Understatement!;) Since this trip included Camiri, where Franco is from and where most of his family lives, you could guess why they came along!! It was a blessing having the extra hands while traveling with little ones without car seats. It was also great to fellowship and sing together. It really helped pass the long hours in the car!

   Our first travel day we traveled from Cochabamba to Santa Cruz. About a ten hour trip. We left at 5 a.m., so we were ready for breakfast by Villa Tunari at 9 a.m. Emily and Danyelle made us yogurt cups with granola!

Rustic Denny's!

Breakfast on the Go!

Peter's first road trip, too!
Lovin' those jungle bananas!

Our first night we spent at the New Tribes Guest House in Santa Cruz. It is one of our favorite spots to relax in Bolivia. 
The Chefs at work again. This time Mexican Food!
Danyelle and Emily

Adriana having fun with Daddy!

Glad to be out of the car!

Everyone relaxing and having a good time at the guest house.
Paula enjoying her top bunk!

There were lots of these weird/cool caterpillars.
They had this black "stinger" thing on their tails.
We gave them wide berth! 

Next morning on the way to Camiri
Emily and Peter
This was the best shot we got of everyone in the car. The next day of travel from Santa Cruz to Camiri was super hot and muggy! We also had Paola, Franco's sister riding along with us this day. Rudi told me that he thought we could have fit at least 3-4 more adults in the car for this trip. He changed his tune though after I drove and he rode in the crowded back of the van!! It felt like wall to wall people as it was!!
Happy Travelers!!

Looks like we are following the right car!
Our first morning in Camiri we got to be a part of the graduation for the class of 2015.
Mark leading the singing at the graduation...

The students that graduated...
Rudi snapped this great picture of Mark and Carol riding their motorcycle back to their house "Bolivian Style"!! I guess after 40 some years you learn to live just like the natives!
Our dear friends, Mark and Carol Mattix

Bottle time on the couch!
After three days in Camiri it was time to hit the road again. This time we headed further south to the border town of Yacuiba. (Yacuiba borders Argentina) We stayed with the Rivas family that we have actually bought peanut butter from in the past. They were so kind and hospitable. Their house is behind the Brethren church there in Yacuiba. The kitchen reminded me of my in-law's kitchen before we remodeled/finished it for them some years back.
Cynthia is a great cook! You can't tell from the picture, but
she is about the height of our Clara.
In the picture below you can see the house's living room, dining room, kitchen, storage, pantry, and all purpose room. Yep, one big room with only three walls. It had kinda a warehouse feel to it. Yacuiba is usually VERY hot, but while we were there it decided to be cold! We all froze, because I was prepared for hot weather. You could see how an open house like this could be cool even when it was hot, with so much ventilation. We all wore lots of layers while we were there. Cynthia loaned me some clothes for Adriana one day, because her only sweater was so dirty!
The main part of the Rivas' house.
While we were in Yacuiba, we did two "Singspirations" or as Mark has named it in Spanish, a Cantatón, at the church where the Rivas' live.  Below you can also see someone on the swing that was in the backyard. It was a big hit with our kids!
Getting ready for dinner and then the Cantatón.

Our first Cantatón in Yacuiba
The next day Juan Carlos let us all watch while he made us a big bucket of DELICIOUS peanut butter! Peanuts are grown in this particular area of Bolivia. However, it is hard to find good peanut butter that is made in Bolivia. They just don't have it down like Smuckers, Laura Scudders, or Adam's does. We like our peanut butter a' natural. Juan Carlos roasts his peanuts in the oven, then makes it into butter with just the peanuts and salt. No extra oils or anything else. It is the yummiest peanut butter I have ever had, but then maybe I have been in Bolivia to long!!
Juan Carlos making peanut butter.

Breakfast and Peanut Butter Making... Yumminess!!

More music practice and swinging. Always swinging!

Mark ripping it up on the harmonica

Clancy and Emily "jamming"

Swing time!
Rivas kids with Ruth and Clara
The city of Yacuiba and the surrounding area for hundreds of miles
and on into Paraguay, is known as the "chaco". It is a ranching area
that is dry, with lots of scrub trees and vegetation that lives in dry
areas like this. Think thorns and spines! Rudi says that it reminds
him of parts of Texas. And also like Texas, it has its own type of
music that it is known for. It is quite distinctive; I like it for
about four songs and then I am good for awhile!!!
Emily with the instruments of "The Chaco"

We spent part of one morning seeing if we could walk into Argentina, just for a few hours as tourists. Unfortunately, we would have had to pay quite a bit of a "tax" to even enter for that long. We opted to take some pictures on the 100 feet of Argentinian soil we were allowed onto and call it good!
Walking to Argentina...

The Argentinian Side of the Sign

And.... the Bolivian Side of the Sign

Adriana with Mary Magdelena 

While we were at the Rivas' house, one of their older daughters had her birthday. Mary Magdelena turned 17. She and Adriana really hit it off together.
"Happy birthday, to you..."

Paula and Peter!!

The four youngest together!

The group at the Rivas' place. (Mary is taking the picture)
Our next stop was to go back up the road to Villamontes. This town has the hottest recorded weather in Bolivia. Someone said that it gets into the 120's sometimes. Thankfully, the Lord was merciful and it was actually quite cool the whole time we were there.

Palm tree forest!
When we got into Villamontes we found a hostel to stay at and to take showers. After cleaning up, it was time for lunch. We walked to the market where they had a huge area that had one almuerzo completo (complete lunch) place after another. The way these places work is they sell plates of food until they sell out. We had to divide and conquer to get enough plates for all of us. I think we ate from three different places all together! If you want to see what was on the menu, it is above Rudi's head in the picture below!
Clean and Ready for Lunch!
After lunch Mark took us to a little church on the outskirts of Villamontes, where a fella who is originally from Camiri has an Horita Feliz.

Horita Feliz, Villamontes

Our cars in front of the church

Myles and Paula

Papaya trees. A common sight here...

Sharing some special music with the kids...

Loved this hen with her chicks!

Strolling through Villamontes!
David, Paula, and Adriana having fun at the park!
In the evening Mark took us to a park. This was a big highlight for the kids. It had a HUGE slide that they all had soo much fun on! Emily, Myles, Clancy, and Clara all had fun playing soccer with the local kids as well. I forgot to mention that Jimmy, a student from the Facultad who is from Cochabamba, went with us. He was Mark's travel buddy, but our boys enjoyed spending time with him as well.
All the kids + Jimmy on the far right!

Fun in the rocks and sand

Soccer Buddies Picture
I promise they had fun!!!
That night we did our last Cantatón of the trip. I had the little kids with me, until our three ring circus started getting out of hand. I took the "littles" to the hostel and put them to bed!
Cantatón Villamontes

The bird that greeted us outside our hotel rooms!

Sweet Sisters ready for more travel!!

Peter ready to walk???? Please!!!
I really liked this plant that was growing at the hostel where we stayed. I found out later later that it is one of the two national flowers. It is called the Patujú!
The Elegant Patujú
Mark, the boys, and Clara all went back to Camiri after the Cantatón, but Rudi and I and all the rest stayed on in Villamontes for the night. When Rudi came back to the hotel after the event he told me that a really nice family had invited us for breakfast the next morning.

Meeting this family was the highlight of the trip for me. Tirzah and her husband, Elisha have four children, two girls and two boys. The oldest daughter is in college in Sucre and their two sons were in school, but her daughter, Erika was there at breakfast with us. They are all such kind people. After breakfast we were talking about the country and how much we miss living outside of the city, when Tirzah told us that they have a property outside of the city that they are building a small little cabin on. They hope to one day live there. She spontaneously said, "Why don't we take them out and show them it." We all hopped into our cars and out we headed to their "country place". It did not disappoint. It was a lovely spot off the beaten track, but still within 10 minutes of the city. It is a property that belonged to her grandparents and now belongs to various family members. I want to say it was something like 1,000 acres total. I know we drove on it for a long time before we got to their place toward the back of the property. Maybe it is bigger than that. I will have to ask Rudi...

Kindred Spirits!
The group at the cabin. Emily taking the picture!

The little cabin!
The place had a pond that they had put in, that was very large. It had lots of wild ducks on it.
All too soon it was time to head back to Camiri for us and work and school for them. I hope we get to pass more time with this lovely family someday.
Wild Ducks on the pond!

Travel buddies!
Back in Camiri. Our four oldest went out to Pollos Sucre for dinner. Pollos Sucre is a yummy chicken place that is only in Camiri.

Myles, Emily, Clara, and Clancy at Pollos Sucre!!
Our last morning in Camiri, Rudi got up early to make cinnamon rolls for a special meeting. After the meeting Rudi and Myles played music for a baptism there at the river on the property. Then it was time to pack up and say goodbyes.

We made it back to the guest house in Santa Cruz in time for dinner and baths!! The guest house has a Hiper Maxi grocery store right around the corner, so we always walk and get our groceries to make our meals there, super convenient and economical!

We left the next morning by 6 a.m. and made it all the way back to Cochabamba in time for dinner at home!
My three "Chocolates" in the tub!! So Cute!!
Our one long stop on the way home was at Tres Arroyos (three rivers) where Myles, Clancy, Clara, Ruth and Paula all took the plunge and went swimming. The rest of us ate lunch while they swam!
Ruth cooling off!

Will he jump????

Lunch time on the way home, featuring the "Dashboard Deli"!