Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Tarija Cantaton

Those of you who have followed this blog for awhile know that we occasionally venture forth to do what we fondly call a "Cantaton." This is the name that our friend, Mark, came up with to describe the singing and playing events that we do at churches. It is not a concert, but rather a time of congregational singing and praise that is led by our family playing instruments (and others), with Mark leading the singing. It is a lot of fun.
When we got back this time Mark had contacted the Saints in Tarija and they planned on having us down the second weekend in November. We had never been to Tarija before, but had heard that it was a beautiful place. We had also heard that the road getting there was a bit sketchy, it did not disappoint!
On this trip Mark and Carol, along with another family, Efrain and Jeaneth and their two daughters, went with us. Mark led the way in his truck and our faithful truffi followed along behind!

The road to Tarija begins!
We left early Friday morning around 6:30 a.m. and arrived in Tarija around 7:30 p.m. Only four of the driving hours were on pavement... And there was tons of road construction. Thankfully, it didn't rain or it would have been a total mud bog, instead we got plastered with dust!
This road is narrower than it looks!
We did not know about the road construction when we left, but they close the road so they can work without traffic on it. There were two different sections that they closed. Going to Tarija the timing worked out that we got through the first section during the time it was open...whew. However, we did have to stop for two and a half hours for the second section and wait for it to open.
Some of our children took advantage of the time and took a swim in the river below. The men made a fire to warm up by afterwards and we all enjoyed eating watermelon together.

Waiting for the road to open. 

The river where the kids swam and waded.

Translation: Restricted Vehicle Traffic
Monday-Friday     Saturday
7-11/1-6                 7-12
We appreciate your cooperation    

My handsome Hubby and Emily the photo bomber in the background

Our setup for the long wait! The booth with the blanket was
our dressing room!

Getting a fire going!
Most all of our clothes and things were packed up on top for the journey. After the little kids got wet they found out that I wasn't joking about not having anything for them to change into!
Just because he is so cute in pink!

Me and my little lover boy, Peter

Rudi served us all watermelon!!!

David, Abbi, Adriana, Misiel, and Paulita

And some of the rest of us!
When we arrived at the church where we were going to stay. We found very adequate accommodations  with mats to sleep on.
 They also had showers in the Men's and Women's restrooms and boy did they ever feel good after a day of dusty roads with the windows down! Just our family stayed at the church, the others stayed with family and friends.

The next morning a family from the church served us breakfast in the church kitchen and dining room.
Breakfast half American and half Bolivian style

Happy kiddos!

Saturday morning after breakfast Mark and Carol showed us around some of Tarija. We went to two different parks. The first overlooked the airport and had some great toys for the kids to play on. The second was a beautiful garden.
Tarija Airport

Myles and Peter waiting for the plane to take off!

Pretty Kiddies

Solving the world's problems! Actually rejoicing in
 the results of the recent U.S elections!

Fun slide! Paula with David behind!

Ruth with Peter

Love this picture!

Peter about to take the plunge!
The Men and Boys!

Cool looking cactus modeled by Clancy!

All of us, with Rudi taking the picture, by the "Welcome to Tarija" sign!

The older kids had such a great time riding around in the back of
Mark's truck!

The second park we went to was beautiful with lots of lovely pathways,
flowers, and water features.

A family photo opp! Getting everyone to look at the same time was a challenge!
The park from below!

Sharing after lunch on Sunday

Sunday was a full day with lots of eating!!! After church in the morning we were invited to a family's house for lunch. We had Almuerzo Completo that was delicious! Afterwards we were able to share some music with the family. They also asked Rudi to share something from the Bible. Rudi was able to testify of the many things that God has done in his life, as well as his testimony of how he came to the Lord.
After a short rest back at the church we went to dinner at another families house. This house was a kids paradise with all kinds of toys and a small car and truck to drive. I commented later to Rudi that the children that lived at the house were so kind in the way they shared their toys with our kids.
Kids Paradise

I think  the batteries were mostly dead, so they took turns pushing each other!

Dinner time! Everyone is singing before dinner!
We returned to the church just in time to get changed for the reason why we came down to Tarija, the Cantaton! It was our most well attended Cantaton yet, with more than 300 people attending. There were also many other musicians, mostly guitarists.
Getting started with the music!

Now it is Myles turn!

Ruth and Paula helping Uncle Mark with the
song "Quien Hizo Las Lindas Estrellas?"

The church had set up a stage and all of their chairs and benches outside in the gym area, as the actual church was too small for that many people. The weather was perfect for an outside event. It was such a great time.
Creation Cataton 2016 Tarija, Bolivia
The next portion could be titled "The Long Drive Home"... I am going to stop and publish this before I go to bed, so that this blog will be in November!!! Stay tuned, as I will finish my commentary (hopefully) tomorrow~ Dec 1!

Okay, it's morning now and after school. I will take up where I left off!

We left at five a.m. en punto, because we hoped to get through at least one of the road construction areas, remember there were two, before it closed for the day. Looking back we should have left at 4:30 because it would have saved us at least four hours of driving and STRESS, but more about that later!! We all had slept horrible, because for some reason mosquitos had decided to attack during the night. Our children checked in with us periodically, like every hour, to let us know how the battle was raging. Our last wake up was at 3 a.m. and I didn't sleep after that! Most of the children moved outside onto a patio/walkway to sleep, claiming that it was better outside! I do know that Ruth had something like thirty bites on each arm and all over her face. Thankfully, they weren't too itchy, like the mariwee bites. Anyway, if we hadn't been traveling with others we probably would have taken off at 3 a.m.!!
So sleepy and so sweet!
Our car was pulling really slow on the hills, like 20 miles per hour, so we took an early morning break to see if we could adjust something. Efrain is a mechanic, handy to have around on these journey's! It did a little better, but it still was a slow go on the hills.
Engine check!

Ready to be on the road again!

Others were also getting on the road early. It made for DUSTY conditions.

Coming right at you!

A beautiful morning right outside of Tarija.

Lots of road construction

A house right on the side of  the dusty road! I would hate
to live there!

One of the MANY rivers we crossed that day.

Caution  Landslides from 300 m.
Unfortunately, we missed making it through the second area of construction by about twenty minutes. That meant that we could wait until 12 noon when they opened the road for an hour, or we could take a detour... Since we arrived at the closure at 7:20ish that meant waiting for more than four hours. That is what I voted for, to wait in Entre Rios. However, the men wanted to take the detour. Surprise!

We took an hour or so break to eat breakfast, cheese and bread out of the van, use the restroom and get some gas in Entre Rios.

We had been told that you needed to have a four by four to go on the detour. If there had been recent rain we would not have made it in our van, as the ruts and slippery surface would have been too much. The first detour was 18 kilometers(approx 12 miles), it took us 1 hour to do this detour. The road was basically a off roaders track. We did not meet any cars or buses, thankfully, but we did meet up with one gentleman on horseback!
I must say that this area is one of the most beautiful and peaceful that I have seen in all our many journeys. It would be a wonderful place to live... that is if you didn't mind being at the ends of the earth!!
Our horseback guide

Adios, Amigo! In this picture the fella is reading a Gospel
tract Efrain gave him.

Some of the detour road

Off roaders dream... Not mine!!

It is hard to capture just how bad the road was, but take my
word we had to go very slow over the rocks and riverbeds!

As always, you must take baby wipes!
The second detour point we reached at about 10:30. This is where we should have stopped, as we barely made it through a riverbed during this second detour. This is also where we lost a lot of time driving, driving, driving, without going very far. At one point it looked like we were going to have to take another even longer detour, because we couldn't find a way to get into the riverbed that took us to the next road we needed to get to. Finally, after much trial and error we found the best entrance into the river and were able to pass, as long as we didn't stop. If we stopped we would have sunk down in the sand and lost traction! At the last part we did have to stop to help push some other travelers out of the mud/sand. Thankfully, we were able to get started again!

I know it is blurry, but this is the river we were driving in.

Riverbed driving at its finest!
I want to pause and give glory to God for our supernatural car. After we had been driving for about five hours in the craziest conditions, it hit me that our car is being supernaturally powered by God! There is just no other answer for why our car does not break down and just goes, and goes, and goes. These roads, if you want to call them that, are VERY hard on cars. Our car is a 1988 Toyota, it is old, it is low to the ground, it should not handle what we have put it through and yet, it just keeps chugging along. God gets all the glory for it, for sure!!!

David all tired out!
Around 2 p.m. we stopped for lunch. We hiked down to be by a river, but found out that instead of being refreshingly cool, it was quite warm and salty... weird!
Paula and Missi wading in the bathtub warm water 
Our lunch spot left a bit to be desired, as it was really hot, but the "shade trees" were full of super poky spines. However, it was shade, so we didn't complain too much...

Lunch time. Sandwiches and watermelon!

After the riverbed driving it was about two hours back out to the main road. At some points the construction stopped up the road completely.
Watching the large equipment move rocks out of the road.
About three hours from home we came to the worst part of the journey for me, The Narrows. There is a flagging system in place for stopping the cars on one side or the other, because there is two way traffic on a very one way road. However, I do not have much confidence in the flagging "system", because we met up with plenty of traffic coming at us. You honk on every blind corner and super hug the inside wall and hope for the best. We lived through it, but I say that it was another great ONE time experience for me!! At one point they stopped us all with the "red" flag and made us wait. I thought, "great, now it will be safe." Ha, ha, we still met up with traffic coming towards us and come to find out the flaggers leave at 6 p.m. and it was 6:15 while we went through this part. The wind was blowing and rain was sputtering, it was absolutely eerie being on the side of that mountain in those conditions. I'm sure you can see this road on Google maps. It is the road between Villamontes and Entre Rios and it is called El Angosto.

Safety first... That's why they put up the sign!!
The day we were traveling was Efrain's birthday. We stopped to celebrate with cake and ice cream at Jeaneth's mother's house in Villamontes. Bolivians must celebrate no matter what! Cake and ice cream was pretty much our dinner, except for the left over crackers we had in the van!
Happy Birthday, Efrain

Complete with travel weary musicians.

A firecracker candle!
We arrived home at 11 p.m. that night! Tired is an understatement. Thankful is also!!! It had been a long and grueling journey. Most of us did not go to bed without a shower first! It had been a long, hot, dusty journey!

The next day we were up and at ém cleaning out our God powered van!
Cleaning crew

It was a big job

Clancy and David getting it all detailed out!

David carrying in some of the shoes!
I don't know where our next Cantaton will take us, but I am thankful we were able to finally see Tarija, meet some great people, make new friends, and make it home again safely to Camiri! Thanks for joining me as I reminisced the journey!!!