Saturday, January 2, 2010

A White(water) Christmas

For a "cultural experience" try bussing through South America. Our destination was Iguazu Falls, which can be visited on its Brazilian or Argentinian side. We had decided to go through Argentina, since they don't require visas for US citizens (Brazil is rather expensive). Nevertheless, Argentine migracion was no joke. Having left Santa Cruz Saturday evening around 8PM, we arrived at the border town of Yacuiba, Bolivia before dawn on Sunday. It took probably an hour to get through Bolivian migracion, but another 3 hours for the Argentine side. Perhaps it was because of the weekend (although there were plenty of people waiting to be processed), but the system seemed incredibly inefficient. An officer would come out to the crowd (that was sort of lined up) and would take three or four passports inside the office. After what seemed at least half an hour, he would return and let those folks through. Meanwhile we are all standing around in the fast increasing Argentine sun. Naturally our passports looked unusual because of our various situations in Bolivia, so we had more hastling to do. Ray says that Argentina is actually more thorough, which is a good thing. Indeed, early on into the country our bus was stopped three more times to check luggage, and one fellow was taken aside and harrassed because he was carrying a "boom box" sort of CD player that looked to be a gift for someone.

After traveling again all day, we decided to get off at San Salvador de Jujuy, a lovely city, where we spent the night and had a great meal the next day. From there to Corrientes, and then on to Puerto Iquazu, the busses were increasingly nicer. Having lived and slept on busses most of the way, we treated ourselves to a nice hotel for five nights and enjoyed the falls on three visits: the 23rd-25th.

Not eager to retrace our journey (and pass through that same border crossing), we decided, on the advice of a local taxi driver, to return through Paraguay, a much shorter route. Paraguay does require a visa, but the driver told us that they don't bother with the checkpoint on the Argentine border, and we could purchase visas upon leaving at the Bolivian border. His advice turned out to be accurate, except that instead of charging us $60 per person for visas, the Paraguayan migracion only charged us $40 per person as a fine for not having a visa! Our Bolivian charges upon leaving and re-entering were also less than we had figured on. Quite the reverse of the usual stories of overcharging!

It only cost $45 per person, meals included, to bus from Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, to Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Of course you get what you pay for - "bus cama" seating meant that when the guy in front of you wanted to tilt his seat back, his head was in your lap. We didn't even try the toilet, but waited for the "do I dare?" facilities at the occasional stop. No AC on this bus - windows wide open and curtains flapping for 30+ hours. However, our drivers were competent and friendly.

Since we saw most of the scenery on our trip from a bumpy bus, our photos are mainly of the falls, which are so grand that one can't capture it all. Find our sampling at

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Thanksgiving Break

Right before our week long Thanksgiving vacation, the drama department put on a "radio performance" of It's a Wonderful Life - complete with sound effects. The 40's hairstyles and costumes were super cute and the students did a great job. Then we took a train to San Jose de Chiquitos, one of the several Jesuit missions between Santa Cruz and Brazil. Since the trains travel at night, we took a bus from there to Robore in order to see the reportedly beautiful scenery. Another train took us to the border town of Quijarro where we had our Thanksgiving dinner. We were also able to slip over into Brazil and take a short trip onto the Pantanal - the largest wetland in the world, shared by Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay. An all night "Ferrobus," sort of a fancy two-car train (very bouncy), brought us home. View our pictures at . We actually saw quite a few small caimen and one pretty big one, but they were camera shy.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Back in Bolivia

It's November already! Lydia and I are still busy at school of course, but this year Ray is teaching an ESL class for a mixed group of students and professionals. We had a four-day weekend a while back and so took a short trip to Cochabamba. A nice change from Santa Cruz. We flew in and took a grueling 8 hour bus trip back. It's a beautiful city, famous for having the tallest statue of Christ in the world - a few cm's taller than the one in Rio. We also visited a reserve for unwanted pets - mostly monkeys and parrots, but we were told there were also some jaguars and such lurking in the background. One monkey stole our hotel key out of Ray's pocket. But we used our superior intelligence to divert his attention and snatch it back! Here is the link to our pictures The recent album says "Viva Cocha."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Visit to San German

We're home for the summer now, but before we left we paid a visit to our World Vision sponsor-child, Erwin. When we moved to Santa Cruz we decided to sponsor a child from this area in hope that we'd be able to visit him. Over Easter break we got our wish! Check out the pictures of our visit to the village of San German and some from our neighborhood at .

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sophia Jean!

Our third granddaughter, sixth grandchild, Sophia Jean Emmans, was born March 31st, to Nathan and Jessica Emmans. She was two weeks early and weighed only 5 lbs. 10 oz. We can't wait to get home and meet her in person! Here's a link:

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Servant Day

Santa Cruz Christian Learning Center has a Servant Day every year, when the junior and senior high students are shipped off to different locations to help with various projects. I took a dozen freshmen to a little church on the outskirts where we painted the sanctuary. Okay, so I forgot my camera (Jessica, I know you can't relate here). And Lydia also did some painting in another location. Other students helped out at a SAM project in Barrio Bolivar. This is an interesting place. The Ayore, an indigenous tribe from the jungle, has moved to Santa Cruz and "squatted" on some land in two different areas on the outskirts. One of these is called Barrio Bolivar. The conditions there are pretty dismal, with drugs, prostitution and neglect being the order of the day. SAM has acquired some land and started a farm in order to provide work and an income for the men of the community. It has also built a building to provide healthcare services for the children. Check out the links: and

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Talita Cumi

We have become acquainted with one of the many orphanages here in Santa Cruz. At Talita Cumi the older children make pizzas and beautiful painted fabric items to sell. Though pizza delivered from Bolivia is rather impractical, the fabric items are really nice. Heidi Janecke, who directs these projects, also taught our youth during retreat to make some banners for our mission. Here they are with one of the finished items. The Talita Cumi website:

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Half-way Point

We have just finished our first semester at Santa Cruz Christian Learning Center. Time flies when you're having fun. Life has not been without excitement. We had political troubles early on to the extent that we were on alert to be ready to leave, and some staff did leave, though most have now returned. More of this is anticipated with the coming referendum on the new constitution late in January.

As anyone knows who is involved with school, life is in the fast lane for both teacher and student. I ended up being the sophomore class sponsor (how did that happen?) and so was involved in this semester's fundraiser: a very successful Christmas party for the junior and senior high. Next semester I'll be teaching a new course, one of my favorites (I have a lot of favorites): Constructing the Universe, a course in geometric construction according to the universal archetypes. Super cool.

Lydia has been busy learning how to manage friends and schoolwork! A pleasant surprise has been the number of Korean friends we have met. There are quite a few Korean missionaries here as well as children of immigrants. We just attended a dance recital of sorts in which two of Lydia's Korean gentlemen friends were demonstrating their break-dancing skill. Impressive.

Ray has the never-ending project in his job as Facilities Manager. Predictions are for a dry year, so we may have a much needed reprieve from the flooding. Remedies on this scale are a slow process indeed. However, he was able to get the failed septic system re-built. Hurray! Everyone hails him as a hero! But alas, we just got news that there was a huge electrical fire in the ceiling lights in the main office. Sounds familiar. We still have the scars of the two fires in our house - waiting on the painters. The never-ending story.

Which reminds me, early on we moved from the lovely Quinta to a humble but serviceable house in Barrio Alas de Paz (Wings of Peace). Closer in, more secure, and better for the dog. Though the roads are really bad whenever it rains.

Over Christmas we attended our missions conference at a nice resort outside of town. The SAM folks have been wonderful; they welcomed us as one of the family from the start.

I haven't had much time for photography, so the offering is scant. Hope to improve in that area (New Year's resolution?) A few pictures of the first day of school, our new house, a trip with some friends, and conference.

Also a link to the school's website:

Friday, April 25, 2008

There and Back Again...

Well, we are now associated with South America Missions and are all set to begin work at the Santa Cruz Christian Learning Center next August. Ray will be helping out as a maintenance supervisor, a liaison between the Spanish-speaking crew and the English-speaking staff. I will be teaching algebra I and II and senior English, which is British literature. I'm really excited about that! We have rented a house and will be returning to Santa Cruz mid-July.

Before we left we did take a couple more trips, one to Samaipata, a mountain town near some ancient ruins, and then to Rurrenabaque on the edge of Madidi, an Amazon preserve. Check out the fotos at .

We left Bolivia April 13th and made it safely to Miami where we stayed with Andrew and family before heading back to California. Now we're on the road, driving Andrew's truck home to Colfax for him. We hope to be back by May 1st. See you all soon!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Moving On

When the hotel started remodeling upstairs, with workers who like loud radio (and the disco down the street is still going), we decided we'd relocate to Santa Cruz for the interim. Well, three of us anyway...Peter is going to stay here with a homestay family to continue Spanish school. Though we're eager to leave the ruido, we're very sad to leave Sucre and all our friends: great teachers, staff and students at the school, great people at church, and lots of missionaries, some of which were also fellow students. To see a far from complete gallery go to

The Trains are the resident missionary family with the Plymouth Brethren church that we have been attending. Phil grew up in Bolivia since his folks were also missionaries here. He went off to school in southern California, met and married Jan from Anaheim, and they returned to Sucre where they have been ever since - 27 years. He is also director of the denomination's South American churches, so when he's busy traveling, the church is blessed with several very capable and gifted preachers who take over. Few churches are able to support a full time pastor, hence the welcome missionary help.

Dino and Ruth arrived from England eager to help with the youth. And do they have energy! They even taught art classes, which Lydia was able to enjoy. We met them first at school, and what a blessing to see them at church too (more English speakers, you know). They have a blog at .

Ed and Sarah showed up next, both at church and at school, and from England as well. Ed is working with Food for the Hungry. He goes out to the campo, mapping the area by computer, in order to develop a strategy for improvement of land use for the farmers. They have a blog also at .

Knut and Analisa from Norway are here with their two younger children. Knut will be teaching theology at the Lutheran seminary in Sucre after he finishes a year of language study. It was good practice talking with them at school since they don't speak English and we don't speak Norwegian!

And there were so many others that we met briefly one way or another. Ex-pats tend to gravitate to each other. Paul and Christie are studying Quechua in order to help in a church in the campo. Don and Vickie Ome are sort of resident angels; they just like to help ex-pats. Don actually has old connections in Cool! Many of the students at the school were also going on to volunteer work, from orphanages, to earthquake reconstruction in Peru, to classroom teaching.

And we'll also miss all our favorite waitresses, shopkeepers and hotel staff. This is too sad. Maybe we should stay!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Carnaval 2008

We survived Carnaval - just barely! For two weeks prior we had dodged water balloon fights fairly successfully. But from Friday the 1st through Tuesday the 5th, it was all out war. Sucre's Carnaval festivities are rather humble when compared with Oruro, for example. In Sucre they have a couple of parades, but the main activity is the water fighting. Water balloons, bazookas, even buckets and cups (especially from overhead balconies) increase in fierceness as the days progress. And then there's the "spuma," cans of shaving cream type stuff. Lydia was the main target, then Peter, but I was literally drenched by a passing band - cheerfully of course. Ray was usually hit from behind at a distance - the beard we think. Peter and Lydia would join in - ready balloons were sold on every corner - but always got the worst of it. They came back thoroughly drenched several times.

I didn't get many pictures for two reasons: I didn't want to get my camera wet, and I ran out of batteries and couldn't get more until after Carnaval. It was all we could do to get a couple of bags of milk or stealthily make our way to a restaurant. The down side of Carnaval is all the alcohol. Two people died in Sucre from overconsumption.

Here's the link to the photos . But check out YouTube also. I found a video of Carnaval in Sucre With Water Bombs. You may also want to visit the Beams' site again (see below). He has new photos of their recent trip to Sucre. Beautiful!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Equal Time: the rest of the family

Nathan, Jessica and Cadence Rose

Our oldest son Jordan is living in South Korea
teaching English and playing music

Claire Olivia Emmans

Our fifth grandchild, Claire was born on January 23rd to our son Andrew and his wife Jamiey. Tristan, Ethan and Isaiah are the happy brothers.

See what we have to look forward to when we get home?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Visit to Santa Cruz

Lydia and I made it to Santa Cruz Tuesday to check out Santa Cruz Christian Learning Center and meet the principal, Steve Swope. Unfortunately, we arrived during some of the worst flooding in Bolivia's history. The school was not exempt, and they had to cancel classes for the remainder of the week. The soccer field was a lake and the grounds a potential koi pond. In fact they caught a three-foot eel and two catfish on campus! Lydia did get to meet some students and was able to sit in on Spanish class. We were also able to attend chapel before they sent everyone home early.

We stayed at New Tribes Mission guest house, which was great fun. Wednesday afternoon we visited a couple of "malls" which were more like department stores. Everything is done differently here. To pay for our purchases in the clothing department, I was sent downstairs to the lawnmower department. Never would have guessed.

Thursday showed us Santa Cruz heat. But the clouds would come over, then a breeze or a sprinkle, and we decided we'd be able to handle it. It is mid-summer down here.

We got home Friday at around 4PM even though our flight was for 10AM. The flight is only 30 minutes, but we had to wait for Sucre weather to permit.

I put a few pictures on the web album. The link is . Poor Peter had to do schoolwork while we were gone.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Christmas and New Year's Day

The school was closed for three weeks during Christmas and New Year's, so we decided to do some traveling. We had hoped to fly from Sucre to La Paz, but if the clouds are too low the planes don't go - and they are usually too low. So we took a 12 hour overnight bus. Lydia got sick, and was down for two days in La Paz, so all we were able to do was visit Tiahuanaco. Peter and Ray also went down "the world's most dangerous road" on bicycles.

After another 8 hour bus ride, we stayed in Arica, Chile on the ocean over Christmas. The first beach we visited was absolutely strewn with jellyfish (I tried calling them 'pescados mermalados' but was informed the word is 'medusa' in Spanish). Some of these were huge - 18" in diameter. We were a bit timid about swimming here, though others were in the water, so on Christmas day we went to a different beach - fewer medusas, lovely sand and surf, and I went clamming! Great fun! But we got too much sun - here at the equator - and got a bit burnt.

Another long bus to Arequipa, Peru, where we toured beautiful cathedrals and enjoyed wonderful food - Arequipa claiming to be the 'gastronomic capital' of Peru.

On to Cuzco. (We discovered that a toilet on a bus is not such an advantage - for odoriferous reasons.) Here Lydia and I had great fun doing our "Christmas shopping." Prices are great! Of course we toured Machu Picchu, and on New Year's Eve day Peter, Lydia and I went rafting on the Urubamba river. Yahoo!

From Cuzco to Copacabana back in Bolivia. Lydia was sick again, so she didn't come with us to Isla del Sol on Lago Titicaca. Then she really got sick, from altitude we think, back in La Paz, and had to endure that 12 hour bus again.

When we got out of the taxi in front of our hotel in Sucre (looking a sight!), who should we meet but the Beams! They were vacationing with some friends who happen to work at the school where I am applying to teach next year. We all met for dinner the next evening and had some great fellowship.

Back to business this week - got to study that espanol! Here is the link to the pictures of our trip:

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Visit the Beams

We have communicated with some missionaries from the Evangelical Free Church of Canada who are living and working in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. You may want to visit their blog at . Daniel Beams gives more information on the political situation as a whole and problems specific to Santa Cruz. Their children attend the school where Lydia hopes to attend and where I (Angela) hope to teach next year.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Peace after the Storm

We've decided to go ahead and stay in Sucre for now. Things are getting back to normal. Everyone pulled together to clean up the streets. In the interim volunteers took over law enforcement duties. Even most of the released jail inmates returned voluntarily. The banks opened up, and the police returned yesterday, which was our chief concern. And we were all getting sad about leaving. We've come to love it here: our school, our church, the people, our hotel apartment, even the barking basset next door. It's beginning to feel like home.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Photos of Uyuni Trip

Here is the link to our photos of the Uyuni trip. You may also want to check out the web news on Sucre for current events here. We're finding, though, that the press is not quite accurate. From Sucre's point of view, the "new constitution" has been imposed illegally, and they fear a dictatorship. That's what all the fuss is about. The streets are looking better now, nevertheless we are considering relocating until things are more settled.

Monday, November 19, 2007

First Trip

Our plan is to study for two weeks at a time, then take a break to travel. Our first trip was to the Salar de Uyuni. We rode in a rather nice bus to the town of Potosi, only 3 hours from Sucre on a paved highway. This gave us time to see the city. Our hotel room had the most comfortable furniture we've found yet in Bolivia. But since the president was visiting, all night long we had to listen to marching bands going past our window in his honor. Next morning we rode for 7 hours on a dirt road in a rather uncomfortable bus to Uyuni. The bus kept picking up passengers even though it was standing room only. These folks had to stand for hours, though I suppose it was still better than walking. From Uyuni we took a three day 4-wheel drive tour through the Salar de Uyuni and its surrounding wilderness. Quite a wild trip!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

After years of dreaming and planning, we retired from our jobs in California, sold our home in the foothills, and moved to Sucre, Bolivia, in October of 2007. Here we plan to stay for seven months, studying Spanish and traveling at intervals throughout the country. After that we plan to return for two months to visit family and friends, then back to Bolivia, and so on, for how long, we don't yet know. "The time had come...we went!"