Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words. Saw this on a wall of the UMSA (Universidad Mayor de San Andres), and it's right up there with the drawing of the evolution of man in footsteps which ends in high heels...

Las Alasitas

This past month there has been a fair in La Paz called Alasitas. Although there are many game and food stands, the main attraction is that you can buy miniature everythings! The idea is that if you buy a miniature house, for example, you are increasing the odds of you getting a house in the following year. Ideally you get the items you buy blessed, but that only really occurs on the first day... I went on Sunday, which was the last day, and it was intense! Sooooo many people there, it was unbelievable (see for yourself! ->)

Tying in with the tradition of the Alasitas, is a tradition whereby if you are single but searching for a significant other, you can always hope that someone will be kind enough to buy you a hen (if you are looking for a girl) or a rooster (if you are looking for a boy). And then there are times that you might receive such a gift even if you didn't really want to... Meet Bob, the rooster my aunt gave to me 10 days ago (she had no choice in a way, as I was the only single girl sitting at the dinner table that night!). I was told to put him in front of a mirror, so I did just for the photo - and then put him back on the shelf in my room, just in case leaving him in front of the mirror had an effect. Not that I believe in these things, but why take a risk? Hehe. Someone also mentioned that the color of the rooster/hen you receive has something to do with the characteristics of the significant other you will find, but I didn't get any specifics. If I find out more, I will let you know.

How to celebrate a Birthday in La Paz...

Sunday February 12th a few friends got together to celebrate a fellow volunteer's Birthday (Left to right, you have Maria-Elena, Alvaro, Cesar, Fatima, Oscar, Paola the Birthday Girl, me, Andres, Claudia M and Cindy). It was a surprise, as I got Paola to come over with the pretext of going over First Aid stuff (hehe), and although most people arrived after Paola the Birthday Girl (oops), she definitely did not suspect anything - it worked!

Once everyone arrived, we did the dual Birthday song (here they first sing in English and then in Spanish, clapping the base beat and accelerating during the Spanish version for added intensity) and Paola blew out the candle. Then - and this is my favourite part - Paola had to act according to tradition and bite the cake for good luck... which of course turned into Paola getting a facial! Teehee. Here's an action shot of her biting the cake. The two arms you see (one on the left with a blue band and another behind Paola's head - whose owners will remain unnamed) are the tools which turned part of the cake into a cream mask. For the record, the part of the cake which remained unaffected was cut - after Paola got all the cake cleaned out of her eyes and off her face - providing wish number two and distributed. Tastey! At least Paola got two wishes (one blowing out the candle, and one cutting the first slice of cake with the knife upside down) and a chunk of luck for her year!

Right before we left the apartment at the end of the party, the view from the window was so stunning that a picture had to be taken - TADAH! Turns out the golden light, rainbow and dark clouds combo was a precursor to an insane hailstorm which lasted about 15min (followed by a night of rain which caused a lot of damages around the city - more about that later) during which my brother and I, sitting in a cab on our way to Zona Sur for dinner, felt like sardines in a can - an interesting experience to say the least.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Wedding Frenzy!

Last Saturday, January 28th, I counted 2 wedding cars (cars decorated with white lace ribbon and one also with styrofoam swans on the front) walking from the Red Cross to the Children's Hospital. Sweet. Then, from the Children's Hospital back to my apartment, the world went crazy. I counted 15 (FIFTEEN!) weddings! Either in the form of a couple in wedding attire walking up the bridge Puente de las Americas, champagne in hand, or in the form of wedding cars driving by, honking (see pictures below). Although I asked, I never really got a satisfying answer for why I came across quite so many weddings on a random saturday and within a half hour time-frame. Maybe it was one of those mass events organized through an obscure secte? Or maybe January 28th is a special date in a way that I just don't know. Either way... WEIRD!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Peru Part III: More Visuals

Still battling with Blogspot to upload all my pictures, but here are a few more from Peru which made it through the random rejections...

Me posing a la asian while hiking up Wayna Picchu. This one was taken for my cousins - JOTINOOZ FOREVER!

Keka! What are the odds - I don't think that's even a real word! I have to say, having her as a guardian angel is very reassuring.

Cool cactus, no? In case you were wondering, the ruins seen in the background are Pisaq (part of the Sacred Valley tour), and they were quite interesting even though we only got to see 1/7th of them (them Incas definitely built things on a grand scale!).

Seeing two Llamas engage in the Mating Dance was possibly one of THE funniest moments of my trip (teaching Lauren how to shake her fist in the air and fake swear in a foreign language is up there as well, hehe). You had to be there, but take my word for it - priceless. Looked like a combination of salsa, American football, tackling, and tenderness.

Peru Part II: Cusqueno Schmorgusboard

Hippie Cows: The Scientific Explanation to Crop Circles.
Here, they tie cows up by attaching a rope around their horns, which gives them a distinguishedly hippie look, and causes them to graze in circles. To think all these years we were blaming this phenomenon on poor, innocent aliens...

Instead of the Mating Dance, look out for the Tourist Breakfast Dance!
My first morning in Cuzco, I went to a cafe bakery which donates its proceeds to a home for young girls. I walked in, hovered near a table and then decided to go up to the counter to see the breakfast goods before ordering. Then I realized I couldn't identify all the baked goods in front of me, so I took a step towards the cashier and asked for a menu, unsure of what to do when she shook her head at me, signaling that no, there was no menu available. Weight on my left foot, weight on my right foot, lean back towards the backed goods, and finally point to one and say "uno por favor, con mate de manzanilla". Finally, head back to the table I had spotted upon arrival and sit down. As I was enjoying my breakfast (turns out I ordered a petit pain au lait which was lacking a little butter but tasty nonetheless), a German-looking tourist walked in, and much to my amusement, she reproduced my very movements! I could barely prevent myself from laughing out loud when a couple of Italians came and did the same. And thus, the Tourist Breakfast Dance was born. Well, not born because I am sure it existed before I labeled it that way, but that was definitely the moment the TBD was identified by yours truly as an anecdote worth writing home about!

Everyone knows the role of black and white sheep in a family, but what about a mix?
My guess is this little guy is just confused, plain and simple. He's not The Black Sheep Of The Family, but he's not a regular sheep either, OR a mocha middle ground...

An original use of resources, demonstration by Urubambians.

Irrefutable proof that people with less resources tend to be more creative than their spoilt counterparts. This could be part of an advertising campaign for recycling! I thought it was brilliant. Bet it looked great when lit up, too!

Favorite place to eat: Jack’s Café
Best place for a nightcap: Fallen Angel
Favorite place to stay: Frankenstein Hostel
Funnest experience: Urubamba
Most satisfying half-day: Machu Picchu and the Wayna Picchu hike
Greatest surprise: hearing Swiss German upon arrival at the top of Wayna Picchu
Reason to go back: Camino del Inca

Biggest letdown: Camera straps. They're just for show!