Wednesday, August 30, 2006

La Paz Red Cross Talent Show

Friday June 9th, what a night! The show started at 9pm and my unit, Socorro y Desastres was scheduled as the first act. We had practiced a decent amount and were quite enthusiastic about the performance because we knew it would be unexpected and fun… which it was – how could it not be considering we re-enacted Michael Jackson’s Thriller music video?! Muahaha. Lucho was perfect as Michael, and we zombies had the added bonus of baby skin post-performance because the “make up” used for the pale skin effect was a light green face-mask cream! Priceless. Other acts included Cueca, Chakaltaya, recitation of poems, spoofs, and volunteers who had been working hard got a shout out, a pat on the back, and a fluorescent green anorak (yours truly included *beams*). Oporto wine was served for a toast (so sweet, ewwwk!), we had a cake (see picture on left) and then music was played and the dancing began. Around midnight the last song was played, and the afterparty took place at Miguel-Angelo’s place, where I got to practice dancing traditional dances again and found out some gossip, hehe. The Red Cross rocks my world.

Zombies, left to right: Javier, Adriana, Fatima, Paola, me, Edson, Rodrigo.

Motorbikes + Horses = Adrenaline + Fun

On Sunday June 4th, a very special horseshow took place at my club, Los Sargentos. The ring was filled with a mixture of jumps for horses and for motorcycles, and every rider was teamed up with a biker. First the rider went into the ring and did the course as fast as possible before jumping off the horse and running to where the biker teammate was standing to give him a high five so he could run to his motorbike and do his course as fast as possible. It was so much fun, everyone was cheering for everyone else! I did my best round ever with Bolero but unfortunately my biker was the only one to fall during his course and we were therefore eliminated. No worries though, next year will be a different story! Rider: Chicho (director of the club), horse: Shakira

Chicho's partner for the competition, who happens to have been the best motorbike rider (think he came 1st, 3rd, 5th and 6th!)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Día del Desafio

The second activity I was in charge of on May 31st was the “Day of the Challenge”, organized to encourage people all around the country to take part in physical activities, the idea being to stimulate a healthy lifestyle. Pepe was my driver (he was meant to attend as a regular volunteer but my driver never showed up so Pepe saved the day), and the rest of the team was Rosario and Moreyna. We covered Plaza Murillo, got to see Evo play futsal (similar to soccer but on a smaller pitch, with a different ball and slightly different rules… haha), ate yummy salteñas courtesy of the mayor, and then drove around to other key locations just to make sure all was running smoothly, which it was. Success!

Me on the left watching the game of futsal... and yes, the player on the left of no. 5 is none other than the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales! For the record, this is NOT the game where he broke his nose...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

World Food Program March & Iracundos Concert

The morning of Sunday May 21st was the march organized by the World Food Program (WFP) all around the world. Not sure what the results were elsewhere, but in La Paz, it was impressive (see photo on left). There must have been over two thousand people who went from Plaza Espana all the way to El Prado, all wearing the WFP tshirt and cap and waving around WFP balloons… And El Prado was set up with a number of tents and booths as well as a stage where songs were song and dances performed, all in support of a world without child hunger. The group of volunteers I was with, under Edson’s responsibility, attended the event until noon and then whizzed off to the open-air theater to help the four volunteers there covering the concert of Los Iracundos. Don’t think I have ever seen so many middle-aged
women screaming, singing and dancing, oblivious to the sun and heat and simply mesmerized by a famous albeit middle-aged group of musicians (see second photo on the left). I love this country!


The very first activity I was put in charge of was going to the airport on May 18th to pickup Vicentico, a famous musician who used to be one of the Fabulous Cadillacs guys and who was performing in La Paz on the 19th. Pepe was my driver, and the crew consisted of Alejandro, Adriana, Paola, Luisa and me. We picked up burgers for dinner and actually got to the airport early, so we waited a while before the star arrived. Then, the main idea was to stay close in case Vicentico needed oxygen and to be caught on camera (free publicity is always good). We followed the procession of cars to Hotel Europa and there I went to welcome Vicentico to Bolivia and let him know that the La Paz Red Cross was at hand if he needed anything. Aside from sorroche pills (a pill for altitude sickness which is made of aspirin and coca leaf extract), he said he didn’t need anything and after signing a random poster, Vicentico went upstairs to rest. His musicians arrived and had some mate de coca, listening attentively as I recommended drinking much water or mate and taking it easy to avoid feeling the altitude too much. More waiting. Finally we decided enough was enough and around 1am I went to talk to our liaison to tell him we were heading out because the volunteers had to be fresh for the concert. All in all, everything went quite well and quite smoothly, even though as responsible of an activity for the first time I definitely made some small mistakes.

Adriana Castillo, Luisa Yujra, and Vicentico.

As for the concert? I went as a “normal citizen” with a number of other volunteers (also there pseudo-incognito), and it was brilliant. While lining up outside the open air theater, we shared a few beers and ate the sandwiches I had prepared to avoid going hungry. All in all we ended up being about fifteen people, weeeee! The only disappointment was that Vicentico didn’t sing “Estoy Feliz”, one of his best songs. But still, Vicentico rocks.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Red Cross Anniversary

For the 89th anniversary of the Bolivian Red Cross, on Monday May 15th, we started celebrating early. Sunday the 14th we organized a procession which started at the Red Cross Square in Miraflores - speeches were made and everyone sang the national anthem, yours truly participating in the chorus only as that was the only part I knew, sheepish grin - and then went via the Stadium and Ave. Busch to end at the headquarters of the La Paz Red Cross, where more speeches were made and the La Paz anthem was sung by all but yours truly who merely pretended to sing, sheepish grin squared. Finally, everyone squeezed into the patio of the La Paz Red Cross and we enjoyed salteñas and fizzy drinks. On the left, that's us prim and proper and in formation before marching (and not just any marching - a cop taught us how to do it right!) to the square where the ceremony began... These uniforms are called pitufos, i.e. "smurfs" - enough said!

On Monday morning, a number of volunteers took part in two live simulations (for TV2 and Canal7) of Red Cross interventions in case of an accident – I am famous! Too bad personal protection and the uniform, including a helmet, lab goggles and a barbijo made it nearly impossible to recognize individuals!

In the evening, a special event was held at the Radisson Hotel featuring a photo exhibit, live music, distribution of prizes recognizing certain people’s contribution to the Bolivian Red Cross’ work, and dancing. A selection of volunteers were invited to attend (on the left, Andres in position to welcome the guests as they arrived), and the rest of us – after waiting in vain for the Socorro meeting to take place – headed to “Green Bar” to celebrate unofficially, hehe. Martin, self-declared godfather to the celebration, made sure no one went thirsty, and much fun was had by all until the wee hours of the morning. What a Monday!
Here on the left are some of us in the middle of a toast to the Red Cross. From left to right: Monica, Martin, Andres, Javier, myself and Pepe.