Goodbye Bolivia!


We all had a restful and joyous holiday, despite us being apart for most of it. The family stayed in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, while I started my Ed.D. program at Lehigh University. Shown above is the family with Nadia’s father and the family nanny, Modesta. The kids had a wonderful time with their grandfather, affectionately known as “Popa” and getting to know their Bolivian and Spanish language heritage a bit more. My absence meant they were immersed in Spanish and a closer bond was formed with Popa. He is such a nice guy!

The kids especially enjoyed being with the family dog, Lulu. It really makes me want to get a dog for them! We will look into it this year. The kids spent a lot of time on the four-wheeler Popa had waiting for them, and they had swimming and soccer lessons and visits with relatives to keep them occupied. There was some bad weather that kept them indoors at times, but that didn’t stop them from having lots of fun anyway.

American Rheas run free on the grounds of the Viru Viru airport in Santa Cruz.

I did get a few days in Santa Cruz and ate all of my favorite foods (salteñas, achachairu, empanadas) and my beloved “bolo” of coca leaves. The city is fast becoming an Andino city, with immigration from La Paz, Potosi, Cochabomba, etc. is really drowning the traditional “Camba” (the people from the lowland Bolivian provinces) families. I really noticed spotting lighter-skinned Crucenos is getting quite rare. It is a bit sad that the city is growing so fast, it is losing it’s frontier charm. It would have been better for Paraguay to win the Chaco War (1930s) because the people and the city are more Paraguayan than Bolivian. There is an autonomous Camba movement that I wrote about extensively during my last visit in 2011, but it is really too late. My advice would be to go further east, but that too will eventually become “Bolivian” as well. The climate and economy are so much better than on the altiplano that immigration will always be an issue.

Oliver with his abuelo, Popa.

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