|Our beautiful Bolivian flag|
When I was eight years old, my family (including our dog, Tootsie) moved to Cochabamba, Bolivia. As far as we knew, it would be a permanent move and it was a very scary, yet wonderful, experience. My older brother was 10 and the younger one was 4 at that time. For the first time, we got to meet family members we had never known and it was great! I had no idea what it was like to have such a huge family, but now we were surrounded by loved ones and it was truly amazing. But we soon learned that being bilingual and loving some Bolivian food was completely different from living there, adapting to different customs and going to school in a language that wasn't English. I had never read too much in Spanish, nor had I ever tried to write in my first language, so it was a bit of an adjustment. After some tutoring, we were ready to dive into going to school and test out a new world. Luckily, my brothers and I adapted rather quickly to school in Spanish and our grades were really quite good. I can still out-spell many who write in Spanish all the time and I'm kind of proud of this. (giggle!)
Being that I was a child, I don't even know all the details as to why life didn't work out in Cochabamba for my parents, but a couple years later, in 1979, we were on our way back to the States. I have to admit that readjusting to life in the USA proved to be more difficult than I could have ever imagined. I felt as if I no longer fit in and/or that no one understood who I was or what I had experienced while in Bolivia.. and those two years HAD changed me in more ways than I could comprehend.
I went back to Bolivia in 1989 to spend time with my grandparents (Mom's parents) and with the rest of my family. Mom's youngest sister and her daughter lived nearby, so I spent a lot of time with them and had the chance to get reacquainted on a different level. I was 20 years old and had been suffering from intense depression, which is what prompted my visit. I needed to get away from the life I knew and it was the best place I could think of that would help me find my way back into myself. I don't think it was until I was invited to stay with my cousin Patty and her family (husband and two children) that I began to smile again. You see, they did not have much when it came to possessions, but they had a deep sense of family, acceptance and love that I had never felt until I stayed with them. Patty and I would talk for hours on end (playing cards, as we Bolivians do!) and she helped me find a piece of myself I had lost in my depression and for this I am forever thankful. We were always surrounded by family members coming to visit or we went as a family to typical Bolivian restaurants and ate the most delicious food for just pennies. It was basically every day life and it was just what I needed.
|This picture reminds me of the street Patty and her family used to live on.|
|La Paz at night with the majestic Illimani overlooking the city.|
|A portion of Tiwanacu|
|La Puerta del Sol (Door of the Sun.. or perhaps it's called the Gate of the Sun?)|
|La Puerta de la Luna (Gate of the Moon)|