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BOLIVIA | Sunday, 15 February 2009 | Views [795] | Comments [6]

We know our parents are the only people who read this, so, parents, we want to reasure you that, now that we have crossed the border to Bolivia, our biggest danger thus far has been water. We can imagine that your concerns were invested in bandits and vagrants and we can assure you they live here, somewhere. Our threatening encounters, remain however, since entering this most diversley cultural landscape, to have come exclusively from children, with water. From windows and with water guns point blank on street corners, water bottles and anything else that will hold water, water is thrown. Who it is thrown at, is not limited to age or gender, ethnicity, or atire. We have been subject to, and seen many others, in an equal opportunity wrong place at the wrong time, subject to this. Buses and bus drivers, local women walking down the street, children in school uniforms, no one is excluded. But, often, everyone is already wet, either from an earlier encounter, or due to the fact that it is almost constantly raining here this time of year.

The good hearted nature of Bolivians is to be the type of people who accept the fact of being wet, take it head on by being more wet, getting others wet in the short time there is an opportunity not to be wet. If the water ceases to fall naturaly from the sky, if the rain pauses for a moment, sun comes from behind clouds, water will fall otherwise from above to land on your head. Bolivians stride through the weather donning little or no protection from it. No more than a brimmed hat, or a faster pace. They are a part of their environment, embracing and reflecting it, the colors in their native clothes seeming to emerge from the surrounding mountains, the patterns on them of the Lamas scattered between the rocks. Their clothes, being saturated, when the earth is saturated. They have such a sense of complacency, acceptance, humor, about the state of the seasons, they even put their Carnival, the biggest outdoor dancing festival of the year, right smack dab in the middle of the rainiest one.

This time of year in Bolivia, it is not just time for rain, but time for dancing in the rain. And we are as wet as anyone else, so, Of course while walking down the sidewalk in the city of Oruro we got invited to dance in Carnival by one of the hundred groups of local women who dance it. Of course they grabbed us, pulled us in to the street and decided we looked like good candidates for participation, Kate in her summer dress, Meg and Cat with their grown-out mullets, Rachel in men´s swimming trunks. Of course they taught us the traditional steps and hip swagger the next day while a news crew pushed microphones in to our faces asking us about our participation in Carnival. But, of course, we couldn´t stay. It wasn´t the week of practice we would have had to commited to rather than being here now boardering a National Park which contains a bird species that lives in caves and hunts with echolocation, it wasn´t that we were stumbling through the steps like embomanable snowmen, it wasn´t that we couldn`t afford to stay in a city that´s prices inflate to seven times as usual for the week due to the once a year, once in a life time, event that tourists from around the world flock to, it was the high heels. Not only would the elaborate sequined costumes have to be rented, but along with them the glittlering high heels.

We are going to see bears.

Our feet in wet sneakers we are getting ready to see Jaguars and Bats in the best place to see birds in Bolivia. We have turned down dancing in the Carnival, but are thanking goodness we didn´t let go of the opportunity to be in Bolivia. Bolivia has our hearts, as the Bolivian men with bells on their boots, tell us that we have their corazon through their expression of the country embracing others that embrace it. Bolivia unfolds with colors we have never seen, the people in clothes out from the animals, the animals out from the mountains, the mountains out from the horizons. Serenaded by marching bands and dubbed movies, Bolivia sways us in to enamored amor.

As the hail pelted us on our first hour here in Bolivia we were reminded of home, all of us having lived in the Northwest extensively, and we were hung heavy, standing several yards from the border, with the residues of what it took to get here. We had done all of the hardest things we had had to do on this trip in the week prior, limping through, splitting up, going back, to get to Bolivia where we now stood in the freezing rain with only grey in sight.

So much is breathtaking here, especially as we are at a much higher altitude. So much more is in the details of what it took to get here, but as we have mentioned, that you parents, are the only ones reading this, we wouldn´t want to worry you.



This is a lovely interlude for you. Loved this story. I think maybe Rachel wrote it or contributed to it. Did I guess right? And if not--please forgive me. Love, mom

  Renee Milligan Feb 17, 2009 1:42 AM


You are wrong--it's not only your parents reading this. In my mind--and comfortable home--I'm taking your trip with you girls and I am telling my little kids (8 and 12) all about it. I hope they grow up strong and brave and adventurous to do something as amazing, cool and wonderful as you are doing.

Birgit (Renee M.'s friend)

  Birgit Meade Feb 18, 2009 2:34 AM


I enjoy the stories and the writing styles. This is a particularly insightful piece, which brought me much joy on this most uncomfortable day.

  kati Feb 18, 2009 1:17 PM


Parents tend to see their children float through life accomplishing amazing feats, acting courageously, and shining light on the world. Even though I'm not a parent, your tales inspire me too. Thx.

  Shelley E Feb 18, 2009 5:13 PM


I am one of the parents who read this but I also have many friends who also read your stories and enjoy them mucho. Whoever told this tale did an excellent job. I'm glad Rachel is healing and you are all enjoying yourselves. Thank you Kate for your updates of not being dead and where you are. I love you big time Kate!!

  Bonnie Feb 20, 2009 8:16 AM


Marvelous stories and adventures! I'll be reading more and passing this on. Also will be in Columbia for a short visit. I'll watch for you. I think that you are doing " Peace Work" one person at a time.

I'm not one of your parents, but have kids like this.
Much love to Rachel and all of you.
Diane (friend of the Milligans)

  Diane E. Gorkiewicz Feb 27, 2009 5:43 AM

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