Bolivia, te extraño
by Alison Donald
(Santa Cruz, Bolivia)
As I write this I am 10,000 Kms. and 5 time zones from Bolivia. Reading that feels worse than going over it in my head.
When I allow myself to think about it, I miss lots of things about Bolivia. Not just my new Bolivian family, and the expat circle who take every newcomer under their wing.
What has made it easiest to transition a move to the other side of the world is almost certainly that Santa Cruz is progressive and the mundane aspects of life might not be that different from “back home” (huge florescent-lit supermarkets, air-conditioned gyms, cafes to meet friends etc).
But I am also missing the more authentic aspects of life, like the refreshing citrus juices sold by cholitas from their carts in the street, and the sight of the banana bike stall, which is exactly how it sounds.
You don’t have to buy eggs in boxes of 6 or 12, you can buy however many or few you need, and carry them home in a plastic bag.
The bus drivers won’t drive off without you if they can see that you are running towards the informal stop (quite probably because they are self-employed and need the fare rather than any altruistic motive, but anyway).
There is something going on in the main plaza every Monday, and it seems like there is a national holiday (and the accompanying celebrations) about every 3 weeks.
The lack of a postal delivery service means no junk mail for us, and no-one phones up to try to sell anything.
The lush greenery is a constant reminder that Bolivian jungle is not very far away, and that squawk that sounded like a parrot almost certainly is a wild parrot in a tree. Telephone booths are not boring grey plastic cubicles but in the shapes of tropical birds and animals.
I am confused that my mum’s hibiscus plant refuses to flower, then I remember that she, and it, live in the UK and saucer-sized flowers are not the norm.
A pink sunset gives way to a darkness filled with a choir of insects with bodies, legs and wings larger than you would care to imagine.
I miss speaking Spanish.
I want to go to the market and step around the pig blood on the floor as the cleaner hasn’t come round yet.
Heck, I’m even missing the micro buses, which I can’t stand up straight in.
Bolivia, te extraño