I'm all for finding the positive in everything. Literally. Except for 50 degrees below zero for any
length of time, or the noxious smell of someone polishing their toenails aboard a flight, I'm good. Living in various developing countries can help you become a glass-half-full kind of person. There's always the probability that someone else is having a much harder time than you are, on any given day.
When people ask me why I choose to live in Bolivia, I don't really find it very hard to come up with 101 reasons to love it. But that doesn't mean there aren't negatives to contemplate. Some issues are deserving of very serious analysis before making the decision to move here. In Bolivia these would be politics, the economy, poverty levels, drug trafficking, crime rates, human rights issues, and car alarms.
There. I said it. The complete inability of Bolivians to regulate their car alarms correctly may very well drive me out of this country! For reasons you will only comprehend after you live here for a while, car alarms are viewed as a sort of proof of social status. The louder and longer your car alarm is left blaring, the higher your social status.
Because, of course, if you have a car alarm, and it's blaring to the point of making it impossible for anyone to enjoy their dinner dates, and you've completely destroyed your neighbors' abilities to put their children to sleep, and your car alarm has out-blared the other three car alarms that are blaring simultaneously, then you have fulfilled your mission: everyone within a 14-block radius will know you are the proud owner and master of a car. And not just any car, oh no! A car with an alarm
The problem has become so severe I am seriously this
close to Googling "houses for rent near Himalayan monasteries".
Take right now for instance. It's currently 3:00 a.m. and for the past few hours (yes, hours) a single car alarm has been honking, beeping and blaring non-stop on the corner of my house.
I reached such a point of desperation, I took to Facebook to vent where I posted someone PLEASE bash in the engine of the car with the alarm that has been going non-stop for the past 3 hourzzzzz!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
, to which my friend Jacobo responded that he was on his way with some TNT and by the way did I know how to make molotov coctails...
Jacobo, you see, understands. He just moved to Bolivia from Paraguay. His welcome was a breakfast at a sidewalk café during which time our conversation was interrupted at least 5 times by...wait for it... screeching car alarms.
I reached out to cousin Mike, a former Marine, who responded that he is now a child of peace, but willing to come out of retirement if need be, to which I responded that I was at the point of yanking all my hair out, to which he responded that I would look funny bald and that he could get here in a day. Mike, you see, was once stationed in La Paz.
Meanwhile, Roland from D.C. was busy calling on higher powers to silence the offensive, sleep-cheating, baldness-inducing car alarm.
What great friends to have at a time like this. Their compassion, humor, and willingness to blow things up for me, had me laughing aloud and put things back into perspective.
And so, I've decided to stay in Bolivia a little longer - inconsiderate, uppity car alarm owners and all.
You see, I've learned to love two sayings Bolivians have about life: "no hay mal que por bien no venga" ("there is no bad thing that doesn't happen for a good reason") and "no hay mal que dure cien años" ("no bad thing can last a hundred years").If you accessed this article from our July 2011 online newsletter, click here to return.