Getting settled in Bolivia

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Here’s my new roomie, Jade. She’s a vegetarian, great cook and is starting her fourth year of teaching at the school. She’s been invaluable to me and it’s only my third day in country! What would I do without her? The kitchen is pretty well outfitted. There’s a four burner (propane) gas stove AND oven (there were no working ovens in Vietnam, Mexico or Peru!). Also a full sized fridge, and the water from the tap is potable (though a very high mineral content) and there’s even hot water. I’ve not seen potable or hot water from the sink outside of the USA!

My flight to Bolivia from The States was uneventful, but long and tiring. I arrived (very) late Tuesday, January 9th, 2018 and was extremely grateful to see Mariela and Jaclyn, from the school, there to greet me.  I talked with the director, Maria, by phone, as the ladies drove me to my new apartment. She promised to meet me the next day. However minutes later, she sent a text to Mariela saying I should “rest” and she’d call me. She didn’t call on Wednesday. We walked to the school on Thursday, but she didn’t come in that day. Or Friday. So I’ve not met her yet. Perhaps Monday? Schedules are very fluid here.

The landscaping at the condo community includes many exotic, tropical plants.

Information is fluid as well. My roommate is Jade and she’s 26 and from New Zealand (not 36, from London as promised. I’d only agreed to a roommate because I thought she was older, over thirty). She’s starting her fourth year of teaching here, so it’s difficult to imagine someone got “confused.” There’s a third roommate, Miguel, coming in a day or two. (I had not agreed to a third roommate, especially not a male.)

I’m hopeful that it will workout. In fact, Jade has been amazing–my room was ready, the kitchen stocked, she cooked for me, she helped me get cash, showed me around and she’s given me such a huge amount of information I won’t be able to remember it all. She walked me to the school on Thursday and introduced me to several people, is helping me understand the culture, schedule, paperwork. Her Spanish is amazing. I’m so jealous! Honestly, it would be difficult without her help.

This is fresh cacao fruit, the same plant that chocolate is made from. I bought it on our shopping trip!
We sliced open the cacao fruit. There’s not much flesh, but a small amount clings to the seeds. According to Jade, the fruit tastes like “a slimy lemon drop.” Unfortunately, this fruit was past its prime and didn’t taste so good.

I’ve learned that information/truth has different standards outside the USA. I’m learning to roll with it and pick my battles. So far, there are no deal breakers. It’s not what I expected and not exactly as promised, but so far it’s OK.

We got wifi today! Still working on a phone, though, which could happen Monday. Jade moved into the apartment shortly before me, so not everything is sorted.  The apartment is very good: full kitchen (mostly outfitted), a bathroom (mostly to myself), clothes washer and a small “garden” in back. In fact it’s a two-story, 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath house with a detached “maid’s” bedroom and full bath at the back of the house, behind the “garden.” It’s a gated condominium community with pool and (very small) exercise facility (though we still need to be given access to them). Seems very safe. It’s a 15 minute walk to the school I’ll be working at where I’ll teach 4th grade (called year 5, here). Teachers show up January 23, but classes don’t start until February 5, (all a week later than I’d been told). I will probably need to go to the school the week of the 15th, but I’m not sure because I have no information about orientation. In fact, I don’t know if there is an orientation. There are a couple (very small) restaurants and a decent sized grocery nearby, plus fruit and vegetable trucks come by on Saturdays. I’m well outside the city center, but there are buses (that I have to figure out) and taxis are not too pricey. I don’t have a car and doesn’t look like a bicycle would be worth the money–too much traffic.

The front of the condo. It’s a gated community, so most doors are not locked, just a latched screen door. Jade is in the kitchen (window to the left) baking.

I’m hopeful it will work out. I’d be more comfortable if I had more information, but experience tells me that these things usually sort themselves out. And, besides, I have an extra week to prepare, since classes start later than I’d been told. I have a copy of most of my textbooks (no Science book, nor teacher’s any manuals), so I’m reading the classroom materials now. Classes start at 7:30a, but end at 1:30p. In the past, teachers have been released shortly after. My contract says I have to stay until 3:30p, so that could be a new standard. If yes, that will be my class prep/grading time. If no, I’ll probably do that at home.

My bed. Notice the stack of textbooks I’m reading. That will keep me busy this weekend.
My bedroom has a great closet–a real asset in a small room. The window looks out over the back yard.
It’s a horrible photo of the back yard–called the garden–through my new window screen. So glad to even have screens–the bugs are serious here in this tropical climate. January is summer and highs have been in the mid-80’s F. The back wall leads to the “maid’s” bedroom(which we use as storage) and full bath (which will be Miguel’s), as well as a washing area. This includes a clothes washer, a luxury I’ve seldom had access to  in the last couple years.
Here’s the dining area, which is part of one large living room. The french doors lead to the back yard. We just had screen doors installed. Though they aren’t hung perfectly yet, the breeze to the front door is amazing.
Living room. We have no working TV and the AC in this room isn’t working (yet) either.

Here’s the clubhouse. The guys in the pool were grilling something that smelled amazing.
Here’s the pool with some handsome men (hombres guapos) using it. Look at those dark skies. It’s summer and the rainy season, though the rain is intermittent. Hope SOON to get access to this pool!
Through the locked glass doors is the exercise facility. Mostly a weight machine and some stationary bikes. I’d love a treadmill, but no dice. Hope to get a key to this soon, too.
The condos are all the same, except some are two story (shown) and the others are one story.
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Beth

I'm a professional vagabond. I quit my cubical job in January 2014. Since then, I've hiked the Appalachian Trail, The Camino, and taught English in Vietnam, Turkey, Russia, Spain, Mexico and Peru. I'm exploring the world and you can come too!

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