Week of May 23, 2004
We got back to La Paz without incident (and without blockades as it was Sunday and thankfully, the strikers take the day off). We ran to embrace Cindy and we found her safe and sound with Rolando. Well, maybe a little unsound because unfortunately, Rolando misjudged the strength and stability of his jack and when he lifted Cindy off her stabilization jacks to a height of about 18", she slipped right off Rolando's front jack and Wham! slammed her back window right into a 2" diameter pole the serves as a roof rafter for his workshop.
So, simply put, we have now replaced all the windows in Cindy thanks to wear and tear, the shipping company (which still will not admit fault), and Rolando. At least Rolando had the class to admit what he did and has helped us replace the glass at his cost of $40US (tempered and tinted, muy barata - very cheap). Of course, our luck would have it that the first cut glass was improperly measured (by the glass shop); however, the glass man took the piece back to his shop to trim it and he agreed to assist us with the installation in the old frame.
We just messed around getting Cindy winterized and running better than she has since leaving the United States. We made sure our heater was in working order to combat the freezing mornings and Cindy just keeps surprising us. We left the US with the Pollyannaish hope that we could make it all the way to Brasil with Cindy but there was always this voice in the back of our minds questioning our hopes. Well, it appears our hopes are worthy and our fears have greatly subsided. She is a tough old broad, that she is!
We also had to make a few trips to a local physician. A few days before we started our trek around southern Bolivia, I started having nose bleeds and a bothersome sinus infection. Thinking it was just the altitude and dry air combined with a cold, I did the usual treatments - hot drinks, vitamin C, decongestant, soup, plenty of sleep, etc. What I was not prepared for was the light hemorrhaging that lasted for two weeks.
Upon return to La Paz, we happened in on a clinic close to where were staying and there was an Otorrinolaringologist (say that three times fast!), Dr. Alvaro M. Garcia Arce. A very quick look at my nose and he asked us to go to his medical office that afternoon. First, we had have my head x-rayed (yes, there was a mass where my brain was supposed to be) for an exorbitant amount of $20 and then off to Dr. Garcia Arce's office.
What he found was a sinus infection that he suspects I had for quite a while (hence a lot of sniffing when I would lay down at night) and he also found a hole between my septum and the skull. The hole may be a complication from a septum surgery I had in 1996 but it also could be something that just appeared. Nothing can be done about my interior nose piercing but he took care of the sinus infection and the resulting bloody nose problem. After seven visits (for sinus flushes - talk about cleaning out your head), the x-rays and the three prescriptions, the total cost ran about $150. Remarkable!
We also enjoyed spending time in the sun and having fun with Rolando's children. Rolando and Joanna (pronounced "Ho-anna") have three kids, Lizeth - 12, Meri - 9, and Myrko - 1. Lizeth and Meri are very special girls - phenomenally smart and more common sense than most adults. To watch them organize Rolando's two lots where he parks cars, to negotiate the 10' high steel gates, to run the compressor (to fill tires, spray paint, wash cars, etc.), to lift cars on hydraulic jacks, to bondo and sand cars having body work, to take the bus into La Paz and come back with bags of groceries with no problems negotiating the routes and the packages, to watch them change oil, to remove and reset tires, to set up the blowtorch, to remove engine and other car parts, to check air pressure, to check fluid levels, to reinstall mirrors, trims, lights, etc., to run and get the correct tools as Rolando needs them (like nurses with surgeons), etc.
Even when Gerson and I were trying unsuccessfully to return our heater to its nook, Lizeth looked at what we were doing, ran and got the perfect long, thin flathead screwdriver and leveraged the heater to the point where Gerson and I could slide it into its place. Why didn't we think of that!
It is difficult to see such hard-working kids (they are up at 6:00 a.m. to open the gates for the cars to come and go and they work around school until midnight, if necessary) and to look into those dark brown eyes and see that intelligence, those minds brimming with curiosity and to know they could be anything they want to be but alas, they just won't have the opportunities we take for granted in the United States. Yet, they are very happy, fun, giggling girls and maybe they would be different if exposed to the stresses and the "influences" kids have in the US. Nonetheless, they have stolen our hearts with their very polite and respectful "Buenas dias, Senora/Senor" every morning and their laughing while they work hard helping their family's business every day.
And, we cannot forget to mention two other characters in the Gomez family that keep our hands busy and us laughing at their antics. Rolando's dog, Pequena and his cat, Pepe are just lovable clowns and you cannot pet one without the nose of the other sliding in for a pat. The two of them will not admit it, but they really like each other and I have the pictures for proof.
We continued to hang around La Paz and make sure that Cindy was ready to go. Also, Sam and Christine, the couple we met from New Zealand that are also traveling via RV, were returning to La Paz at the end of the week. We decided to wait for the weekend and go with Sam and Christine to a local festival that celebrates the "gods" with a lengthy and colorful parade of costumes, music and dancing. It was quite the visual experience.
The most difficult thing for us was to resist all the treats that kept walking by in the hands of the many street vendors. It was very tempting to taste everything that was offered when the cost converted to about 20 cents per treat.