It’s time for another Bolivian adventure, but this will be a “several-poster” blog because I have to set the stage! This time we’re moving far away from the jungle haven where we lived to the city of my birth, Cochabamba. Due to my mom having an allergy to a little pesky wasp that lived in the jungle and after she had several close calls, our family relocated to Cochabamba. Cochabamba is nestled in a valley of the Andes Mountains. The mountain sides are cloaked in patchwork quilts of fields that the Quechua people farm, creatively irrigating each one and yielding fruitful crops. The weather there is beautiful! Summers are hot, but not humid – in the 90’s some days but not often. The winters are cool – jackets and sweaters are useful, but it never snows. There’s a rainy season that always brightens the hillsides, greening them up from the dry season. We often shopped at the Cancha:
The main religion in Cochabamba is Catholicism mixed with a lot of indiginous beliefs creating many festivals…we often watched parades for different religious celebration with “devil dancers”…
New Tribes Mission, the organization my parents worked for, had purchased two developments in Cochabamba known as THE MAIN HOUSE and THE ANNEX to most of the missionaries.
THE MAIN HOUSE was on a corner plot of land (the cross streets were Walparimachi and Pasoskanki — yeah, who else can say they lived at those cross streets?!!) It had a volleyball court (this is where all my competitive-ness began!), dining room for guests, several apartments, a small chapel, and a dozen guest rooms where missionaries doing tribal work could come to for rest, recovery, or to await travel back to the U.S. I remember the staff apartments had a cool intercom communication system — each family had different beeps so you knew when you were being addressed over the intercom. The place changed a lot over the years…in the early years there were tall ominous pine trees lining the parking lot and a cool little patio with a goldfish pond in the middle….the trees had to be cut down over the years and the goldfish pond filled in. This is the house we lived in when we all experienced a pretty major earthquake – story coming later.
THE ANNEX was about a block away, secluded back from the street by a loonnnnnggggg tree-lined driveway. It had a main home apartment and another several guest rooms. I remember a beautiful rose garden there and a nicely manicures lawn that we’d get in trouble over because we insisted on playing soccer there. I remember the adobe lines walls between properties…and the wierd “forest” looking backyard of the neighbors with HUGE trees that swayed precariously in the storms often freaking me out. We lived here when I thought a tree fell on my brother in the middle of a terrible storm – story coming later.
Over the years my family lived in both locations. For many of those years I was the only “kid” around. Most families chose to send their kids to the mission’s boarding school, called Tambo. My older siblings attended Tambo, but when it was time for me to go, another mission opened up a school about a 45 minute drive from our house and I was able to attend there. When I was home though, most of my “hang out” buddies were other missionary adults. Everyone was very kind to me and I pretty much felt like I had run of the place! I was also great friends with all the Bolivian folks who were hired to help with gardening, cooking, cleaning, etc. Don Maximo, Juana, Dona Angela, Ida, and so many others come to mind…each one impacting my life in a big way!
There were usually about 5 or so families who were stationed in Cochabamba. My mom continued her translation of the New Testament into the Ayore tribal language, my dad transitioned from pouring his life into teaching the Ayore people agriculture, and how to sustain themselves, to coordinating all the legal contracts between the mission and the government. He was the “go to” man if anyone needed any help in obtaining passports and other Bolivian papers required to remain there. He also was a Ham Radio operator, and spent a lot of time connecting with people in the US via Ham Radio and Phone Patches….I remember the funky sounding tuning process of signals and channels as he made contact over the radio with friends and family back home in the U.S. “CP5BV, CP5BV, this is WOEXR….can you read me? OVER…….Copy That, ROGER, Copy that, OVER” Many great memories are shared by my family talking in this way and feeling connected over the airwaves, crossing the HUGE distance in miles…I remember some times my mom talking, but tearing up because it was hard to be so far away from those we loved – especially when my older siblings had graduated and moved back to live in the US! (My parents spent over 35 years in Bolivia….there were LOTS of hard goodbyes!)
Cochabamba is where I spent all of my elementary and junior high school years. The adventures were many and I will be sharing them in future posts.