Into the new year

Our last trip together with the friends was to Chapare, a rainforest area in the Cochabamba region, a few hours away. Descending towards the lowlands, the road goes through a gorge in which the drier open areas and woodland changes to another kind of vegetation.. emerging on the other side, world looks green, lush and cloudy. We felt strongly the heat in the rainforest but also felt vigorous in that at this altitude it was easy to breathe, and the forest around was full of life, sounds and smells.

It was a lovely two day stay in a hotel called El Puente, two kilometers from the town center of Villa Tunari. There were only few other quests and we spent a lot of the time relaxing, in the pool and the river.. just hanging out. Villa Tunari is one of the main towns in the region and from there it is just a couple more hours to one of the biggest cities, Santa Cruz. The region is known these days for vast cocaine production.. it is said to be rather dangerous to wander off into the forest where this business thrives. We stayed safe, we tried to visit the sanctuary Parque Macchia but it was closed due to the rains. It is one of three parks of Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi, who work with wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and environmental education. We were eager to see the monkeys and other animals, but there were plenty of birds and plants to observe just around the hotel as well, and of course, plenty of people watching in the town and in New Year’s especially. The party night was full of good food, drinks, dancing and playing in the swimming pool.

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Next day was a little rough ride back to Cochabamba, and relaxing.. Lauri and Viivi stayed one night longer to catch a ride to Santa Cruz and wait for their flight. And on the next day of their leaving Chapare, the president was going to the very same hotel with his companions to do some planning, while relaxing by the pool probably!

Then our time together was short, buying souvenirs, lunching and chatting, and in stages people left.. I went three times to the airport, first to took off were Anni, Tuula and Niina, to spend some party time in Madrid before returning to Helsinki. Sadd-ish goodbyes, but those girls I’ll always see again.. Jaap went the next day, that handsome Dutchman who left many a cochabambian girls heartbroken just because of what sweet himself he is. And Chris and Pame packed what little they could of their wedding gifts, paid goodbyes again to the large, loving families and set off for Amsterdam. We were many saying by to them at the airport, they brought and made possible so much happiness and love to these couple of weeks, and surely are missed by many when away. Still they inspire others from a distance as well, and for me, it seems I keep seeing them, so quite surely will do pretty soon again.

Seeing family-goodbyes, I was also feeling a lot of these departing-from-family feelings, that so many of my friends, and well, most people, at some point go through.. Whether the separation is willed or forced (quite different of course these two cases). It is just so easy to feel a little sad, or scared, or disappointed; and sometimes difficult to purely enjoy the time you’ve got with the family. Just feel that love and caring and be entirely happy of it. You never actually know how long it is, even though you’ve planned or thought you’ve got the whole life to enjoy the closeness of someone. When being away from the family it’s been natural to ponder on these things and figure out that distance actually is just in our heads, whether physical or on different levels of being, and everyone always have their own life anyway.. We’re all each other’s family after all and can love each and every one like sister and brother.

Yet I also do hope there will be some loved people that I won’t be physically away from a lot. Perhaps this year will bring me to such people, places and situation, somewhere.

For now I stay a little while longer in Cochabamba. I am endlessly thankful to Pamela’s family who still welcome my presence.. I wish to see if there is any sort of work to do for a bit, both to ensure some little level of independency economic-wise maybe, and to feel and be in this place for a little longer. If I don’t find anything I guess I’ll continue the trip.. I’ve met lovely people, so helpful and friendly, and whatever else, I am thoroughly glad for spending little moments with them and seeing a bit more of the different realities here. I got to meet some amazing people who work with Gaia Pacha Foundation, they carry out environmental and climate change related research and projects in Bolivia. I’ve also met and been happily inspired by various street musicians who tour South America, make people happy and make just enough money to get by. I found a huge urge to be one of them for a while. With my ocarina (that I only am learning to master)! 🙂

A strange situation is going on in the city.. there has for a long time been one landfill where the city’s waste has been taken to. People started gathering there, searching for food and building little houses around the wasteland. It became a community, and some years back the city built there more infrastructures so it has become quite established. Five days ago, I don’t quite know the reason, the people decided they do not want more garbage to be brought into the landfill, and they shut it down. The garbage collection service have since not worked. The streets are filling up with garbage. Today we dag a hole in the backyard to momentarily get rid of the growing pile of bio-waste.. No one seems to know what somebody exactly is going to do about this. Surely they have plans, but something is not working on the “higher” level if this sort of thing can happen.. well, people put together always means little conflicts and lots of solution making, and people also produce lots of litter that we need to do something with.. Anyway, in this sort of situation it is shocking really to see how much garbage there is. It would be thoroughly impossible that there would not be a place like one dumping ground. People would literally drown in litter. In just a few days..

Would this make people consider their habits of buying and throwing away? Maybe just some will be shocked enough to reconsider all sorts of things. When you don’t see and know about something, it’s just so easy to forget and not care.. When things start rolling again, go back to the same old, and the pile of garbage somewhere else can keep growing. It does feel encouraging, though, that there are these grassroots level groups and bigger organizations who work for the environment and for the people, and many of the younger generation especially are concerned about how things are going and about the future of their kids. It is what was missing even more in Equatorial Guinea for example, a collective consciousness of how things are going to go and what is the impact of our every single action.. It could make you feel desperate so easily, sad and sorry. But instead the little or bigger positive actions, thoughts and inputs should be concentrated on and cultivated, with hope and love. There are and have been so many cases where these bring a positive change, and it could be that way in any place.

So.. in Cochabamba, the new year started with happy festivities, goodbyes to friends and garbage filling up the streets. Let’s hope the year will bring less garbage and more happy encounters and get-togethers..!

One more group photo here:

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much love to all,

Miila

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