Saturday, July 17, 2010

q frio santa cruz

days left in santa cruz=3 days til j-town=10

wow it is so cold that i can see my breath while i type this. ok maybe that´s an untruth, but yesterday i could see my breath in the house, on the micro, outside, everywhere pretty much. the newspaper says that monday will be the coldest day in july in 29 years...3 degrees Celcius (ay señor! exlaimed papi). that´s probably around 36 degrees F. holy my body will be an ice cube. i know the majority of my reading audience is from the cold state of michigan and may be thinking "wow corrie has turned into a softie," but you are going through a hot summer and your houses have furnaces! here homes are made to keep the heat out - high ceilings, single paned windows that don´t close, tile floors, etc. and no we don´t have furnaces or heaters. the only place that is warm is bed, if you wear 2 pairs of socks 3 sweaters 2 pairs of pants and a hat. which i have been doing. a plus is that we break often to drink hot drinks. so i´ve been drinking coffee, choco-like, and api all day. api is a hot drink made out of purple corn with lots of sugar and cinammon. yum.

my last day at cento menno was wednesday. we celebrated with some pie and it wasn´t too busy, which was nice because i suddenly remembered all the things i said i would do before i left that i still had to do! hopefully i left good enough instructions and a clean desk! had one last crazy request that made a good end to my time at centro menno. someone called 3 different times telling us "hola yo necesito una avioneta." yes, they were asking for an airplane. they didn´t want to buy one, just borrow it to fly from san jose to santa cruz. the first time they called i thought they were asking for a vagoneta, a kind of taxi, so i explained that we were an office with a library and newspapers and hung up. the second caller spoke in low german and we told him no and suggested he call someone else. the third time a woman called an spoke very s-l-o-w-l-y and clearly to make sure i understood she needed an airplane. i ended up cracking up on the phone and apologizing for our lack of airplanes.

since today is so cold, the normal saturday afternoon of watching fútbol all day is canceled. but tonight i am having my despedida (goodbye party) with my host family at a restaurant popular for its ice cream. we may have to pass on dessert. so unreal. and tomorrow i will move out and they will drive me to MCC where we will have a little coffee time and say our goodbyes. also unreal and really sad. ok don´t want to think about that anymore!

we fly out july 21 at 1:30am, have a layover in miami, and will arrive in philly around 6pm. i will be in akron, pa until july 26 for re-entry and will be home july 27. huzzah!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

michigan seems like a dream to me now...

you sang it simon/garfunkel. it is now july. i will be leaving santa cruz july 21 at 1:30am. and the goodbye process has already begun. i´ve filled out end-of-term reports, trained kathy to take over, and have had 1 goodbye dinner. and my host niece natalia is very excited about the potential drama that takes place with goodbyes and has filled my cell-phone inbox with late night text messages of TKM (te quiero mucho) and constantly reminds i will NEVER know how much she will miss me. part of me is grateful that all of this is forcing me to own up to the fact that i am leaving and to prepare myself for it. but part of me still wants to pretend i´m not going anywhere so i won´t have to say goodbye to people that have become such an important part of my life.

but i am having a fun last few weeks spending time with my host family and friends and enjoying "normal" life that may not seem so normal in a month.

kathy and i completely captivated with packaging the menno bote =>

mundial! seems like we are either watching a game or talking about it. it´s awesome. there is a big screen set up in the plaza and on one sunday afternoon i watched some of a brazil game here. the fans are crazy.

we visited a mennonite cheese factory where they make 600 kilos of mozarella cheese every day! i don´t know what i was expecting, but i felt let down when there were just a couple of guys stirring big tubs of milk.
but the cheese was delicious!

and the link below is the yearbook for the SALT year 2009-2010. SALT volunteers from all over the world wrote about their experiences and sent in pictures. ignore what i wrote because i sound like a complete loser, but they other SALTers have a lot of insight to offer.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

down on the farm

i took a weekend trip to the colony Canadiense 2 (canadian 2) and stayed with the Falk family.
it was nice to be in the country and enjoy the slow-paced lifestyle. the food was delicious (cake at every meal!), the weather beautiful, and the family was very friendly. the father spoke spanish, but the women of the family did not. still we managed to get by. i have had 10 months of being the awkward foreigner who doesn´t really understand what´s going on, so i´m used to it.
here´s their house.

the falks are from a group of colonists who moved from Paraguay over 40 years ago. they had been extremely poor and life had been very tough for a long time, but now they are successful. they own land, cattle, milk cows, and are part owners of a store. they milk the cows twice a day and sell it to Pil, the national milk company. they all have hands the size of plates and can milk a cow with lightning speed. before i tried/failed milking, all i could think was "man i wish i had practiced this in wisconsin so i could impress them" but nope i am just a city slicker. after pushing the milk back up the cow for a couple minutes, i managed to get a weak stream going.

Sunday was their annual dankfest, or thanksgiving celebration for their church. the falks are part of an evangelical church, not the colony church, that has been around for almost 2 years. i helped clean the church saturday afternoon and the youth group decorated it with real fruit creations. there was a morning service, lunch, and then an afternoon program. the sunday school sang some songs, recited bible verses, and played the piano. then leaders of the community went to the pulpit and talked about the move from Paraguay, colony life, conversion experiences, and funny anecdotes. i really wish i could have understood what they were saying. a woman who knew english would randomly translate for me.
after the program we had a feast of fresh fruit. delicious! a volleyball net was set up and the youth played. plenty of chatting and tereré drinking. a few english speaking women found me so i had some pleasant coversations and felt welcomed. it was a long day, 9am-5pm. so i crashed when we got back and missed the milking! and i headed back to santa cruz monday morning with the trufi taxi service.
it was a good experience, i´m glad i went. but i´m also glad it´s over with. even though i didn´t speak low german and the mother knew a little spanish, we still enjoyed each others´company and shared matté. and i got to see a glimpse of what life is like for the people that come into Centro Menno. and it was nice to not be the only big white person in church haha!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

typical night

Right now I´m supposed to be writing my goodbye article for the Menno Bote describing my time here, but I find myself back in paper writing procrastination mode. So to get those creative thoughts flowing, I´ll write here instead.

Last night after dinner I helped my host parents study for their “parts of the body” test for their English class. I helped them with pronunciations and they taught me some new vocabulary (I know I know how did I get by 10 months without knowing the word “tobillo” – I would just point to my ankle). Some words in castellano just don´t translate exactly. For example, “manco” means without a hand or “tuerto” missing an eye. My host dad acted these words out for me with big gestures but I was sorry to say that English doesn´t have a cool words like that.

After reviewing family vocabulary words like “father in law” or “husband” (or according to papi, what corrie does not have), we got into a huge argument over the definitions of “step-brother” and “half-brother” (my host mom declared that she has 12 half brothers and 5 half sisters, which is true). It was hilarious because mami and I would explain and papi would just yell no no and try to make up his own definition and then confuse himself and not finish his thought. Trying to argue my definition was also way confusing since I just learned those words in Spanish, so I finally just gave up. We were at a stalemate until mami brought out the dictionaries (sounds like an intense night of Scrabble between the aunties and gma) and all was resolved with papi exclaiming claro! (of course!) even though he had been arguing against the dictionary definition.

To end the night right we sang some English worship songs they had learned in class. When I first came here I really struggled with singing in church, but now I know most of the songs and love singing them. Trying to teach my host parents how to say the word “awesome” made me realize how wack the English language is! And now I can´t even speak it that well.

Monday, June 7, 2010

bye schroeder family

last week the (ex) directors of centro menno, hans and elma, and their kids went back to canada after 4 years of living in santa cruz. i miss them and pray for a smooth transition into a new life.

as a last hurrah we went swimming (crazy gringos swimming during winter) and had a nice dinner. then i got a hair wrap done with the girls so they could show off some bolivian fashion. but now they are gone and i just look like a hippie.

keep having interesting encounters on the street. this time a gypsy woman from argentina told me i was cursed by a witch and that´s why i´m crazy in my mind (so there is a reason!). but no worries, cuz she could bless it out of me for free. that all made me a little mad and when i spoke to my friends she would yell at me "no espeaky in inglés!" we got away, but it took our favorite ice cream treat a "fruggy" (what the what i am completely blanking on the english name - candy bits mixed in vanilla ice cream) to feel better.

i have 6 weeks left (rapidingo!), so the job search has been kicked up a few notches. if anyone knows of anything out there, please tell me.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Saturday I went to the market to buy a pair of “camba” (pronounced with a long a like cAHmba) jeans – tight jeans with rhinestones. They are quite in style here. Arelis met me to help in the search and we felt quite elated after a successful buy. But in the midst of the celebration, we were stopped in an empty hallway by a police officer who demanded to see our documents and the reason why we were in Santa Cruz. I don´t carry anything on me (very stupid I know) since my 2 robberies. Arelis didn´t either, so we just had to insist that we are from the U.S. and are volunteers. He was convinced that we were exploited workers from Brazil. After much insisting (and eye-rolling and exasperated sighs) he finally let us go after giving us his number, making us call his phone so he would have our numbers, with the reason that we could call him if we ran into any trouble in the future. Turns out he was a _______ (fill in the blank with a word of your choice) who just wanted our numbers and may not even have been a real policeman.

That experience was frightening, embarrassing, and infuriating all mixed in with a sense of helplessness.

How outrageous, right? I mean, I was not doing anything suspicious, just shopping with a friend and contributing to society. At least I´ll never run into this at home. Oh wait, I won´t have trouble back home, but potentially thousands of people in the state that ends in “zona” will have to live in fear of harassment if a bill that was signed is not changed. The bill gives police officers the right to stop anyone they deem suspicious looking and request ID. The bill´s goal is to “identify, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants.” But it may open the door to racial profiling and huge abuse of power. Here´s an article that explains it more fully:

I am not from a border state (haha I am, hi Canada!) so I admit I do not understand the situation down there. Maybe I don´t understand the situation at a national, social level or at all, which you reader are free to think. But I made a friend 2 years back whose husband is an illegal immigrant. They have a young son together and both work long hours (6 days a week for the husband) to make a life as a family. His employers know he´s illegal, they just don´t ask questions – why? Because they can make him work long hours for a lower pay then they could someone else. They have tried multiple times to make him legal (she is a U.S. Citizen) but are always denied. So he can never go home to visit his mother (whom he is also supporting). Kicking him out would not benefit anyone. I don´t think his presence is hurting anyone.

I´m confused by a couple of things. How can a people that are so proud of their “freedoms and rights” be so quick and eager to deny those same things from others? Why are people who were born on one plot of land more important or deserving then people born on another? Who decides that? Imagination time: Think of your ancestors when they got off the boat. I myself am not picturing a clean, wealthy, educated bunch of Krols. They didn´t speak the language, did not know the culture, and chose to live in an area populated by immigrants from the same country. Yet they worked hard, thrived and made a new life for themselves and the generations to follow, because they were allowed. How can we take this opportunity from others?

Being away from home makes me realize that I am very happy that I am from the U.S. I will probably dance a little jig when we land in Miami in less than 2 months. But it´s not a blind happiness. We are not perfect and as hard as it is to admit that, we need to.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


time has been´s already wednesday. tomorrow and friday we have focus weekend. all of the mccers of bolivia get together for 2 days of meetings, workshops, and lots of eating. i was on the planning committee. although planning is not my thing and i was not too excited about my appointment, i had fun. i was in charge of kids´and bday activities, so i went to the market and bought a piñata and other stuff. i love market shopping so much i even bought myself a hardcore bolivian market day bag! i´ll probably use if for beach stuff back in michigan!

some salters and i went to samaipata for the weekend. we hiked to el fuerte, an old fortress/marketplace/religious center for the chiné, incans, spaniards, and maybe even extraterrestial beings. (maybe not, but that is the rumor)

we had a great time! then sunday was cold and slightly rainy, so we sat around in town drinking coffee and eating pan de chocolate, which to my surprise was a crossaint with a chocolate bar in the middle. probably the best innovation after dark chocolate m&ms.

we just had an open house today in cento menno for my coworkers, hans and elma. they are set to go home to canada with their 3 kids in less the 2 weeks! i will miss them because they have been great coworkers, mentors and friends!