After some rest and unpacking, we -- a group of 12 gathered by Unity Unitarian Church in Saint Paul-- walked with our trip leader a short distance to a street cafe for a snack. While it may sound boring -- it was a great pleasure to be outdoors in pleasant weather, seeing palm trees, after the horrid winter we had experienced in Saint Paul.
The purpose of this trip was to see activities of Mano a Mano, an NGO based in Saint Paul that works out of Cochabamba. Click on: Mano a Mano for much more information. This organization's first work was to bring health services to indigenous Bolivians up in the Andes Mountains who lacked such services unless walking for 6-12 hours. Mano a Mano has now built 148 health clinics in Bolivia. The next work was to build some schools and teacher housing. Housing is so scarce in mountain villages that it was impossible for a young teacher to come out into the mountains and teach in a village school. Mano a Mano has also built nearly 1000 K of roads in places that lacked connection with the outside world.
Our specific purpose was to learn more about the new Center for Ecological Agriculture (CEA and nicknamed with Spanish pronunciation as "Say-a."
The founders of Mano a Mano are Joan and Segundo who live just down the street from me here in Saint Paul.
That said, back to eating.
We then walked back to the hotel and boarded the bus to go up to the Christos monument. Yes, this is a touristy thing to do, but there were lots of Bolivanos up there too on a Sunday afternoon.
As we made our way up the mountain I got these views of the country side:
There are about a 100 stairs from the parking lot to the base of the monument. I went up the stairs slowly since I don't walk stairs much at all anywhere, based on a orthopedist's advice nearly 15 years ago not to use my damaged knees for walking stairs or riding bicycles. And walking stairs at 8000 feet is a bit of challenge too. But eventually, by going slow, I got there.
Now I've been saying monument. Here's a view from the bottom of the stairs:
After about an hour's visit we gathered again at the bus and then made our way through the city.
Then suddenly I was attracted to this intersection with some outstanding murals.
Others were getting off the bus while I was mural gazing. We had arrived at a building I had heard about. Segundo and his brothers who live in the United States had constructed a building to house their parents in Cochabama. Then they proposed extending the building so one of the Bolivia siblings could live close to their parents as they aged. The father said he couldn't chose between his children, so the building got bigger so all the siblings in Bolivia could live in the same building.
We went up to the sixth floor which serves a common area.
Three were busy cooking in the barbeque area.
We started with vegetables.
I was surprised to see beets often in Bolivia. I had never before associated that vegetable with South American cooking.
From the barbeque came dishes meats -- sausages, chicken, and pork -- as well as grilled eggplant.
After good conversation, the bus returned us to the hotel were I think we all crashed after a busy Sunday that had followed a "red-eye" flight out of Miami.