I arrived here in Bolivia, and every day has been so busy. We flew out from Lima, to La Paz, to Santa Cruz, and then finally to Cocha. My layover was in Santa Cruz, so that was where I called from. When we landed in Cocha, the president was there, along with his wife, all the secritaries, and the ap. From the airport, all we had was an astrovan that looked like it was from the 80s. There were about 18 missionaries, so we packed all of us into the van; missionary, on top of luggage on top of missionary. It was so cram packed, but fun. We went for the night to a hotel in Cochabamba. The building was clearly built at least 50 years ago, and hadn't been changed since. the roof was so old, it had falled through and they build a tin roof over it. It was late when we got there, but we ate pizza that was about 3 feet across. They topped it with the strangest things also. It had corn, uncut mushroms, and even peaches on it. My room had 4 guys in it, all gringos from my district, and it was our last night togeher.
The next day, we walked to a church building. Downtown Cocha is very poor, but it rains a lot, so the area seemed pretty clean. When we got to the building, we got another picture with president, interviews, and got our new companions and areas. They called my name, and my new companion's name is Elder De Hornto! He is as black as they come, and he is from Colombia. He is also a convert of 3 years, and I am the 3rd person he has trained. He loves playing soccer and is very good at dancing. He does not speak a single word in english, so the past 2 days have been interesting. We received our assignment, which is Quillacollo, and the name of our barrio is Vinto #2.
Quillacollo is a small town about an hour outside of Cochabamba, and is very poor. You can tell all of the roads were once paved, but probably not for the past 20 or 30 years. There are dogs everywhere, and a ton of native old ladies. They wear these dresses that go to their feet, they all have their funny looking hats, and a piece of fablic slung over their shoulder, usually holding a baby or other stuff.
Getting from Cocha to Quillacollo was incredibly difficult. We took a taxi from the hotel, and started our journey. There were 4 of us, and one elder was from the US, so he told me a little bit of what has been going on recently with the government. There have been protests a lot recently because of their president. They are never violent, but they just like to block major roads. That is why the other elders were late getting there that morning. Anyways, about 20 minutes in, we reach a big road, and there is another blockade in the road. The taxi turned around, and tried to find another road to take. When we got to the alternate route, it was blocked also. The taxi told us he cannot get us to the area, and made us get out. He told us we have to cross the blockade on foot, and then try and catch another taxi on the other side. I had all of my luggage with me, so this wasn't easy. There were crowds of people, rocks, trees, debris, and flames all in the road, but the people were not violent. when we got to the actual road block, we had to throw all of my stuff over. It was about 3 feet high. I got my 2 suitcases over, and then started to climb over. Right then, my suit pants split in the crotch, from the zipper all the way to the back belt loop. I didnt have my suit coat, but the other new latino elder gave me his to put around my waist. Finally we reached the other side, and were able to get a new taxi. It took another 30 minutes or so from there to get to our apartment, but we made it.
The apartment I am in has 2 sets of companions, 4 elders total. I am the olny one who speaks english, but I can usually get my point across for the most part. We live on the second floor of a building. The bottom floor has a quickie mart, and some other shops. Right now I am at the internet cafe about a block away. The winter here is just starting, and the elevation is pretty high, so it is pretty cold. This morning it was about 38 degrees, but it has warmed up.
I will be able to talk to you guys again! I am out of time, but I miss everyone. I should have more time to talk on Mothers day!