The past week in La Paz has been hard work, exciting and totally exhausting; partly a result of my ongoing asthma, the high altitude, the long hours and okay probably being overweight and out of shape is partly to blame. We go to the Ivar Mendez International Foundation Office at nine every morning. Eventually we´re done work for the morning and I struggle up the hill to El Torino Hostel and then sturggle up one flight of stairs to the lobby and three more flights to our room. I fall into bed and power nap for as long as possible; one day, ten minutes but usually at least an hour. Then it´s back to work by three until seven. (The past two days we snuck out at six because we were both so tired.) We´ve been finalizing all our plans for our three weeks in Aucapata, and we were sourcing art supplies and compromising and adapting plans to what is available. Then, we actually had to buy the stuff, a 100 of each and each shop might have ten. The first morning we went sourcing supplies was the biggest challenge. We went with Lucy and Ernesto who will both be with us in Aucapata. Unfortunately neither speak any English and they had a list of supplies, but it wasn´t a list we were party too or that considered the projects I want to do. I was almost in tears as I kept trying to get them to stop buying things until we knew if we needed them. Eventually we returned to the office, and I was able to discuss the problem with the director Yumey. It has taken us the rest of the week but we do have all the supplies organized and packed and on Thursday we got our groceries. Even our drinking water has to be brought in so you can just imagine the amount of things. We are not sure that Ernest or Lucy or the dentist Amparo will be bringing their food (we hope so) but if they don´t we will feed them and send a big grocery list to come in with Ernest after week one.
Our hours for the upcoming three weeks are extensive but I am still hoping to have enough energy left over for some painting. In Aucapata, where we will be sharing a house with Ernesto, Lucy and Amparo, we teach from 10 until lunchtime which is 2 pm.
We have fourty students for the four hours twice a week. On Tuesdays and Fridays, we walk to Cosnipata, a close village (20 minutes down hill) where we have twenty-eight students and on Wednesdays we walk to Charaj, fourty-five minutes along and then another ten minutes steeply down. We have eighteen students in Charaj. In addition, we have after school classes every day at our house at 4 pm and also all day Saturday. For these, I´m hoping to paint and whoever shows up can paint with me or they can work with Lucy.
Yesterday, since the bulk of buying and packing was done, we visited two other projects that the IMIF helps in La Paz. In the morning, we went to an orphanage CATI. It´s not an orphanage in our sense of the word but rather an integrated emergency day care (between 7 am and 7 pm) for children, zero to aged sixteen. These kids might be living on the street or living without adequate parental care because their parents are in prison, mentally ill or having addiction problems. CATI was started by a German Foundation and is now also funded by the Protestant Churches in La Paz. The IMIF provides the dental care. It was fun to paint a couple of the kids and when we come back to La Paz, hopefully we´ll be able to do a couple of days of art projects there.
In the afternoon, we visited a community health centre funded by the catholic church. They provide excellent primary health care as well as dental care and they also do education for teachers of special needs kids. They have five dental offices. Four are very old and very basic but one is state of the art and has been provided by the Ivar Mendez Internation Foundation.
During all of this week of planning and shopping, our enviroment in the office is quiet but when we step out onto the street, it is a dizzying mixture of smells, sounds, traffic and confusion. Everyday there are more than a hundred police on our street. Our hotel area has been blockaded for the past three months because it is close to the presidencial palace. In the morning sometimes we find two lines of police, shoulder to shoulder with shields and face shields, wearing flack jackets and with guns. Mid day the blockade might have ended and the police, while still there, are just lining the streets and then later again they are stopping all traffic and only letting pedestrian through with a reason. Whenever the blockade is down, the street sellers, beggars and the traffic instantly reappear.
The Cholas, the indigenious women, wear small woolen bowler hats,and a huge glittery shawl over a multilayered very full glittery skirt. The woman has to be very pump in order to carry this fashion off and this is the standard of beauty. I am always interested in what is beauty because of being an artists. For my art creation, I can only hope to realize my perception of beauty which is very much shaped by my culture. It is so interesting that beauty can be so entirely different in other cultures.
Well we leave later today by bus for Aucapata and we will not have internet for the next three weeks. This doesn´t mean however that we won´t be thinking of you and we hope you´ll continue to think of us.
ps I´m really excited about our art projects, all on the theme ¨Tus dientes limpios permanmecen para siempre¨ A full report of the actual projects and the results will follow upon our return to La Paz.
Nova Scotia Artist, Joy Laking, posts ramblings while she's travelling and painting in South America.
- ▼ March (13)