Trench, Drench, Quench

Thirteen pairs of fresh hands from Grace Church in North Augusta, South Carolina, worked with us July 22 through 25. Along with about 50 local folks, the team’s construction crew trenched and laid a new 400-meter water line connecting a mountain springhead to a church construction site in Huacuyo Valley. Others in the SC team taught vacation bible study classes to kids in Huacuyo, Copacabana, and Santa Ana, which is so remote none of the kids knew any Spanish – a local church leader translated to Aymara. They offered a sticker-art project, and a host of fun animal- based play, followed by a snack: animal crackers from the States!

One team member left us cash to replace bent, uncushioned crutches used by Paulina, a woman who’d lost one of her legs 30 years ago to a post-accident infection. After a circuitous search in La Paz last week, Jeff found a new pair of sturdy, US-made aluminum crutches; he bought extra tips and grip pads. Although we’ve never heard her complain, judging from Paulina’s blistered hands, she’ll be overjoyed to have more comfortable, workable crutches to help her get around.

Bolivia, the Lonely Planet travel guide, lists Bolivian Independence Day as one of the top ten festivals in Bolivia, and specifies it’s “best in Copacabana” and is “characterized by pilgrimages, round-the- clock music, parades, brass bands, fireworks and amazing alcohol consumption.” Copa’s 8,000 residents made room for about 30,000 visitors, mostly from elsewhere in Bolivia, or Peru. Streets were so clogged with vendors, shoppers and drinkers that taxi drivers worked only the outskirts or not at all, and tourist buses loaded and unloaded at the edge of town. Jeff caught this (below) of one of the quirkier street hawkers selling horse fat. Our middle-aged friends told us it’s meant to treat skin conditions. Their young adult offspring snickered and told us in English, presumably so their parents couldn’t track, it’s “for make hot man.”

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