Yesterday I was on the phone with one of my good friends and she was surprised when I told her that life here seemed pretty normal to me. She had asked me to tell her all about my experience thus far and the only words I could use to describe it were ‘extraordinarily ordinary.’
But I guess that is what happens when you live in Bolivia.
In Bolivia you are a foreigner living amongst people who have real lives; people that go to school or work; that eat lunch and spend time with their families and even watch TV. And that’s pretty much what my life looks like too (minus the school part). After 2 months of living in Bolivia, I’ve come to the realization that that is what volunteers at Niños con Valor do: they live life. And by living life we are able to build solidarity with the people we are helping, and it’s only by living here that we really get to connect with Bolivia and with her people.
So I don’t necessarily have a ton of exciting stories to tell, but that’s not because life here isn’t exciting (trust me, it often is), but rather because it is all of the small things that make this place so wonderful. It’s things like laughing until your abs hurt because the kids won’t stop tickling you, or watching Alarico take his first steps by himself, or playing peek-a-boo with Mateo. It’s playing cards with Alandra for hours on end, or singing pop songs with Evelyn or having your heart warmed when the girls rescue a baby chick on the way home from school. It’s that spirit-lifting moment when you finally really connect with one of the more introverted girls.
That surreal feeling you get when you first step out of the airport and see the mountains up close for the first time? That’s not the whole story. There is no permanent mountaintop feeling and there is no Hollywood glamour (unless the girls are holding one of their pretend beauty pageants, that is). What we are doing here is living life, and like life it is all of the small things that make being here so wonderful; so utterly unforgettable. Living in Bolivia and working with Niños con Valor is exciting because life in general is exciting and because all of the small things add up to be one grand adventure. We’re living life here, and what a wonderful life it is.