Rush hour 
Thursday, October 6, 2005, 10:55 AM
Sometimes large rocks are hurtled off overpasses into the screaming rush of traffic that we call life. They come smashing through windshields, sometimes crushing us under their immense momentum and sometimes just scaring the shit out of us as the windshield shatters and the rock whizzes by our fat swollen heads. Those that survive these scares are left with a physical high like none other as adrenaline and endorphins pump through our systems and emotions shriek like rockets into the sky. Just as suddenly they plummet to extreme lows in an attempt to balance the body's chemistry. Sadness ensues and you think that maybe the rock was indeed meant for you. To impact you, to connect with you, to crush you. Not to kill you but to change you forcefully and powerfully. To mold you into something you weren't before the impact. But alas, there is no control over the rock or the way it is thrown.

Carlye and I have friends here in Bolivia with three adopted Bolivian kids ranging in age from 2-19. Over the last few months we have expressed to them our interest in adopting a Bolivian child. Nothing too serious mind you. We just wanted to know what the process was like, how it had worked for them, and hopefully dispel some of the rumors surrounding US citizens adopting Bolivian kids (which is that it is pretty much impossible right now). The US Secretary of State and the Immigration Dept. statistics show only 4 Bolivian kids being adopted by US citizens in 2004. This is down from 60 in 2001. The decrease has nothing to do with demand for Bolivian babies by US citizens, but it is apparently related to the US's slowness to sign the ratification of the Hague Convention on International adoption. Bolivia is certainly not lacking for orphans and kids that need families. Please don't quote me on that. The US gov't websites dealing with adoption are very confusing and misleading on the subject and I am extracting what I can.

So this week our friends tell Carlye that there is a baby whose mother died in child birth, the baby boy is number 7 or 8, the father is unable to take care of him, and he is in Cochabamba right now at his maternal grandmothers. What do you think about trying to adopt this baby? Well........HOLY SHIT! We initially just wanted information and now here is this possibility to not only adopt, but to adopt a baby under 6 months old, which is rare. So we decide to think seriously about it. We talk with friends, family, anyone really that will listen. Carlye is calm and excited. I'm F-F-F-Freakin out. The chance we could be parents and perhaps even have the baby living with us within a couple weeks really really freaks me out. I've wanted kids for so long that the idea of having one in a couple weeks, well, it scares me...bad. I'm excited as well, don't get me wrong, very excited at the opportunity.

Our friends helped us make an appointment for this Saturday to sit down with the lawyer that helped with all three of their adoptions. The lawyer assured our friends that it was indeed possible for US citizens to adopt a Bolivian. The requirement is that the US citizens be residents of Bolivia for 2 years. So we have decided to go ahead and see what happens. The odds are against us, but we decided to go after this baby boy.

As I was writing this post our friend called. He had made a visit to the family of the baby boy this morning. They gave him a response, which for us, was negative. An uncle of the baby boy had stepped up to take on the responsibility of raising the child. And it was only this morning that I had whole heartedly become excited and ready to take on not only the process of adoption but the great responsibility of fatherhood.

So the sadness starts. It wasn't what I was expecting. Sadness lives in me as a constant companion, an old friend, but he rarely comes for a rowdy visit. I tried to be logical all week, knowing that the chances were pretty slim. But the heart has a way of engaging regardless of what the head is doing.

You never expect a baby in swaddling clothes to come crashing through your windshield. A child raining down on you from an overpass towards your rushing vehicle. You can see it coming although there is no time to react. Time comes to a standstill, in fact. The face of the child becomes crystal clear. Its hair and cheeks blowing gently as the air rushes past. Oddly, there is time to think. "Strange that somebody would throw a baby off an overpass. Stranger still that it is headed directly for our windshield. Oh... shit!" And Wham! Just like that the baby is hurdling past your head. I just wish this one had obliterated me instead of passing by.

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Global Voices Online 
Sunday, October 2, 2005, 08:07 AM
This week we had the honor of having our blog mentioned on Global Voices Online. If you haven't heard of Global Voices Online (which I hadn't) then be sure to click on the link. Your time will not be wasted.

"Global Voices is an international effort to diversify the conversation taking place online by involving speakers from around the world, and developing tools, institutions and relationships to help make these voices heard."

Global Voices is a project sponsored by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at the Harvard Law School.

The author of Barrioflores, Eduardo Avila, was asked to write an article on the state of Bolivian blogs. The resulting article was excellent. Eddie's online writing was very influential in the starting of this blog, and we hope to maintain his level of quality and insightfulness. Not an easy task.

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Late entry  
Thursday, September 22, 2005, 09:26 PM
It has been a little while since we've entered anything new here at the Bolivian Blog. And it'll be a little while more until we get any new photos up. Our computer went on the blink a month ago and it has had the pleasure of flying to California for a spa day. Get some parts replaced, soak in the natural hot springs. You know, recharge the ol' batteries. So far, our roomate Dan has been incredibly kind in letting us use his laptop when we need. And my brother and sister-in-law have been kind enough to ship our newly fixed computer to Washington D.C. That's right, our computer has more frequent flyer miles than Bush flying between vacation spots. And then, to make matters even better we have a parent of one of the students at Calvert that will bring the computer back to us. We are blessed. Truly blessed. We may even have it back by the beginning of next week.

The interesting political news coming out of Bolivia right now has to do with the upcoming elections. The leader of the Coca growers union, Evo Morales, has taken the lead in the polling for the presidential spot. I doubt Mr. President Bush is real happy about this news. But if I had the vacation days of Bush I would find it hard to be unhappy about anything. Anything. I might even send off a few good ol' American boys to the Middle East to get their asses shot off. Just for fun. I'm simplifying I know. It's for democracy. Really, it is. That and the really cool explosions those big bombs make. It's like the 4th of July every day over there. What could be more American? What small, ultra rich, socially elite kid doesn't remember lighting the alley behind the mansion on fire on the 4th of July and having his poor cousins new shoe used to stamp it out?

Carlye is claiming my first two paragraphs are dripping with sarcasm. Just when I thought I was being most real and honest. Marriages are good for bringing you into focus. The mirror on the wall. It always tells you the truth. Except when it tells me I'm the fairest of them all. Then I'm pretty sure it's lying, I hope it's not, but my heart always knows. Like when it tells Carlye she looks great in those extra small spandex she gets to wear for volleyball games. The ones that are meant for 12 year olds. They are smaller than the junior high basketball shorts I am still picking out of my ass. I digress...

So on to what is happening in Cochabamba, Bolivia, with Carlye and I. We have decided to start a nonprofit charity organization along with my folks and Carlye's brother. It is to be a sister organization to our friends charity, Charity Bolivia . Claire and Gertjan started their charity to provide shelter and a newly constructed home for the kids and the parents that run Colonia Ecologica, a children's home in Cochabamba. Their website is excellent and gives you all the details you'll need. While Claire and Gertjan's Charity Bolivia is based out of England and Holland the nonprofit we're forming will be based in the US and hopefully will soon have tax exempt status. It also will be called Charity Bolivia. So all of you that would like to give to a good cause can also write it off on your taxes. A small amount goes an enormous distance here in Bolivia. And I mean a long way. Carlye and I can go to dinner at one of the most expensive restaurants in town, have drinks, and desert and spend less than $20. And if we do spend $20 dollars...well...that is a mucho bebidas. The folks at Colonia Ecologica wouldn't understand how we could use that much money that quickly. Or why we'd want to. In the US, you can barely take your date for burgers at the local grease barn for that much money, let alone the nicest restaurant in town.

It is also pretty nice to know exactly where your money is going and that none of it goes to administration costs. It will be a little while before the US charity is off the ground, but if you'd like to donate some money to Colonia Ecologica you can do so right now online at Charity Bolivia through Paypal.

The US based version of Charity Bolivia will initially raise money to provide post-secondary education. Currently there is no program in place at Colonia Ecologica to help the kids once they graduate from the Bolivian equivalent of high school. So the money raised will initially go towards providing jobs at Colonia Ecologica for the kids that have graduated and are going on to University or a career. This way the kids don't have to immediately leave Colonia Ecologica when they are done with high school, they get to give back to the place that has helped raise them, they earn income to help with university costs and they learn independence and responsibility. Three of the current kids graduate in 2006 with another 4-6 the following year.

When we raise enough money we'd like to secondarily offer scholarships and grants for university expenses to the kids from Colonia Ecologica. This will be a source of financial assistance to those kids willing to put forth the effort to meet the requirements of the scholarships and grants.

So please, we are really relying on our friends and family to make this dream happen. And I'm pretty sure only our friends and family bother to check this page, so think about it. Doesn't need to be much.

And I realize that I've mixed politics (on a very small and closed minded scale) and our passion (the nonprofit) into the same blog post. One has nothing to do with the other and in the future one won't have anything to do with other. Unless of course you call me a bleeding heart. To which I'll reply I'm a conservative bleeding heart. And also the most liberal republican, the most politically organized anarchist, and the most anti-social of democrats, perhaps even a fence riding evangelical. So get yourself an extra small pair of spandex and squeeze your big.....

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Sunday, September 4, 2005, 02:14 PM
The DoD puts the body count for US soldiers involved in the war in Iraq at 1883. Another source puts the body count for Iraq civilians between 24 and 26 thousand. Vietnam, in comparison, had around 400 US casualties in the first two years with an estimated 17,000 Vietnamese deaths. But these aren't wars you can compare. No economics, no policies, no dead bodies piling up at enormous rates. But, as Gen. Tommy Franks is known to say in regards to tracking civilian casualities, "We don't do body counts."

So if you want to support our troops and a good friend of ours about to head to grad school, check out the following link. JR's Ebay Sale

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Anybody feel like moving to LA and becoming a Laker Girl? I do.  
Wednesday, August 24, 2005, 09:50 AM
Living here in Cochabamba elicits several words from my mouth each day. I find these words daily repeated. And no it has nothing to do with being a Laker Girl and I'm scrapping the cuss words as well. It simply goes along the lines of, "You know, it's another nice day in Cochabamba." Almost every day here is pleasant. Christ looks down upon us from one hill and the Mormon temple shines down from another. If there was only a statue of Buddha and maybe an Indian god, then all would be truly holy and well and balanced.

Cochabamba is a pretty tranquilo city. A great place to live. Bolivia on a whole, in the meantime, is racing downhill toward December. It is during December that general elections will bring a new President to this incredible country. Not just a new president, but a new vice president, and parliament as well as other regional offices. The whole of the governance being replaced, or reelected in some cases. No one seems quite sure what will happen in December. There are the possibilities of more of the protests that caused these early elections in the first place. As of now the President of the Supreme Court is President of Bolivia. Try to imagine for a just a moment, of something similar happening in the US. Can you? Officially, elections are supposed to occur in 2007. The elections are just a couple years early: so goes life in Bolivia. The future, as is usual, uncertain and undecided. People waiting and fighting and arguing over the future. It is important.

Meanwhile, we live in the here and now. What some people call the present. There are still many people in need here in Bolivia. People who want to make a better life for themselves, who are tired of being exploited, or in the case of some people I know, they just want better lives for their kids. Carlye starts volunteering at Colonia Ecologica today. She will be working with three of the older kids teaching them English. Simply giving them some more tools for their tool box.

Can I tell you what an amazing feeling it is working with people like Kiko and Carmen (the Bolivian couple that runs Colonia Ecologica)? They have two kids of their own and another 15 that live with them. In the afternoons there are upwards of 60 kids that go to Colonia to do chores, study, and play. Every kid knows they belong. Every kid knows that they are loved there. It does not matter what life is like at home. Whether mom or dad are even at home. Whether mom or dad even exist. Whether they are abused, mistreated, or unloved outside of Colonia. At Colonia Ecologica they are loved, accepted, and belong. The kids know it. You can see it on their faces. You can watch it in their behaviors. It is an incredible place. I feel honored to get a chance to be around and interact with such great people. Kiko and Carmen give their lives for these kids. I asked the other day when they had time to themselves, to rest? Between 1 am and 6 am, they responded. Every day of the week. They are happy. They are installing values and education into a new generation of kids now, in the present.

So we live in the now, the future will be the now when it is the now and no sooner. Use it for what it is and what it isn't.

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