19 April 2011

from berkeley to bolivia


The way my partner's family ended up in Cochabamba is a good example of our making plans and life laughing at those plans.  And how, often by being all Tao and going with the flow, we end up exactly where we belong.

So, let's go back to Berkeley circa the hippie '70s.  Enter a pretty young Southern Californian ESL teacher and a spirited Bolivian musician.  It isn't long before they're married and driving their VW van from Berkeley all the way down to the southern tip of Argentina for their yearlong honeymoon.  On their way back through Bolivia, they decide they will raise their future kids there.


Cut to four kids later, and all the Southern Californian wants is to live near water.  The Bolivian musician says that while Bolivia is the only land-locked country on the continent, they could go live by Lake Titicaca.  They pack boxes of water-related items: life vests, inflatables, toys, etc.  Then with twenty-six boxes and four little kids (ages two, four, six and eight), they go to the Oakland Airport.

With his beard and ticket to Bolivia, the Bolivian musician is mistaken for Che Guevara, and the woman at the airport tells him there will be no charge for the twenty-six boxes going all the way from California to Bolivia.

The family arrives in Bolivia during a time of civil unrest, and they land right before the mandatory curfew, so the people in the airport tell them they don't have time to check their twenty-six boxes and that they better hurry up and get inside before dark.

My partner had been baptized at the church in Copacabana, a few hundred yards up the street from Lake Titicaca, and the family was all ready to plant roots there, but they soon discovered there were no schools in Copacabana for the four kids.  So, they decided they'd travel around Bolivia until they found a place they wanted to live.

Their first stop was Cochabamba, where they went to visit an old family friend-- and they decided to stay.

They bought a lot on a hill and built this gorgeous home from scratch.  It overlooked the small city and was surrounded by nature.  Well, funny enough, a developer came and built a super fancy gated community right around the family's new house, bringing along electricity and running water, so the family didn't mind all that much.

Here's the view from the lower part of their neighborhood:

Here is the view from the top of the neighborhood.


They planted an amazing garden of dahlias, roses, fruit trees of all kinds, and the land around them is beautiful.  I'd never seen this kind of flower before.

So, the happy ending of the story is that the family lived in Cochabamba for almost twenty years, until all of the kids had graduated from high school, and then the parents moved to Mexico, to a tiny fishing village (population: 2000) where they could build a house right on the beach for the Southern Californian woman who'd waited patiently for her home by the water.