Saludos y feliz cuatro de Julio!
On Thursday evening, the Museum (MNA from now on) had a special opening for its newest exhibit which features tapestries handmade by Inuit natives from Canada. This was significant culturally, because Bolivia has a 60-70% Quechua & Aymara Indian population, and often recognizes the artisan and mercantile abilities of its own natives, but wanted to highlight the beauty of indigenous crafts outside of Bolivian borders.
The Canadian Ambassador was at the opening & spoke, as did the Vice President of Bolivia (Álvaro García), the National Minister of Cultures, and our Museum Director (Edgar Arandia). It was really nice to see such a coming together of cultures, and a mutual appreciation between Canada and Bolivia for each other’s history :) A lovely reception followed, with wine, a lot of appetizers (including the famous salteñas)!
Friday was very busy. I had to commute during my lunch hour to a Fourth of July luncheon hosted by the U.S. Embassy at the Ambassador’s home in Achumani. Actually, we don’t currently have a U.S. Embassador in Bolivia. There has been some conflict between the current Bolivian President Evo Morales & U.S. foreign policy, which has prevented an acting ambassador since the one from the Bush administration got booted in 2008 (can’t remember his name…). The rest of the Embassy is trying really hard to promote cultural collaboration between Bolivia and the U.S. (I have heard many a rumor that we are very close to having another Ambassador), to show that many Americans (especially the ones here, working in La Paz) are accepting & truly seek to help those who could use our resources. One example of this is my position here.
Once I made it there & through security, I found myself in a beautifully decorated outdoor celebration full of red, white, and blue, tents of local merchants selling and promoting their organic and non-profit ventures, and an entire area devoted to hamburgers & hotdogs! It was so funny to see diplomats, foreign ambassadors, embassy officials, and government attacheés munching on plates of chips, potato salad, and hot dogs! Made me smile :)
I conversed with a few USAID employees, and learned about two running groups in Bolivia! I’m looking forward to checking it out soon! It made me forget all about the crowded minibus ride back to MNA after lunch.
After working the rest of the day, I was surprised with a visit from the last year’s wonderful intern, Amy. She has been so kind to me in e-mail correspondence and with helpful tips for my stay here (thanks, Amy!). Now that I am finally here, I have heard lots of talk about her greatness throughout the museum, and I realize now just what giant shoes she left for me to fill! We chatted for a while, and then walked over to a charming little restaurant in the Prado where I was peer pressured into trying a bite of Anticuchos (marinated & fileted beef hearts)! Ay ay ay, never again! I have a feeling that my being conscientious of appearing rude by turning away from new experiences is going to get me to try many things that I would never touch back in the states!
I spent a quiet & relaxing weekend at our apartment in los Pinos, watching some DVDs & cooking some family-sized dinners with my roommates, the other 4 U.S. interns in La Paz. I even got to do some pleasure reading & almost finished a rather sizeable novel! Today I returned to work, and will be back to the database. Hopefully only for another 2 days & then I’ll be able to discuss it with my supervisor & start entering records! I’ll try to update again then.