I always knew, leaving Ecuador last year, that my time back in Australia would be an “in-between” thing, a layover between trips. It was surprising how easy it was to slide back into life here – but perhaps all along I was just getting accustomed to “home” being, in reality, a type of limbo or train stop on the way to somewhere else.
My next station will be La Paz, Bolivia. This October I start a one-year fellowship with IJM, joining a team that combats (child) sexual abuse in Bolivia, advocating for and supporting victims as well as working to improve the justice system there.
More on all that in future posts, but for now, here are some of my reflections on Bolivia.
I remember getting off the bus and walking across the Peru-Bolivia border, where I posed with a giant Cusqueña beer can and all the US citizens had to pay $200 for their visas but we got in for free (gotta love Australia!).
I remember being amused by landlocked Bolivia’s naval headquarters on Lake Titicaca.
I remember not getting super sick but definitely feeling the altitude in Copacabana. I remember the soothing taste of coca mate.
I remember La Paz as a huge, sprawling, imposing and rather arid city that really did seem to be on top of the world. Colonial architecture everywhere. Tasty (and surprisingly hearty) salteñas. A parade of tribes upon tribes from all over the country, each cholo and chola cloaked in colour and crowned with feathers (or other elaborate headgear); singing, dancing or beating drums. Neighbouring El Alto, teeming with people and development, growth – yet curiously run down.
I like to look back – there is something terribly romantic about nostalgia. But I’m looking forward, too.
Before I eventually went with a placement in Ecuador back in 2011, Bolivia had been a possible destination for me. Having visited very briefly in 2012, there’s still a lot I haven’t seen. I’m not really sure what to expect – apart from altitude sickness, that is!
I’m looking forward to a new adventure.
I’m looking forward to speaking Spanish again – all day, every day.
I’m looking forward to living in a big city.
I’m looking forward to random housemates. I’m looking forward to making new friends.
I’m looking forward to doing meaningful work to promote justice for the oppressed.
I’m looking forward to joining a church and jumping into ministry.
I’m looking forward to continuing to do mission without being a “missionary”.
I’m looking forward to what God will do in, through and around me.