Monday, March 3, 2014

Songs from Serrano: The Boxer

A cover of my favorite Simon and Garfunkel tune, The Boxer.
Just an acoustic guitar and couple of voices.


Waca Huasi

This last week was the Circuit Overseer visit and several friends from Sucre came to give support to the week of activity in Villa Serrano. Saturday, we got the chance to head out into a small community called "Waca Huasi" right in the middle of Serrano and Padilla because the visitors have their own 4x4.

Here are some photos of the preaching trip out to this less-preached rural part of our territory.


 Through the corn field

Visiting couple living in Sucre. Jorge and Kerstin, from the German part of Switzerland.

Team Switzerland ! 

George at work. Making sure to speak to every passerby. Not ofter we get to speak to the people out here.

The Grand Army!

There is no escape when Debby is on duty! She spotted this woman tending her sheep way up the hill. She chased after her with true zeal. Also she wanted that photo opp with the sheep .. hahaha

Preaching in places we normally never reach. Many of the locals have never heard of Jehovah's Witnesses. A place only 45 minutes away from Villa Serrano. Because none of us have vehicles, makes it very difficult to reach. Imagine the possibilities if one owned a truck out here in the campos...

Nature Walk to Monte Hippie

Since my time left in Villa Serrano is short, I decided to take a solo nature walk to the peak they call "Monte Hippie" I had no idea how long it would take to get there. And slept in that day so I set out for the mountain at two in the afternoon... Learned a valuable life lesson that day...
Monte Hippie. This peak stands out from the rest when you look at the mountains surrounding Villa Serrano. Why they named it "Hippie" I have no idea.

Eventually you see Villa Serrano in it's entirety. Doesn't take long to get high enough to easily see the little village.

Hiking and hiking. Going up and up. The sun going down, down, down.

Found a random house in the middle of nowhere. Seemed abandoned, the trails overgrown with vegetation.

Villa Serrano getting tinier.

Finally at the top of Monte Hippie! The view was epic. I realized the route I went took me 4 hours which was not a well worn path. There is another path that could have brought me there in half the time.
Super-zoomed in on my house from Mount Hippie.

And once I'm at the top, I've realized I made a huge mistake. What was the life lesson? Don't climb a mountain at 2 in the afternoon when it takes the rest of the light of day to get there!
What turned into a friendly nature walk soon became something of a survival situation.

With the sun going down. Barely enough light to make it back. The trails were hard enough to see in the light! No flashlight. No warm clothes. No lighter or matches to make a fire. Zero preparation. What do you do in this situation? You take a sunset selfie.

That night was a mix of emotions. If I only had a nice warm blanket, it would've made the difference. There was zero light pollution and it was a completely clear night. I saw the most amazing starry sky I've ever seen with a giant band of the Milky Way stretching across from one end to the other. The sights were epic. But I was so cold!! Sleeping on the rocks... Had no choice but to wait until 6:00am when there was enough light to safely hike down the mountain. The sunrise was pretty great also...  

The early morning hike back. I felt like a zombie after a night of minimal sleep. The mountains are shrouded in the mist of the clouds at this time.

Victoriously arriving to Serrano. Couldn't wait to shower and get in bed. Something you don't appreciate so fully until an experience like this.
My impulsive decisions have allowed me to learn a valuable life lesson that day...

The Manchas Saga

Sometime in February, I got the idea to adopt a pet and take care of it for a while. The opportunity was presented to me to take care of a baby pig, or "chanchito"

Everyone thought I was crazy. And it was an impulsive decision. I named the little chanchita, it was a girl, Manchas. I bought her for 150 bolivianos which is about 20 dollars.

There she is. The lil chanchita. I named her Manchas because she was brown with black "manchas" or spots. Pretty creative right? .....

First few days I kept her upstairs with me. BAD IDEA. I had no idea what a little pig was capable of and learned what a "pig-sty" really is. The little devil stopped at nothing to make a mess of everything and anything. She smelled. She ate like a pig. And kept escaping !! Even though I kept tying her up, my knot skills weren't effect enough and she would make a run for it. One night I had to chase her through the farm across the street at 11:30 pm. 

Eventually she got better when I gave her more and more tomatoes and peaches and leftovers, her trust in me grew. Sometime I would keep her outside to roam about and eat grass and dirt and wallow and whatever chanchos do for fun.

Then the sad day came. I was forced to make a sign. "Se Vende" .. pig for sale. I ran out of money and the closest ATM machine to take more out was far away in the city of Sucre. So I decided to sell the little rascal. Surprisingly I left and came back in an hour and someone wanted to by it for the same price I payed originally. Of course I used to some advertising skills and made sure to include it was "fat". Gets em every time...
 I asked the lady who bought Manchas what would she do with her. I knew the answer, I just wanted to hear it come straight from the horse's mouth. "We are gonna raise it till it becomes big and fat, and then we will have chicharon!" NOOOOOOOO I thought to myself. But the unfortunate truth is that every chancho has the same fate. Que triste....
That is the story of my pet pig Manchas, who I raised for a grand total of two weeks. Hope you enjoyed.

"Keep It Clean"

It was time to fix up our Kingdom Hall and Place of Meeting in Serrano and Padilla. In February, we did some "big" renovations.

First, was the work we did in Padilla.
We had to switch our location for the Place of Meeting. Which required a decent amount of work to transform a beat up room into a respectable and well-kept place of worship.

Nothing a ton of paint can't fix

Myself and Claudia Mamani

Little Josue! The mastermind of the operation.

After painting the outside and hanging the sign. Our new "Lugar de Reuniones" in Padilla.

Inside. What a difference!

The legendary Deborah Mackay of Padilla
The Lugar de Reunion was ready to go by the time of the Circuit Overseer visit.

During the same time, we had the opportunity to put down tile in the Kingdom hall in Serrano. Tiling a floor can completely change a room and make it look 100 times better. It was well worth it.

A guy helping us out... using a grinder.
With two people laying down tile and one to make the cuts, we were able to finish the project in one day, using the limited tools we had here. Yup, no wet saws, no lasers, no nice spacers (had to use nails)

Forced to learn the old school methods. Setting string for guides.
The tile transformed the room. And made our Kingdom Hall much more elegant and respectable.

Mud On The Tires

The title of this post is inspired by a country song from an artist I have no idea. It was the soundtrack of a video, Debbie, from Kentucky, who lives in Padilla, made about the very same subject. The road in between Serrano and Padilla. Since it's been the rainy season, the trip every Sunday to Padilla has been especially adventurous.

With rain, brings rivers, mud, and bus drivers who decide not to show up.

The river rose after the rains. We were all got out of the micro bus.

Some hero took his pants off and marched into the river in his undies to test out the depth.

Waiting ..

The epic moment when the bus crosses the river!

Everyone packed into the micro

There was one day when the micro bus driver didn't show up because it rained too hard. So we hired a private express truck. The road was so bad in one spot that we got sucked into the mud. It took a while, putting sticks and rocks under the wheels for traction, but we eventually got out.

The trip back to Serrano. This day we were offered a ride in a truck full of bags of corn and potatoes