Tuesday, May 8, 2012

New home and new kitties

mi cuarto
On Sunday I moved into my new home. I'm renting a room in a house– my landlords are an elderly couple who have converted their home into a guesthouse of sorts– I believe there are about four or five rooms that people are renting out. This is a very small, simple room but it has everything that I need. A bed, a desk, a bedside table, and my own bathroom. All for the low price of 600 Bolivianos a month, roughly $85. Man it feels good to be in a country with a low cost of living again. The location is pretty ideal as well– I am about a three minute walk from the market, five minutes from the main square, and fifteen minutes from BiblioWorks' main office. Today, I met the daughter of my landlords. I think she is about my age, and she is learning English. The mother (landlord) suggested that we practice with one another. She helps with my Spanish, I help with her English. How cool! I have always wanted to have a language-learning buddy. I am excited for our first lesson/chat tonight.
Meet Clarice & Clark. They hang outside my room, which
explains the strange smell. Whatever. They are cute. They
remind me of my kittens, Mabel & Maurice, in the Philippines.
I am really enjoying Sucre. Yesterday when I was walking around exploring it dawned on me that this is what I always imagined my study abroad experience to be like– living in a South American city, surrounded by old beautiful buildings, and only speaking Spanish. Don't get me wrong: I wouldn't give up my semester abroad in Vietnam for anything, but being in Sucre feels more like the traditional abroad experience. In Vietnam I was always moving from city to city so I never really got to know the ins-and-outs of a specific place. Additionally, I think being able to understand the language makes me think I am studying abroad, because again in Vietnam– I actually really didn't know what people were saying to me 85% of the time.

So, a little bit of information about Sucre, this beautiful city that I am calling home. I guess it is hardly a city, only 216,000 people (total population of Bolivia is 9.8 million). There aren't any skyscrapers, or really any tall buildings. Probably the tallest building I have seen is six or seven stories. I think I have mentioned this before, but almost every building in Sucre is whitewashed. Actually, there are enforced laws and codes when developing new buildings. Only white. There are a few brick buildings, but the majority are white. At least in the main part of the city. I haven't explored any of the outer regions.

Sucre is actually one of the capitals of Bolivia. Yup, there are two capitals. I made the mistake of saying Sucre was the second capital to a local and she set me straight. Sucre is the FIRST capital of Bolivia, the declaration of independence was signed here in 1825. That is housed in one of the museums that I have yet to visit. I figure since I have eight weeks here I can take my time to do the "touristy things." For now, I am content exploring the city on my own and working at BiblioWorks. For the past few days my job has been to research grants, which is great because I love doing that– grants can get you so many places (like Sucre, Bolivia!) so I have been in the office and online searching and searching. Now I have a list of four grants that I think we are really qualified for. Matt, the coordinator, and I will sit down and go over them together and then I will start the grant writing process. I'm not always going to be in the office– Thursday will be my first day in a library. I am so excited!

Forget the gym, I found Parque Bolivar. This is
where I run every morning. 13 laps to make it an
hour. Ay ay ay.

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