Visiting the tallest Cristo in the world!

Published: November 6th 2012
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The week started out very hot. The news were talking about the highest temperatures since some years. I, however, could not join the people sighing "Que calor!", cause after Villa Tunari this was just perfect and I decided not to complain about Cochabambas weather (at least for a while). As usual there was a strike and I was stuck at home and had to postpone my last Spanish class once again. As I was just hanging around with my host sister, she explained to me how voting works in Bolivia. I was complaining that there are no international news on TV like the US Presidential election and then told her how ridiculous it was that in 2008 people who voted would get a sticker saying "I voted!" and would then get a free hamburger at McDonalds. She said she wished it was like that in Bolivia, because here you're not rewarded for voting, but punished for not voting. For example, they freeze your bank account for 3 months if you don't vote without having an excuse for it or you're not allowed to use certain institutions for 3 months. It sounds harsh, but I think it is also very effective.

In the middle of the week it was time to wash my clothes again, but this time I would not do it myself. I found a "Lavandería" which washed 3 kilos of clothes for more or less 2€. She said she could even pick up my laundry and bring it to me the next time, I'd just have to call her. Hell yeah!

Since my Spanish class ended I now have a lot of time in the mornings and on Thursday I decided to explore Cochabamba with some friends. We first went to an art exhibition, but it was closed. No actually it wasn't, the sign on the door said so, so we were standing in front for a bit until a woman came and told us it was open, they had just forgotten to turn the sign. And us stupid gringos (what white people are called here) would just stand in front instead of trying to open it first, oh well... After the exhibition we decided to check out some of the churches around and in one I met a nun who wanted to know all about us. We had to whisper though and after I had explained we are volunteers she said "May God be with you in what you do" I thought that was really nice of her. The other girls and I also tried some orange juice from the street which was heavenly good (I had been warned that once I tried that juice I could never again drink orange juice from a grocery store. So true!) and later got some coffee in a nice looking place. Turned out my "coffee bonbon" would get me sick for the rest of the day, but it was good so I don't mind.

My weekend started out with a jazz concert on Friday night which was really cool. It was a group of young people and you could see they really loved what they were doing. The audience consisted of higher educated Bolivians, so I was a bit surprised when a woman pulled out her boob to feed her child in the middle of the concert. I guess it is normal here, though. Later we met with some other volunteers and went to a bar where we got some drinks. There were cigarrettes laying on the table and when to street kids came in to beg one of them sat down at our table and took out a cigarrette. The bartender then asked him to leave and not to bother us. The kid (no older than 11 years) then started screaming that he wanted to smoke now. It was a very strange situation. Samantha, a volunteer from America, taught the rest of us all her college wisdom (like making the foam on your beer disappear by first touching your nose with your finger and then stirring the foam with your greasy finger. Sounds weird, but it works.) After that we went to a club where we met with even more volunteers. There is quite a high chance that half of the guests at the club were gringos that night (or at least that's what it felt like). They played Western music and "Gangnam Style" was, of course, everyone's favorite. When I returned home I got locked out and I had to wake my hostsister to let me in which kinda sucked, but what else was I supposed to do.

The next morning I got up really early and cleaned all my room before going to a food fair with some volunteers. We could try all kinds of stuff and then Samantha decided to get a tattoo. She drank a mojito first to get a bit more courageous and then the 7 or 8 of us went to the next tattoo studio. The couple operating it was all over each other and I just thought "Boy, I hope he can concentrate on the tattoo". I was the one who was allowed to go to the back with Samantha, cause I had a camera to take pictures of her. She was extremely calm and said it didn't hurt as much as she had thought. She was happy with the result, so now half the volunteers are thinking about getting a tattoo here. Saturday night my hostmum's sister came over and we played some cards. They told me to get my cash and by the end of the evening I was 1 Boliviano richer!

Sunday morning my friend and I decided to finally visit the world's highest Cristo. It is a bit higher than the way more famous statue in Rio de Janeiro which is 33m big (for every year Jesus lived). The Cochabambinos say that Jesus didn't live exactly 33 years and that's why the statue is a bit bigger to represent the rest of his life. I, however, believe this is just a lame excuse to build the highest Cristo. When we arrived at the hill we decided to climb to the statue and soon regretted it. We had to take breaks every 50 steps, because it was so hot at 10 am. When we were finally high enough to see the statue and only few steps away from it there was a man with a scale sitting on the side of the steps. For only 0.50 Bs you could weigh yourself to see how much weight you had lost climbing the stairs. AWESOME! Finally on top we had to sit down and get some air. We were too tired to even enjoy the view and only after an ice cream did we have the energy to go inside the Cristo and walk up to his head, although it was more to his armpits). I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, the statue looks creepy from the inside and you only have tiny holes to look through. On the other hand it only costs some 0.15 € to get up there, so it's not that bad.

In the afternoon I went out to eat with my family and after that we met with the rest of the clan at Plaza Principal which is flooded with pigeons. Getting out of the car Mechi asked me if I liked pigeons and I told her no, cause they shit too much. Guess what happened during the next 15 minutes? I got shit on three freaking times. There was one bench where my whole host family was sitting (13 people) and the stupid pigeons managed to only shit on me. They were all like "Oh Joanna, mucha suerte!" Yeah, screw that! I don't want to be lucky, so I left my host family to go to the stadium where the other volunteers met to see a soccer game.

Going there we didn't really know what to expect, but Johannes, a German volunteer who had been to a game before, said we would be well entertained for the next hours. He was very right! First there was a dog in the crowd and the owner would lift him up all the time cheering for his team. Next there was this funny looking blue ice cream with a chocolate cover the majority of us decided to try. And the best things was the police having to enter the field, because the players were about to start a fight and the crowd going crazy over everything that happened. After the game there were police officers all around the referees to make sure they won't get beaten up by players, coaches, fans... you name it!

To end to day we went to Samantha's house to celebrate her birthday with her. Her hostmum had cooked dinner and all the volunteers were invited to eat at her place. It was really nice and interesting to see how other volunteers live. All in all I spend some 20 minutes at home that Sunday, so I was more than happy when I could finally go to sleep.

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