19 June 2011

Community Clean-up at Lake Titicaca Mission in Bolivia

16 June, 2011
Hola y Bendiciones desde el Mision Fronteras a Lago Titicaca!
Hello and Blessings from the Border Mission at Lake Titicaca!
Tuesday, June 14, was a community-wide tidy-up-the-neighborhood day in our section of Copacabana, Bolivia. At least 100 people fanned out through the streets or climbed up the ancient, Incan stone steps to “Intinkala,” known as the Seat of the (regional) Incan empire, or “Asiento del Inca.” The base of the steps leading up to Intinkala is just 15 feet from our front gate. At the top of those steps are several carved stone seats. Historians believe this site was probably a judicial center in Incan times. If you saw the 90-second video we taped for the Annual Conference, the intro showed us perched on those ruins. To see the video, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJ4siBzVODs.
Bolivian towns are divided into neighborhoods, or barrios. People in the neighborhood elect a president. Yesterday’s work day started and finished with long, passionate pep talks from our neighborhood president, urging folks to work hard, make  the area clean and tidy, and try harder to keep it that way.
Among the projects we and our neighbors tackled were trash pick-up. Most – but not all – streets in our neighborhood are paved. Sometimes the concrete pavers crack and crumble, leading to enormous, deep potholes. Jeff and I helped clear and level several of these.  We were impressed that the six petite Aymara women on our team wielded pick axes as effectively as the men … and more often! 
Hard physical work is especially tiring here, probably because one burns a lot of oxygen in hard work, and at 2.5 miles above sea level, oxygen is pretty thin. We find that in comparison, we appear to have more strength than local people, but they have a lot more stamina than we do.
One of the day’s projects involved installation of garbage collection stands. At each site, five huge oil-drums hang from a heavy pipe. The drums pivot for easy unloading. We and our neighbors are thrilled with this new system. Up to now, garbage collection has happened rather randomly. A battered, rusty dump truck with totally bare tires, carrying a crew of about 6 people in addition to the driver, would signal its arrival by honking repeatedly.  
During breaks in neighborhood clean-up day, we had opportunities to talk with our new neighbors. Virtually all of them were clearly surprised and pleased that Gringos were helping them. Of course, we cheerfully explained that it’s our neighborhood, too, and we were quite happy to get involved.  Fyi, in photo attachment the salmon-colored house, left side at the end of the street, is ours.
Let us hear from you, please! We miss home, friends, and family!
If you’re tempted to make a trip to Lago Titicaca, shoot us an email. It’s part of our job to help find good airfares, and help plan and facilitate!
Deb and Jeff

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