Merry [belated] Christmas from Sucre, Bolivia!!
I spent Christmas at The Beehive with a family of selfless compassionate, intrepid and open-minded travelers. We had a massive Christmas Eve dinner with nearly 50 people enjoying yummy homemade food, sangria and wine.
On Christmas morning I headed over to the city center to give out candy and juice boxes I bought for the kids on the streets. What was intended to be an act of spreading cheer and joy turned out to be an extremely eye-opening experience. Within seconds of handing out a few pieces of candy, hundreds of kids flocked over to me cupping their hands and begging for their share. My clothes were being pulled in all directions by desperate women and children yearning to get my attention. I had a good amount of candy but it was nowhere near enough to distribute to each person. I was nearly knocked over and overtaken by the swarm of kids and ultimately released my grip on the bag of candy. I watched a young woman (not even a child!) snatch the bag from the crowd and hurriedly walk away with her prize, a trail of kids stumbling behind to catch up with her. I knew she had no intention of sharing the remaining candy. She had a grin on her face. I want to think it was less a malicious, greedy smirk but more a pure display of happiness over her good fortune…an unexpected stroke of luck in a unpromising and unforgiving routine. It was an overwhelming experience, and while I am happy some kids received some candy, I felt guilty for creating a tiny riot over the lacking supply of sweets.
Bolivia is a place where inevitably, you feel fortunate. Fortunate for growing up in a safer environment. Fortunate for an education, shelter and loving parents. I hate seeing children on the streets.
I wrapped up my evening with a 10pm showing of the new Star Wars flick at the local movie theater with new friends. The theater was packed to the brim with English-Speaking foreigners. The movie was entertaining and I was with good company. It is a bit troubling to think about my morning vs my evening. Handing out candy to less-fortunate children in the square followed my a $4 action flick in the theatre accompanied by popcorn and soda… What a comparison….
*If anyone is coming to Sucre, I highly recommend staying at The Beehive. The Beehive is a hostel and community center founded by a UC Berkeley graduate, Amanda Pojanamat, and local Bolivian, Susana Valda. The culture at The Beehive revolves around working together to form a tight community (similar to families of bees) while supporting projects to empower women to work toward financial independence and self-motivation. The hostel has an incredibly familial vibe and definitely stands out against other hostels I have stayed at. It just has an awesome energy.