Have you ever wondered what happens to the clothes they can’t sell in the U.S? Seems like most of it ends up here: the highly addictive discount clothes markets in South America. This is how most Bolivians buy their clothes. They’re cheap, abundant, and ubiquitous. A lot of it is used clothes, but some of it is new.
Even though I hate shopping, I love rummaging through the discount clothes markets in Bolivia. It’s a treasure hunter’s delight. You can find mint-condition 1970s corduroy and zoot suits that will make you blush, mixed in with the latest brand name styles. That “Feelin’ Grate” photo was a needle-in-the-haystack T-shirt.
Here’s another one my daughter and I loved, because, why not?
Kids In School
The kids are “feelin’ grate” too. We put them in the local school as auditors last week, and they are both feeling like rock stars. As foreigners, they are different from their classmates in almost every way – and yet, they are suddenly the most popular kids in school. Everyone wants to know more about the foreign kids from America.
Here’s my daughter being escorted around the school before class:
And my son practicing with the school’s indoor soccer team:
While the kids are having fun, I can see from just a week of classes that the school is not great. It seems more like a daycare than a school to me – most of the time is spent in recess and crafts. What little school time they have is spent copying down what the teacher writes on the blackboard. It’s a system that creates kids who are really great at handwriting. But in a week, they’ve spent about 30 minutes on math.
So, we’ll probably only keep them in the school for a few weeks or months – enough time to make friends and learn better Spanish. Then we’ll need to get back to homeschooling so they can keep up when we return to California.
It’s planting season here. I’ve been spending my days digging up our little farm, preparing the soil, and planting. It’s the kind of work our bodies were meant to do. I’ve probably gotten more sunshine in the last two weeks than in a whole year of office work!
We’ve planted lettuce, spinach, kale, radishes, daikons, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, carrots, peas, potatoes, and a variety of herbs. I’m not done yet, but here’s a photo of our fields:
Of course, I’m not a farmer, and I have no idea what I’m doing. But we have a local farmer who helps me. He also takes care of things while we are away. In exchange for his work and expertise, he gets to keep 50% of our harvest.
Alasitas is a festival for children that goes on for several weeks in Bolivia. People sell all kinds of things in miniature: dolls, toys, cooking utensils, furniture. They even bake miniature cakes and pastries. Apparently, it’s an annual tradition that goes back centuries.
We took a weekend trip into the city of Tarija and visited the local Alasitas fair, packed with hundreds of vendors. It’s basically like a county fair:
Some of the miniature toys:
Here are some of the pastries:
It’s August already – two months into our Family Gap Year. The Southern winter is coming to an end, and the happy season is just around the corner. But for now, it’s dry, windy, and dusty. We’re going to keep hunkering down in our village for several more weeks before we do any more travelling. There are plenty of new experiences here to keep us all entertained for now.