Well, I guess it’s time to say my silent goodbye to La Paz and Bolivia. These past two days have truly shown me the great character this city holds and I will forever miss it. Last night and early this morning (approximately 3 AM), I sat around a bar table with the group I have been researching these last two weeks. Tired as I was after having sat in a cafe for almost 12 hours straight, I was still happy to be at Malegria, spending some of my last hours with MOCUSABOL (an Afro-Bolivian Saya group in La Paz). I met many new members and thanked those who had helped me throughout these past weeks with their time and kindness. As I sat explaining my research, my love for La Paz, and watching them dance, the members each asked when I would return, even those I did not know. They showed me what hospitality and kindness truly meant. I was offered drinks, hugs, and a chance to dance with their group on stage. I was introduced to family members and each offered me a hug and a kiss in welcome and a solemn goodbye. I am forever grateful for the knowledge and help I was given, especially from my friends Romer, Omar, Richard, and Jaime. Romer I thank you for your sweetness and teaching me how to dance Saya, Omar for your pride and attempts to dance me with all those times in Malegria, Richard for the inexplicable storage of knowledge and stories, and finally, Jaime for embracing me and making me welcome within your group. I will never forget the experience I have had with MOCUSABOL nor with the great friends I have made here (Caroline, Laura, Leighton, Jasmine, Kendra, and Hugh).
Nor did La Paz fail me on my very last day. In my rush to buy last minute presents, a woman stopped me and we talked for half an hour about her children, names, our health problems, and health food restaurants. Afterwards, when I stopped at the bank to change money the cashier stopped me and asked when I would be returning to visit them. Thank you La Paz for your hospitality. You do not often find people who treat everyone as if we were life friends. It has been an adventure of a life time full of cow hearts, ostrich meat, embarrassing moments, and heart.
With all my love I leave you.