Ahhhh, the US and all its bull$%@*

“Ohhhh, you Bolivian citizen?” – said the Chinese ticket agent at the Continental Airlines desk.

“No ma’am. I am not.”, I replied.
“What you do in Bolivia?”
“I don’t know. Be a tourist”
“Well, you need exit ticket. You cannot enter without exit ticket”
“But I have before. I’m returning to Bolivia. They don’t care if I have an exit ticket…”
“No, you have to have an exit ticket”

So 24 hours later and a $280 dollar ticket to Lima, Peru later, I’m back in Bolivia! Hopefully, I can refund the ticket, but I’m not holding my breath. As for the plane flight, if you have never been crammed in a plane for 23 hours in 4-8 hour intervals and several hour layovers – I highly recommend it. There is nothing quite like having a fat man have his fat arm take up half of your seat while you are trying to eat.

I enjoyed being back in the US for a few days. It was nice to catch up with family and see everyone again. My parents were awesome (as usual) and I they made my 7 day stay very comfortable. The service for my grandpa was very nice – with the Color Guard and all and I think my grandma is taking it well. I’m going to start sending her postcards and stuff from every country I visit.

It was also nice to be able to go out and buy stuff. Books, clothes, booze (to bring back) – you name it. A very big change of pace from Bolivia. On my list to bring back to Bolivia was: 10 bags of potpourri, $60 dollars worth of Sardines for resale in some of the supermarkets the family here owns, chocolates, 21 year old scotch, a maxim magazine (in Spanish and English), two gun cleaning kits, and taco’s for Taco Bell. I also got a really cool wine bottle opener for the Spechars (the family with whom I live).

So I handed that stuff out and went to sleep for a few hours. When I awoke, I went down to get a massage (a whopping $10), had tea with the owner and explained that I wanted to learn Chinese and had some books to learn. After the massage, his son called and found a class for Mandarin Chinese for me down the street so I am pretty excited about that. Supposedly it’s really cheap and there are several classes a week (although it starts on Nov. 7th).
I then went to a watch shop and got my favorite watch fixed. I was going to just buy a new one, but then realized – hey, I’m going to be in Bolivia. It can’t cost more than 5 bucks to get this thing fixed. So the taxi driver took me to some little stand on the side of the street and I’m thinking, “I’m supposed to leave my watch with this guy? He can literally pack up and leave (shop and all) at the drop of the hat”. But as it turns out, he dropped what he was doing, popped open my watch and we discovered that he battery was merely dead. A whopping $1 dollar for a new one. Free install. I also had him polish the crystal for another $1. Man o man. So 5 minutes later, I was on my way in a new taxi back home. I unpacked and cleaned up and am now going to go study some Spanish and Chinese. Hopefully I can pick up a little bit of the Chinese before classes start – and I really need to get more serious about studying the formal rules of Spanish.

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