Yacuiba Airport on the way home. I loathed Sam (L) & Johnny and their perfectly sculpted MC Hammer hair. Please ignore the writing in the sky.

Sam & Johnny were friends from school who were better than me at just about everything. By the time we were thirteen Sam was at least twice as fast as I was on the track, and he could dunk before I could too. It was amazing we stayed friends for as long as we did. He spent his life ruining everything we had in common. Their family was from Yacuiba, so every school holidays they went home again and I spent my days with Joel trying to beat him at things.

Yacuiba is right down the bottom of Bolivia, in a geographical region known as ‘right down the bottom of Bolivia’. Or something. If you’d like to take your mother there to visit, here’s Yacuiba on the map. Ignore the warning Google gives you. They’ve never been there and wouldn’t know. Sam & Johnny were always regaling us with stories back at school about how good Yacuiba was and how amazing the women were and how great the weather was and how amazing the women were, so one year we decided to visit as a family. I was 13 and knew all about women. I’d even seen a few in real life. Indeed, I had endured some experience of weather. Turns out Sam & Johnny were complete and utter liars. There were no eligible women (ie teenagers willing to associate themselves with a skinny white kid) and the weather was colder than mum’s oatmeal on Mother’s Day. It was made with love though so that’s what counts Mum so shut it. I don’t remember much about Yacuiba itself, but of course, like any other tale on this site, everything stated herein is 100% accurate, requiring no fact checking from other sources. Wikipedia has some scant details which seem pretty wrong to me, like an 18,000% increase in population in the past 15 years, but fine, check it if you want…

Sam & Johnny’s parents had a lovely house with an orchard in the back yard. It was a pretty big backyard too. I got lost in there for 2 days once. Any rational person would have picked the plump, ripe orchard fruit for eating, but we (naturally) decided grab the stuff off the ground and have fruit wars. I’ll be honest: There are few things in this life more satisfying than hitting someone in the face parts with a rotting avocado from the opposite side of an orchard. By the end of it the backyard looked like Carmen Miranda’s dressing room. I had enough orange pulp in my hair to start one those spritzy juice shops that people buy from to make other people think they’re healthy. “Oh yes, I’ll take the miniscule glass of grass juice.” Right. Sam & Johnny also had a grinder they used to make home-made peanut butter, (they had peanut trees. trees? bushes? who knows) which at first feels like something out of a Little House on the Prairie episode but then rapidly devolves into a lot a painful work for very little gain. A metaphor for my parents’ efforts at raising us if I’ve ever seen one. I’m quite happy to let Mr Kraft make my peanut Butter from here on in. I think my 2 hours of peeling peanuts netted us a huge 3 grams of inedible, dry product.

To be honest, although we were all over the female scene like oil on the gulf beaches, our life back then revolved around movies really. I’d promised the boys I’d bring some classics with me, so of course I chose the quintessential One Crazy Summer and American Ninja. One Crazy Summer was about how we all wanted to marry Demi Moore and name our kids Cassandra since that was her character’s name. There may have been other cast members in the movie. After a lifetime of training, the American Ninja spent his time killing people with finely-honed bad dialogue and horrid acting. I remember nothing else about it, but I can only assume the plot went no deeper than the self-explanatory title, since sadly I only recorded half of it. I’d done the Good Samaritan thing and cut the ads out of the video as I went, but had forgotten to hit record again when the movie came back on at one point, so we missed half of it. Johnny wasn’t very happy and attempted to assassinate me with bad dialogue. Sam just wanted Cassandra back on again.

The boys also had a cousin in Yacuiba named Harold. We teased Harold all the time because in Spanish his name was pronounced Harol. Poor Harol. Harol had great movies as well, but had made the fatal mistake of owning a Betamax video instead of VHS and as such couldn’t share his collection of 3 rare, expensive videos with anyone. It was like buying a car that looked better than everyone else’s but ran on milk weaned from some obscure indigenous Japanese rabbit.

While I loved my time in frozen, fruity Yacuiba, my stay extended longer than first planned. The rest of my family left early for what apparently was one of the worst family trips of all time. Sometimes mum patches together bits of it in her head and makes Dad sleep on the couch just because. Glad I missed it. For some reason, Yacuiba’s flight schedule was patchy at best, so we drove over to the dilapidated airport everyday to see about getting home again, only to return joyfully to the fruit wars. I think I ended up spending most of my teenage years there. No, eventually a plane showed up and we were able to fly back to Cochabamba. The only thing I remember about the trip home was buying Bart Simpson gum in a tube for some exorbitant price and having no money for food. Thankfully I had my thimble-sized, sweaty wad of peanut butter in my pocket to stave off the starvation. At least I hope it was Peanut Butter…

7 thoughts on “One Crazy Summer in Yacuiba

  1. man you had me cracking up with this story….Cassandra…hahahaha…I had completely forgotten. If we were back there right now, I would be all about some fruit fights. Dont knock the peanut butter Ard you know you liked it hehe

  2. I’m surprised I remembered as much as I did! It’s good though, writing about it brings it all flooding back. I need some more stories about you guys too. Haven’t done much on the Beckfords yet.

  3. What about the yerba mate? Lawn clippings flavoured withe the dried bits of the rotten fruit?

  4. hahahaha…yerba mate every afternoon…I can just imagine what it was like for you. I still have my mate here all the time..get the yerba online.

  5. I used to love the Yerba Maté. It was drinking after everyone else had already had a go on the same straw. That’s what freaked me out. I should have been tougher.

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