Almost more harrowing than being flung out the door of the pre-WWII plane into the dust of some obscure foreign country is what is commonly known in the industry as re-insertion:* returning to live in one’s country of origin after many years in some glorious foreign land that only made it onto the world map in the past 2 decades.
I realise I’ve let the team down somewhat, in that I haven’t covered in detail much of Bolivia’s other cities and locales of interest. Obviously, I won’t start today, but at least a couple will get a mention. A few years in, on yet another one of Dad’s character-building exercises, we endured a family trip to Sucre and Potosí.
The thing about being an MK is that once you return home and attempt reentry, the process is like jamming a pickle in an electrical outlet: shocking. And everyone stares at you since you smell horrid and have green goo on your hands. In our 3rd world country (sorry, Developing Nation) we’d become accustomed to wealthy friends and the country clubs, spas, and sauna access they provided.
Say what you will about 3rd World Countries, but their public transportation systems are not to be trifled with. Of course, taking a trifle on anything moving is a mistake and will only end in tears and a shirt that looks like the entire Rolling Stones entourage puked on you, but in the other sense of the word I mean transport in Bolivia was quite good.
Honestly, the best part of being an MK is the trip home. Woah, that sounds negative and stuff. I don’t mean leaving the third-world hellish existence your parents thought would be nice to try for 4 years. No, that part is hard. ‘Cause if you were lucky you made friends and things.
The Summer before my senior year, James hatched a plan to hike the Inca Trail with his brother Jeremy and they invited me along. It had been done before. Some of the grades at school had traversed it for their camps on previous years. The whole region was littered with white kids’ bodies.
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.
Writing about this stuff really helps bring back the memories. Most of the time you try to forget. Shivering naked at night in the closet usually helps. But now that I’m jotting this all down, even more keep flooding back. After a brief stopover in Buenos Aires, which I don’t remember at all, these are my memories of the first couple of days after coming ashore in Bolivia, aged 10.
The trouble with the whole missionary situation is that, by default, the mission field is always a zillion miles from home. Pastor’s Kids get it easy in this regard. Their dad drives to work. Ours took 5 separate flights of varying length and comfort (I take that back. The comfort was non-existent) over 12 different timezones and dragged us along for the ride.