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.
When we lived in Bolivia, we were pretty poor. Better off than most, but compared to Steve Jobs, the IKEA guy or Mother Teresa: pretty poor. This meant I got no pocket money and as a white kid, opportunities for honest work weren’t plentiful, aside from maybe selling vegetables on the street for 50c a month, or my remaining organs Dad didn’t have dibs on.
Midway through highschool we caught whiff of rumours in the wind of another 2 boys joining the school after the summer break. They were coming down from hellish Florida to idyllic Cochabamba to stay with their relatives and live the opulent lifestyle afforded to them by their DNA. This was exciting.
Now that all the tin is gone, and all the lithium is being sold to the Iranians, Bolivia’s greatest asset is Carnaval. I know you all agree. Sadly non-exportable, save for in the hearts of MKs the world over, the Carnaval de Urkupiña is the greatest thing ever conceived by man, except for maybe Chuck Norris.
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.
I imagine for some Missionary Kids, moving away from their home country and leaving all their friends and family must be an horrific experience. I say imagine, because I honestly can’t remember whether mine was or not. It could have been the drugs dad plied us with. Some more of the things I can remember from those early weeks of being a Missionary Kid…
- Our House(s).
For a short period before returning home to Australia, I was part of Cochabamba’s Mac Club. I’m not proud of it. For those with social lives, girlfriends and healthy tans from time spent outdoors, it was in fact a club for Apple Macintosh enthusiasts. I felt sorry for any Windows clubs around town, because they must have been so NERDY.
Obviously I had no real friends when we first moved to Cochabamba. This predicament lingered for a while, so I spent a lot of time in the school library like a nerd loser. In the first month, I’d read every single Hardy Boys novel they had, sometimes churning through 2 a day.
Most of my early summer days in Cochabamba were spent with Joel, because we both lived on the school grounds and neither of us had any other friends. Joel was an adventurer, and as such had plenty of GI Joes & Micro Machines, a New Zealand Passport and a 70cc raging beast of a Honda Motorbike with a peeling Rolling Stones sticker.
Studying at an International School has its drawbacks. For one thing, there’s no standard curriculum. You get whatever the teacher at the time deems appropriate learning. Being an Australian citizen, naturally I got American History. I had an English teacher for Science, and a Kiwi teacher for English. You can blame her for the poor writing on this blog.