Monday, December 14, 2009

A few months ago I gave Mauricio a nice watch from the United States. He puts it on every single morning and I often catch him checking the time throughout the day. But sometimes I have to ask myself what the point is. Here in Bolivia, the concept of time is nearly non-existent. They don't worry about arriving late, having late meals, or staying up too late. At times it frustrates me, like when Mauricio is supposed to meet me for lunch at 12:00 and I have to wait outside the restaurant for 30 minutes. Other times, it ends up being extremely helpful, like when I'm running late in the morning but can arrive at least 30 minutes late to work without anyone even taking note. And finally, there's something relaxing about never having to worry about the time. Imagine being able to eat a nice, leisurely dinner without ever checking your watch. Imagine being incredibly behind schedule, but not having to rush to catch up. Imagine arriving more than an hour late to an important event and not missing a thing.

This weekend we went to a high school graduation for one of Mauricio's cousins. Daniela is a really sweet girl and I was excited to see her finishing school. She used to live in El Carmen, the village where most of Mauricio's family comes from, but came to the big city a few years ago for high school. Her parents weren't able to come, so she's living here with some older sisters. I know it's been hard for her to get used to that change, so I'm very proud of her for making it through. And I'm even more proud at how excitedly she talks about starting university soon.

But back to Saturday night. Her graduation was supposed to start at 7:30, so I was dressed up and ready to go by 7:00. I sat around waiting for Mauricio for over an hour and we didn't arrive to the school until 8:45 - more than an hour late. But I guess I'm starting to get the hang of this whole Bolivia-time thing, because I wasn't worried or concerned about being late. In fact, when we walked into the auditorium the graduates were no where to be seen, only about half of the guests had arrived, and the faculty was just starting to put up the decorations. So we sat for 45 minutes watching them place bouquets of flowers, hang up a banner, set out seating for the students, and on and on. I think the ceremony finally began at 9:30.

Once it finally got under way, it was a very nice graduation. Someone gave a short introduction and then presented the graduates one by one. This part felt somewhat like wedding. The students were in the back of the auditorium and, as their names were called, walked up the central aisle accompanied by one of their parents (boys with moms, girls with dads). As they reached the stage, they would present a single rose to their parents and accept their diplomas. I thought it was sweet that the parents were included in the ceremony. After all the students were lined up on the stage, there were two or three brief speeches, a few awards handed out, and a song played. Finally, the graduates threw their caps in the air and it was over. I was expecting a ceremony that lasted hours and hours, with no recognition of how late, it was. To my surprise, it was shorter than both my high school and university graduations in the U.S.

Last night we went out for a delicious dinner at La Casa del Camba to celebrate the graduation. Unlike the ceremony, the dinner was not surprisingly short and sweet and we were in the restaurant until almost midnight. So if you'll excuse me, I need to go find some caffeine.

0 comment(s):

Post a Comment