Christmas Time here in Bolivia was … well let me say ”different“ … rather not that “christmassy”. Even though one started quite early with getting the Christmas decoration into place- for example there´s been a, in my eyes rather corny, plastic Christmas tree in our living room since the end of November, and also in other respects Bolivians didn´t save on glitter and bling bling- that still didn´t get me into a Christmas mood. For that it was way too bright, warm, …
However, since I love Christmas Time so much, I intended to get me at least little bit of a Christmas feeling by lots of crafting- amongst others y hand-sewed an Advent calendar, typical Wiebke-Project, took forever -, cooking and baking sessions with friends –especially our German Christmas cookies were received very well by family& Co- and listening over and over to my Christmas hits playlist.
As well as in Germany, Christmas is celebrated on the 24th of December in Bolivia. However, Christmas Eve was also very different than what I´m used to. The day actually started off as any other regular day. Streets were busy, everybody went to work, no sign of Christmas.
My host brother and his girlfriend who came to visit from Denmark for two weeks had the spontaneous idea to get my host mom a cat for Christmas. She had been complaining about the birds picking her fruits from the trees in the garden and we thought a gun would not be as easy to get hold of!😛
Well, so at around noon, when the sun was shining very hot, we went to a market in the center where they also sell animals. It wasn´t a nice sight though to see dozens of chicken, rabbits& Co to be sitting all squeezed together in tiny cages. Nor could I bear seeing a woman butchering a turkey in between the whole scenery… Anyway, amongst all the other animals there were also some little, dirty kitten that we felt so sorry for, we had to take two of them. Back home, the first thing we had to do was BATHING THEM! (which for we sadly missed the German service that I would have liked to attend…) They told us they were male and female, so we named them Emil& Lotta … however, after a visit at the vet, LottA became a LottO ;D
Meanwhile, it was approximately 5.30 pm. Patrick´s girlfriend and I went to the supermarket to buy some groceries for the Christmas dinner. She was doing a Danish dessert. I had to prepare my own food, since the traditional Christmas dish here, “Picana”, is a soup with various types of meat and therefore nothing for vegetarian Wiebs- yes, until now I´ve done very well sticking to my meatless nutrition!
The supermarket was packed. Whereas in Germany at this time of the day all the stores would have already been closed, the people here just slowly started getting ready for the festivities of the night. Well, I should probably add though that Bolivian tradition is to not start with everything until midnight…
At home we then slowly began preparing the food. At 10 pm my host mom disappeared for a bit, I´m sure she just then got the presents!😀 Shortly before midnight we then started out by giving the cats to her. Meanwhile they had caused quite some chaos and also had diarrhea –don´t ask how my bathroom looked like- wherefore we didn´t want to hide them without oversight anymore. My host mom was very happy –unexpectedly, to be honest, I´d thought she would have wanted to kill us!😛
For the countdown until midnight we then watched a Christmas show on TV, afterwards we sat together giving our thanks to God and then we finally got to eat. We listened to music from Tarija and it was quite fun. After dinner then: Time for presents, sitting together for some more time, chatting… and at around 3 or 4 am in the morning I then very tired went to sleep!
So a very different Christmas, but also a very interesting, new experience!