Our current intern in Ixiamas, Bolivia, is 2008 Practicum graduate Becky Forrest. During Practicum, Becky shared her experience on our blog. Now that she is in an intetn in Bolivia, she will post updates as our interns in 2008 did. Becky served on short-term mission trips in 2007 and 2008 in Ixiamas.
Life is definitely never boring here at the Internado. On April 5, I left Ixiamas by bus for LaPaz to start on my work visa, since my tourist visa will expire on Apr. 25. Rachel was already in LaPaz on business, so I would be meeting her there. God blessed me with a traveling companion that spoke English. My fear of traveling alone was taken care of by his grace. The trip up the road was uneventful, and I arrived bright and early Monday morning after only 26 hours of travel.
When we arrived that afternoon at the immigration department, we discovered that I would have to leave the country in order to obtain my work visa. We took care of all necessary paperwork we could. I have to wait until it is ready in a couple of weeks. We decided it would be best for me to return to Ixiamas with Rachel on Thursday.
Two trips on the road in less than a week, am I nuts? The trip down was great until we arrived in Rurre early Friday morning with rain coming down in buckets. Rurre is a river town on the Beni River, and there is no bridge. The bus has to cross the river on a pontoon boat, while the passengers cross by water taxi. After having a quick breakfast, we crossed the river to wait on the bus. We waited and waited. It would not stop raining, and we knew the road to Ixiamas would be getting bad. Finally, we were told to get our luggage off the bus that it was going back to LaPaz, since they could not cross in the rain. We would have to travel the rest of the way by mini bus. Around 3 p.m., we boarded a mini bus for Ixiamas. Rachel was really glad when she saw the driver because she had traveled with him many times and said he was really a good driver. On the road from Rurre to Ixiamas there are not many bridges but there are many rivers and streams. It had been raining since Thursday night, so the water was high. We knew there was a chance we would have to come back. But we had the worldâ€™s greatest mini bus driver. Several times, he would get out and walk across the river to find just the right path to take in crossing. He even made a snorkel out of soda bottles. Eventually, we arrived at a river too deep to cross. All of the passengers decided to cross on foot and walk the hour it would take to get to the next town, Tumupasa. I just knew I could not make it after being up for around 36 hours. So Rachel and I stayed with the bus–knowing we may have to sleep there. We watched the river as the sun went down, and it seemed to be receding some. We also noticed that the driver had walked down to the woods and was gone a really long time. Upon his return, he said he had found an old road and a way to cross the river where the water was shallow enough. I could not believe we were driving down what looked to me as a path in the jungle, but he got us across the river and we arrived in Tumupasa in time for supper. We got a room in the little hotel there for the night. Early Saturday morning, we arrived safely in Ixiamas after 42 hours of travel.
Ixiamas was a very beautiful sight that morning. It was Easter weekend so all of the kids had gone home for the holiday to be with their families. It was so great to see them again when they returned Sunday night.
I leave Saturday for LaPaz again, and then on to Puno, Peru, so when I return I will pass along my travel tells from that journey. Thank you for all the prayers for my visa problems. I am sure God will take care of all the details. As I was told in an email, this is just a hiccup in His plans for me here.
Hermana Rebecca (Becky)