Tuesday morning we rose early for breakfast at Los Tajibos, which was good as always. We checked out of the resort and were then shepherded to the Sociedad de Ingenieros. The taxi driver got lost on the way there, which amused me, but I knew the event would not begin until we arrived (we were the stars, after all). In addition, it is not unusual for things to begin late in Bolivia. It is what it is.
There were about 200 students in the group. I missed her title, but a university official (dean or president) made our introduction and then left. We made short presentations and then took questions from the students.
This was great fun and I enjoyed the interaction immensely. But the treat, for me, came after the formal time. The students were released to interact or leave and there were empanadas! I love empanadas, especially those in Bolivia. This morning we were provided empanadas de queso and they were tasty, with a pastry-like shell filled with a sweet cheese.
We were asked for photographs. To me it seemed like the girls were about 80-percent and the boys about 20-percent of requests. It was fun to watch them all smile, giggle, and pose.
I stood around with a group of a dozen young men who obviously knew each other well. They were laughing and teasing each other and we communicated with their broken English and my bit of Spanish. They asked if I like football (soccer).
I said “Of course.”
“Which is your favorite team?”
“I don’t have one, really, but I do enjoy watching the game.”
I asked for a bottle of water and one of them rushed off to find one. He returned with a two-liter bottle and poured some into a glass for me. I was thankful. One of the young men started to get some water from the bottle and another said “No!”
“Why not?” I asked.
“He is black.”
“He’s not black!”
“Yes, he is.”
“Well, that’s not black like where I come from.”
“He is darker than the rest of us.”
“I am that dark when I’m in the sun, although I am more red than he is.”
We all laughed and it was clear they were not prejudiced in any way, but were just teasing him like all young men give each other a hard time.
Soon it was time to go and the other guests were shunted off to catch their flight to Cochabamba. I had time before my flight to Tarija, so I went to lunch with Tomás, Monica, and Andres. Tomás is the dean of engineering and science at the Santa Cruz campus of Universidad Catóica. Andres is one of the engineering students there. His English is excellent!
Lunch was fun and took our time. It was interesting to visit with the three Bolivians and I enjoyed the interchange greatly. But the time came to leave and they drove me to the aeropuerto to check in and catch my flight.
I was a little trepidated by my lack of language, but Andres volunteered to see me to the security checkpoint so he could interpret if needed. I checked my bag, and walked up to the checkpoint entry. I said my goodbyes to Tomás and Monica. Andres accompanied me to the checkpoint. They were thorough, but friendly and I didn’t need an interpreter. I bid Andres goodbye and entered the secure zone.
I wandered around a bit while waiting. They sell meat in the airport. Yes, there was a meat market in the airport. My flight was a little delayed, but not much. There was plenty of traffic at Viru Viru.
Soon enough I was boarded and on my way to Tarija. I was looking forward to meeting friends there and seeing this place I have heard so much about. As we approached the airport, I noticed a vortex of vapor condensate rolling between the fuselage and engine over the wing. I made a couple of captures because fluids always fascinate me.
The Tarija Aeropuerto was the first time in a long time I walked down the stairs from an aircraft and across the pavement. It was fun and it was fun to see the observation deck above the terminal. It would be possible to go watch flights arrive and depart from Tarija.
David, Rosemarie, and Enrique were there to meet me. It was good to meet Rosemarie (David’s wife) and Enrique. We loaded my gear into the car and headed into town.
It was quick and easy getting into my hotel room and I had a few minutes to recover before we went to supper at Gattopardo on the plaza. Gattopardo Taberna easily became my favorite place to eat and hang out while in Tarija. I could see spending many evenings outside enjoying the evening air and the lively plaza environment. The food is excellent as well.