Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Got my race on - finally!!

This weekend I ran a 5K!!  It was my first race in almost a year, my first race since having a baby, and my first race  since moving to the continent of South America. 


It was tough!  Considering I really only trained for about a week I guess it went well enough.  I actually had to stop and walk a couple of times, which is something I used to never have to do.  I finished in 38:47, way behind my husband, but as usual he was there at the finish line waiting for me with a smile and a hug.


Our oldest daughter and nephew were also there waiting for us because they had gotten up early to go watch us run.

Just a few observations:

1. The starting line is like a wild horse stampede with people practically running each other over coming out of the start area.  I’m used to races with a little more calmness at the beginning.

2. Three point one miles is a looooooong way to go when one has only been running for about two weeks after almost a year of no running.

3. There is a running community in Santa Cruz!!!  And I can’t wait to get more involved with my running and racing periodically like I did in the states.  Awww, that makes me miss my old running partner – hi Amanda!!!

4. Four words – water in a bag.  Coolest thing ever!  See, like I wrote about last week, there is one more random thing that comes in a bag to add to the list! I thought it was so cool I saved one and brought it home.

5. Despite sucking eggs from pretty much the start of the race, it was FUN!  It felt good to get the pre-race jitters again, to feel the anticipation of the race, to wake up early and get ready to go, to run with the cool morning breeze in your face, and the sweet feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment one feels after the race is over.  Even the post-race naps are the best as you rest your weary bones and sore knees!

After the race we went out for Salteñas.  Salteñas are like empanadas, or meat pies, but they are made with the most delish sweet dough and then are baked to perfection.  I LOVE them, especially the spicy beef ones! 


We also had Maracuya (passion fruit) smoothies.  I CANNOT get enough of this stuff!  Maracuya smoothies, ice cream, and mousse are my favorites! Maracuya was a rare find in the states.  There were only two places I had ever had it before moving here.  The first was in College Station, Texas, in my good old Aggieland.  There was this little smoothie place in the food court and every time my friend Cristina and I went to the mall, we had to have our Passion fruit and strawberry smoothies.  Awww, remember the good ole days, Cris??  The second place I had Maracuya was in Houston at a Columbian restaurant called Mi Pueblito.  I pretty much drink it everyday here, and at the market where we shop for our fruits and vegetables every week, the vendor and his wife see me coming and pack up some Maracuya fruits for me.  But I digress.

We had our post-race breakfast of champs and then headed home.

 It felt good to be back in the racing saddle again and I can’t wait for the next race!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Tangent Thursday

I’m back to talk about some random thoughts that I am having today…

1. I watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians, E News, Criminal Minds, and CSI to feel closer to home.  Is that sad?  At least the latter two require some amount of intelligence to follow…but I’m almost ashamed to admit I even watch the first one.  Honestly it’s like witnessing the aftermath of a bad car accident…you don’t want to look but you can’t help yourself.

 2. I love Chipilo.  That’s fried banana strips that are sprinkled with salt and they are crunchy like chips. In one word: heaven.  Very soon I will be doing a post about the food here because well, because it is fantastic and definitely deserves its own post!
Salty, toasty banana goodness.
3. Customer service is pretty bad here.  Not quite sure why that is, because the people here are especially kind, friendly, and welcoming.  But it just is, especially the service at restaurants and stores.  And don’t even get me started about respecting pedestrians.  Here it’s “hurry up and cross the street or else.” It’s very New York in that sense. J
4. 1 Bolivian dollar = about 7 United States Dollars.  For the sake of not having to type it all out every time, I will abbreviate Bolivian dollars as “Bs” and United States Dollars as USD.
5. Gyms here are more expensive than back home.  And you pay by “disciplines.”  You can pay to just use the machines, aerobics classes, treadmills, or pay more to use a combination of or all of them.  We’re talking $240 - $280 Bolivian dollars for a decent one – that’s a LOT of money!  We even looked into a new one that is opening up that is $399 Bs. – that’s $57 USD a month!!  And at these gyms there are no kids clubs because, quite frankly, if you can afford a $35 - $60 a month gym then you most likely can also afford to have a live-in housekeeper/nanny (more about this topic later) that will watch the kids while you’re getting your workout on.  Nevertheless, working out is definitely a priority for us and we will be signing up at one of them by the end of this weekend.  I can guarantee it won’t be the $60 a month one; I am wayyyy to frugal for that!  J 
6. Pandora doesn’t work here. Please believe me when I say I was devastated when I discovered that.  If you know me then you know that I listen to music way more than I watch television and Pandora was my favorite (and most used) app on my phone.  The app won’t work on my phone, and not even on the computer can I access it.  One day I was working on my resume and thought I would put on some nice, soothing music to work to.  When I went to the website the only thing that popped up was a very polite “we don’t work in Bolivia yet” note.  It was a very sad day.  That was three weeks ago and I still haven’t fully recovered. Music feeds my soul.
7. Running is kicking my arse.  I have just started back after almost a year of not having run and it is reaaaaally hard.  It’s hard for many reasons but honestly, I just need to suck it up and keep at it. 
She's feeling a lot better after my run than I am.
I’m going running tonight, for the fifth time in the last week and a half.  There is a 5K this weekend and it’s for a good cause – to help bring awareness to and fight diabetes – and we are going to run it.  Definitely won’t be my best time or a PR but it is time to get my feet wet and get back in it.  Plus, I’m itching for that pre-race excitement you feel before a race and for the satisfaction and accomplishment you feel when you finish.  It’s been far too long.

What are some of your tangents today?

Monday, November 4, 2013

It's been a great month, there's no comparison, and everything comes in a bag

Yesterday marked one month to the day since we arrived in Bolivia.  After having officially been a resident of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia for one month, I have much to talk about!  Over the next few posts I want to talk about some observations I have made since living here.  I think the easiest way to do it, so as to attempt to cover as much as I can, is to do it in list form and then to go more in-depth as it occurs to me.  I don’t want to miss anything and I want to get it all out before I forget!!!  In my absence I seem to have gotten kind of rusty with this blogging thing and it’s going to take me a hot second to get back into the swing of things.  I’ll be back to jotting notes and taking pictures everywhere we go in no time!  The truth is that I have missed blogging, and have sincerely wanting to go back to it since the day I stopped.  However, the last fifteen months have been one roller coaster of a ride (that’s a whole other show, as Oprah would say…more on this later), and life never permitted me the kind of time commitment it would need. Nevertheless, I promised myself (and my friends) that I would start blogging again once we moved here.  I’m doing it in part to document our adventures while starting our new life in a new continent and in part to allow my friends and family to keep up with what we are up to.

My first impression of Bolivia is definitely a positive one!  I LOVE it here!  I love my beloved United States of America and while I absolutely loved living in Houston, the only thing I genuinely, truly miss with all of my heart is the people I left behind: my Mom, my friends and my family.  I especially miss this lady…I love you, Mom! 
Mom and I.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are certainly other aspects about the motherland that I am going to miss as well.  I miss the creature comforts, the overabundance of EVERYTHING, the clean streets, and the excellent customer service at restaurants.

Before I continue,* turns down the music* I want to take a second to talk about something a little more serious. A disclaimer, if you will.  I do not, and I repeat DO NOT, want this blog to turn into a “Bolivia vs. USA” thing.  I want to make that clear from the start!  Obviously I will be comparing life here to life in the USA as part of the sharing of my adventures but I don’t want this to turn into any kind of competition.  If I share experiences while living here it is strictly for entertainment purposes.  What I don’t want this to turn into is a “it’s better here than there or better there than here” thing.  I enjoyed living in the United States, and it will always be my home.  Period.  End of story.  But I see absolutely no reason why I cant fully embrace and enjoy living here as well, and sharing my stories as I go along.

Now, with that being said, let the fun begin. *cranks the music back up*

La familia: this is what I live for. :)

Back to what I was saying.

One of the first things that made me want to start blogging again is the fact that everything here comes in a bag.  The most random things are bagged here!!  Ever since we got here and I first started noticing, it has become my personal mission to seek out as many random things that come in a bag as possible.  The mission is going well up to this point.  I’ve discovered many things that are sold in a bag so far.  Everything from mayonnaise to milk to salsa (which, incidentally, is not called salsa here – that is the Mexican in me talking – but is called “yahua” instead) to yogurt is sold in a bag here – even Coca Cola!  I’ll never forget the first night we were here we went to Fidalga, one of the main grocery stores here, and I saw, for the first time ever, mayonnaise in a bag. 


I thought it was the coolest thing!  That is, until we went to the dairy aisle and I saw the milk in a bag.  They don’t sell milk in plastic gallon jugs like they do in the states, or even in cartons like Mexico – although they have those here too – here, it is bought/sold primarily in bags.  And it comes in all flavors: plain, low-fat, chocolate, strawberry, banana, peach.  And the flavored milk tastes like a milk and fruit smoothie, not like milk with sugary, artificial strawberry flavoring like the one we have back home.  And don’t even get me started on the drinkable yogurt, which is very popular here…and which comes in tiny bags perfect for kids’ lunchboxes.  It’s like the Bolivian version of a juice box; it’s like Capri Suns or Sunny Delight or Kool-Aide…only healthier.


One night while still in our first week here, our oldest daughter came home from having walked to the little neighborhood store with her friends.  In her hand she had a little sandwich bag halfway filled with coca cola with a straw sticking out.  It was so funny to see her drinking a soft drink out of a bag!  What a genius use of a sandwich bag!  

Now, if I walk into a bar and get served a stiff drink in a to-go bag then I will consider my mission complete.  Until then, the search continues…

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Hi everyone!  After a lonnnnnnnng break...much longer than intended…I am back.  No need to worry, I am fine.  Better than fine, actually!  In the last year and three months since I stopped blogging, I have still been running around hungry.  Okay, okay, I must admit, I’ve been doing a whole lot more hungry and not as much running.  To make a long story short, during my absence, I ran around hungry at school, ran around hungrier while pregnant, ran around hungry enough for two after having the baby, and am now running around hungry in Bolivia.  Yep, you read correctly, Bolivia.  My husband and I recently moved our little family to the South American country where my husband is originally from.

Man, do we have a lot of catching up to do!!

It is my hope that you haven’t completely given up on me and that you will continue reading.  I have so much to show and tell you!!  I promise to not disappear for such a long period of time again.  It is also my hope that, from this point forward, I can provide you an entertaining glimpse into my life as I RUN AROUND HUNGRY…IN BOLIVIA.


Please stay tuned!!