Biblioworks Wk 6 - The new Library Opens in Tomina

Trip Start Dec 06, 2010
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Trip End Mar 31, 2011


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Where I stayed
Hotel Buena Vista

Flag of Bolivia  , Chuquisaca,
Sunday, February 13, 2011

On the evening of Valentine's Day, we had lots of time to reflect on the proceedings of the past two days as we traveled home from Tomina, in a bus that had been so well used that we sat on seats that were in the shape of potholes. They probably held us in our seats better than the seat belts here.
We were returning home from the inauguration of a new library in a small village about 140 km away from Sucre. The opening ceremonies were pretty exciting for all the school children, teachers and parents and for us, also.

We left Sucre on Sunday morning, not really knowing if Tomina's librarian and/or library committee had been able to figure out how to set up a library. If you have neverworked in a library before, it would be quite the challenge - the tables, chairs, shelves, books, charts, games, posters, etc. By lunch we arrived in Tomina, and saw that the outside sign and a dedication plaque had been hung, an attractive overhang over the entrance had been added and two planters were made, with a cactus in each one.  Looking in the window, we saw that the library was full of boxes and little had been done inside. Eight of us were there to help and we had one afternoon to do it in as the library opening was the next day at 8 a.m. We got right to work!

Chris and Pat and Maritza's nephew, Marcelo, worked on the jobs that required tools - putting up the 3 curtain rods and curtains, fastening a white board to the wall, making a chart display rack, wiring the room for lights and the computer, moving furniture, replacing the glass in a broken window. Gail and I, and the Biblioworks' ladies, Roxana and Maritza, as well as the librarian, worked on emptying box after box of books, colour coding them according to subject and putting them on shelves. Games went in one area and posters and charts went in another. Matt supervised and Maritza's 2 year old son had fun playing. Once we got rid of all the garbage and cleaned up the room, we started decorating it with balloons, programs and ribbons. By the time we finished, it was a beautiful and functional room. 

But we weren't finished. We had to advertise the event. This is where the condor and parachute came in handy. Pat suited himself up and paraded through the village, scaring babies, delighting little boys and girls and bringing a smile to moms and dads as he flew down the streets, screeching. Invitations were handed out to everyone who came out to see what all the fuss was about. Meanwhile, Chris and I parked ourselves in front of the church and played parachute games with the kids. Anyone in the park got an invitation also.

Finally, when we felt that we were ready for the big day, we decided to celebrate a little by going out to a local 'diner' for a chicken, rice, potato and beer dinner before heading back to our hotel for a good sleep.

Monday morning, after being awakened by the two noisy parrots in the garden, we ate a filling breakfast with lots of fruits taken right out of the hotel's garden (grapes, peaches, apples) and headed to the library for last minute preparations. Matt still had to write his speech so we all tried hard not to bother him too much. He was teased a bit, though.

'Bolivians' and 'on time' don't really belong in the same sentence. The invitation said 8 a.m. but that meant that the door should be opened and some music should be playing, loudly. The older students from the local school came first with their teachers and we pulled out the parachute to keep them busy. The condor strutted around and photos were taken of kids' faces in the cactus that we had made. The the elementary kids came with their teachers and parents. The town counselors and library committee brought in a sound system and set up tables and chairs for the ceremony. Programs were handing out. The street in front of the library became pretty active, especially when the dogs, pigs and other creatures started coming. 

By 10 a.m., all of us were ready to go, except for one problem - the mayor hadn't arrived. Hmmm
Should the ceremony go ahead? The kids had been standing patiently in their lines, waiting and waiting. Finally, after several phone calls, Matt made executive decision to find someone to fill in for the mayor and get on with the program. It was now around 10:30 a.m.

Everyone stood at attention and sang the Bolivian national anthem while a local elementary school teacher played the accompaniment on an accordion.

Then the speeches started. We have noticed that Bolivians love to give speeches! So, there was the welcome speech given by the Director of the Library Committee, then Matt welcomed and thanked everyone for all of their hard work. We listened to an oration by a young teenager, followed by another speech by a local dignitary and then a reading by a local author, from his book. A skit about using the library followed and then more speeches from a representative from the parents' committee and a student from the high school. Flowery wreaths were placed, with thanks, around the necks of all the people who had helped with setting up the library. Then ... with dust flying, the mayor arrived with his entourage in his big, black truck. After an exchange of a flowery wreath, the mayor cut the ribbon to the doorway of the library and Matt pulled the paper off the new library plaque while everyone clapped. A small pottery urn of local chicha (an alcoholic corn drink) was dropped in the entrance of the library, a ritual similar to the christening of a ship. The Director of Education said closing words, champagne was passed to all the adults and library tours were available. Kids got balloons on sticks and by then it was time for lunch so the crowd dispersed slowly. Everyone was pretty happy as you can imagine!

Lunch was next on the agenda. Biblioworks sponsored a nice meal in the municipal building for the teachers, committee members and members of the Town Council. Chicken, potatoes, rice and a salad. The highlight was a local drink that was served out of buckets. Pretty strong stuff! Matt and Pat won our award for being the most sociable when it came to drinking with the locals! Red noses and a little trouble walking on the cobblestones warranted an afternoon nap by Pat and a little hike with a big bottle of water for Matt.  

The afternoon was beautiful and warm so Chris, Roxana, Matt and I went for a short hike to the river which was just outside of the town. Kids were throwing discusses and javelins in their gym classes and all around, sheep, goats, horses, pigs, dogs and bulls were doing their thing. It was a peaceful and  pleasant way to end the day in Tomina after all the busy-ness of the day before and festivities of the morning.

At 6 p.m., we caught our bus back to Sucre. After getting comfortable in our 'potholes', we settled down to well-deserved naps after privately reviewing the wonderful events of the day in Tomina. The four hours back to the city passed quickly and soon we were back in our comfy beds at the Santa Cecelia Inn. Tomina, Bolivia, has a library. Thanks Biblioworks!




 
 

 

 
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