And, I want to celebrate blogging for a year. I love parties, and birthdays, and blogiversaries. I love giving presents (yay!), and I love telling stories. So, I'm going to combine all that into one big contest! (Contests! I love contests! Yay* for competition!)
I love to talk and tell stories. The best stories are those I experienced personally, but only slightly less fantastic are great stories that happened to someone else. So, I have a proposition. Share a story in the comments. Tell your favorite tale of something that has happened to you. Share your high school prank, or your worst date. Talk about something cute your kid said last week. Tell how you had to call the rejected applicants that wanted to rent your condo and were accused of sexism or how you wrecked on your bike while trying to be coolly casual in front of the cutest guy on the football team.
You have one week. The contest closes next Tuesday, the 21st. On Wednesday the 22nd, I'll put all the commenters in a jar and draw two (2!!) winners and send them a present. (It's a homemade present, but I still think you'll like it. And if you don't, you can regift it to someone else who might.)
Bonus points if your story reminds me of a story I love to tell. Oh, wait. EVERY story reminds me of a story I love to tell. Lurkers, this is your chance to come out and admit you read my blog and be rewarded for it. :)
Okay, I'll start us off. This story is directly from an e-mail I sent to family and friends from when John and I were in Bolivia working in an orphanage in 2002. You may have (you probably have) heard me tell this story before, but it's my favorite. Let it be an inspiration to you. (It's long, really long, but yours doesn't have to be.)
Cochabamba again, but this time. . . we ride in style. We are currently in Cochabamba. Chris (John's brother) flew into La Paz from Lima on Wednesday, and after showing him just a few of the wonders of La Paz (especially his favorite place, Dumbo's ice cream), we decided to bring him to Cochabamba. The plan was to leave Friday morning, but we decided at about 10:00 on Thursday night that we would take the overnight bus to give us more time at the temple here. When we got to the bus terminal, there was a line of irate people in front of the only open bus company. The last bus to Cochabamba was sold out, and 20 more people wanted to get on. We debated whether or not to just go home, but a couple of the others ran out onto the loading dock (for lack of a better word) just as the bus was pulling out and hopped on. They told us to do the same, so we did (being dumb gringos), and it was a little surprising to see several empty seats, even after all of us (without tickets) had sat down. The peg leg (no joke) conductor came around and asked us for tickets. We told him we didn't have one, but we paid him for our ticket. He told us that our seats had probably been sold in El Alto (the city just up from La Paz), but "Vamos a accomodar." (We will accommodate you.) We told him we would not take an overnight bus ride standing up. He said we wouldn't have to. When we stopped in El Alto, half an hour later, hordes of people got on the bus, and we realized we were not going to have a seat. We talked to the conductor, and he just kept repeating (almost like a mantra) "Vamos a acomodar." When all the seats were full, and we were still standing in the aisle, we grabbed our luggage and got off the bus, intending to take a combi back to La Paz and try again in the morning. The conductor stopped us and pointed to a mattress that they had put in an empty luggage compartment UNDER THE BUS (dimensions about 4'x3'x8'). Two men had already rolled in and were laying down. They motioned for us to do the same, and we went for it. John laid down first, then me, then Chris, which filled the compartment. One more guy asked if he could get in too "por favor", so he and Chris shared Chris's space, next to the door. We were a little concerned about asphyxiation, but the conductor assured us we would be okay. Since he seemed an honest fellow, (after all, we weren't standing) we believed him. Also, there was a pair of shoes and some food trash up in the rafters, so we realized it had been done before. (Although what happened to the owner of the shoes, I have no idea.) When the ride started, Chris realized there was going to be no lack of air in that compartment, since cold gusts were coming through the crack in the door. Also, the mattress wasn't QUITE big enough for the entire compartment, so he was half on the cold floor. With our knees all bent, and our heads resting on our luggage, pretty soon just about everyone was asleep. John was stretching out his legs on the ceiling, and realized that one of the cables he was pressing against reved the engine. The pipe his other foot was on would move whenever the driver shifted gears. Being a boy, he pushed on the cable a couple time, enjoying his newfound power, and tried to stop the driver from shifting by keeping the pipe from moving. In a moment, the bus stopped, and someone came down and opened our door, yelling "Deja de jugar con el acelerador". (Quit playing with the accelerator.) Chris, half asleep, and thinking that the driver was asking if we needed to go to the bathroom or anything, replied, "Estamos bien. Gracias" (No thanks. We're fine.) The man lying next to John just kind of grunted "Que??" The door shut, and we continued on our way while John giggled to himself. After our halfway bathroom stop, (Tip: Never step in any mud in Bolivia.) one of our fellow passengers convinced the conductor to let him lay in the aisle of the top half of the bus, and the guy who had been sharing with Chris hopped in to take his spot in the middle next to John, which had to be way warmer. We all crunched back in, whereupon I slept very soundly. Poor Chris was so cold that he just shivered through the next 4 hours, and John was kept from sleep by his new neighbor who kept tossing and turning and saying "Nunca mas" (never again) every time he moved. We were delighted to get to Cochabamba, but it was an experience that was worth having once, if only for the story telling value. We have loved the temple and the grounds here again. It's so nice, and the misioneros that work here are incredible. We are going to dinner tonight with one of the couples, and we will head back to La Paz overnight again, but we will buy our tickets in advance this time. (It's not an experience worth having twice, even if it has great story telling value.) We will be starting our flight home on the 31st, and we will be back home on the 2nd. Crazy! We only have 5 more days at the orphanage, but we'll be sending one more weekly update. Hope everyone is doing well! Love, Em and John
*Should it be "yea for competition"? That just seems so scriptural. And "yeah" is not really the pronunciation I'm looking for.