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On the Bolivian Hour

Live from El Alto, where we are currently rushing to write a Yak on a crowded bus, this is Nicole, Anna, Cody, and Harry.

We could attribute our failure to complete this Yak on time to ‘la hora boliviana’ (the “Bolivian hour”). Bolivians are notorious for being late and, although we are from a culture that is generally on time, we have discovered that ‘la hora boliviana’ is surprisingly contagious. Our punctuality and tendency to live by the clock is slowly becoming a thing of the past. This morning, we found ourselves fifteen minutes late to El Teatro Trono where we were supposed to meet promptly at 8:30 am to start the day. At 8:25 am, instead of leaving the house, we witnessed our sweet homestay mother, Amalia, literally running to get us bread for breakfast, as well as Cody having just stepped into the shower. Luckily, it didn’t matter, as we are not the only ones succumbing to ‘la hora boliviana’.

In our homestay, an example of ‘la hora boliviana’ would be when Jacky, Amalia’s daughter, calls us down for a dinner that hasn’t been made yet. While we wait for dinner, we chat with Jacky and her husband, Alex, or play with their four month old baby, Alejandro. The practice of ‘la hora boliviana’ forces us to let go of our rigid perception of productivity. As a result, instead of counting seconds, minutes, and hours, anxious to get on to the next part of the day, we are able to enjoy spending quality time with our homestay family.

‘La hora boliviana’ has made the four days we have spent with our homestay family unique to say the least. From discussing the Bolivian president Evo Morales to watching scary movies, we have engaged with them as if we had known them all of our lives. If only ‘la hora boliviana’ could postpone our departure with them.