So, this morning I went out to get some bread and milk only to return to the house 5 minutes later…and see that about 60 or 70 soldiers, from what I am assuming is the national army, are busy flaying their machetes around weeding the small strip of park across the street. I didn’t think much of it and returned home to finish breakfast.
Our victuals over, the morning gaped before us…and the seemingly insurmountable task of weeding out a lot of knee-high grass from a very, and I mean very, overgrown garden. I peeped out the front gate and looked enviously at the machetes flying in the air reducing the tall grass just 50m away into fluff. Seeing that one of the comandantes was standing around supervising the work, I decided to go over and ask to borrow two machetes so that Veronika and I could do some damage in our garden too.
Ignoring the stares, I marched over to one of the friendlier looking comandantes and made my request. He nodded, shouted a few names (Rodriguez! Fernandez! Sanchez!), and several soldiers stood up from their work and came over. I couldn’t believe my eyes…he wasn’t willing to lend me the tools but he was willing to come with 4 of his men to do the work for us! Gladly showing him into the garden, I explained what to weed and what to leave and watched the miracle unfold – as our green space transformed from jungle to something resembling a garden in less than 30 minutes. I explained the work to the comandante, and he barked the orders to his soldiers. We even had a pleasant chat about basil, called albaca here, and it’s uses and medicinal properties.
They then had to leave and continue their work elsewhere, refusing any offers of water or coffee, although one of the soldiers did get to clean up a cut on his finger and I was able to offer him some antiseptic to put on it as well.
On our own we had only to spread out the piles of freshly cut weeds on the pavement to dry and to later use as mulch, we created a new compost pile for the old half-dried weeds…and sat back with a warm cup of cocoa to admire a job well done!
Still now, just a few hours after playing host to a faction of the Bolivian army…I can barely believe the events of this morning. Hilarious? Incredible? … or simply another adventure to add to the South American chronicles!