Dad and I have had a great time exploring Santa Cruz and celebrating Christmas together. I am so thankful that he was able to come down and share my Bolivian life with me.
My students loved playing basketball with my dad! On the last day of school before break, the whole class wanted to play basketball. So we split the class up into two teams, and we played for forty minutes! Dad and I had a lot of fun coaching the kids and playing with them. My students asked when dad was coming back so we could do it again!
Dad took a trip out to the campo area of this region, where there are lots of big ranches and farms. The Evangelical Christian University is developing one thousand acres into a cattle ranch for investment and educational purposes. Jim Herriman, the man heading it up, is a college acquaintance of my dad's. They are building fences and preparing to plant some fields in various types of grasses. Dad said he could spend a lot of time out there. Jim needs to build a headquarters building, a corral, literally kilometers of five-wire cattle fence, an irrigation system, plus get the pastures ready for planting. He is trying to have cattle on the ranch by next June.
Dad enjoyed sharing some of Bolivia's cultural foods! He had a cheese empanada, a salteña, and pacumuto. We had to make a stop at Papa John's so he would know it tastes the same as back home!
Dad and I were able to go see "Star Wars: El Despertar de la Fuerza" in theaters! Dad holds the record of seeing all seven Star Wars movies in theaters, and I have seen the last four now in theaters. The movie was in English, with Spanish subtitles. We loved it and it was great to keep the tradition going!
We ventured on over to the zoo so dad could see some of the animals from South America. We had a lot of fun in the bird aviary checking out the toucans and macaws. Kristin went with us and we had to check out the big slide!
After the zoo, we went to the Central Plaza to do some shopping and to see the Christmas lights. The Catholic Church was open so we climbed the bell tower. It was quite windy up at the top lookout, but the view was beautiful. When we got up to clock tower, we arrived just in time to hear the bells go off. It was very loud! Seeing the Christmas decorations and the lights was a perfect way to end the day!
I took dad to Guembe, which is a resort that has a butterfly garden and giant bird aviary. We saw some beautiful butterflies and more colorful birds. Dad said it felt like walking into the Jurassic Park pterodactyl aviary when we went into the bird enclosure. It was fun to take it all in again, but this time from dad's perspective. While he was checking out one of the little parrots, the parrot also got curious and would have flown right into dad if he wouldn't have ducked. We got a good laugh out of it!
Our final adventure took us up to the mountains in Samaipata. It was a perfect day to hike out to the waterfalls and to see El Fuerte, the Incan fort. I couldn't have asked for a better day with my dad!
I am so thankful for the time dad and I were able to spend together here in Bolivia! I loved being his tour guide and sharing this experience with him. This is definitely going to be a Christmas to remember!