¡O Cochabamba Querida!

I’m back in the city that became my second home 40 years ago. Not only that, but for a few days I’ve been in the same household that I’ve visited so many times.

I came back expecting to feel the absence of Jaime Goytia, who passed away a year ago, but I haven’t felt it here in his house. It still seems he could walk in the door at any moment. I feel warmly embraced and surrounded by his playful spirit, his unmatched generosity and hospitality and his extraordinary sense of service. All of these qualities remain among the people he left behind: his life partner Marina, his adult children and grandchildren who came to pick me up at the airport, and even a new crop of tiny great grandchildren, one of whom (Leo, age 2) lives in the little cabin behind the main house.

Next week I’ll move to a rented room closer to the university, but this week it has been great to spend time with the Goytia family, the folks whose warmth and point of view I’ve returned to time and again throughout my life.

Today it was Marina’s 88th birthday and the house was filled with family (about 25 people strong). We ate picante mixto (tongue and chicken with chuños – dehydrated potatoes – and hot pepper sauce, rice and regular boiled potatoes as well as rice, tomato and onion salad.) The phone started ringing with congratulations starting at 9 am and didn’t let up until the night. Right now (11 pm) there is a karaoke party starting downstairs and I’d better go join in!!!!!!!

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