This week we celebrated Dia del Mar, Day of the Sea: a big march with drums and sampeños (Andean pipes), and speeches about how Bolivians need to regain access to the sea. Bolivia lost its access to the sea 132 years ago, to Chile. How to get it back? Not much clarity. Just this: get a better education, don’t take drugs. Make our country strong. What was striking was the sad sense of yearning for the sea by those in this landlocked, beautiful country. Children performed poems they had written about the sea, politicians made rousing speeches. The marching bands had practiced in the streets for weeks. All were tinged with the sadness of a small landlocked country with little economic power. As beautiful as the Bolivian mountains are, the geography of this country keeps it poor. I loved seeing the multicolored indigenous flag beside the traditional national flag of Bolivia though.
The other day, one of the smaller children had an assignment to make waves on the ocean, as a writing exercise. The teacher had made a wavy line, one higher segment, moving down to a lower one, repeating across the page. The student was to continue the format of the waves. But neither she nor her father understood how to make a wave shape. They have never seen the sea.