Reina and her two nieces shared a bench with me in Copacabana’s central plaza, where we chatted for hours about the state of the world and of Bolivia. Reina is an amazing dancer and lover of foreign culture (judging by her collection of friends in La Paz, ranging from Cuban to Swiss immigrants). A conversationalist, with an average words per minute rate to rival even me, she made my last afternoon in Bolivia a much more entertaining one.
How has being Bolivian left its mark on you?
I don’t feel Bolivian and people often tell me that I don’t seem or look like I’m from here. I don’t identify much with the country, but of course there are things I enjoy about it…its folklore is probably what I like most.
What would your 13-year-old self think about you if they met you?
Ohh, I didn’t have a very good childhood when I was around 13 years old. My parents worked a lot, so we weren’t a very close-knit family. My father hit us and sometimes isolated us emotionally. Today, I’m doing well with everything. Our family’s doing better and I’m planning to study. My 13-year-old self would be pleased to see that, I think.
If you could meet your 13-year-old self, what would you say to her?
I’d tell her to always have a project in mind, to always have challenges and to commit to making them happen. Like, “…in five years, I’m going to be X.” I’d also tell her that there’s no benefit in doing things for the sole purpose of “doing them.” And, not to be overly sentimental. Also, not to give yourself fully as later, you might pay for it. You can’t always trust people.
How do you make decisions?
When I was younger, I was so indecisive! I think you have to see the pros and cons when making decisions. It’s not good to make them like this (clicks), you have to identify the good and bad in everything, even if it’s difficult to do it.
Do you think you’re on the right path?
Ohh, I don’t feel good, I think I’ve made some wrong choices. I’m quite disappointed by life at the moment. Sometimes, you work so hard and it’s just not worth it. I don’t know; looking for work and the ideal partner…people say that a partner’s not the most important thing, but in the end it is. We do have God’s love too, but it’s not the same.
How do you feel when you think about your future?
Recently, I had an accident. I think that until you go through something difficult, it’s hard to see the world as it is.
Something that I wanted to do, but never did was to study nutrition. I’m going to begin soon. I think you have to do what you like and want to do…I’m going to begin and be the best in the course!
What fascinates you about Bolivia?
I guess what I like is the difference in the departamentos (states). The sectors in Bolivia are really quite different; as well as the people and how they treat you. The customs dances and folklore too are wonderful, particularly in the country. To be perfectly honest, I don’t really like the people from the cities here!
Nothing – I think people are generally egoistic and not that nice.
That I always think about people. I’m really fair, I should have studied law!
What scares you about Bolivia?
I don’t trust it that much, let’s say. I don’t trust anything: Nothing is sure here. There’s no safety in any area of our society, and least in the workforce. Here, if you don’t belong ideologically to the same political party, they might fire you…or not even hire you in the first place.
That people aren’t honest. That they can be false, not loyal or betray you so easily.
I’m really moody! And I’m a huge perfectionist (I think that’s a defect, wouldn’t you say?)