Since things have become relatively stable around here, we’ve decided to update the house blog once a month instead of once a week. We’ve had lots of exciting activities and really great folks in the house this past month. Wally is still going on strong. We had a nice Sunday at Las Palmas again this month and hitchhiked back to town in a pick up truck. Petra, a former guest, helped to start turning our growing collection of large plastic water bottles into a trash can. She also spearheaded our first Scavenger Hunt/Language Exchange — a new twist on the old language exchange — which pairs foreigners and locals and has them race to visit interesting places around town. The last stop is Condor Trekkers, where Randall (the owner) provided everyone lemonade and presented the winners with a bottle of Bolivian wine. Thanks to all the stalls, shops, and so on that participated in that exciting day!
We also began offering Sunday dinners! So far, we’ve had Vietnamese sandwiches, pastel de quinoa, veggie lasagna, and pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and cream sauce for our main plates. Amanda’s friends, Dave and Janette, have also come returned to Sucre and will be offering kickboxing and meditation classes beginning next week! Janette is currently working on building a fire pit for the back yard to use on cold winter nights — perfect for making s’mores! Dave has started in the garden, sifting compost, digging out rocks, laying the beds, and so on. Soon, we’ll have lots of veggies planted so we can pick food straight from the garden for house dinners and breakfast!
With so many wine bottles in the house, we need more hands to help us cut and sand them down to turn into drinking glasses. It’s a perfect opportunity for a workshop in which folks can come learn how to recycle bottles that would otherwise end up in a landfill! At the end, each participant will take home their very own drinking glasses! A French guest recently proposed a workshop on French language and culture and will be offering a tongue-in-cheek crash course on French greetings and expressions, etc. It will include French food and end with a French film, which we will project on the wall in the workshop room this coming Friday!
Hayley and Agustina have been wonderful volunteers, working an extra load since Julia left to the countryside to plant her crops for the year. We expected Julia to return after about three weeks, but it’s been more than a month now. Without electricity and a means of reaching her, we’ve simply had to wait to discuss scheduling for the rest of the year. Unfortunately, due to the responsibilities of her household and the need to take care of her kids and husband, she will be leaving us or at least cutting her hours in order to ensure that her kids stay in school, etc. We might be bringing in Raymunda for more days or hiring Julia’s cousin who lives closer to town to replace or complement Julia.
We recently said goodbye to Hayley, who hopes to return as a guest in the near future! Agustina will remain with us until the December holidays, after which she will return to Argentina to spend time with her family and then move back to Bolivia in order to begin her trail period with us to potentially become a permanent member of the Beehive family! Hopefully, she will be able to replace Amanda as the resident foreigner in the house. We’re also beginning a trial period with Sonia, a Bolivian tour agent who often comes to the house recruiting folks for tours to the countryside around Sucre. They’re both extremely hard workers and have an eye for details, so we really hope that things work out so with all of us working together. More partners in this project means that we also have more ability to develop more programs and work on improving and expanding things as the new year begins!
This past month has also been a busy one with lots of folks coming in and out. A former long-term guest of ours suggested The Beehive for tour groups from her native country, Belgium. We had our first trail group of 12 adults over one weekend. Everything went relatively smoothly despite Julia’s absence, as many guests stepped up to assist with breakfast during those very busy days. We will have to see if continuing to host them makes sense for us as well as them. We may not be best equipped to manage groups at this time due to shortage of staff, and being a small house, large groups are able to change the atmosphere entirely. So, we’ll be looking at this on a case-by-case basis at this point.
We’ve recently returned back to #2 on Tripadvisor due to some disgruntled former guests (who destroyed our property and plumbing, among other things) who have written at least five separate negative reviews of their stay here since leaving two months ago. Although the majority have been pulled down due to inaccurate and outrageous content, the pair continue their attempts to mislead future guests, while also obsessively stalking our staff members online. While at #1, however, we began receiving guests that have created lots of problems for us and our other guests and have made our work much more difficult and unpleasant than it needs to be. We generally find that most of our guests are thoughtful and caring. Those who stay a while tend to feel sad to leave. This is not the case when the house is filled with people who are hoping for a party hostel with no rules, unfortunately. Hopefully, flying under the radar again will mean that those who really appreciate what we have to offer will still be able to find us, while discouraging the entrance of folks who are just looking for a nice place to party and crash.
In other sad news, the past month has also brought us our first petty theft. Colluding with local police, thieves from the local jail are released to the streets to look for money before they return to the jail and split their earnings with jail keepers and so on. One of these thieves came to the house well-dressed and looking like a travel agent of some kind. He casually stole a guest’s purse and then slipped out the front door. Luckily, the guest had travel insurance and everyone else’s valuables were locked up at the time. We maintain an open door policy in order to encourage our neighbors to be curious about our project and attend our workshops, etc. We do not wish for people to feel criminalized for their curiosity.
Lastly, since so many people come to us looking for a place to stay long-term while they study Spanish, we also started selling Spanish language materials (workbooks and cheat sheets) of all kinds. Affordable and very portable, these materials are a great addition to classwork or individual study!