Upon leaving work last Friday evening, my boss Gustavo informed me there was a bolsita (little bag) waiting for me, a staff Christmas gift. I was amazed to discover that the `little bag` was absolutely enormous and too heavy for me to lift, let alone carry home. I had to make the 5 minute journey by car and ask two people to help haul it up the stairs to my room. I unzipped the bag to take a peek, noticing a panettone and a box of tea on top and then hurried out for the evening. The next morning was gloriously sunny and I headed out early to explore one of La Paz`s many markets. This meant I didn`t get around to opening the bag until mid-afternoon on Saturday.
Marvelling at the generous gift, I savoured unpacking everything from butter to rice to vegetable oil. As I did so, I detected a distinctly unpleasant smell emanating from the depths of the bag. Suspecting some fruit had got squashed and was perhaps beginning to rot, I cautiously continued, discovering to my dismay that fluid had leaked onto the bags of sugar and rice. Pondering the existence of a Bolivian equivalent of durian (a South East Asian strong-smelling fruit – the odour of which I recently heard described as `hot vomit` – though my mum will disagree), I finally uncovered a knotted plastic bag, dripping fluid and stinking terribly. Upon opening it, I was astounded to encounter the source of the stench: a chicken. An unsealed, uncooked chicken. Plucked, with its head still attached and its innards and severed feet tucked neatly alongside it in the bag.
To say I was not expecting an uncooked chicken as a Christmas gift, would be an understatement. I have since discovered that it is customary in the workplace (though apparently the chickens tend to be frozen, in sealed packages or come with some kind of warning). Hindsight may be everything, but the experience certainly provided me with some Christmas cheer.
The contents of my Christmas bolsita were as follows:
– 1 x chicken
– 1 x packet of salted butter
– 1 x 5kg bag of sugar
– 1 x 5kg bag of rice
– 1 x 2L bottle of vegetable oil
– 1 x tin of condensed milk
– 1 x tin of peaches
– 1 x packet of pasta
– 1 x bottle of hand soap
– 1 x bottle of dish-washing liquid
– 1 x box of cookies
– 1 x panettone
– 1 x bar of turrón (nougat)
– 1 x bag of strawberry sweets
– 1 x bottle of Bolivian wine
– 1 x bumper box of cinnamon and clove tea
– 3 x fruit-flavoured yoghurt drinks
– 1 x bottle of fruit juice
– 1 x packet of orange-flavoured jelly mix
Happy Holidays, dear readers! x