Well, I left tonight for the meeting of the lay brothers of the Bolivian Franciscan province. Left, that is, in that I walked over to the Cochabamba bus terminal. This afternoon, when I went over to buy my ticket, they weren’t selling bus tickets to La Paz because the road to La Paz was blocked. When I arrived at the terminal this evening, no buses were leaving for either La Paz or Santa Cruz. There were new bloqueos on the road to Santa Cruz.
Bloqueos can happen in Bolivia due to natural causes, such as a landslide, but the more common reason is because some people living along the road have a complaint and stop all traffic on the road to publicize their complaint. I called the one airline operating in Bolivia, but they have no room until tomorrow evening.
The idea of a meeting of the lay brothers is an interesting one. (A lay friar is one who is not ordained a priest or deacon.) In my province in the States, such a meeting would never occur because fully a third or a quarter of the friars are lay. But here, the brothers are typically the porters or the sacristans. I don’t know if brothers weren’t sent to the missions or if they all went back, but there are very few lay brothers among the friars here. Most Bolivian students are destined for the priesthood, unless they can’t make it and then they relegated to being “just brothers”.
For me, coming from a province with many brothers, it is a strange idea — but such is life here, bloqueos and all.