Those specific moments are probably further off for me than I’d like to think, but recently, I’ve had a few that felt like arrivals. In mid-June, I was told several times that my Spanish is “perfect.” Edwin told me for the third time last week that I don’t count as a gringa. But I think a moment that was particularly and personally an arrival for me was after getting back to La Paz last Thursday.
The Tito’s guys were having a party, and I came along with some other friends. For some unknown reason, half way through the night we all ended up wearing costumes, composed of random clothing items lying around. Jack ended up wearing a nightgown and a mouse mask. One woman dressed herself as a bride, another as a bumble bee. But the hostess found the real treasure for me: a pollera. I took off my ripped jeans wore it with my plain black t shirt and my converse shoes. As I started dividing my hair into a center part, Andres started telling me I needed trenzas. “Ya estoy intentando hacerlas.” I talked to Edwin about how one attempts to sit in a pollera. I told Gonz it wasn’t poofy enough and he told me that “real” cholas wear five at a time (I think that was a bit of an exaggeration). In the ultimate statement of poetic irony, Luis--who knows nothing about my research--suggested I start wrestling as a cholita luchadora. But my favorite response was Gonz looking up from his drink and shouting “Mira, es cholita punk!” Yes, I had arrived.