Remembering Yolanda Salinas Hess

I was surprised this morning to see an obituary in the Post-Dispatch for Yolanda Salinas Hess. I wanted to share a little bit about her brief, but bright, impact on my life.
It started one morning late in Oct. 2002, when my dad told me to read an article in the Post-Dispatch about a new Hispanic bookstore that was opening in St. Ann. He said it had mentioned something about selling Bolivian music.

I read the story and headed over to “Librería Cultura Hispana” to see what sorts of Bolivian things they might have. I didn’t count on meeting a live, Bolivian person.

Continue reading “Remembering Yolanda Salinas Hess”

We lost Tio Adonai

Today, Yoli’s Tio Adonai died.

Though he had been struggling with some health problems for a long time, this turn for the worse happened very suddenly. We had just begun talking about how it might be possible to go down to Bolivia sooner than planned in order to see him.

But it wasn’t to be. God took him home early.

Unfortunately, it seems certain Yoli will not travel to Bolivia. His burial will take place tomorrow. Deaths and burials are not handled the same down there as they are here. When someone dies, they don’t wait around — mostly because they aren’t able to. It’s a tropical climate and almost summertime right now.

Tio Adonai was a very special man, and it’s almost too sad for me to even write. We will miss him. We are sorry he didn’t have the chance to meet Josie.

If you have time, please pray for Yoli’s family, and especially Adonai’s wife Miriam. This is a devastating loss.

The mysterious Portuguese recipe

Speaking of recipes, Yoli has some recipes she’s been saving for almost 20 years. Many of them are hand-written or cut-and-pasted into a little notebook.

Last night she decided to try a recipe that she had wanted to make for a long time. The recipe was written in Portuguese, and it was called “Torta de Chocolate,” although it really looked more like a pie than a cake. She had found the recipe on the street back in Bolivia and had always wondered how it might taste. Now was her chance to find out.

(And yes, Yoli knows enough Portuguese to be able to prepare this recipe)

But there are always some monkeys to throw wrenches into things. In this case, the monkeys were named Jadzia, Ludi, and Josie.

All the girls wanted to be in the kitchen watching Yoli as she cooked. Ludi was standing on our step ladder, Jadzia brought in a stepstool from the bathroom, and Josie was just crawling and doing whatever.

When Yoli went to fetch a pan from the basement, Ludi sprang into action. She took Yoli’s good vanilla, and poured all of it into the mixture for the torta’s filling. The cap fell to the floor, where Josie eagerly picked it up and began licking it. Jadzia the eager spectator didn’t bother to call for help.

Suffice it to say that Yoli threw all three out of the kitchen, cleaned the mess, and continued cooking.

I got to taste the torta last night. It was very mousse-pie-like, but the crust was like a very firm cake rather than a pie crust. Very tasty, but it had enough vanilla flavor that it almost had an alcohol taste.

Pastries, popping, parents, peppers, and persistence

At long last, Yoli made some perfect salteñas.

A few days ago we invited a friend over for a dinner of various Bolivian delicacies. On the menu were: salteñas, cuñapes, and mate to drink.

(Check out some pics from the dinner)

Over the years Yoli has had trouble baking salteñas. They are pretty difficult to pull off.

Continue reading “Pastries, popping, parents, peppers, and persistence”

A little word from Don Hector

The following was written by Yoli’s dad, Hector Zegarra Barron (in Spanish of course):

Visit, Vacation and Second Honeymoon

Thanks to my dear son-in-law Joshua and my firstborn daughter Yolange Z. de Renaud.

After a lot of paper work done by my daughter Lucila and a trip to the US Embassy in La Paz, Bolivia, we got the long-awaited visa to be able to travel to this country in North America. We were finally able to depart in a beautiful American Airlines airplane, on Tuesday, June 16, 2009 at 9:15 a.m.

We arrived to Miami at 1 p.m. After Passport Control and Customs we had some problems finding the right gate. After solving those inconveniences and a 45 minute delay, we departed to St. Louis, Missouri at 9 p.m. and arrived to St. Louis around 11 p.m. Josh and Yolange were waiting for us. We got to their home and we rested from our trip.

First of all, I want to tell you about the change that my wife and I experienced: the U.S. is so advanced compared to third world countries in every way, cultural, political, economical, and above all technology.

To see modern roads, well organized traffic on the highways, orderly urban traffic, modern supermarkets, schools, universities, institutes; or the technological constructions like bridges, buildings, stadiums like the “Cardinals”, the Arch next to the beautiful Mississippi, zoos, botanical garden, museums, the Meramec Caverns, in summer, just what I saw in the State of Missouri — and I forgot the St. Louis Post Dispatch, where my son-in-law works, and the Anheuser Busch Brewery, car factories.

It would take too long to mention so many beautiful things we experienced, like the kind and hospitable treatment from people, especially from my dear daughter Yolange; my granddaughters Jadzia, Ludi, and Josie; my dear son-in-law Josh, without whom I would not be in this beautiful country; also the love from his parents Anita and Joe; and their son Justin, his wife and beautiful children. Neither do I want to forget the big and beautiful Grace Church; a country that believes in God will prosper.

Well, we are in the final days of our staying in this beautiful country and the good thing we have is the honor, my beloved wife and I, to spend the 4th of July here, the Independence of the U.S.A.

Getting ready for visitantes

We’ve spent the last week slowly making progress toward getting ready for the arrival of Yoli’s parents.

A few things we’ve accomplished:

  • clean sun room
  • make curtain rods and hang curtains in sun room
  • make tentative deal for a minivan

Of course we’ve been doing other stuff, too. Today we hit the farmer’s market and bought some peaches (and soy candles). Later I took Jadzia to the library for a presentation by the Butterfly House about ladybugs, which was very good.

Yoli also wrote up a 4-page step-by-step guide for her parents on how to traverse the airports and airplanes from Santa Cruz to Miami to St. Louis. We hope they make it with no problems. Thankfully speaking Spanish is not an obstacle in Miami, and in St. Louis all they have to do is follow the crowd to the baggage carousel.

Tuesday night will be here before we know it. Now all we have to do is clean the rest of the house.

Coming to America

Today was the culmination of a lot of work Yoli and I and her family have been doing in recent months: Yoli’s parents received tourist visas so that they can come to America!

This is not a particularly easy process for Bolivians. It requires paperwork, making an appointment online with the embassy, and traveling to La Paz. That trip is no trifle: it is an extremely long bus ride, and it is high in the altiplano. Since Yoli’s parents are older and because they live in Santa Cruz in the lowlands, we were very worried about altitude sickness.

They left Monday from Santa Cruz, and traveled first by bus to Cochabamba. Cochabamba is higher than Santa Cruz, but not so high as La Paz. They spent a day there sightseeing, in order to help their bodies acclimatize before continuing on.

They had to wake up early this morning (Thursday) in order to make sure they were at the embassy before the 8 a.m. appointment. I understand that Yoli’s dad was on his knees praying much of the night! We all had a very real fear that they would be denied the visa. After all, when it comes to the embassy, you are guilty of wanting to become an illegal immigrant unless you can prove otherwise. We have heard many horror stories.

When they got to the embassy at 7 a.m., there were already 10 people in front of them in line. Ah, the benefits of age: the embassy folks moved Yoli’s parents to the front of the line. Apparently they were treated well and not asked very many questions during the interview.

Anyway, this is exciting news. We aren’t 100% sure when the visas will take effect, but we should know in a few days. Our assumption is that we will be able to have Yoli’s parents visit beginning some time in June.

Comings and goings

On the way out: We begin our day-long journey to Bolivia at 6:10 a.m. this morning. We should arrive there at 10 p.m. (Bolivia time). That could make for a long day, so please keep us in your prayers. While we are in Bolivia, we will be posting updates and photos to our Bolivia weblog NOT here, so please check there frequently!

On the way in: The Renaud Empire continues its expansion. We are pleased to announce that we are expecting our third child, who will arrive in January!

Birthday crush

We had a mini-celebration for Ludi’s first birthday earlier this week. She turned one on Wednesday.

Unfortunately, late July and so far in August has been a time of hustle and bustle. We were in Houston the two days before Wednesday, staying overnight with our friends the Zanders so that we could do a bunch of paperwork at the Bolivian consulate in that city. Fortunately we completed everything we needed to, and now we are set for our trip to Bolivia at the end of August.

So Wednesday arrived and we knew we wanted to do something for Ludi, since it was her day. We had already settled on a trip to the Whistle Stop, but I thought it would also be fun to go to the Botanical Garden first.

It had been raining, so that scared away a lot people and we got a great parking spot. (This accords well with my “Six Flags Strategy”: Plan your trips to Six Flags on rainy days, that way the lines are short and you get to ride the rides more times.)

Continue reading “Birthday crush”

Back from the east

Well, our mission in Washington D.C. was about 85% accomplished.

Yoli was able to get a new Bolivian ID card (with her married name), but not a new passport. The Bolivian consulate in Washington was out of them. It’s difficult for me to understand how a consulate can run out of passports, but such is life. Instead, they gave Yoli a 6-month extension on her current passport, which will enable us to travel to Bolivia in April. But we’ll still have to go again to a consulate (probably Chicago) to get the passport sometime after the 6 months are up.