Monday, July 27, 2009

Machu Picchu Adventure

We got into Cusco at 4:00 and were in hurry up mode from the get go. We got a van from the airport to the hostal, unloaded our stuff, and got back in the van to drive to the train station. The train station is an hour and a half away and we were supposed to be there at 6:30 for a 7:00 train. Our driver told us it would be no problem. About fifteen minutes into the ride he pulls over and tells us he has to wait a momentito (a little moment) for the mom of this kid that was chilling in the van with us. Twenty minutes later she shows up and by this point everyone is nervous that we will miss the train to Aguas Calientes. We pull up to Ollanta (the city with the train station) at 6:47 and are driver lets us out and says the station is a five minute walk down the hill. We took off running and it ended up being a five minute run. The train was boarding when we got to the gate and we had barely been sitting five minutes before the train was moving.

When we arrived to Aguas Calientes we bought our tickets to enter the ruins and then tried to find a hostal. Since it is the high season every hostal was booked. We found a hostal where we could sleep on matresses on the floor. The seven of us slept on three twin beds on the floor of a hostal lobby with about 15 other people. At 3:45 we 'got up' and went to wait in line for the bus. Unfortunately we had not bought our bus tickets yet and many other people got in line before us because they had their tickets. We got to Maccu Pichu at 6:30 but it was too late to get in line for the Waynu Picchu climb. We walked all around the ruins and there were very few other tourists up there because they were all in line for the other hike. Our group returned at 11 because we were so hungry and did not bring food up with us. We went back and atte and had to kill a lot of time in Aguas Calientes. After lunch we went on an hour hike down the railroad tracks and then turned around and came back. It was 1 am by the time we got back to our hostal in Cusco. The trip was quite an adventure and we were rushing or wasting time for most of the weekend. Tomorrow I am going to see some ruins in Cusco and Wednesday I am going to go on a mountain bike tour of the Sacred Valley. Thursday back to Lima and Saturday back to Chapel Hill!!!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Paperwork and Week in Lima

We spent a couple days this week going to the Ministry of Education and wrapping up the internship. We had to tabulate and fill out mountains of paperwork and then had the rest of the time to relax in Lima. I got a week long membership to Gold´s Gym and was able to work out well all week which was good. I met up with the people from Escuelab who are working with OLPC and told them what I found in the field. Today we leave for Cusco and when I come back to Lima I will spend a day with the Escuelab people and then back to Chapel Hill!

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Crazy Ending in Paucartambo

Monday was crazy at our new school and the teachers just wanted us to teach their class. That afternoon we had another English class but nobody showed up which was disappointing. Tuesday Marilu had arrived and went to school with Max, Sonia, and I. The director talked to us about nothing for about a half hour and then a teacher came and told me I should go to third grade. I waited to follow her and we found out that the teachers were on strike in all of Paucartambo. They were sitting in a room next door to us while all the students ran around wild. They were scheduled to strike Tuesday and Wednesday and then vacation for the students had been moved up to Thursday. We had a meeting with all the teachers and tried to schedule workshops through the week to work with the teachers and the computers. We were met with blank or angry stares. According to Marilu, with the Ministry of Education, the vacation is just for the kids and the teachers are supposed to stay and work. It was obvious that these teachers had not planned to stay and work and did not want to. We scheduled a meeting with the mayor on Wednesday to discuss our stay and what we would do for the next week. It was decided that there was not anything for us to do since nobody wanted to work and plans were made to return to Lima on Thursday. All day Thursday was spent travelling and Friday we went to the Ministry to report back to the higher ups and fill out and turn in paper work about the experience.

Max, William, and I went to a concert on Friday night by La Mente. It was an awesome concert and we stayed out all night. Max and I ‘woke up’ at 5:45 to get to the bus station and caught a bus at 7:30 to Ica. We arrived in Ica at 12 and the guy at Cruz Del Sur (the bus station) hooked us up. He took us to a hotel in Huacachina, ten minutes from Ica, where there is a little desert oasis. The place was sweet and the hotel was really nice with good pillows and hot water. We ate lunch at a small joint and then went on a dune buggy tour to go sandboarding. We sat in the front of the dune buggy and the ride was awesome. The buggy was tearing up and down the dunes and we stopped to go sandboarding on 3 different hills. We went down on our stomachs, head first. On the second hill Max and I were the champions because we went the farthest of everyone. It was an awesome experience. When we got back to the hotel we showered and put our feet in the pool. We then walked around the lake oasis and found a nice pizzeria restaurant where we had an amazing meal. Pepperoni appetizer, supreme pizza with tomato sauce (most pizzas here do not have sauce) and ice cream for desert which was massive! It was a great day and we were exhausted so we both slept well.

We got up early on Sunday to catch a two hour bus to Nazca where upon arrival we were rushed to the airport to catch our flight over the Nazca lines. We went up on a 6 passenger Cessna plane and made some crazy bank turns to see 12 of the lines from both the right and left sides of the plane. After the plane ride we ate lunch and went on a tour of aqueducts, a little hike to see some lines, and some Inca ruins. The aqueducts were built approximately 2000 years ago by the Nazca people and the Inca ruins about 500 years ago during the Inca Empire. We then took a long bus back to Lima and got in late last night. Now it’s time to try and find somewhere to volunteer this week here in Lima.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

More Pictures

My second school, 34026 Aquimarca

Playing soccer with some little kid randomly in the street in Aquimarca. I do not know what happened to the bottom of the picture but at least something loaded.

I was really happy to have ice cream in Huancayo. We all thought it was 2 soles but when you payed 2 soles you actually got two cones not just two scoops. I did not mind though!

I have many more but the internet is too slow...

Sports Week and Oxapampa

Our second week in school was a little hectic. Wednesday and Thursday were sports competitions in Huallamayo with multiple schools. At my school only second and third grade had class. I went to third grade both days and made progress with that class and the teacher which was nice. All of the other grades returned on Friday but we had high school sports championships at our school that day so it was still a little hectic. I worked with the fifth graders but there was no power in the school so they could not charge the computers. We used grabar to conduct interviews. The children interviewed me and Alli and we interviewed them as well. They then took photos with us and we showed them how to put the picture into escribir and write a story about the picture. The stories were hilarious. They went something like this. "I am here with Rebecca in Aquimarca. Rebecca came here from the United States. She is teaching me everything about the laptop. Alli smiles a lot and so does Rebecca. They are tall and have big noses. Rebecca sings songs, dances, and plays soccer with us..." I was laughing so hard. I am going to go back and get a copy of all the kids documents.

Yesterday we took a very uncomfortable 3 hour taxi to Oxapampa. Oxapampa is a really cool town in the Andes with German decent. The Germans settled here in the 1800's and there is still a lot of German influence although they almost all speak spanish. We went to a German pub last night where the locals were all speaking Spanish but sang a couple old German drinking songs, it was pretty cool. The people are also much lighter skinned then the Peruvians we have seen in other parts of Peru. Oxapampa is about 1800 meters high so it is much lower and therefore warmer than Paucartambo. It is more like the jungle with mountains in the background. We took a tour today to a river where we hiked up to an awesome waterfall. We went under the waterfall and the water was soooo cold that I got a brain freeze just from the water hitting my head. We then hiked up the side of the canyon to the top of the waterfall and continued hiking to many cool little bridges. When we returned we ate lunch at a typical Oxapampa restaurant where we had grilled meet including chicken, pig, chorizo, and lamb. It was amazing. I also found, which might be the highlight of the day, an ice cream bar with peanut butter and chocolate filling.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Independence Day Abroad

It has been awhile since I updated my blog... This week Man Bui and his son Brian came to Paucartambo to spend the week with us. They arrived late Monday night with some help from Alex. Tuesday we all started at our second school. Alex and William came down with the stomach bug on Tuesday. Alex was supposed to be my partner and Alli, William, and Sonia were going to a different school. Man and Brian were going to Sonia's school so Alli came with me to my school so I would not be alone on the first day. She liked the school and did not want to deal with switching schools after going for a day, so Alex and Alli switched groups.

My new school, Agropecuario #34026, is a cute small school located in Auquimarca, a small village up in the mountains. The director and vice-director are awesome. The teachers are good without the laptops but the skills with the laptops range from very basic to competent. The first day Alli and I both went to first grade since they were not really prepared for us and there are not very many teachers. The first grade teacher did not know much about the computers at all and wanted us to teach the class. We also got fed a breakfast and lunch that were not appetizing at the school. We had to down them both but we decided to try and avoid being fed the rest of the days. After school, at 1, the director walked us to his house where we ate lunch with him and took a picture with him and his wife. He is a really nice guy and hilarious. Wednesday I worked with the fourth grade and the teacher was not great with the computers but the kids had obviously used them at school and in the evenings at their house. This was obvious by their knowledge and the dirt on their mouse. Some kids had USB's with music files and to transfer documents to print. There were two kids that were very poorly behaved that slowed down everything we tried to do that day. We tried to organize teacher meetings because we need to help the teachers catch up to the students so they can integrate the computers into the lesson plans but nobody came to the first session and the teachers did not want to meet during recess. Next week we definitely need to have some teacher workshops. We ate at a different person's house for lunch on Wednesday with some of the teachers and then returned to the school to play volleyball with the kids while we waited for our car.

Thursday I was with the fifth graders and my teacher and students were great. Man and Brian came with Alli and I on Thursday. Man came to my class and was a big hit. He also took lots of great pictures.. My teacher used calculator and taught math patterns to the kids. She integrated the computers very well. She did not just tell them to use the XO's but instead wrote on the board, asked the kids questions, had them try to figure the pattern out with calculator, and then had someone go up to the board and write the answer. After that she read them a story about a hairless chicken and they listened and afterward answered comprehension questions in escribir. It was then almost time for lunch and the teacher asked me about the programs on the computer that she did not know very well, Scratch and Pippy. These are programming activities that are pretty difficult for teachers and students to understand. I showed her a simple example on Scratch and she was amazed. I also showed her all the examples on Pippy. She thought the Fibinocci sequence was cool and wanted to use it to make her own number patterns for the kids. I typed up the code to get it to work and will show her next time what to type and what to change to manipulate the pattern. I also taught Scratch which was difficult but the kids and teacher can learn by exploring.

Friday there were no classes because the teachers had a big convention in the Municipality. We went into Paucartambo and walked around, exchanged money, and bought yummy frozen yogurt. We went to the market to buy fruit and meat for our BBQ today for the 4th. There were lots of animal parts hanging from the little booths and it was pretty gross. We bought two whole chickens and some hot dogs. We tried to get fireworks but they only had massive fireworks so we are about to go into Huallamayo right now to look for some and get spices to cook with.

Friday night we celebrated Max's 21st birthday by surprising hm with an amazing chocolate and dulce de leche cake. We hung out, played ping pong, watched a hilarious movie the ten commandments, and walked to a park in Huallamayo. It was a fun night. I just got back from Huallayamo where we bought spices to cook the food with and a pack of fireworks. We are going to cookout and play soccer this afternoon with fireworks tonight. The Fourth of July is going to turn out to be pretty sweet here in Huallayamo, Peru. The lady that owns the store closest to our camp offered to take us fishing with her and her child tomorrow. By fishing she means wading in the water and throwing nets. I am so excited!

Last night was so fun!!! We cooked out on the grill and the food was amazing. The chicken was so juicy and the hot dogs were great. We hung out and had a great time. A bunch of the workers came down and we played a bunch of 4 v 4 soccer. Max and I were on a team with 3 other guys and we won 3 games and tied 2 games. We did not let in a goal (Max played some good goalie in the last 4 games). I scored one goal and assisted two. We had bought big bottle rockets in Huallamayo that we lit one off every time someone scored. The workers at the camp came out with a cake that they decorated like the American flag. It was amazing. The red stripes and the blue square were dyed coconut and the border and inside filling was dulce de leche (which is kind of like caramel). We had a very American night for the 4th of July. This morning I got up early to eat breakfast and watch tennis with Max.

Working with the fifth graders on Scratch.
The gang on Fathers day at the cookout.  (Max was sick)

Alli and I with the director of our current school and his wife at his house where we ate lunch the first day

The creek leading to the waterfall

Me and the Kids at my first school, Agroindustrial

Me at the school in Lima where we went for a day.  The guys to the right played soccer with me with the giant medicine ball.