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.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Día del Campesino y Más

Wednesday was a giant party in our town. There was no school and everyone got together to celebrate the day of the farmer. Every school marched in a big parade and I marched alongside with my school, Agroindustrial. We also marched with the municipality people and some big flag of Peru. We were introduced again as being young professionals in education from the University of Massachusetts. There were lots of street vendors selling everything from clothes made out of sheep and chicken on a stick (which was quite good with homemade aji, I probably had 4 of them). The best was when Alli and Max had to march with their school. They were given costumes (the same ones that the teachers were wearing) and they had to partake in the dance down the main street in front of everyone in all of the surrounding towns. It was pretty awesome. Little girls would run up to Max later that week and say, "you´re the one that danced!"

Thursday was a mess at school. The festival put a wrench in the pattern of the week and many students and even teachers did not show up on Thursday. We went to first, second, and third grade to try and reevaluate the teachers but it was not enough time for a fair evaluation. That evening I worked out (ran shuttles and kicked the ball against a wall that is meant for some kind of outdoor squash game). Unfortunately, it started raining and I wiped out pretty bad running one of my shuttles and my right hip is still a little sore when I lay on that side.

Friday was also a mess at school because it was our last day at Agroindustrial and also there was a basketball tournament going on so nobody was in class they were just running around watching. I helped one of the sixth grade classrooms for awhile and then we said our goodbyes (kind of, we did not really tell the kids we were leaving because they would have freaked out). We then ate lunch and grabbed a taxi to the closest big town (a rough ride) and then grabbed the bus to Huancayo. There were not seats at first so I sat in the aisle of the bus until a seat opened up. We met up with the Junin group (John, Olivia, etc.) and went to a nice restaurant for dinner. We were all pretty tired and went to bed after chilling in the hotel.

This morning we went to Coqui´s for brunch. The Junin group went there last weekend so they knew it was good. They had a big menu and decent burgers with real ketchup. The best part was the cold, yummy, amazing milkshakes!!! I had a chocalate milkshake that was soooo good that I am getting at least two more before I leave to Paucartambo where there is no real ice cream. We then went to Plaza Vea (the big grocery store/mall) where I stocked up on more hand sanatizer, rubbing alcohol (to clean the computers), pretzels, real ketchup, and best of all, peanut butter! I also bought indoor soccer shoes that are really comfortable so I can wear them to school and play soccer at recess without changing. I have been wearing my turf shoes to school but it is very uncomfortable to walk/play soccer on cement in turf shoes. I also got a card adapter at radioshack for my camera so hopefully there will be more pictures in the future. That is all for now.


Here are some random pictures from our arrival in Paucartambo. The pictures of the building is where we are living. The picture of the 6 of us is from our first day when we met with the mayor and for some reason had to sit in front of a bunch of teachers and other people during a meeting. It was slightly awkward. Hopefully there will be many more pictures to come. I just bought an adapter so I can get my computers onto Alli´s computer and then maybe (big maybe) upload them to my blog. The internet here in Huancayo is much faster than our internet in Paucartambo but Alli has only been able to load a few of her pictures up yet.

Huancayo Reunion

Right now I am in the lobby of our hotel in Huancayo. We took an 1.5 hour taxi ride and then caught a bus for 5 hours to Huancayo to meet up with the Junin group. I will add more later about these last few days!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Beginning of Second Week in Paucartambo

Thursday was a pretty regular day at school. I cannot remember which days I did what for recess anymore. After school on Thursday we had another meeting with the teachers and then we played a game of soccer against them. It was the volunteers verse the teachers and school staff. I scored the first two goals and had a hat trick for the game. Team XO won 6 to 2. It was really fun and lots of the kids were watching and cheering for our team. The teachers want a rematch. I feel kind of bad because I schooled the vice principal by playing it through his legs. The kids were giving him a hard time after that.

Thank goodness it is Friday! Friday was a good day. I was in the fourth grade and worked with a good teacher. In the evening we met with the teachers and taught them how to use the internet and google to search for things. They do not have internet in the schools but there are internet cafes around. After that we returned to the camp, ate dinner, and took a nap until Max and Alli returned from their parents meeting. When they returned we hung out and played ping pong and then walked into the small town of Huallamayo to get away from the light to see the southern stars. While we were there the boys made a sketch beer purchase from Cesar at his house. We then returned and hung out with Paulo the head of the food at the camp. Friday night I had a stomach bug and was up for a good amount of the night in pain or in the bathroom but by Saturday at noon I felt a lot better. By the time our whole group woke up and had lunch it was probably 2:00. We rallied the troops and hiked down the river to the hydro-electric plant. Before we got to the damn we saw the bottom of a waterfall and decided to explore. We climbed up almost to the top and it was so beautiful. We then continued to the damn which was also really cool and we just explored the mountains. There were herds of sheep and pigs and all sorts of animals just chilling on or near the road. We returned to the camp and I did my circuit workout and then we had dinner and called it an early night.

Sunday was Father's Day and there was a big fiesta planned at the camp. Lunch was prepared on the grill and after lunch there was a big tournament of soccer and volleyball. The volunteers made a team, the sodexo staff (food workers) had a team (with matching jackets), the guards made a team, and the people staying/working at the camp made a team. The food was great and our first game was volleyball. It was best 2 our of 3 games and we played them close in the first game but they had us in the second game so we lost in volleyball. We then had to play the winners of the first soccer game which was rough. We lost pretty bad but the locals were very impressed that a girl could play. It was a fun day and we wrapped it up watching The Girl Next Door in our cabin.

Today it was hard to get up but my day at school was great. My teacher was really prepared and very excited to use the computers. The 5th graders were old enough to be good with the computer but still young enough to be kids and listen to me. We used the wikipedia application to research the Incas and the discovering of the Americas. Then I showed them how to do cube, fourth, fifth, etc. roots with the calculator application. After lunch we explored with Scratch (a basic programming application) and the kids loved it. At recess I played with the fifth graders and they all wanted to play soccer but there were lots of people on both courts (their version of a field) and no organization so we went to a grassy spot and I taught them how to play head-catch, a favorite game of little kids at soccer camps in the states. The kids loved the game and you could see them thinking and trying so hard to head it or catch it when it was their turn. We were done at 2 but then had to wait around in the town for a parent meeting at 6:30. The meeting started at 6:30 Peruvian time, in other words 7. Sonia did most of the talking since she is fluent in Spanish but I gave my ideas either in Spanish or in English to her and she translated. It is much easier to understand than to speak Spanish (except some people have crazy Andes accents). We finally got back to the camp at 9 and I wanted to run but it was very dark outside and slightly drizzling.

Tomorrow we will be done no later than 5 and I am going to run no matter what. I have been working out and playing some soccer but I really feel like I need to do something aerobic right now! Tomorrow I will be with the sixth graders (students in both 6A ad 6B have been begging me to go to their class but I can only go to one). Wednesday is a festival so there is no class but I will be marching in the parade with my school. They have toprobably a 20ish person band at the school (drums and brass) that was practicing today for the march so I might see if I can play a drum or something cool instead of just march. This weekend we are planning on road tripping to Huancayo to meet up with the other volunteers in Junin. It is supposedly a 6 hour trip but there is no school on Monday so we have a 3 day weekend. Also Huancayo is a bigger city so there will be an ATM (crucial) and other items possibly available such as peanut butter.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Arrival in Paucartambo and more...

Finally I have time and internet to update my blog (actually no internet right now but tomorrow/Thursday I will post it). It has been a crazy couple of days and we did a lot of things.

Friday night we went to Oscar's house (Oscar is the head of technology in the Department of Education) for dinner. We all took a bus there and it was supposed to take about 45 minutes but it took about 2 and a half hours. Our bus driver had no idea where he was going, made about 8 u-turns, and asked many people on the street for directions. We got there eventually and it was definitely worth the wait. There was lots of great food waiting for us and the food and drinks did not stop coming. After that we went out in Miraflores to dance and then returned to the hotel.

Saturday was a day full of shopping for last minute necessities. I bought an extra duffel bag for the extra things I needed, two more soccer balls (I brought one from home as well), a water bottle, and a power strip. That night there was a giant Formula 1 party sponsored by Red Bull in our hotel. Everyone in the hotel told us that there was a guest list but that we could get in since we were staying at the hotel. It turned out we could not get in but we saw lights coming from the building next to ours on the 8th floor. We decided to try and get in. They let us walk right in and didn't charge a cover fee or anything. There were a lot of interesting people there so we did not stick out as badly being American. Unfortunately the Red Bull party was playing music until 6am and it was shaking my room.

I woke up Sunday morning at 9:00 after only about 4 hours of sleep. I got my laundry back from the hotel and finished the last minute packing. We left for the bus station at 11:30 and our bus left shortly after 12. The bus was a double decker with the nicer seats on the bottom and the coach seats on the second level. We sat in the second level but it was still really nice. The seats reclined a lot and there was a nice footrest. The scenery was beautiful as we drove through the mountains and climbed altitude. We stopped at a town for lunch that was at approximately 3,000 meters above sea level. We then arrived at a small town at about 7 and hopped into two taxis. The taxi ride was two hours on a dirt/rock/non-existent road. We went up for the first hour and then down for the second hour crossing over the peak. Paucartambo was better than anyone had imagined. The town square was beautiful and the people were friendly and very interested in us. We ate and drove to where we are staying which is about 25 minutes outside of Paucartambo in a small village named Haullamayo. Our home for the next six weeks is a engineering camp that is guarded by armed military personal and large fences with barbed wire. There is a dining room with meals included (and the meals have all been great so far) and in that same building there is a ping pong, pool, and two foosball (sp?) tables. We then went to our rooms and we are all in the same building right next to the main hall. Everyone got their own room with a comfy bed and our own bathroom! The shower has hot water and I forgot to mention someone comes and cleans the room every day, makes the bed, and does any laundry that we have!!! And it keeps getting better... There is a soccer field, a wall to kick against, and a basketball court in the complex. There is also a building that has a sauna and a small gym so I can do my workouts. Sunday was a late night and Monday was a fun but long day.

Monday morning we went to the Municipality building and met the mayor and a lot of teachers from the area. We walked into a room full of people and had to sit in chairs in front of the room. That was long and awkward but we ate lunch after that and then had a great afternoon. For lunch we went to a trucha farm (trout) where the raise trout and kill them in front of you and then serve ceviche and grilled trout. It was very good. After lunch we drove up the side of the mountain for an awesome panoramic view of the town and mountains. We then drove down a little bit and hiked up a trail. The hike was really fun but we could definitely tell we were at more than 7000 feet above sea level. On our way back down we stopped at some Incan ruins and walked around there for a while. We then went to every place that the Municipality owns (oh yea they run the trout farm too). We went to the stables where they were raising cows for milk and giving baby cows to families so they could produce their own milk. The next stop was a tour of a brand new water production factory and juice/jam factory. We got some nice samples there and then went to a nearby store/factory that sold the products from the water plant and also made milk products. They made different fruit flavored yogurt in clear bags and then froze it and sold them as popsicles. I had a frozen strawberry one and it was amazing. We finally returned to the compound, ate dinner, played some ping-pong, and went to bed.

Tuesday was an early morning and our first day in our first school. For the next two weeks, Sonia, William, and I are in a big school very close to the main plaza. The director or principal of the school is very nice and excited about using the laptops and improving his school. The school has primero y segundario which is basically k-12. There are 18 teachers in the school and many students. We spend one day in a classroom and observe the teacher, fix broken laptops, and help try to incorporate the laptop into lesson plans and academic activities. School starts at 8 and ends at 1. We then get until 3 for lunch and work with the teachers from 3-6. The first day, all three of us were with the primer grado (first grade). I was with primer grado B. I was introduced as professora Rebecca and from then on I had little kids saying "Professora, professora" and "Rebecca, Rebecca, ven aquí". It was hard at times understanding the spanish that the kids spoke because they mumbled or used slang and it was also hard conveying my ideas but the day went more smoothly than I had expected. During recess I started playing fútbol with the boys and was juggling and they were all very impressed. I juggled with my head and one kid was taking a picture of me juggling. I then ran around dribbling the ball and had some 25 or 30 kids chasing me. It was really fun but not very long because I got out to recess late. After those 10 minutes of soccer I was kind of a celebrity with the 3rd through 6th grade boys. In the evening we worked with the teachers and each taught a small group of teachers how to use the mesh network (network between XO laptops) to use activities together. I had my whole group using the chat program and one of the guys said he wished that I would stay in Paucartambo forever. It is nice being appreciated and knowing that we are helping the community. After dinner at the compound/camp/hotel where we are staying I hit the gym and then did abs in the sauna. It was a great first day but very long and tiring.

Today (finally) was fun as well. Today the three of us in my school were all in different second grade classrooms. My teacher was very good and she tried to use the laptops. If she knew how to use the programs better and planned the programs more in advance she would have been amazing. I helped her as much as I could with the programs and that is what we are doing with the teachers in the afternoons. For recess today I walked out of the classroom and was asked by lots of people if I wanted to jugar fútbol. We had a decent game going on and lots of people were watching. After I played for a few minutes 4 girls came up to me and asked if they could play. Of course I said they could and they were actually really good. They said they played together on a team. Here in Peru it is not normal for girls to play soccer. If a girl wants to play a sport they play volleyball. Girl's soccer here is just starting to grow. They did not play at all until I started playing. We then moved from the asphalt field to a grassy area and continued playing. I took a break after that and played a little basketball and then got attacked by little girls screaming "cargarme" (carry me). I made the mistake of picking up one little girl and then had to pick up every little girl. By the end it was definitely an arm workout. We worked with the teachers in the afternoon and helped fix their computers and teach them how to fix common problems that occur with the XO's. We found out that every night at 7 there is indoor soccer in the town's coliseum so Gabriel and I are going to go play tomorrow. Since my school is so close to the main part of the city, when we were walking around as a group in the afternoon random kids would yell from down the street, "Rebecca, hola Rebecca". It was fun to have kids saying hi to me just around the town. There are so many of them that it is hard to remember their names but I am trying.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Fútbol Con Los Chicos!

Gran Bolivar Hotel, Lima

Today was really fun besides the getting up at 6 part. We took a bus to a small school outside of Lima. When we got there the looks on the kids faces were priceless. The kids all got there and lined up for attendance and morning activities. They welcomed us with a few songs and we attempted to sing one of the songs with them. While we were all standing there across from the kids a young girl was walking in a little late, saw the twenty of us standing there, turned around and ran. The kids were so cute. We broke up into groups and went into the classrooms. There were 3 teachers and a director of the school. Each classroom had two grades in it, so first and second were together, third and fourth, and fifth and sixth. My group went to the third and fourth grade room. It was very difficult to understand the kids because they would mumble and it can be hard to understand kids even when they are speaking English. Some of the students speak Quechua (a local dialect) as their main language at home which also made communicating with them difficult. We worked with the kids on the XO's in the morning and at 10:30 they got a nice long break for lunch and recess. A bunch of the boys were playing with a big blue ball similar to a small medicine ball. After a little while of watching I stepped in and kicked the ball. I waited awhile because it is not really custom for girls to play soccer here in Peru. I think the kids were surprised at first when I started to play but then saw that I could play (which also surprised them) and they were totally cool with it. I chipped the ball over a kids head and another kid headed it in my general direction so of course I headed it back (this was a spur of the moment decision that I later regretted since the ball was quite dirty). This started an obsession with heading the ball so we continued to try and keep the ball in the air with our heads for as long as possible. It turned into a soccer dodgeball game but it was really fun. We then went back to the classroom until about 12:30 when school gets out. I worked with two of my soccer buddies on the computer and one of them taught me basic phrases in Quechua but I forgot them already because the language is pretty different from Spanish. The experience was eye-opening and I learned a lot in just one day. I am really excited to get to work in one school for 3 weeks and be in one area for 6 weeks and actually get to know the people in the town. We also talked to the teachers and the parents to listen to the problems that exist in the community or with the XO's so we could plan for things we might encounter in our placements.

Wow this post is ridiculously long already...
We then went and ate a real lunch at 3 after leaving the school. I ordered Tallarines Soltado con Pollo. Soltado is a common dish here. Tallarines meant I had it with spaghetti and not with rice and con Pollo means with chicken. The meal cost 10 soles ($3.33) and the plate had about 5 portions on it. The plate came out and heads turned. Ben took a picture of it before I started eating because it was that much food. It was really good and I ate a lot of it. John was amazed that I was actually full and Ben tried to get me to finish it by claiming the food defeated me. I told him I hated 'losing' but that he could finish it if he wanted to which he gladly accepted. We then tried to drive the bus back to the hotel but there were protests going on about the situation in the jungle in the North. We had to take lots of back roads and wait awhile for the protest to pass, We got back to the hotel and there were cops lined up along the whole plaza and some were dressed in full riot gear. The plaza was full of people chanting and a person speaking with a powerful amplifier. It was pretty intense but not violent at all so we just walked around it on the edge of the plaza to our hotel and by now the protest is over. We are going to go to Barranco tonight which is the nice place with restaurants and clubs near the beach and we might even have sushi! Sonia (who is originally from Peru) said she knows some good sushi restaurants. I originally looked at my watch wrong and thought today was the 12th so we were planning on going out for my birthday. Turns out tomorrow is my birthday so we will go out tomorrow for that but we are probably still going to the Barranco place tonight.

An Interesting Night...

Gran Bolivar Hotel, Lima

Yesterday was a long but fun day. We messed around with laptop programs in the morning and then had a lunch break. We went to a nice cafe place next to the Plaza Mayor and I had picante mariscos con arroz (spicy seafood with rice) which was really good. We did more things with the XO laptop in the afternoon and practiced designing a community project. We then went to a bar to watch the Lima verse Columbia World Cup qualifier game. Unfortunately Columbia won 1-0. After the game, John and I left to meet up with Abby at Jockey Plaza (the giant mall place). We went to the grocery store first and I picked up a pair of shoes for 25 dollars and John and I got breakfast for today. We then went to the Cinema and saw Angels and Demons in English with Spanish subtitles. It was a good movie and very intense. Walking out of the movie we felt like we were in the states until we got out to the hallway and everyone was speaking Spanish again. We then had quite an adventure getting home. The one time we wanted to take a street taxi there were not any. Then we saw a lot of taxis but we did not trust any of them. We decided to take a sketchy bus home but we had to transfer to a different bus. The bus took a different route than normal and left us on an unknown place on our destination street. We did not know what to do so we walked down the street a little and then did not want to be lost so we took a creepy taxi but luckily we were closer than we thought but we made it back to Abby's house safely.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

More Information!!

Escuelab, Peru

This morning at training we actually got to mess around on the computers which was awesome. We worked with the word processing software and the memory software. My group going to Paucartambo, Pasco was pulled out to talk to someone who is kind of in charge of education in the region. He told us that we will be staying in a city where there are camps set up for international engineers when they came to work on the hydroelectric plant there. He told us that there is phone and internet access in the town. We are not all in the same building but we will be within walking distance which is great. We will leave on Sunday at 9 am by private van to get up to the mountains. Paucartambo is located at 9,534 ft above sea level and the weather is supposedly very nice right now. The head guy told us it is sunny very day compared to the constant clouds we have had in Lima and that the weather is not terribly cold even at night. I am very excited to get out there and start working in the schools and feel like I am helping people!

Day 2 of Training

Gran Bolivar Hotel, Lima

Training was more interesting this morning because it was more interactive. It was still difficult at times to understand and lunch is not until 1 which is really late considering the continental breakfast is some bread and orange juice. Tomorrow, I might order some eggs on the side for 5 soles (about 1.66 US dollars) so I can concentrate past 11. During our lunch break today we went to El Monestario de San Francisco near La Plaza Mayor and went on a cool but creepy tour of los catacumbes. The tunnels ran under most of the monestary and had big pits and bins full of bones. The ceilings were also only about 5'6" high in most parts. Back on the main floor there was a really cool dome that was brought in from Nicaragua back in 1541 when the building was built. There was also a cool library but unfortunately nothing in the monestary was well preserved and the books are all slowly crumbling. The tour was in Spanish and since we were speaking English the guide assumed we did not understand anything, but she was mistaken and most of us understood the conversation she had with another spanish speaking person on the tour about us having no clue what was going on. After the tour we went to a restaurant with hamburguesas or hamburgers. I tried the Mexican burger with guacamole and chips. It was good but the guacamole was a little different and weird and is held to very high standards against my moms homemade guac. We then had training again until 6 and were all exhausted. My roommate took a nap and I forced myself to do my workout. It was not quite as good of a workout as Monday's workout because I was mentally exhausted from 9 hours of listening in Spanish. For dinner we ended up going to a pizza place again because there are mostly touristy places around our hotel and when we ask locals for authentic food they point us to the touristy places. It was good though and pretty cheap. I should go to bed now since it is like 1 in the morning and Thursday we have to be ready at 6 and that night we are all going out for my birthday!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pizza in Peru

Gran Bolivar Hotel, Lima

The second half of training today was long but we got out about an hour early and went and chilled in the hotel lobby/bar. A large group of us then went to dinner at an interesting pizza place. The pizza was very different but still very greasy. It kind of looked and tasted like the crust was lightly fried or something and the sauce was different in an unidentifiable way. We walked around a little bit because we had a large group and were in kind of a nice place. We then made a grocery store stop for beverages and I got ice cream which made my day! I will definitely miss good regular food up in the remote Andes village of Paucartambo but I am excited to go as well. Lima is very chaotic and dirty like any big city so by the end of the week I think I will be excited for some peace in the mountains. I just got back to the hotel but my roommates were with the other group that went to dinner and we couldn't get in contact with them so they are still out. Another girl just came and she is going to Pasco as well.

Monday, June 8, 2009

First Day of Training

Gran Bolivar Hotel, Lima

We had our first morning of training today. It was surprisingly organized and we got a packet with a schedule for the week. The interns all seem pretty cool and the other people going to Pasco are really cool. We have two native speakers a guy and a girl in my group. Every group has at least one fluent person. We all want to know more about where we are going but hopefully they will tell us that soon. We had a good meal today for lunch and are just chilling in the hotel lobby before hading back to training. Supposedly it lasts until 6 tonight. Our training is in a really cool building on the fifth floor called escuelab (you can check it out at I think today is just listening to presentations but I can't wait until we get to actually do things with our XO computers!

El Estado

Gran Bolivar Hotel, Lima

Last night two more guys arrived. John and I were about to go to sleep when Will arrived and shortly after him William arrived. Will was hungry so we all ventured out to El Stadio, a cool soccer bar. We ate and hung out for a while and then came back to the hotel.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Delayed in Miami

Miami Airport

Waking up at 4 this morning was not fun... I got everything in the car and said bye to my dog and headed for the Omaha Airport. During the hour flight to Dallas I attempted to sleep. Dallas had a really nice airport and I had Reese's Puffs with bananas from Cereality. I felt like I was already in Peru, because the main language in the Dallas Airport was Spanish. Then I boarded my flight to Miami and attempted to sleep on that flight as well. I was met at my gate by my friend and travel partner, John Danello. We walked from concourse D to concourse E looking for a Chili's To Go which sounded like a sit down restaurant. Upon arrival in concourse E we quickly realized we never should have left concourse D for food so we walked back. On this walk John got an email from Marilu and Nia saying that his deployment site was canceled and he would now be in a much colder climate than he packed for. This caused some anxiety and internet/iPhone problems in the airport did not help. John is currently working on contacting people. Our flight for Lima leaves in a few hours...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Packing and Preparing

I went on a target run today to get the rest of the essentials before I leave. Got the band-aids, travel toothpaste, and hand sanitizer, but I forgot the sunscreen... Tomorrow night at 6 I am having a farewell dinner with friends at Schezuan Express. 4 more days!