Sunday, October 2, 2011

Volunteers, The Sacred Valley, and Frustration

September 17-22, 2011

Saturday one of the volunteer houses hosted a themed get together for all the volunteers in town. I did not realize how many people there were in this little community living and volunteering here. I met people from Chile, Lima, Boston, California, and yes, Grand Rapids! Noah lives at the house we were at and owns his own motorcycle. We got to talking and it turns out he was in a bit of an accident with a stray dog and his bike needed some work. We set up a time on Sunday to work on it and go for a ride.

Sunday I headed over, but he was still asleep. I decided to start exploring the mountains around town. Down one dirt road I knew was Pallata and Huilloc, two communities I have already worked in. I wondered what lay beyond. I set off through the long, twisting, single-lane dirt road. I watched my GPS as I climbed from 9,600 feet in town to up over 13,000 feet. The few people in the tiny towns I passed through stared a little, then continued on with herding sheep hauling bamboo. I stopped a few times to sit and enjoy the peace of the Andes. It was a great ride.

I got back into town and Noah and I worked on his bike. It was fun helping him fix up the bike, and I felt like the expert for once. Two years ago I knew nothing about working on a motorcycle, now I have a pretty good idea of how everything works and how to fix it. We then met Orin and Alex for lunch. We decided a good Sunday afternoon activity would be to climb up the 2,000 feet to the highest ruins next to town. If you look almost straight up, there is a small observation tower the Incas built to help protect the town. The highest I have ever gone is 1,000 feet up, so I was pretty excited.

The hike was amazing. It doesn’t even look like there would be a trail, but as you keep going up it is there. It felt like we were going almost straight up at certain points. But as we neared the top, the view was unbelievable. I could see so much of the river that the entire 2 ½ hour raft trip we did with Rustic was visible all at once. The wind really picks up in the valley every afternoon, and it was strong. It cracks me up that I have lived near flat fields my whole life and now I am completely surrounded by gorgeous hikes literally right next to my home.

Alex and I overlooking the city

2000 feet down to town

Incan outpost on top of the mountain

The Sacred Valley

Sunday night was a big one at the dorm. Bianca returned to Ollantaytambo to live and stay for awhile. The girls were really excited and there was a lot of energy. I, of course, continued with the monster fraction assignment that the girls got last Wednesday. We had until Tuesday to get it done.

Monday night we finished our epic fraction assignment. I was proud of how hard the girls worked on it, and they learned a lot. On Tuesdays the first year girls have writing class, and afterwards I asked if they had any homework. They showed me a take home math exam that was covered with complicated square root problems. What?! Didn’t we just spend a week on fractions, and now they are learning about square roots? I really have to get into a classroom and observe what is going on. The assignments just seem to be so random. Four of the problems they had to find the square root of a 7 to 9 digit number by HAND. I have never done this in my life, every calculator I have ever seen has a square root button. I had to google how to do it and it took me about a half hour to figure it out. At least this time the girls actually had some examples of this in their notebooks, so it followed what they were doing in class.

Dina and I doing flashcards

Bianca and Nohemi simplifying roots

The rest of the week went well, and once again it is amazing to volunteer here.

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