November 25 to December 2, 2011
Monday was a great day. I started the day by heading over to April’s house to help her move a bed frame. I have all my tools for the motorcycle and she needed a ratchet and wrench to take it apart. After that Max and I headed to the market for the usual arroz con huevos breakfast.
We then got a big group together and headed up to the pool. It was so beautiful, sunny, warm, and refreshing. Oren brought his goggles and I did a few laps. As we lay on the grassy slope on the edge of the pool it was one of those moments where I had to do a double take. There I was at the end of November lying by an outdoor Incan pool surrounded by people from all over the world enjoying hot sunny weather. I was surrounded by ancient ruins, snow capped mountains, and towering aloe plants.
We headed back to April’s for BLT’s and then it was off to the dorm. The girls had another outstanding day on the math program. I am so happy with how hard they work at it. That evening I stayed for dinner and Maria asked me when I was going to leave. This is once again the elephant in the room. I only have a few weeks left before I have to leave. I said somewhere around December 22nd and the girls all made this really weird noise. I didn’t understand, so Maria explained that it means unhappiness. I am not looking forward to that goodbye.
Tuesday was another great moment. The first year girls had communication class with the tutor, and a few of the second year girls had other homework, so we didn’t jump right into math. Nohemi and Maria Elena asked if I wanted to so help them get pine branches for a wreath they had to make for art class. Sure! We crossed the bridge over the river and headed into the fields below the ruins. They kept stopping to pick capuli. It is this little fruit that looks like a tiny apple but has a seed like a cherry. I can’t describe the taste but it is pretty good. We got to a grove of about 5 or 6 trees and climbed to the top. I haven’t climbed trees like that since I was a kid. It was pretty fun. We each had plastic bags and filled them. Finally, Maria Elena climbed a nearby pine tree and cut off a few branches she needed. I sat there on ancient Incan ruins, eating capuli, and watching the sun set over the mountains with the noise of future high school graduates chattering in the background. It was another one of those times where I just had to chuckle. I’ve met so many people down here who have been traveling their whole lives, who have studied at famous prestigious universities, and lived through incredible experiences. I always feel like an outsider, like a small town Midwestern kid who has never lived more than 3 hours away from where I was born and I don’t have the right to be doing something so amazing. But yet somehow here I am, surrounded by beauty and doing something I really believe in.
Wednesday I went with Ana to volunteer at the high school. The kids have 11 classes at a time. The less important ones meet once or twice a week. (The important ones only meet 3 times.) They have English once a week on Wednesdays at 9:30. There were 34 students in the class. The desks were small and in bad shape. There was a whiteboard, but not much else. The students have thin workbooks, and the assignment was to write a paragraph about visiting a city in northern Peru in Spanish and then translate it into English. The students did alright. Apparently they are usually crazy, disrespectful, and don’t do much work. But since I (scary looking foreign man) was in there the kids did a much better job and I REALLY enjoyed helping them with their work. I miss my own classroom. But the differences between my room and Peru were pretty deep. I have a smartboard, two computers, printer, phone, nice desks, carpet; I could go on and on. They have desks and a whiteboard. The teacher has a small place to put her things and nothing else. The windows were broken so the loud noise of other students practicing a dance right outside was very distracting.
Thursday I went to Cusco with a friend on the motorcycle to run some errands and have lunch with Penny. I haven’t seen her since I left Lima and was very excited to see her and catch up. We ran errands all morning and then were able to meet up with her for some very tasty pizza for lunch. Penny also made some brownies for the girls at the dorm. (Which were a HUGE hit.) She also gave us a generous donation. Thank you Penny.
I hastily packed up the bike along with the extra helmet since my friend had to stay for a meeting. Yeah, so about halfway home the muffler started making an AWFUL noise. I thought, crap, here we go again. I just pushed it home and then checked it out. It turns out the helmet broke partway free and was resting on the muffler. It burned a hole straight through it and looked like a shotgun blasted it. Haha.
Friday morning Ana and Alicia had a hike planned up into the mountains. Here are a few pictures. Did we hike all the way up to snow?
NOPE! We visited the salt mines outside of town. There is a huge salt deposit somewhere in the mountain and when the water runs through it, it becomes saturated. So during the pre-Incan era they built pools to contain the water and let it evaporate in order to collect the salt. It was really beautiful. They have been expanded and we watched as they were being mined. It was kind of fun to taste the salty water and pick pieces of salt while wandering through the expanse of pools.