Feb 9 2009

We made it through the wilderness, somehow we made it through.

One week digging a well in the Amazon Jungle.

Well, the hardest bit of Bolivia is finished. One week in the wilderness of the Amazon jungle is over. No more lack of toilets. No more swarms of mosquitos.
As you can see from my lovely attire, I was fully decked out in the latest jungle gear. Knee high socks, pants with no front or back, jungle hat complete with mosquito net dyed to the perfect shade of pale yellow. And the sandals. Oh, the sandals. They were the pièce de résistance. Rubber knock-off Chacos, bought for 7 dollars at the market. They served me well…
…if serving me well meant ripping my feet apart…then yes, they served me well…
But, there is a silver lining in this dark cloud of whining! We dug a well for the Yuracare tribe in record time, and they now have clean drinking water.
Normally it takes three days to dig a well. Often times you hit a rocky layer and it will take two hours just to go down a meter. But alas! We had no such trouble, and dug 43.5 meters in a day and a half.

The Yuracare tribe was amazing. They were very industrious, and clean.
The had an extremely high standard of living, which was very cool to see–considering they live in the middle of freaking nowhere. Earlier in the week we had stopped in to see the Yuqui tribe, and they were the polar opposite. Junk piled high everywhere. Old toys, clothes, and garbage scattered around the village. Houses that had been built for them were ripped apart and u
sed for firewood. I can’t say it was the most pleasant experience I’ve had in Bolivia visiting the Yuqui.
Thankfully it all went smooth, and we were out of the jungle a day earlier than we expected. Aside from the bounty of mosquito bites we brought back, no one was hurt or sick.
A jorb well done. :)


Feb 1 2009

El Camino Boys Home

For the past three weeks our team has been working in a boys home about an hour outside the city center of Santa Cruz. A lot of the boys are street kids, or come from rough families. When we first got there, only one out of the nine of us spoke conversational Spanish. That was definitely a huge obstacle–but the boys have been really gracious with us and so far most of us have been able to learn and communicate pretty well with them. Dave has been picking up Spanish really fast, so it’s quite helpful to me ;) Going into town isn’t quite as stressful when your husband knows how to communicate with the locals.

Our work at the boys home has been about half practical labor, and half social. We spend our mornings doing projects with the staff–building a chicken coup, renovating staff quarters, fixing screens, planting trees, etc. In the afternoon, we are able to spend time with the boys in the home, and play games with them, or chat…
I have started doing some art lessons with the kids which was interesting/fun. Trying to teach something with a translator is not the easiest. :) Trying to affirm the boys in their work with the few phrases I know (“Me gusta! Muy bien!”) is probably harder. I usually end up smiling awkwardly and giving the thumbs up.
Dave has been working hard at learning Spanish worship songs with a couple of the boys who are musicians. Maybe if you ask nice he’ll perform some when we get back to Canada. ;)
Well, that’s all for now! I’ve got to head to bed, as we are getting up early to make our way to the jungle for a week to dig a well.


Feb 1 2009

The Andes, Pre-Incans & Waterfalls

This last Monday we spent our day off doing a little exploration of Bolivia. We went for a drive through the foothills of the Andes which after about three hours landed us in the little village of Samaipata. Above the village, higher on the mountain is Fuerte De Samaipata which is a pre-Incan, and later Incan ruin. When the Spanish came and conquered the Incans they didn’t want to be so high up in the mountain, so they built their city in the lower valley.

The ruins are really interesting, but sadly, are deteriorating quite rapidly due to the rain.

Later on in the day we visited a waterfall–Las Cuevas, which was incredible to cool off in, in 30 degree weather.
On another note–the drive up there was breathtaking. We joked around that if it got any better we probably wouldn’t be able to handle it. Every corner we would take, everyone would gasp and pull out their camera.