Thursday, May 22, 2008


Who knew that one could start a van with a rock? Yes, it can be done, and even better, I can do it!

The supervisors, Erika, and I visited the boarding school yesterday where two of our students are working. It is quite a ways out of town. We took the van of our Peruvian Partner (which only Yannick drives, since women apparently do not drive here) to the boarding school. Half the way there was paved, the other was narrow, full of gigantic holes, and extremely dusty which they call a "road".

We finally arrived there, perhaps a little bruised from the car ride, and saw right away how outstanding this place was. Again, here was another paradise; a beautiful yard and school rooms, with so many facilities, such as an art room, and a basketball court. Of course, this school is surrounded with papaya trees and shockingly beautiful mountains. These kids come from extremely underprivileged homes, and it is completely free for them. So, they stay for the week, and go back home on weekends. However, some of these kids are orphans or cannot return home, because of rape or other violence, so they stay at a kind of orphanage on the weekends.

The most amazing part of all this is that an Italian woman of 76 years old founded this institution. When she retired at 64 years old, she ended up in Quillabamba by complete chance and wanted to help the kids here. She is rich to begin with, but now she goes back to Italy every so often to fundraise more money. I had the chance to meet her, and she really has an enormous heart. She also has an incredible amount of energy and hope, which just shines all around her.

When we were leaving the boarding school, the van wouldn´t start. Yannick wasn´t sure what to do, so we asked a guy who worked there. He opened up the car where the battery was (incidentally, not at the front of the van, but rather inside where people sit), hit the ends with a rock, and the car started. It was magic. We all laughed. Last night, the van wouldn´t start again, so this time, I used the rock and tapped the ends of the battery. Naturally, the van started. I can´t wait to come back to Canada and become the fixer of all stalled vans with my magical rock!

Last night, our water was turned off (the people who we rent from forgot we were there for the night..?), so Catherine, one of the supervisors, could not take a shower. She was so desperate that she washed her feet in the toilet bowl. It was very funny - Erika and I even took pictures, which I will be uploading soon. This morning, we figured out how to turn on and off our water, so hopefully, no more toilet bowl washing will occur.

Showers are always cold, and there are no toilet seats. You just crouch over the bowl. Apparently, Yannick´s technique is to stand on the rim of the bowl and then crouch. He says it´s the best position for... bowel movements. Also, it is a lucky day when there is toilet paper available. To be prepared, we always carry napkins around with us.

Days here are very short - the sun goes behind the mountains at 5 pm, and by 6 pm, it is completely dark. It is their winter here, but as a Canadian, you could never tell, due to the sweltering weather. Yannick sleeps out on the roof because the evenings are cool and oftentimes windy. It is always overcast when I wake up, but the sun is always at full blast by 11 am.

It is beautiful, dusty, and buggy.

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