Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Full Gente.

Just wanted to put up a quick post to say that all is well.

We are currently on vacation in a beachtown called Mancora in the north in the region of Tumbes. We will be here until the afternoon of the 3rd when we take an overnight bus back to Lima where I will be until the evening of the 9th. It is absolutely beautiful and there are a lot of people in town because of the fact that today (July 28th) is Peru´s Independence Day.

I hope everything is well back home. I will be sure to write more soon.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Huaytara and How I got to School on Friday

On Monday, July 6th, after having been in Ica for five days, Kate, Anthony, Ben, Steven and I traveled to the pueblo of Huaytara. You may remember from my description of the four day journey we took to get to the first schools, that we stayed in Huaytara for a night to start that trip. We came to Huaytara thinking we were going to be there for three weeks. Well last Friday we found out that public school vacation would begin on the 15th instead of the 24th as decided by the national government in an effort to prevent the spreading of the Swine Flu. That meant our trip was cut a week short affording us less time in the schools working with the kids. We were however able to give 5 multigrade teachers a 2 day, 12 hours per day, crash course on the XO. I will get into Huaytara more but for the first four days Kate and I were working in a school (Muchic) about 15 minutes by car from Huaytara while Steven, Anthony and Ben (Who left Thursday) rode with us to get to their school (Cuyahuasi) which was just a few more minutes down the hill past ours. Everything was fine until Friday because all of our transportation had been arranged up until this point. And without any further description here it is. (And sorry for the repeat information.)

My 'How I got to school on Friday' story:

So for the last week Anthony, Steven, Ben, Kate and I have been living in Huaytara. Since Tuesday we have been in two groups with each group visiting a different school. Kate and I make up one group and the other three guys the other group. We have come to find out that transportation up and down the mountain in this valley is next to impossible to find. Well I guess I should say I found this out on Friday. For the entire week the five of us have had a driver arranged to take us to and pick us up from the schools which are about a 15 - 20 minute car ride away from where we are staying in Huaytara. Well come to find out on Thursday upon our return in the afternoon that our driver cannot give us a lift on Friday. Not being too concerned we went about our business until the following morning when we realized it was at that point an immediate concern. Our Ministry of Education pointman, Edwin, and fellow intern by the way had taken off already on this day leaving us with no one to help us to arrange anything. For Anthony and Steven it wasn't of grave concern that they make it to school that day, but Kate and I on the other hand needed to show up as we had already arranged a meeting with the parents and also having one of the students laptops in tow. I'm not sure how many of you know this about me but I have some sort of determination to accomplish something when I decide that I am going to do it no matter the steps involved. And for me on this day that meant getting to school before noon.

Well at around 7:30 am I woke up and immediately set out into the village to arrange a ride with a different driver. In around 10 minutes I had set up something or so I thought for 15 soles or 5 dollars total each way. I went back to tell the others after which we embarked on our usual breakfast of coffee, fried eggs, platanos and rice. After feeling satisfied with this sufficient breakfast we met with the driver who told us that she was not so set on the original price. We have gotten used to this entire process as most purchases in Peru are negotiable. I also might add that there are typically two prices for items here: one for peruvians and one for non peruvians. It is up to us to negotiate the latter as close as possible to the former. The difference in the prices we have come to dub as the hustle factor. It sometimes becomes frustrating as we are not merely tourists but volunteers working in the schools through our own financial means and donated time. So after being fed up with this particular lady's indecisiveness we sought other means of transportation. After about 20 or so minutes I went to the local Ministry of Education branch and pursued help here. I got about a half an hour's worth of the run around and some crazy talk about that's how much we were supposed to pay when we had not paid that much for the last three days. It was at that point Anthony and Steven decided they would be spending that day in Huaytara while Kate and I forged on.

Our first thought was to get to the road where we would wait for a passing car that had space to give us a lift to our destination of Muchic. When we had finally made it to the main road we stopped for a moment to contemplate our next move. I decided at that moment to keep walking toward our goal and hope to flag down a car in the process. It was quite hot on this day and I was sporting my Timbuk2 shoulder bag packed full of necessary items. We walked onward for around 15 minutes when a Quechua-speaking construction worker asked us where we were going. His friend translated and upon our response told us we should wait at the next grouping of buildings just down the road. When we got there we waited for a good three or so minutes before I decided this was not sufficient for me and I continued walking. Kate stayed and eventually, after no luck with a ride, returned to Huaytara. I then began walking the route we had taken for the past three days which was the most beautiful road I had ever walked on in my life. Well the road itself was made of asphalt but the surroundings were indescribable. The surrounding mountains made for nice scenery as I stuck to my goal of reaching the school. I was passed by the occasional car but without any of them stopping and offering to take me down the road. Along the road were numerous pastures full of either crops or livestock. I couldn't help thinking back to the times on the roads in the mountains when our car would be chased by protective dogs until we were clear of their territory. The road was beautiful but I could picture myself being chased down the road by an angry dog at any moment. For just over an hour I found myself traveling by foot feeling as though I was going nowhere. It was at that moment that a large white truck passed my outstretched signaling hand and came to stop about 100 meters ahead. I made it to the truck before it started back up and politely asked the dumbfounded driver if he could take me the rest of the route to Muchic. He hesitantly said yes and pointed to the top of the truck. I climbed an attached ladder and settled myself on the top of the truck's wooden frame. It was satisfying knowing that I would soon make it to the school and without having to walk another meter. The truck after an extended wait started back up and headed down the hill another 5-10 minutes before pulling up to the entrance to the small village of Muchic. I finally made into the classroom where I was received with an enthusiastic greeting from kids. They and I were glad that I had made it to school on that day.

The day went well which was spent on the XO's in addition to the meeting with the parents to whom I gave an introductory course in using the laptops. That afternoon without an organized ride to return to Huaytara was spent at the mercy of waiting for a passing car to stop and return me back up the hill. The teacher from the village preschool waited along with me. She informed me that if we were lucky we would only wait 30 minutes to an hour. Lucky huh? Well it must have been that kind of afternoon because no more than 10 minutes after I proposed my question a gleeming gold van zoomed around the corner and came sliding to a stop in the dirt area just in front of us. I was relieved at the sight of this beautiful (well not so much in hindsight) Toyota van. For only 1 sol (or 33 cents) the driver took me and the rest of the passengers back to Huaytara. When we arrived I went straight back to the room where I found the others to whom I recounted the day's events. Surviving something like that always makes you stronger, no matter how you feel in the moment in which it is happening.

Anthony and I would, only a few days later, repeat this type of adventure on foot from a school that sat on the top of the mountain. I'll detail that in my next entry.

Much love.

Laramarca: The Work

As I mentioned before, Kate and I lived and worked in Laramarca for two weeks. During this two weeks we were tasked with the responsibility of working in the elementary school assisting the teachers with anything related to the XO laptops including how to implement its use into their current curriculum. We found out upon our arrival that the school had received the computers over a year ago meaning that the kids were already used to navigating them and all of their capabilities. This was a very good thing for us because it meant that we could focus more on its implementation versus just explaining the basics of how to use them. The school had six classrooms, grades 1-6, each with its own teacher. The reason I mention this is that many school in Peru are multigrade classrooms meaning that there is one teacher for a classroom filled with kids of different grade levels. This set up meant that Kate and I would each spend two days in three different classrooms and one day in the remaining three the following week.

The days were typically run as follows: At 8:15 the bell would ring signaling that school had begun. Prior to this you could find some of the kids partaking in either volleyball or soccer in the plaza space in front of the school. At the sound of the bell you could see them all running furiously into their specified classrooms. The teachers would then begin the day's lesson and continue with that until around 11:00 am when recreo would start. This was essentially 30 minutes of outside time for the kids to let out all of their energy in any number of forms including volleyball, soccer, or conversation amongst themselves. I typically spent this time playing football with the kids. For the first four days or so we played with the soccerball that I had brought from Lima, but as we were playing on the side of a mountain, the ball was first popped by a cactus, and then lost for good the bottom of the hill. From then on we played with anything that was round and you could kick. The girls all played volleyball. They absolutely love it. The Peruvian national volleyball team has actually been doing really well in a world tournament in Thailand that they have been showing a lot on television here in recent weeks. Then around 11:30 am the bell sounds again and the kids run back into the school. The lessons then continue until 1:30 when the attention deficit and hungry children get to go home and eat lunch.

Kate and I spent each day observing the teachers and making suggestions to them about how the activities on the XO could serve to enhance the current lessons being taught. We also answered any technical questions that they proposed to us. I did not want to take away from the lessons being taught during the classroom time so we devised some sessions to address all of this at 3 pm each afternoon. Here we discussed all of these topics without distracting the children.

This type of technology is not yet ubiquitous like it is in the US therefore there is an extreme learning curve with the users of this software especially the adults. As with any children, the exploratory process takes a short amount of time before they are proficient in the use of the laptops. At times it seemed bit difficult and almost counterproductive to introduce the laptops into the current lessons for any number of reasons including the laptops needing to be charged but there being a lack of outlets, the sheer lack of fine motorskills by the younger grades, or just a lack of ability to accomplish what you would like to with the available activities. I believe that this is the main reason that we are here as interns for OLPC. What they have done is created these laptops and handled the distribution; however, now it is time to make an impact. And it is the feedback that we will be providing them that will help them to do this. One main concern for this program is just the necessary ability of these laptops to stand up against the extreme conditions in which they are deployed. Let me put it this way. You hand a kid who has never had this type of technology to take care of before a laptop and you can only expect that it will be battered and bruised beyond its limits. Its not that they don't respect the laptop, its just that they don't have the knowledge to care for a foreign piece of equipment like this before. They don't know the things that come natural to you and I such as proper maintenance and potential dangers to the computer. These kids not to mention always have some kind of dirt on their hands making proper cleanliness of the laptops a constant battle. The XO's are also kept in extremely dusty environments where as I mentioned temperatures range from freezing to smothering. I have been keeping a journal of all of my thoughts and experiences, so I hope that the information that I have gathered will be helpful to the OLPC mission of empowering children in regions where resources are limited.

I do know that these little green laptops have given the children something that you can not put a value on and that is the love for learning and attending school. If nothing else it gives the kids who otherwise may not go to school a reason to leave their homes and potential responsibilities and walk however many miles they have to just to go to school for five hours. I believe the laptops open the doors to opportunities. It shows them a world bigger than they have ever known. That is what this program is all about and I am blessed to be a part of it. It is now up to the organization to build on this and possibly make the use of the XO even more influential. I won't go into my ideas but I and the rest of our team have some that we hope will make a greater difference in these eager kids' lives.

The work has not always been rewarding but I have to keep reminding myself that the reason I am here is not for me but for the children whom we hope to influence. It is their lives not mine that we seek to change. I know however that my life will forever be changed in the process of achieving this.

Here are some pictures I have captured in the classrooms of the children using the XO's:

Laramarca: The People

Laramarca is a small village, small enough where everything pretty much knows everything about everyone. With that said, our arrival was fairly well known after spending a couple of days in the school. As I noted in my earlier entry we were known as the gringos to many and professores to the children. The reason I was so excited about coming back to peru this year was large in part to the experiences I had with the people of Peru in my previous trip here. Being in such a small place afforded us the opportunity to get to know the towns people on an intimate level. At first you could see that the people did not really know what to make of us but as with most relationships you could slowly see signs of them opening up to us and making us feel welcome. We were never without the stares that come from seeing something so foreign but it was typically offered up with a greeting of some sort such as "Buenos Dias" which helped easy the transitioning process for us.

I will honestly say that the people of Laramarca as little resources as they may have had were very generous and humble in their interactions with us. They may not have had much but what they did have they appreciated and openly shared with us. An example of this was when one family from the village invited nearly the entire village to their home for a meal. And when I say meal I mean a three course feast complete with dessert. The food by the way really grew on me quickly. A vast portion of it made with some combination of the following: potatoes, rice, noodles, platanos, and eggs. On a side note: I haven't been able to get a workout in in about a month and it is killing me. All of these carbs are keeping me well fueled however.

I can't talk about the people of the village without talking about the kids. We spent nearly 15 days working in the town's elementary school with kids ages 6 to 12. The kids absolutely loved that we were there which was often reinforced with a mobbing embrace or some other sign of appreciation and affection. It has been a while since I worked with kids but I quickly remembered how much of a joy it is to do so. The kids of the Peruvian sierra are incredibly cute and have a sort of energy and self sufficiency that makes them fun to be around. They typically referred to us as "Professor" and were never shy to ask us any questions about where we were from or how to say any number of words in english. As with the adults even the kids took a couple of days to open up to us. But after this phase ended, they constantly asked us to be a part of any activity they were partaking in at that moment. One sad thing about the kids that just tore me up was the fact that because they are in such an extreme climate with temperatures dropping into the low 30's at night and then rising into the 70's/80's during the day due to the unobstructed intensity of the sun, the kids hands and cheeks were dry and scabbed. The first graders literally had the hands of an 80 year old person. They were burned from the sun and dry and cracked from the freezing temperatures that came at dark all year round. Their cheeks as well were dry and burned from these opposing temperatures. It is so sad because these kids despite their state have so much energy and joy for life. I want to do anything I can to help them.

By the end of our trip it was certainly difficult to leave the people of Laramarca because of how many good memories they had given us. I would love to go back and visit the little village some day and see how the children especially have progressed. We shall see.

Laramarca: The Pueblo

Laramarca: The Pueblo

Laramarca is a little pueblo tucked high, away in the Andes Mountains of the Huancavelica region of Peru. I am told it sits at around 3700 meters so the oxygen is thin which you notice with any activity where you exert yourself. In the main plaza you will find a beautifully kept common area with benches and fenced in grassy areas. It is bordered on its four sides by the municipal building, the church, the elementary school, and a bakery/cooking institute. The main plaza served as the meeting area for any events that required that the entire village gather together. In the two weeks that we were there we actually able to experience multiple town gatherings that discussed current concerning issues which eventually evolved into some late night celebration complete with fireworks, loud Peruvian music and drinking circles. While we are on the topic, there is one Peruvian tradition that I have not become quite used to and it is this idea of when you drink beers in groups you use one cup and one alcohol source to fill the cup. After you have finished your cup of beer lets say you dump out the foam and pass it on to the next person in the circle to repeat the process. I certainly partook in the ritual but with certain inhibitions. I am now even more concerned with ever present threat of the gripe (flu) nowadays.

Back to my description of Laramarca. The first thing I noticed about the plaza, beyond the immediate surrounding buildings, was the Mirador that looked down on pueblo from higher up on the mountain. On the third day or so I decided to hike up to it and see what it was all about. Essentially from below you see a large cross sitting next to a covered area isolated on the mountain. From the plaza you can tell that it offers the best view of the surroundings. I made my way through the village, up a picturesque wheat field and onto the man made platform known as the Mirador. One thing that Laramarca offers that you cannot put a value on is the incredible view of the Andes. The Mirador reinforced this fact by giving me a 360 degree view of the mountains and valleys that completely surrounded me. I took some photos but as is typical it is difficult to capture this natural beauty in a photograph. I never returned to the Mirador during my time in Laramarca because the first experience I had up there was so incredible.

Most of the buildings in Laramarca are made of Adobe with a few of the more prominent buildings in the plaza being constructed of bricks and mortar. Most of the buildings are homes to the locals with a majority of those doubling as a store to pick up items such as fruits, vegetables, snacks and drinks. The lady with whom Kate and I ate also offered restaurant services at the one humble table that filled the space of her store.

I had a very pleasant experience in this humble little pueblo. It had everything it needed, nothing more, nothing less. Every week or so a truck filled with supplies would arrive to the town allowing all the towns people to restock their shelves and provide determination to earn enough money just to survive. With that said I would like to go more into the people and lifestyle of Laramarca in my next entry.

Here are some photos from my time here:

The Longest Journey - Day 4

So after saying goodbye to Steven and Anthony, we continued on our journey toward our final destination, Laramarca. We forged ahead with our total bodies down to five. At this point I was in sheer awe of the fact that our little Nissan pickup was still running as well as it was after the beating had taken on the rough mountain trails. Squashed in the back between Norma and Edwin I began thinking about the reality of the situation ahead of Kate and I in Laramarca. Until now it had been the others we had left behind, but now it was our turn to be left alone to embark on our OLPC mission in Laramarca. The trail to our destination was quite rough and had made me the most anxious by far of all of the roads he had driven on throughout our journey. The road was not only narrow but looking out of the passenger's side window you could only see down into the abyss below. The path took us up and down the various mountains of the Andes that stood in the way of us arriving to our destination. On our way we took a short break in a nearby pueblo from which you could see Laramarca overlooking us from the next mountain. From the looks of it I could tell the nights would be bitter cold. A condition that my experience in Peru the previous year had readied me for on this trip. The pueblo who's name escapes me was home to a man nicknamed 'Bill Clinton', who is a friend of the people with whom we were traveling. The man was Peruvian in speech but his physical appearance suggested he was a gringo [which I must add is an endearing term I have come to be very familiar with that merely signifies that you are not native born or do not appear to be so]. After a quick visit with William, we continued on a journey which took us down into the valley past a major mining operation. I was told they were extracting copper and gold. We only caught a glimpse but would hear more about it in the following weeks as apparently there is an ownership conflict between Laramarca and those who found an ore running beneath the small pueblo.

The mining operation signified the bottom of our descent and the beginning of our climb up the mountain upon which Laramarca sits. The road up the mountain was the most treacherous so far and sent us up countless switchbacks on which I truly felt could be my last moments. It's a funny thing because no matter how dangerous the roads may have appeared to us foreigners, the drivers remained calm and collected. This was the case with packing people into cars in the sierra of Peru. This is something that in our experience here we have learned has no limits. Anthony told us about a time in Cordova when they were able to squeeze 11 people into a small Toyota station wagon [the car of choice here in the Andes] for a three hour trip. I am still not exactly sure how they did it. We continued our ascent up the mountain for almost an hour before we came to a reason to pull over and take a break in the form of a waterfall cascading across the road and down the nearby ledge. It was a much needed stretch break that made for some excellent pictures as you can see below. From here we could see Laramarca looking at us from above which I came to learn did not indicate that you were anywhere close to arriving there because of the indirect routes these road had to take in order to ascend the grand mountains.

About an hour and one terrifying six point turn later we arrived to the entrance into Laramarca. We passed through the main road in the small pueblo and found it to be lined with the typical adobe built buildings and people at their front door steps. We have grown accustomed to the stares we receive in every village we go. I compare it to an alien walking the streets of the USA. You have always heard of them but have never actually seen one. It is the same in these small pueblos when a person all the way from the US passes through their streets. You just have to brush it off and accept that it will happen as long as you are there. When we finally came to a stop we unloaded ourselves from the truck and climbed some nearby steps that led us into the main plaza. I have learned from my travels that Hispanic pueblos are centered around a main plaza which contains the main municipal building and a church. They also take a lot pride in their plazas and ensure that they are well maintained and spotless. I respect this greatly because as we experienced during our time in Laramarca the plaza provides a perfect space to hold community wide events. In the plaza we were greeted by the Director from the school where we would be working for the next two weeks. He took us to our accommodations in the municipal building which were both humble and comfortable in the same moment. This is another feeling that being here in rural Peru has helped me to overcome. Initially you are not only separated from the normal comforts of daily life (such as internet, cell phone, and television) but the actual living conditions are quite different than what you are used to. You are constantly engulfed in dust and showers are a rarity. In the two weeks I was in Laramarca I took two hot 'showers' from a bucket. As unbearable as it seems you begin to accustom yourself to this way of life. I am no longer constantly preoccupied with having clean clothes everyday or a shower before I begin my day. It is actually quite a relief to not always be worried about this and take more joy in the more important things in life such as food, good conversation, and bringing help to others in need. I understand in the US we have a standard for appearances and I believe it is this reason alone that makes this more simple and less focused on appearances, societal structure such a breathe of fresh air. After settling into our rooms we decided it was about time for some dinner. Kate was feeling the effects of being exposed to foreign food and a foreign environment so she stayed behind and the four of us found a restaurant in which to dine. When I say restaurant in these pueblos I mean someone's house in which you can get a plate of whatever the Señora is serving at that meal. Another aspect of life here that takes some getting used to is that the food here does not require the aesthetics that we demand in the US. It is more important here that the food taste good versus just appearing appetizing on the plate. I prefer the former to be honest. Don't get me wrong I love a good tomato that has been carved into a swan but when it comes down to it I just want good food. That night's menu consisted of Tallerín (pasta) and cafecito (cafe). The hot meal if only for a moment helped us to forget about the cold outside that had no regard for our well being. I experienced some of the coldest nights in my life in Laramarca which could only be fended off by layering on a grand majority the clothes in my suitcase and hiding beneath the four blankets layered on my bed. Up there, sleeping was more like a challenge of survival than a bodily necessity. At dinner that night we joked in Spanish over the events of our journey which had finally come to an end after four long days. After dinner it was time to retire to the cama where I would wake up in a heap on the floor the following morning. Apparently the planks of the bed frame were not enough to hold up my weight for more than four hours. Every hour thereafter the planks gave out one by one until I was lying on the mattress that had fallen to the floor with my feet above my head.

That ends my account of our journey to Laramarca. I will include a separate entry that details my experience in the pueblo over the last two weeks.

I love and miss you all and wish you the best in all your endeavors now and in the future.

The group at the waterfall just below Laramarca.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Longest Journey - Day 3

I hope everyone is doing well! Last night I arrived to Ica from Laramarca after having finished our assignment there. The first shower in nearly two weeks sure felt amazing. Before I get into the details of my experience in Laramarca I want to finish my Longest Journey account.

When I last left off I had just woken up sitting upright in a pickup truck after having suffered one of the worst night´s of sleep in my life. After thawing out and getting some decent food in me I was back to my normal self and had almost all but forgotten about how terrible last night had been. The gleaming light from the sun and the incredible view of the Andes sure helped the process. We proceeded to spend that morning figuring out the details of Steven and Ben´s stay in San Gayaico before loading up into the truck once more and heading in the direction of Cordova. As it turns out Anthony and I were given the ´privilege´ of sitting in the bed of the truck for the duration of the 6 hour journey. It wouldn´t have been so bad had the roads been paved. But with them being dry, dirt roads, we were left with thick layers of dust covering our faces by the end of the day´s journey. After two or three days of just roughing it you start to lose the sentiment that makes the whole situation seem unbearable. You start to embrace the simplicity of life by surviving with only the bare essentials. Our journey took us down and out of the Andes into the desert, only to make a near 180 degree turn and head back into the Andes before making it all the way to Ica. The reason for this our driver, Oscar, told us is that the path directly from Sangayaico to Cordova was too dangerous. I nearly laughed out loud because from the looks of the roads we had been driving on this passage that he was speaking of must have been a pure nightmare. As dusty, treacherous, and long as this day´s journey was, we were handed an incredible award for all of our troubles in the form of an unforgettable sunset over the Andes. This was not the only gift as after the sun had set, the stars above were visible in a way that I had never before seen in my life. It was as if you took a black sheet of construction paper and tossed a handful of rice down on it. Purely magnificient. Unfortunately I was unable to capture the stars in any photographs. But that is alright. I´m sure the photo would not have done the sight any justice.

Around 8 o´clock or so we arrived to a bright spot among the darkess of the surrounding mountains. Anthony and I could not hear any of the commentary going on inside the cab but we correctly assumed that it was our final destination for that day. Sure enough, after an hour of winding toward the small town, we had arrived at Cordova. After having been in Sangayaico the previous night, Cordova seemed like a metropolis. The concrete road entering the street was lined with well constructed buildings which ended at the foot of the village where the main plaza, church, and school could be found. Unlike in Sangayaico, the school´s personel was waiting for us with a satisfying dinner of bread with cheese and hot tea/coffee. It was a very warm welcome that ended shortly with the four of us (the interns) falling asleep on some simple yet comfortable foam pads on the floor of one of the classrooms. The following morning we woke up to the beautiful vistas of the Andes and the sound of children filing into the school around 8 am. As we had come to expect, the children were completely intrigued by the four Americans who had arrived to their school seemingly out of nowhere. I will have to say the way these kids take to us after such a short period of time may be one of the most gratifying feelings I have yet to experience in my life. It truly gives you the motivation you need to make a true difference in their school and in turn their lives. After a quick morning bite to eat, Anthony and Steven began their introduction to the school´s staff and facilities. At each sight Norma, the representative from the Peruvian Ministry of Education, and Edwin, from Huaytara´s Branch, had a formal meeting with all of the school´s teachers and directors to formally introduce the assistance program on which we were about to implement into the school over the next few weeks. While this was taking place, I spoke more with Oscar, our vehicle´s commandeer, who is also a professor and computer repair handyman. Most people here are fans of football so for me that is a common topic of conversation. But beyond that he has an interest in learning english so I acted as a human dictionary and grammar teacher on his behalf. At that point I was requested to act as a helper in one of the classrooms. When I entered all of the students had their XO computers out and were using a various activities. Some of them even had ´How to Play Chess´ Books out and were playing the chess activity against the computer on the XO. Which I may add is near impossible to beat. I have since made it a goal of mine to conquer this robotic force that is the XO. I worked with the kids for another hour before deciding that it was time for us to set back out on the `trochos`(mountain roads) and wind our way to Laramarca. Our final destination on the trip. See my next entry for the rest of the day´s events.

We made it to the desert only long enough to snap this photo.

Anthony and I after 5 hours in the bed of the truck.

Amazing puesto del sol.

Your luggage will be dirty starting now.

Elementary school in Cordova where Anthony and Steven worked for three weeks.