Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Finally the Titanic Sunk... again.

So the third time was a charm with our Hauripampa Movie Night. Leo and Kate did it again. Falling in love at the worst possible spot in just about 3 hours. The kids loved it, and it was an overall great experience as students finally were able to successfully complete their first movie night. The only downside was that my cell phone walked away during intermission while I was changing to the 2nd disc of the movie. I'm not mad, but if I had to point a finger, John Cameron would have to take to take the blame. Really, did the movie need to be that long? Two discs, in my opinion, was two discs too many.

Here's a shorter video of the start of the night. Try to ignore the popcorn on my lip. It was so good, I was just saving it for later.


The dance craze Zumba is sweeping across the country. Not really, but at least I'm doing my best...  I bought a 'how to dance Zumba' fitness video in the market, so now whenever I have my projector set up and we have a little downtime, I force my kids to try Zumba. Boy or girl, it doesn't matter. If I Zumba, you Zumba. I think it's a fun way for the kids to relax, goof around with the Gringo, and boost their self-esteem.

Warning. If you've ever watched a video and cringed because you felt an embarrassed induced sympathy pang for the person as they humiliated themselves, be ready, because here's another one. I'm the dark shadow on the left as we waited for kids to show up for Movie Night in Huaripampa:

A Little Room To Learn

Adam, remember the days that we each got our own room, and didn't sleep on the bunk beds anymore? Hey Tanner and Mariah, remember the joys of falling asleep under the 'Kirby Puckett' and 'Kittens Playing with Yarn' posters that we meticulously placed in our own room? Ah, the rite-of-passage that is "getting you own room". Finally a little freedom.

Yeferson is at that stage in his life, so with the blessing from Roger and Dina (I think they're sick of both boys sleeping with them every night) Cate and I slaved all Sunday adorning it with a new "education-based paint job". To be honest, I have to admit that I'm extremely proud with how it turned out. Although we only painted the numbers 1-20, the Spanish alphabet, and a large chalk board . It was simple to do with impressive end results. Roger, Dina, and Yefer are excited about learning.

Yefer now has a specific area to do his homework AWAY from from the T.V. And now Roger and Dina have a new favorite show piece to display when someone comes to visit. Dina has said all week that they'll never erase it, as it will be good to have around when Yordan starts to go to school. However, what I liked hearing even more, was Dina asking me to teach her what the letters and numbers are, with the hope that someday she'll learn to read and write. Ojala (God willing).

Enjoy the visuals:

Yefer and Yordi in the Pre-Flip My Room Pic.

Lucky number 17. 

Happy to help. 

Brice next to the new large chalkboard. 

I think you can see the excitement. 

Yordi does some drawings. 

Roger taking it all in while Cate works and Yori and Yefer fight over the chalk. 

Cate free-handing the letters. 

Me, not doing much. 

Happy family. 

The Pachacamacs in Yefer's new room. 

And here's a video of Cate teaching Dina how to correctly spell her name. It's Spanish, but still pretty interesting to see.

Mind Tricks

Sometimes you have to ask yourself "Where are you?", and sometimes your mind plays tricks on you.

With that said, let me place you in my shoes for a brief second. You've got your eyes closed. You're dripping wet, in your swimsuit, with beach towel pressed to your face. The water was chilly, but it feels good on this hot day as the strong sun hits your skin. You can hear a slight afternoon breeze in the trees, and can't help to wonder if this wind will stay strong all afternoon. In honestly, you can't help to think 'this is going to be a great sailing day'. You can smell that fond scent of a fresh campfire. In the distance you can hear motors zooming past, some sound small (the size of jet ski) and others are large (typical ski boat sized). For the moment it seems like it's going to be another great day at the lake.

...Then you open your eyes and realize that you're in Yuracoto, Peru. Days/Months away from lake. You're taking advantage of the first non-rainy afternoon in a couple of days to shower. Dina's cooking lunch, and you're hearing the large mining trucks and motorcycles ripping along on the highway. Not Seeley Lake, but still pretty cool. This is probably the closest I ever get to feeling consistently homesick. Nothing serious.

So when Jeff mention the idea of having a campfire on Friday, I jumped at the chance. Nothing like a campfire to remind you of those great Montana summer nights at the lake. We invited the two closest volunteers, Kelly and Jamie, roasted hot dogs and made 'Smores. It was interesting to hear how the others were also craving a campfire. I guess it's something we all have good memories of.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Gringo's Return

After a much needed, and well worth it vacation, the Gringo has made his return to Yuracoto. And thanks to family back home, he arrived bearing gifts! As typical of my host-family they loved everything, and spend ridiculous amounts of time examining the goods speculating in awe how they came "all the way from the United States!" However, Dina's stock response was my favorite, basically it was something along the lines of: "Gracias Brice, we just ran out of (whatever the gift was)!". No matter if it was a pair of socks, or a set of head lamps they had never had before.When the dust settled, the gifts that stole the show where Yefer's and Yordi's pajamas. The boys love them, and they look super cute dancing around in them. You can't help to smile when Yefer get excited about bedtime because he get's to throw on his footed PJs. Here's the pics.

Yeferson with his new socks.

Yefer's new favorite thing to take to school: His vest.

The boys in their PJs

The Pachacamac Family

Weekend Plans???

Although this is the biggest weekend in Montana, I have decided to bag all plans of trying to watch the real Montanan boys beat the University of Montana in "The Brawl of the Wild". After last year's disappointing trip to the capital city in search of internet fast enough to live-stream the game, I decided just to read about how the Cats skunked the Griz (using the best defense in the universe). Sorry for your loses Aunt B, Mariah, Marc, and Monte... there's always next year (when we McGhee and Kirk are Seniors, and our offensive line isn't composed of all Freshmen).

Instead of being frustrated in front of frozen computer screen, there is a day hike in the works to see some Incan ruins near Sara Jane's site. Be on the look out for pictures, and I'll keep an eye out for the playoff games.

Finishing Paso Adelante in Huaripampa.

Sara Jane and I have been coordinating every Thursday for the since last May to meet in Huaripampa and teach sexual health classes to the 5th graders (high school seniors). The class has been fun, and we've covered  a varity of topics from values and moral, to goal setting, to taking care of yourself by preventing STDs, adolescent pregnancy, and avoiding traps like drugs and alcohol and machismo.

The best part of the classes, for me, was connecting with the kids and meeting a few of the superstar students (practically all of class), that you can tell are going to do something positive in their lives. These kids were always ready to learn, and have become highly reliable co-workers for Sara and I. If we suggest a project, they don't hesitate to begin delegating tasks. Whether it's cooking popcorn for a Movie Night, making a radio spot to play on the municipality's radio, or informing teachers that they need to send their students one of our activities, they are always on top of it.

This last event was a good example of it. Viky and Yanet (two super all-stars) got to go to a "Pasos Adelante Camp" with Sara, and then when they returned they instantly began planing how to share the information they learned with their classmates. They organized a great hour-long charla which included a video on pregnancy difficulties related to unwanted pregnancies, and a Q & A session.  In the end, the only thing Sara and I needed to really do is show up with the video equipment and supervise (Sara actually had to do a little more due to troubles getting the radio spot perfect... but that's beside the point).

Here's Their Radio Spot:

Huaripama 'Piensalo Bien' Radio Spot

Here's a few pictures of the big event:

One of paplotes (large papers) the kids made for their pre-video presentation. 

Once one picture gets taken, everyone wants their picture take. Here's Sara and I sandwiching two of our students. 

Sara introduces us and the class to the 3rd and 4th graders. 

Jaki and Yanet (our all-stars) presenting their information. 

One of the four small groups being lead by our students during the breakout session. 

Sara making friends during the small group session. 

Two volunteers summarizing what they discussed during their small group session. I was impressed because they  emphasized "the ABCs (Abstance, Being Faithful, and Condoms)" during their summary, something Sara and I didn't talk to them about that day... suggesting that one our students threw that out there. 

The tooth brushing dance?

I received a fairly long email from Sara Jane last week that had the following statement at the end:

"In summary:  please come to Huaripampa around 10 and if I'm not in the
plaza come to the Jardin and help me do the circle-brushing dance."

Do you know how the circle-brushing dance goes? Don't worry, I didn't either. In fact, I think it's safe to say Sara had no clue either. 
Sara Jane has only about 3 more weeks left of her service, and although I think was already a little wacky (in a good way... if any of you are looking to hire her to be your next park ranger), I couldn't help to think that the 'end of service crunch' was getting to her

Sara Jane had more than 20 toothbrush and tubes of toothpaste sent to her, which were meant to be given out as gifts; however, as her time here in Peru comes to an end she needed to get rid of them quickly. That's where the Jardin (kindergarten) class in Huaripampa, myself, and the circle-brushing dance come in. 

Basically, Sara Jane coordinated a quick 20 minute charla to do for the kindergartners in Huaripampa, which included a tooth drawing (done 10 minutes prior to the charla, by yours truely) and a dance (explained by Sara, performed by me) explaining the different brush strokes you can use to make sure your dientes (teeth) and gums are clean, healthy and. most importantly, happy. 

Here's a few pictures:

Drawing time in the Plaza. It's  a tooth, trust me.

Sara in front of the Kindergarten building.

The kiddos finishing up their snail puzzles.

Sara and I showing our pearly whites. 

Some happy recipients. 

Action shot. 

The group shot, please note the tooth in the background. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Yordan Turns Two

My little host-brother Yordan had his big day on October 8th (yes, I know I'm a little slow on the updates), and so we staged a birthday bash in his honor. The birthday celebration plan started small, but soon ballooned out of control (read this post again, and you might catch the pun there). Here's a rough timeline of how the bash took shape:

2 weeks Out: 
Dina can be found fretting about how they are going to afford a cake, pinata, and food for Yordi's party.

1-2 Weeks Out:
Dina listens to a little birdie's idea that since Yordi is only 2 years old, he's not going to remember much about his big day, so we should just do a simple family get together in the house.

1 Week Out:
Dina delegates Cate, Yeferson, and I to make homemade, hand drawn invites for the party's guests. Dina, Roger, Yeferson, Yordan, Cate, and I make the cut for the original guest list.

6 days, 23 hours, and 50 minutes Out:
Dina adds the two neighbor girls, Keren and Yeni, to the list.

6 days, 23 hours, 49 minutes, and 59 seconds Out:
It starts to become obvious that Yeferson is the more excited about the party than anyone in the founding committee, including the birthday boy himself.

5 Days Out:
The financiers of the party hold a diner-based planning meeting. It's agreed that Roger is in charge of buying the cake, Dina will cook some popcorn and make some jello, and Brice will buy the materials to make a pinata with Yeferson.

Yeferson almost shoots through the roof with excitement.

3 Days Out:
The guest list increases as Dina lets the word slip about the fiesta to her cousins down the road.

Brice wonders around the market in Caraz, with the general idea the he's going to make a "Pig Pinata". After about an hour of aimlessly meandering, he leave 40 soles lighter, with copious amounts of pink art supplies, 3 bags of candy, and 2 cardboard boxes.

2 Days Out: 
Cate arrives from Lima that morning.

45 minutes after her arrival, Cate referees a breakfast argument between Yeferson and Brice over what shape the pinata will take. Transcripts from the debate are as follows:

Brice: "How about we make a pig! (chancho)" (said in an overly excited, 7 year old appropriate voice)
Yeferson:  "How about Barney!!!" (said in a even more enthusiastic voice)... referring to the damn purple dinosaur.
B: Chancho
Y: Barney
B: Chancho
Y: Barney
B: Chancho!
Y: Barney!
B: Chancho!!!
Y: Barney!!!
(repeat 6+ times)

Cate: (aside)  "Brice, why don't we just make Barney?"
Brice: "No Cate, I already bought the materials for a pig."
Cate: "OK. Yeferson, this time we're going to chancho, but next time, we'll make Barney"

1 hour after Cate's arrival:
Yeferson concedes artistic control of the pinata.

1 Day Out:
Cate and Brice spend the night planning the fiesta. Major points of concern being how to build a pig pinata, and what to use to hold the candy. With the help of "Mr. Google" we copy an young girl's hello-kitty design (obviously making it a pig instead of a cat) and begin thinking about the candy solution.

Google Results: Como Hacer Una Pinata

18 Hours Out:
Best candy solution determined: A giant balloon that could also act as the pig's stomach.  We begin filling a giant balloon with candy using a "stuff and blow" technique only seen in ancient Mayan drawings (Cate stuffs candy down the neck of balloon, and then I inflate it until candy falls to the bottom... keep in mind that we have 3 bags of candy).

14 Hours Out:
All the candy is squished into the balloon.

8 Hours Out:
Disaster strikes as we discover the balloon became punctured overnight. Brice's attempt to patch the hole using a bike patch and rubber cement ends with a melted ball of candy due to a strange chemical reaction.

7 Hours Out: 
With some candy salvaged, Cate and Brice agree to use a cardboard box as the stomach, and augment the candy with schwag sent to me from the states from friends and family (pencils, pens, band-aids, chapstick, jump rope, shoe laces, etc.) BIG SHOUT OUT TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY.

6 Hours Out:
Yeferson and Yordan spend the day in my room making the pinata and blowing-up balloons.

5 Hours Out:
Cate is spent, and takes a nap in the balloons.

3 Hours Out:
Dina guesses the guest list to be between 8 and 12 and begins cooking while Cate and I decorate my patio.

Yeferson comes to show off his new suit.

 Yordan show that he also has a lesser seen 'birthday suit'

During the Bash:
More than 20 kids arrive.

Roger insists on using his DVD player and Boombox/light display box in the rain to play music, instead of my "tiny computer with small speakers"... party begins to take a dive as the music isn't very kid friendly.

Cate keeps the party alive by hosting party games such as mummy races using two rolls of toilet paper (meanwhile, Dina gets mad at me for using my toilet paper for the mummy races, and collects the paper in a bag).

Dina is very content that people are eating the food, and specifically asks me to take their pictures

The boys dance and play together

Dina and Roger insist on a family picture with Cate (but not me).

I insist on my taking my own family pictures, some of which included me

End of the Party:
Cate had to catch a night bus home that night, so we let the kids break the pinata, and then everyone went home before the rain came (ending the party at about 7:30ish). It was a big success, especially the pinata.

To end it, I'll always remember the mob of kids reaching for candy after the pinata burst, and seeing Roger happily walk away holding two pencils and... a jump rope (he's the one dressed in the white shirt).