Bits and Bytes

Trip Start May 18, 2007
Trip End Jul 28, 2007

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Flag of Peru  ,
Tuesday, June 12, 2007

One last short entry before calling it a day... A few bits and bytes, or odds and ends, if you prefer.

I was very sad to say good-bye to my house mate and fellow volunteer Chris, yesterday morning. Chris spent 5 weeks volunteering with GVI here in Arequipa, and was staying with Doris and Luis, where I am also staying. In the short week that we got to know each other, I found that Chris was a great source of wisdom and knowledge whose company I very much enjoyed. She also "initiated" me to the routine in the house, and certainly made my introduction to daily life in Peru very easy. Chris, I wish you some very happy (and safe) travels, and all the best upon your return to England. I (and Doris y Luis) miss you very much!

I must confess that the "pin placement" for several of the last entries is probably not very accurate. The reason for that is the Google map provided by Travel Pod to place the pin does not contain any data for Peru. It is essentially a "blind map", and I have not had the time to search on a different map the exact location of Arequipa and Colca Canyon, and then place the pin properly etc. Please forgive me for that lack of detail. If you know me well at all, you will understand that this lack of precision is rather annoying to me, but not enough time to deal with this on slow computers right now ;-)

Yesterday, we were told during the day that there would be a "paro" today, which is a wide-spread strike by all motorized public transport drivers and operators. Therefore - no public buses, taxis or other transport services, as they would all be out demonstrating against the increasing price of gasoline, and blocking roads for private cars. We were even warned that private vehicles might get stoned!

So we made the decision yesterday afternoon that we would not be going to the school this morning, as transportation may be risky, if not impossible.

Well, of course, "this being Peru" and all, the strike did not take place, and everything has been pretty close to normal today after all. There were apparently some demonstrations in the Plaza de Armas, with riot police present, but nothing major has happened.

Tomorrow? Vamos a ver...
Life in LIMA is a dangerous business. Doris and Luis told me this morning at breakfast that a friend of their son"s and daughter"s (forgive the double quote, something has jammed my keyboard and I cannot use single quote) was freed in the middle of the night last night, after having been sequestered for 25 days by some gang who were requesting S/ 1,000,000 (about USD 300,000) for his liberation. This guy is apparently just an ordinary guy, with not much money. Mercifully, they let him go without harm.

Not only that - the same thing almost happened to Doris" and Luis" own daughter a few weeks ago! She was able to run away before the van drove off, but she was obviously quite traumatized (as was Doris) by the whole event.

These gangs do not target tourists, and operate only in Lima. Nonetheless, it does not make that city very appealing - not that I was planning on spending any more time there anyway.
Good day of school today, even if a bit shorter due to the threatened strike. I learned lots about the circulatory system and the "excreting apparatus" (aparato excretor) in Spanish! Looking forward to tomorrow, when I get to teach English!
The kids are always so happy and excited to see us, and are so eager for our affection. All of you who asked me to give the kids extra hugs on your behalf, it has been done! And thank you very much for that, by the way...
One friend sent an email commenting on the fact that in my pictures, the classroom looks quite modern. I suppose it kind of is, but I think somehow the picture made it look better than it really is! It"s basically a room, with dirty walls and windows, and some drawings that the kids have done stuck on the walls. The desks and chairs are very used, as are the chalkboard and whiteboards. No AV department or computer lab there...

The upstairs classroom, for grades 4, 5, 6, is less cheerful, as they have not decorated anything. We will hopefully be doing this in coming weeks.
Well, that is it for now. I am posting one last picture, of Chris with Doris...

Ciao for now, amigos!
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