Biblioworks Week 5 - Yamparaez

Trip Start Dec 06, 2010
Trip End Mar 31, 2011

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Where I stayed
Santa Cecelia Inn

Flag of Bolivia  , Chuquisaca,
Thursday, February 10, 2011

Our focus for the week was to prepare for our trip to the Yamparaez library where we would spend one day repairing and building things for the library, and then another day putting on a puppet building workshop for 24 children, 8 to 12 years old, in the morning and then performing our puppet play, in the afternoon. The four of us are quite happy with what we are going to be doing, as we are doing what we do best - artsy things, music, fixing things and organizing. No jobs that we don't like. Thank you Biblioworks!
All we knew about Yamparaez, is that it is a small town, on the way to a bigger market town called Tarabuco, with no direct buses going to it, so it is a bit of a challenge to go to or from it.  As mentioned in a previous blog, I will use the information from BiblioWorks'  Volunteer Handbook to give you a bit of information about the pueblos that we visit, as it is hard to find any information about them on the web

      "Yamparaez is about a 25 minute drive from the sity of Sucre on a high cold "pampa". Even though the town is normally cold, the people there are warm. The library in Yampa was opened early in 2007 and since then has been one of our strongest libraries. The teachers love using the library as a teaching tool and kids love having a place that they call their own.
In each library we organize a volunteer library committee of people who are dedicated to supporting the activities of the library. Yamparaez definitely wins the prize for the best library committee. The group of people supporting the library out there is incredibly hard-working and truly wants to see their community grow and strengthen."

Knowing this information, we were looking forward to our time in Yamparaez. We practiced our play on Monday morning with Roxana, a BiblioWorks employee, who was going to play the part of a very old grandmother who comes into the libray looking for her big storybook called "El Canto del Kirkincho" (The Armadillo's Song). Once the book is found, she starts to read the story to the audience in a very expressive voice.  Roxana has had acting lessons and complements our little troupe of puppeteers and musicians, wonderfully. 
On Tuesday, Chris, Pat and Matt went to the carpenter's shop to load newly-built chairs, tables, cabinets and shelving into a truck which was going to take them to the town of Tomina, where the brand-new BiblioWorks' library is located. Next Monday, we will take part in the festivities at the inaugaration of this library. Gail went shopping for odds and ends that we still needed for our workshop and I continued to work on 'fancying up' the cactus that we will use for photos at the Tomina library. Later that day we packed up everything that we needed for construction, workshop and puppet show in Yamparaez - 4 big bags full - and hoped that we wouldn't need anything else because if we didn't have it with us, we wouldn't have it, once we were there.
 All Wednesday night, it rained and rained. It was a pretty drippy and foggy start to our day as we waited for the small micro or van, that when full holds 12 - 15 people, uncomfortably. Our long legs are just not meant for sitting in micros.  Gail, Roxana and I went in the first micro that was ready to go while Chris and Pat waited, somewhat impatiently for an hour, for the carpenter who said that he would meet them at the bus station with wood for building shelves. Finally after a couple of hours, all of us were together, in Yamparaez, ready to work. 
 Being in the countryside in a pretty little pueblo was great. The people were friendly and curious and the views were wonderful. The library is located right next to the combined elementary and secondary school. We all went next door to make arrangements for which children would attend our workshop on Thursday and to 'advertize' our puppet show. Then Chris and Pat got busy. They built a bookshelf for games and secured it to the wall, built a reading glasses shelf,  built and mounted a coat rack for schoolbags, took down the library's sign which needs a lot of work, and repaired any chairs or tables that needed to be fixed. Gail and I had an easier day - putting up the puppet theatre, preparing for  Thursday's workshop and being gophers.
Rather than take a crowded micro home, we caught a ride in the back of a pickup truck with a tarp over a frame.  We had a comfortable and scenic ride home.

Thursday started out wet and cold again. The rainy season was late so we are getting the rains now. Some of the adobe houses in Sucre have become waterlogged and the whole sides of houses have collapsed onto the street. We could also see landslides on the hillsides.  Actually we were lucky because it rained all day in Sucre, but not in Yamparaez. You can probably see in the photos that we were wearing layers of clothing, including our fleeces and jackets as it is usually cold after it rains here.

Our day with the kids was awesome. When we arrived at the library, the kids were already waiting for us. Our puppet workshop was a big success and the kids went from looking very serious and a little scared of us, to laughing and ending the day with big, toothy smiles. The puppets were incredibly creative and Chris and I were thrilled that we could give a 2 hour workshop to kids, all in Spanish, and they could all understand us!!!!! A huge leap in our learning curve, and a bit tiring...

After lunch, we went for a walk around Yamparaez and took a lot of photos of the town and the surrounding area. The people here are camera shy, so we do not have many photos of the wonderful faces that we see here.

The afternoon puppet show was great too. We had about 30 to 40 kids who arrived punctually at the library at 3 p.m. to see the puppet workshop creations display and the show. Roxana was fabulous as the old grandmother and made the kids laugh and laugh with her funny antics before the show and after. We really enjoy working with her and she loves to take care of us.  Just an aside - a half an hour before the kids came, a mouse scampered across the floor and hid under a desk. It thankfully didn't make an appearance during the show!

Friday was a pretty quiet day for us.  The cactus needed a few last minute touches, the condor had to be packaged and ready to endure the bus ride to Tomina on Sunday morning, our clothes needed to go to the laundromat and we needed to buy some food for dinner and breakfast.  The sun came out for a few minutes but wasn't out long enough to warm us up. On the front page of the local paper the headlines said that the rains had caused terrible flooding, destroying crops and homes in Sucre, La Paz and Cochabamba. It snowed in the high city of Potosi.

On Saturday morning, the four us of piled into the Dinobus and headed 5 km  to Sucre's Parque Cretacico Cal Orck'o. This park has the world's largest collection of dinosaur tracks. The footprints were first seen by workers in the local cement factory about 25 years ago.  The nearly vertical limestone wall was full of thousands of dinosaur prints. Our guide told us that that were about 5,000 impressions from at least 250 individual dinosaurs (hadrosaurs, ankylosaurs and ceratopsians, for dinosaur buffs), that are embedded in a rock wall that had to be about 110 meters high and 1,200 meters long. Scientists believe that these footprints date back 68 million years.  The wall that we saw was flat at the time of the Cretaceous period, well before the Andes were formed. During this time, the titanosaurs, the last giant, long-necked dinosaurs, roamed the plains leaving footprints in the mud. Before the deep tracks had time to disappear, they were covered with layers of sediment and thus were preserved. When the Andes were were being formed, 65 million years ago, this flat area was uplifted and created the amazing vertical wall we were looking at.

Nine months ago a huge triangular section of the wall collapsed, wiping out a whole section of prints. Surprisingly, a new set of footprints appeared under the part that had fallen off. Even though there have many attempts to preserve the wall, nothing has worked. Sadly, according to Swiss scientists, erosion will probably will destroy most of the wall by 2020.

The park also had life-size models of the dinosaurs on display. It was a lovely sunny day and the views of Sucre from the park were beautiful. My hat had blown away while on the Dinobus but the kind Dinobus drivers went hunting for it while we were looking at the tracks and ... they found it for me! All in all we had a very nice afternoon.

Tomorrrow, we are off to Tomina for Library #8's grand opening.


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Franki on

You must be so thrilled when the project is done and to see all those little faces enjoying and learning many things as they go. Wonderful blogging.

Mike Maurice on

Your blogs get better every week. I wish I was so talented as you. Keep on having a riot.

DAD on


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