Pamplona Colombia

Trip Start Jan 14, 2013
Trip End Apr 15, 2013

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

There are no bulls running in this Pamplona, only incredible vistas at 8000 feet, cool evenings and warm people. Founded in 1549 it once served as a base for gold mining and commerce centre for all things moving onward to Bogota. A really beautiful two hour drive up from Cucuta with Carlos the president of Cucuta Rotary, and Craig and Gerry Gillis Rotary members from Campbell River. At the last minute we were informed tonights Rotary reception would be formal. This meant I was about to go shoe shopping with Marg.... An hour later after an entertaining Pamplona cobblestone street stroll Marg had her new eight dollar leather shoes; and I had the few wrinkles walked out of my all occasion blue travel shirt I've been wearing since 2006. ( thanks Jo & gang! ) 

After the peverbial reception anthems, speeches and welcomes we presented three elders with their new wheelchairs. I'm sure the whole evening must have been a bit overwhelming for them as they waited patiently for the formalities to finish. A bit odd of a site to present as they had to be carried up the stairs, then out of their wheelchairs and into their old plastic chairs to be carried back down to return to their homes. Needless to say they were very grateful and happy to receive a chair.

On day two we delivered two chairs to homes in the incredibly beautiful hillside. These recipients were very limited to what their outings would entail as the terrain is fairly challenging. The chairs are collapsible and fit into the backs of vehicles or trucks quite easily so will make trips to medical facilities and general outings much easier. The father of the gentleman who had lost a leg was truly beaming with delight and very impressed with all the features their new wheelchair had, as was the teary eyed six year old daughter obviously over joyed and happy for her dad. Neighbours and friends would be needed to carry this recipient out of his home, down the steep steps and into his new found freedom.

Just a few blocks away we reach the home of an elderly woman who had her grandchildren and family surrounding her on this very special day. The kids were mesmerized as the chair was removed from the box and assembled outside the home. Fernando and Oliver go over the demonstration that covers safety aspects, adjusting, foot lift and general operation. The kids eyes light up as they visualize themselves scooting around in grammas new wheels. Tears flow as gramma is helped into her new chair and family hugs all around. Marg makes new friends when she offers some crayons, stickers and mini Canadian flags to the kids. "How do you say share in Spanish?" Marg says laughing at their new distraction, apparently it won't be today they need to try out grammas new high tech wheels.        
We also visited a school for disabled children which had recently been rebuilt after being washed away in a mountain slide. No change of location, just the hope it doesn't happen again. University students assist two full time teachers and do practicums in their specialized areas. Classrooms included children with Down syndrome, hearing impaired and physically handicapped. Nice to see a baking room where children are encouraged to learn how to make bread, a great form of therapy. There is no government funding for this initiative.
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