Salta so far....

Trip Start Jun 22, 2004
Trip End Jun 20, 2005

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Friday, March 18, 2005

Salta so far...
March 17th, 2005 Happy St. Patrick's Day! Probably the first time since I turned 18 that I haven't had a drink to celebrate our patron saint. Ah well, will make up for it next year.

So my mission in Argentina is over. Just got back from Bolivia and have a few days here in Chicoana before I take to the road again. How to sum up everything...I had a ball. Working with the children was really good in the end. It was something new for me so now I've become desensitized to mini humans and coped quite well with them. Still couldn't be a primary teacher though. I did so much with them I'll just describe the highlights. On Jan 6th, the 3 Kings come to Argentinian children and bring them pressies, more popular than Santa, a spanish tradition. So I headed off in 36C degrees heat in the back of truck with the 3 Kings and some of the altar boys. We handed out sweets and pressies to hundreds of children in the surrounding villages. It was amazing, you'd see no houses for miles but suddenly we'd pass 10 ragged children standing in the shade under a tree, waiting for us. It was amazing to see the joy a football could bring to a whole group of children. It was a long, hot day but a brill experience.

One night I brought 12 of the children to the next town, El Carril, to see a puppet show. They loved it and it inspired them to do a puppet show of our own. So we spent about 2 weeks making puppet heads from papier mache, and I sewed the bodies, and some locals helped me make a proper stage for the show. We did "The Sleeping Beauty", I did 4 voices, which was a bit confusing, trying to change my tone of voice in Spanish, but it was really good. We put on the show in the church hall, the children made tickets and sold them to their friends in advance and we also sold sweets on the night. The children who came to the show loved it aswell. I have to admit I had a ball, it was the first time I was on stage in about 25 years but its easier when only your hand appears and you're hidden behind a sheet. With the money we raised, we organised a trip into the city which was brill aswell. We went to the airport for a guided tour, to the main sights of Salta and afterwards to the cinema. Most of them had never been to the airport before and probably will never be in a plane in their lives and half of them had bever been to the cinema before so that was a real treat for them. They loved it. A couple of them were travel sick though, I didn't think of it, but they hardly ever go anywhere in any kind of vehicle, they just stay in the village all the time.

I celebrated my 30th brithday with 5 adults and 28 children. They all brought something, crisps or lemonade, and the adults brought sandwiches and cake. We played typical party games. I had a ball. Haven't laughed that much in ages, and not a drop of alcohol passed my lips. The Sunday before they all went back to school, the children organised a goodbye bbq for me. Everyone had to bring their own meat, and I brought lemonade and bread. We cooked in the priest's yard and ate in the church hall. It was lovely, bit sad though saying goodbye to them all. They got very attahced to me in a short time and are expecting me back next year. Even want me to come back when they have their winter holidays in July. They don't believe me that I won't be back.

Besides all that, I got the library started, we have 300 books and more to come. It's a start. The next challenge left to the locals, parents, tachers and priest, is to encourage the chidren to read. They're not in the habit of reading so it's now up to the adults to get the children interested in books. The tourism project I was working on aswell is not quite finished, but we have the ideas on paper and the info leaflet is designed so hopefully they'll get that up and running before next summer. On local tv news last night I saw that the psychologist has started a support group for local teenagers who have problems in school, they're helping them with whatever subjects they have problems with. I reckon that was inspired by my talk on education which I gave in the hospital a few weeks ago, so something positive came of that too.

So all in all, I had a great experience. Have just spent 2 weeks in Bolivia (travelogue to come), and met loads of backpackers so itchy feet again. Have just spent the day washing all my clothes and rucksack so am ready to move on.
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