Breaking tiles and making waves

Trip Start Sep 17, 2012
Trip End Dec 06, 2012

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Flag of Bolivia  , Oruro,
Monday, October 1, 2012

We‘ve been working on our first community project in the small village of Mallco Rancho for nearly a week now.  We’ve been plastering walls, laying cement floors, and tiling floors and walls in the community center that they’re building in the town. 

The land was offered to the community by the pastor of the evangelical church here, so that local people of any religion will have a place to teach and learn new skills, from using a computer to making artisan crafts. 

During our afternoons the team have been taking it in turns to teach English to the local community, so even though the center is still only half built, it’s being put to good use!!
We’re staying with local families here in Mallco Rancho, most of which are dairy farmers, so some of the team have been up early before the working day starts to help their families milk cows and cut alfalfa for the myriad livestock everyone seems to keep in their back gardens here!  All in all it’s been a really good insight into the lives of a huge portion of the population here in Bolivia.

To reward ourselves for working so hard on the project, we went back into Cochabamba on Thursday night to watch a football match (that’s soccer to all my American cousins) between Wilstermann of Cochabamba and Real Potosi.  Latin Americans LOVE their football, so watching a game here is a real experience.  The teams are welcomed onto the pitch with fireworks and an explosion of confetti from the crowd, and regardless of the score the fans will sing from beginning to end!  We adopted our home team of Cochabamba so were slightly disappointed when they lost 3-2, having missed a penalty in the 88th minute, but none the less it was an amazing experience for everybody.

The local masons who are helping us on the project don’t work Saturday afternoons or Sundays, so we spent this time back in the city of Cochabamba, visiting some of the sights.  Sunday morning we went to “La Cancha”, which is the largest open-air market in all of the Americas.  Part of the market sells artisan goods, including musical instruments, and by the end of the morning we had established ourselves a band!  I’ve started learning guitar, after buying one in the same market last week. Noah has bought a chirango, which is like a small guitar that sounds a bit like a banjo.  Wyllie also bought a guitar, Margaret bought another chirango, Allison bought a violin and Robert is working on his skills with the harmonica he brought with him.  Hopefully we’ll be able to post a video after a few weeks practice, so keep your eyes open for that!
The work continues for this entire week, before we embark on a day hike to Tunari this coming Saturday.  It is the highest mountain in the Cochabamba district, standing at 5035m (16,500 feet). 

We’ll post again at the beginning of next week to let you know how it all went.
Bye for now.
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Meng Zhou-wang on

Hi, Margaret, although we don't see your picture we know you are enjoying the time there and work hard. Be safe. Love, mom and dad 10/3/12

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