Thursday, 29 July 2010

Lexi's GapBreak tales from Kenya

Hey everyone! Ive had the most amazing week. We started building Mama's hut and it was so much fun, such hard work though. And the kids watch and play with you in their drink breaks its so cute. We don't get to finish it though which is annoying, the other half of the camp start tomorrow. On thursday we went to visit the local bush doctor; i cant even describe it you'll have to wait for photos, but it was like they were posessed and then they started singing and at the end we all got up and danced together! We also got to see how the coconut wnie is made, a 60 year old man climbed a rediculously tall coconut tree! I tried after and got a few metres up. On the weekend we entered into the local touch tournament, but their were teams from England and France that travelled for it. It was so much fun and we didnt do too badly either; the team was jimmy, steph, evan, dave and myself.

20th June
I've had another great week; the work was pretty tiring and i havent slept much because of the monkeys and the bush babies, they scream on all night (they're like squirrels and they're SO loud!) but on Wednesday night i was taken out to dinner at the cave restaurant, its so amazing in there and the food was so good. I had a massive seafood platter (I ate oysters!) and then we went back to the 40 theives and danced until about 1.30 then had to get up at 7.30 for desk making the next day, wasnt the most productive day we've had!

I've done so much sawing and nailing this past week, Michael i could give you a run for your money!
We went snorkeling yesterday it was so amazing, the fish aren't scared of you and massive schools of fish swim around you.
It was so pretty. We also got to try scuba diving for a few minutes in the pool, when i get back I'm definitely going to do a course! aI have to keep this one short but i hope adelaide's as cool as it was when i left. Probably not.

Hey guys, we're spending the day at a little village called Voi so we have internet access. We're staying at a place called Tsavo which is where we go on safari! We go on Wednesday and then again in a few days. We're building at a local school aswell, its so sad though this school is so poor and some of the classrooms are crumbling and there will be about 100 kids in a class next year. There's also a 25 year old in year 1. we stay here for about ten more days then go back to the camp where we walk for two hours a day. Until next time!

Wednseday 21st July
Went on safari today! W saw elephants, girraffes, zebras, worthogs, antelopes, buffalos and lions! I've been working at the local school and tomorrow we do wilderenss bush skills, so hopefully I'll learn how to make a fire without a match! We saw the Masai warriors on sunday which were amazing, they did dances and i bought some jewellery from there. Apparently when they get married the male have to first go kill a lion and bring back its head.

Hey! It's so weird that Africa feels like home! We went on safari today and saw a lion close up and an elephant was about to charge at us cos she had a baby and we had to drive away so that was pretty cool. And a girraffe was only abot five metres away! Other than that nothing much has happened since we last spoke, but yesterday we had to stop working cos there wer elephants close by! Anyway miss you guys!

Lexi xx

Monday, 26 July 2010

Emily in the Blue City - Jodhpur, India

Last weekend, thirteen of us currently residing in the Channel Youth house ventured to Jodhpur, the Blue City. It's also the warmest city of all of Rajasthan. But more on that later.
We left Friday afternoon very excited for the weekend ahead. We then boarded a bus for 7 HOURS, with no airconditioning, arriving in Jodhpur at around 9pm local time. It was at least 35 degrees. We woke the next morning, still sweating. It was HOT.
We woke for breakfast (which fortunately arrived a little quicker than dinner the night before) and packed up, hoping to do our first spot of sightseeing. Our first stop was Jaswhant Thada. Its big and white, like lots of buildings in India but has an amazing view of Jodhpur, showing why it is called the Blue City! After sweating it out there, we headed to Mehrangarh Fort to see it in the daytime. It sits in the middle of the city, looking over the hundreds of blue houses, making sure noone invades. Well, that's what it was built for. We walked through for about 2 hours, giving up on the audio tour halfway through (it was too hot to wear headphones...) and instead marvelling at the intricate glasswork and other fancy things.

After Mehrangarh came the highlight of nearly everyone's day - MACCAS!!!! Udaipur doesnt have the golden arches, so for us Australians, who had gone without a burger for 6 weeks, this was going to be heaven. Shelby had even been dreaming about a cheeseburger. Going through the security machine (yes, they have a security machine to get to Maccas) we entered airconditioned heaven. However, once we got to the counter, we realised a very sad thing - there was no beef or pork on the menu. NOOOOO!!!!

15 mins later and we'd recovered from the shock. We probably should have been more realistic,considering we'd never been able to find beef before, cows being sacred and all. Anyway, large McChicken meals were ordered, and we revelled in its junkfoodieness. It was amazing!

Still revelling in Macca's goodness, we boarded a very small jeep for a 2 hour journey to a Hindu temple, on the way to the desert. The village around it was created for the sole purpose of servicing the temple. The temple had fantastic glasswork, light reflecting off every surface. A few of us also picked up some simple beaded bracelets, that bring good luck. Here's hoping!

Hopping into another equally small jeep, we continued our ridiculously bumpy ride into the actual desert. The desert is very different to that in Australia - it's got a lot more vegetation and animals and isnt as red. We arrived, again, dripping with sweat and happy to get into a cooler environment. The place we were camping out for the night was a basic brick structure, with one or two rooms, but no bathroom. Hello squatting. Outside was coolest so we relaxed on the camp beds and then went exploring around the area.
Dinner was on the roof, watching the sunset. It was gorgeous, and most importantly, cool! After dinner entertainment consisted of a little band with traditional Rajasthani instruments (including a piece of string that a man blew, making a very odd but nice sound) and two dancers. We danced the night away!
Camping under the stars was definitely a highlight and with surprisingly little bugs, it was a sweet sleep. Not that we got much, considering we were talking for a while and had to wake up at 4:30am.

Sunday started at 4:30 when we were woken up by the sounds of camels being tethered to poles right near us. The camel safari had begun! Camel riding is one of the MOST PAINFUL EXPERIENCES OF MY LIFE!
Imagine sitting on a horse for a few hours, you don't really feel the pain until you get off. With a camel, you feel the pain from the point you sit on the camel until the point you get off. My legs died. However, it was still lots of fun and definitely scary. The angles at which the camel stands up should not be allowed.

Two hours later, after a beautiful sunrise, we ate breakfast - the first Indian breakfast we'd had. It was a little weird having Parantha and lentils but we dealt. We arrived at Jodhpur 3 hours later. Whilst doing a quick sightseeing tour in the area around our guesthouse, we coincidentally ran into Lauren's twin sister Ash, who was travelling around India with her friends Jess and Soph. It was an awesome coincidence and great for Lauren and Ash to catch up after 4 months apart (She did the Antips program in Nepal)

On Saturday, a large group of volunteers (and Ravi) ventured to Kumbalgarh Fort, one of the largest in Rajasthan and Ranakpur Temple - one of the largest Jain temples in India. Kumbalgarh is HUGE! It has a wall whose sheer length is only beaten by the Great Wall in China. The fort itself is massive and gives a great view of the green hills of Northern Udaipur. We staggered our way to the top (too many chips and biccies!) and sang in the echoing rooms - I think India has now been introduced to Disney songs by us!

Ranakpur was anothe hour away and simply put, is amazing! It has 1444 marble pillars, each one different. They are intricately carved and demonstrate fine marblework. The Jains, interestingly, are much more strict about visitors - women who have their "mense period" are not allowed in and photography of the main idol is strictly prohibited. Leather is also prohibited.

It has been a week of exciting trips and next weekend, we head to Rathambore National Park for a Tiger Safari and Agra, for, of course, the Taj Mahal. We cannot wait!


Thursday, 15 July 2010

Jack's final adventures in Cusco

Hi everyone,

Sorry about the lack of contact- my electronics always seem to run out of charge at the same time and it takes a while to get them all up and running again. Plus time has been precious in my final week in Cusco! Can´t believe its nearly over!

The last day of school was great- there was a big presentation/goodbye at the school for the "amigos australianos"- we were given gifts, confetti was thrown in our hair, and we received countless hugs from the forever affectionate kids.

We managed to complete the build just in time and it looks great- something we can really be proud of. Liza (Lauren’s replacement) complimented us on being such a great group- apparently we´ve taken classes seriously and the teachers have noticed real progress in their kids, which is really satisfying for us.

We also scraped together $US20 each to buy a much needed photocopier/printer/scanner for the school which we presented on the final day as well. We also enjoyed the first meal in the Restaurant which we built. I got to officially open the restaurant by smashing a pot hanging from the front door- not entirely sure of the significance of the pot-smashing but was an honour nevertheless.

I should also update you on the amazing Bolivia trip from last week, because it was really a great adventure. We took a night bus from Cusco to Puno, a high altitude Peruvian city built on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Again, the long night trip took it out of us, but we didn´t have much time to rest- within an hour we were being driven to the pier to start our overnight Lake tour. We met our guide Ruben on board our boat, and we were off, sailing across the vast expanses of glassy water. Our first stop was the famous "floating islands" a series of tiny patches of crushed reeds that exist as homes and business centers for local family groups. It was truly another world- golden islands of dried reeds, supporting little reed huts and humble fisherman families. Reed canoes and boats floated gracefully in this wonderfully serene, yet equally bizarre environment.

We then travelled three hours by boat to the distant island of Amantani, our stop for the night. Upon our arrival we were greeted by the local families adorned in traditional garb. We met our host sister who led us to her home- a small, yet comfortable house with unbelievable views of the island and lake. A much needed lunch was followed by a few rounds of Muña tea, a local brew compared to menthol, great for altitude and stomach pain.

The night on the island was great fun. After dinner we dressed in traditional clothes (poncho and chullo) and headed for the local town hall for a night of dancing. The band, complete with panpipes, flutes, guitars and percussion, were amazing, and we soon forgot about the cold as we danced around and around in circles.

The following morning, after a delicous breakfast of pancakes Lake Titicaca style, we made our way down to the pier for our trip to nearby Tequile island, which proved to be perhaps even more beautiful than Amantani.
We walked for about an hour along the hill face until we reached the main plaza, enjoying spectacular views along the way.
After a quick look at the Artesian hall we made our way to our restaurant for lunch- veggie soup plus grilled trout with chips and rice- was tops.

We walked again for another half hour to the other side of the island, and as we descended the hill we were greeted with more stunning views of the Lake. Our boat then took us all the way back to Puno, another 3 hour trip. We arrived late afternoon, and after some time chilling in the hostel, we went out for dinner and a look at the local nightlife- it was non-existent so it wasn’t a late night- and besides we were all pretty tried.

We woke up early the next day for our bus trip into Bolivia, destination La Paz. On the way we stopped at Tawinakay, a very important historical Incan site which once housed a series of temples dedicated to their gods. Much of it was destroyed by the Spanish, but the collection of artifacts in the museum, and the remnants in the field were really interesting.

We reached La Paz late that afternoon, arriving at our very comfortable hostel. After some more time spent relaxing we went out for dinner at a very cool Mexican place. We took a look at Prado, the main street, before heading back to bed.

After a nice sleep in and breakfast we made use of a few hours to go shopping along the market streets before our scheduled city tour. Our guide took us along the main street to the southern side of the city, where high rise buildings and traffic give way to a much more attractive landscape- an impressive valley of weathered red stone and cacti. We stopped at El Parque de Luna- an area of sandy coloured rock formations jutting out of the earth, reminiscent of the moons landscape. We then made our way to an older part of the city with a panoramic lookout and an attractive colonial street, filled with brightly coloured European terrace homes.

We drove directly from the city to the airport for our flight to the Amazonian jungle. From La Paz we flew in a small plane to Reyes, then we drove a couple of hours to Rurrenbaque, a jungle town where we stayed the night. The next morning we travelled another couple of hours to the national park. After lunch we caught a long river boat up the river to our lodge. The river was unbelievable- an array of wildlife, ranging from alligators, turtles, coppyburras (world´s largest rodent), squirrel monkeys and even pink dolphins, lined the banks, filled the trees and rippled through the water. When we finally arrived at our lodge it was dark and the mozzies were out in force. After dinner we went to bed, pulled over our mosquito nets and went to sleep.

We woke early the next morning to see the sunrise over the amazon- it was beautiful to see the glowing orange light rise above the horizon and cast a warm glow through palm fronds- it was a quintessential jungle experience. We returned to the lodge for breaky before going on an anaconda hunt through the pampas. Our guide found a juvenile in the mud- apparently we were lucky to find one at all.

Our next activity for the day was swimming in the Amazon- we were taken to a reasonably safe part of the river to swim- was a great relief from the stifling heat. We then returned to the hostel for an amazing lunch and a casual siesta, before starting our afternoon activity, fishing for piranahs! As usual I didn´t catch a thing, but our guide got a couple- was really cool to see these fearsome creatures in the flesh- they´re surprisingly small with quite attractive colors, but the teeth are clearly very sharp and vicious.

As the sunset that afternoon, we played soccer on a dirt pitch whilst the girls played volleyball. My feet blistered pretty badly but it was great fun, and really beautiful.

The next morning it was unfortunately time for us to go. We had time for one more activity, a walk through part of the jungle with our guide, who showed us the various plants that are used for medicinal purposes, as food sources etc... was really interesting.

The boat then took us back down river to our taxi, who took us back to Rurrenbaque for our flight back to La Paz. The flight again wasn´t too bad. We spent another night in La Paz before waking up early for our full day bus trip back to Cusco. We got home at about 7pm, tired but buzzing from a great week.


So that gets you all up to date. Tomorrow morning we start our trek to Macchu Picchu- can´t wait- feeling pretty good at the moment so fingers crossed I´ll be OK from here on in.

Love to all

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Emotional Final Week for our Peru Gappers

It seems to have been an emotional final week for the Gappers in Peru but all has ended up well and I believe they are excited about their onward travels or trips home. Here is the latest report from Liza in Cusco and photos attached.

The school, kids, teachers and mothers put on a lovely farewell for the group on Thursday afternoon. There were many speeches from students and teachers alike. The group received gifts of a scarf and beanie, and were covered in confetti as per any good Peruvian celebration. The teachers and mothers showed their gratitude for the groups hard work. The group shared some wine with their project foreman and teachers and then were treated to a meal of chicken and rice, prepared by the mothers of the community. It was wonderful to see.

They are all feeling sad about leaving. Their last teaching class was Wednesday - those didn't have classes taught anyway so they could say goodbye to the kids and do their final class. The group have all bonded really well with the kids in their classes and the kids were sad to farewell the group a their special farewell on Thursday.

The restaurant buildings are FINISHED! Painted inside and out, they were still working on the mural on Thursday and were planning to come back on Friday to finish.

All had a group dinner with all their families together on Thursday night, to say thanks to them. I think in some cases there will be tears, as some of kids really connected with their host families.

The group travelled through Bolivia and the jungle and returned to school last Monday. Apart from Ayla's health issues at Lake Titicaca all went well from what I am told. They had a great time and really enjoyed the jungle.
They were back at school from Monday to Thursday and then off to Salkyntine trek and Machu Picchu on Friday (10) and return on Wednesday 14.

Food eaten in the jungle has quite possibly come back to rear it's head and as a result a few of the girls ended up in the clinic. All were released on Sunday. We have managed to get them on the same train to Macchu Picchu as Ayla, so all will be travelling to Aguas Callients together and meeting the rest of the group there.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Meeting the Masai, an eventful few weeks for our Tanzania gappers.

The last two weeks in camp have been absolutely rocking and very eventful, especially the last few days which were spend camping out bush in the savannah. The camp is called Ndarakwai and our time there was spent getting rid of poaching snares and digging out farrows and a waterhole for the animals to drink from.
The 13,000 acre ranch is currently home to hundreds of zebras, giraffes, warthogs, impalas, elands, antelopes and many others, including one particually hungry cheatah.
There is also several Masai settlements on the property, and we had the opportunity to spend a morning with the tribe- learning their culture, taking part in traditional beading and even teaching them the hokey pokey. Not every day you can say that you did the hokey pokey with the masai!Jambo Antips!

It was an amazing experience to live in this place and amongst this setting, but we were still relieved yesterday to be home in camp and say goodbye to the tents, bucket showers and drop toilets.

Back in camp, life has been almost equally interesting. A war has broken out between the boys and girls- started through us putting a chicken in to the shower with Patrick. The boys got their own back later that night by waking us up with pots and pans over our heads at two am!
We have welcomed to Camp Tanzania a whole other group of European campers, who are staying with us for a mix of one and two months. Tonight we are celebrating their arrival with a fancy dress party before hitting the clubs.

Tomorrow we head away again to Camp Kydia which is 45 minutes away up Mt. Kilimanjaro where we will get to know the local Chaga tribes and work with the woman there.

Hoping all is well back home! And until next time, hakuna matata! :)

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Last few weeks in Nepal.

A glimpse into the final few weeks for our Nepal GapBreakers. Enjoy every last minute guys! This is the rest of the post

Monday, 5 July 2010

GapBreak India - Emily on Indian food, Indian traffic and one agitated Indian monkey.

Namaste from India!
We just celebrated our second week in India and have been having a ball!
Our first few days were orientation where we learnt about teaching, Hindi, Udaipur and religion and caste in India. We then ventured into Udaipur on a city tour - I have never seen anything like it!There is one main road, with 5 roundabouts (called circles) along the way. But the only similarity they have with Australian ones are that they are round!

No giving way, no lanes - its a free for all. People get so close you can see the wrinkles on their forehead. Not only do we have to share the road with bikes and overcrowded rickshaws(20 people in a 8 seater - go figure) but there are also cows, horses, elephants, dogs, donkeys and camels. The horn is even worse here. At the end of the road is Old Town. It is a laneway with thin but tall buildings cramped into little space. In all these buildings there are heaps of shops and everyone is trying to get your attention (because we are 4 of about 8 white people in the city, we are screamed at a lot...). To add to the crowd, there are still motorbikes and rickshaws!! The markets are fantastic! There are so many pretty clothes, shoes galore, bags, leather goods and to top it off, a German and French bakery! When a pair of genie pants are 100 rupees ($2.50) it's hard not to buy the whole shop.
Whilst in the city, we also visited Jagdish Temple. The temple is dedicated to Vishnu, the Hindi God. It's stunning. On the walls, there are intricate carvings of elephants, hippos, female and male figures dancing etc etc. We also encountered our first child beggar. She was very cute and very small (up to my thigh) but encouraging begging by buying stuff off them only continues the cycle so we just had to ignore her. So heartbreaking though.
The food here is soooo good! We have 3 meals a day, and they are all delicious. Chappati or Naan are a given, but we have rice, two types of curry and vegies or fruit as well. Living in luxury!
During the orientation, we visited the orphange and day care centres where we will be teaching. The orphange is small and bare, but the boys there are so happy, its really nice to see. Th day care centres are also very basic. Sarah and I teach at Bedla Day Care, Lauren and Shelby teach at Sonariya Day Care. Jack teaches at the school, grades 2-3. All the kids are incredibly cute and usually are really eager to learn :) At Day Care, we teach the alphabet, numbers, body parts etc whilst also doing lots of songs and games. The skill level is varied so we have to make sure we help every kid.
Our day to day schedule goes like this:
Breakfast at 7.
Teaching in the morning for 1 and a half hours
Relax until Lunch at 12.
Afternoon off
Chai time at 5.
Orphange visit for an hour
Dinner at 7.
Night off.
In our first 2 weeks, we have had a few adventures. We went turban hunting down the alleyways of Old Town, had a standoff with a agitated monkey, a party for Ritu's (our co-ordinator) birthday, visited a temple at sunrise, visited Monsoon Palace where we got asked for many photos, and have been soaked in pre-moonsoonal rain. All in all, its been an amazing adventure!!
We can't wait to see what else India has in store for us.

Canterbury College's last week on their Peru Expedition

Hello from Peru!
It´s been a while since we have updated the blog so here is the lowdown from the past week and a bit. The community project was an eye opening experience. We mingled with the local children, they thrashed us in soccer twice and greeted us with a small presentation of songs and poetry. They were absolutely delighted to have us there especially when we played with them and attempted to teach them English and games. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star was a hit (Albert forgot the lyrics)

Going to the houses was a bit of a shock when we saw how little these people really had but they welcomed us into their homes (gave us traditionally cooked potatoes) and we formed bonds with many of the families some of which had children at the Huatata school. We now understand how much the chimneys and water tanks will improve the living conditions of these people. It was a sad day when we had to say goodbye to the community. They put on another presentation to show their gratitude for the help that we gave the community. During the week at the project we had the privilege of traveling back to Cusco to watch the Inti Raymi (festival of the Sun, from the time of the Incas). Saqsaywaman (ruins were the festival was held) was packed with people and the festival was amazing (we didn´t understand the Spanish but the dances were interesting). After the project we had one nights rest in Las Chulpas eco lodge before setting out on the trek with our guides Chalo and Erin.
The trek was challenging, we froze like icicles on the first night and got soaking wet on the third day but that didn´t keep us down.
At the highest point on the trek (4600m) the view was spectacular and the food cooked for us was delicious. The hot springs at the end were well worth the effort it took to get there. From the trek we transferred back to Cusco then on to Puno to visit the famous Lake Titicaca. The bus to Puno took 9 hours but we were able to stop at 4 sites (with really complicated names) along the way and see a bit more of Peru. At Puno we took a boat out to the Uros (floating) islands. It was a bit disconcerting walking on reeds knowing the water was only a few feet below. We watched a demonstration on the building of the reed islands and visited the local houses. After that we enjoyed a ride on a reed boat. This morning we took a bus from Puno to Arequipa, it took 6 hours, crossing through a lot of desert. Plans for the next two days in Arequipa include shopping and visiting several tourist sites in the city. It is frightening that our time here has passed so quickly and that soon we will be home. We will see you all in a few days.

Nat and Andrew

P.S. dog count: 1360

Long lost Nepal Blog - Our gappers sweat it out in Sauraha.

I'm sitting in 37 degree heat in an internet cafe in the main drag of Sauraha, which is the village that travelers stay in if they can't afford the up-market resorts inside Chitwan National Park. We're all still damp from the bathing sess. we just had with our resorts' elephant, Pinkie. She's only a teenager (16) and so is still learning all the commands from her life-log trainer, who we all think looks exactly like Moglie from the Jungle Book.
We paid under $2 Australian dollars to swim with, ride and get thrown around by an teen elephant for 30 minutes. We're all going to write to Taronga Zoo to tell them that their $200 elephant ride is waaaayy overpriced.
It's just four of us in Chitwan this weekend as Mim decided to go to Pokhara and Lumbini  (Buddha's birthplace) with her mother.
Yes, her mother - who gave us all a massive surprise by rocking up at our village at 7am Tuesday morning with lamingtons, chocolate cake, Vegemite, nutella and peanut butter to celebrate Mim's 18th with her IN NEPAL!

Turned out that us and our host families were the only ones not in on the surprise, which had been planned ever since January.
Mim and Soph's host father, Ragu, was ecstatic and felt the need constantly remind us throughout the day that he was 'very very happy.'
Teaching has been a little harder for Ash and I this past week and a half... For a few days I only had two kids in my class (out of the four i usually have). It was good one-on one time with them, but unfortunately, the Nepali teachers have started asking us to teach out of the English exercise books that are administered by the government. The books are ridiculous, as they are written by Nepali people who can't seem to grasp basic English grammar, and seem to have no idea how to make any of the activities exciting. Ash successfully ignored the teacher's request, partly because the children in her class are so young, but i got myself into the trap of agreeing to the change, and now cant seem to get out of it. My kids's allocated books were WAY too hard for their ability - Rajesh can barely answer the question "Where do you live?' and the first activity in his textbook was to READ (which he cant, he can barely talk in English) the text and answer the question: "What do you say to your teacher when you meet her in the morning?"
Frustration levels are mounting...
Despite that hiccup, Ash and I have managed to establish a schedule for every day, which involves a game after the last hour of teaching. So far we've taught them Captain Ball, stuck in the mud, musical chairs, pin the tail on the donkey, hangman, what's the time Mr Wolf and, wait for it (parps, block your ears) the Hokey Fucky Fucky. It was unintentional... one minute they were singing the Hokey Pokey, and the next they were running around with their hands under their chins yelling English expletives... After trying (and failing) to explain the difference between the two words, we just had to sit and wait until they got bored of it.
On the Friday and Monday just gone, we painted Soph, Andrew and Mim's school. A team from KEEP came down with what they assured us was white paint to paint an undercoat in the ten classrooms at the school. A smooth-running, non-hectic, charitable undertaking? Not in Nepal (that last written with affection). The 'white paint' turned out to be cement, which we mixed with large volumes of water, and spread on the walls using 'rollers' that we made by nailing blackboard dusters to bamboo sticks. After an hour of painting, all classes seemed to have stopped, the number of cement buckets and rollers had doubled (no doubt using up the school's entire supply of dusters) and nearly all 300 children of the school were running around slapping cement on walls, emptying classrooms of desks and chairs or simply standing in doorways watching the westerners paint. I don't know how, but all the classrooms were painted and ready for colour by Monday.
We introduced Nepal to the art of splatter painting and paint bombing! Ragu, the principle was mortified at the 'splattered' wall, which we thought was a work of art. He put his thumb and his forefinger on the bridge of his nose and said, "no, no no. This is..." he searched for the appropriate word, "...dirty!"
Ravi (Mine and Ash's host brother) loved it- he even splattered some himself.
We're going to hopefully paint all the other classrooms this coming week. One down, nine to go.
The agenda for the rest of the weekend involves an Elephant safari in the evening, followed by a trip to the elephant breeding center to see the twin male calfs, a canoe and possibly a jeep safari tomorrow. The sunsets here are beautiful and we eat by the river every night and morning.
Everyone's health is fine - as good as it gets in Nepal anyway.
We're all looking forward to Lucy's visit - someone to share the madness.
Lovin' Nepal!!!!!
Jess and the team.

Friday, 2 July 2010

From Twinkies to Trout Restaurants. Update from Michelle in Peru

>There are moments that come along, where you realise you´ve become truly appreciative of the small things. Like flat roads, good suspension on the taxi you're currently traversing bumpy pot holed Cusco in, or the fact that the 'tienda' down the road is now selling Twinkies. But there exist other moments, which I believe life changing, even if they take only a minute of your life. Rather than re-evaluate my own luck, my first thoughts fell on the children at school. They all live in very similar situations, where their parents are out all day working, and on return home, it's their responsibility to help out with work as well; simple play time just doesn't exist outside of school.. this just made me so proud of their achievements, the fact that they are all such bright kids so willing to get an education and try hard at school. And proud of the parents too, that even though it is at a great cost to them, they put most of their children through school. Definitely makes me feel lucky that we can help their situation, for the school is truly one of their only outlets where they can feel like kids and experience true carefree childhood, where they are fed and given the opportunity to be healthy and clean via the hygiene project.
The trout restaurant is almost complete! With weeks and weeks of plastering, levelling the floor, concreting, putting in windows and doors, we are currently sanding and grouting the tiles; looks absolutely fantastic! also, the first trout was sold for lunch, so the project, even though not completed as fast as we wished, is definitely on the way to completion! hope to see it through to the end... only three weeks to go!
Your peruvian chica, Michelle