El Huerto de Esfuerzo
As the time goes on here I am realizing the how much of a difference seeing the kids 2 times a week can make. Luckily, with one of the schools I teach at I have that opportunity. I have been going with the community development boys out to Esfuerzo and while they do “man work” in the garden I have had the girls paint name tags and put them in the garden. It is great because it gives me another chance to collect/help with homework and also apply English to something practical...the crops that they grow and eat! Somehow I was allowed to go with the boys to buy 10 bags of compost, something our organization funded, and as we drove along the road we saw a man on horseback with a dog hanging out of a side bag. We just thought it was funny, got the compost and drive back to school. As we approach we see all of the children on the road coming in our direction. The director gets out and asks what is wrong...someone says that one of the girl’s dogs were stolen by a man on horseback. All is says is...”Why didn’t
you tell them to stop?” It was just so surreal..who steals dogs?? much less on horseback! Our first Friday going out there was hysterical The school is about 15/20 minuets down a dirt road and as can be expected, the car started acting funny. It was just Adam, Jeremy and I in the car. So we left it at the turnoff and our morning started out with about a 55 minute walk...which turned into a 55 minute walk in the pouring rain and then we really began acting like children. I have forgotten just how much fun it is to jump in puddles. We arrived at the school soaking wet in time for a hot soup and recess. We stared playing some inside games as it was still raining but eventually were able to start up a game of soccer. It felt so good to play again!! I just have to remember that they are children and you can’t take them down. It is just not right. After that day the director told me I need to come prepared to play soccer each day that I am teaching. He is great, it seems like they are all family and it
is the only school that I teach in where not only the director plays with the kids but he also encourages the girls to play. Our second week going was eventful as well. Jeremy and I got out that way super early so we went for a swim before class. Again we show up in time for lunch and soaking wet. At least soccer warmed us up! We gardened and then returned to the river with the director, his kids and a few others. Seeing the boys climb all over the our boys like they were trees was funny....as well as when they all wanted to show us what great mermaid-swimmers they were. The director even stripped down into his skivvies and jumped in! The Evening's Adventure
We drove the car into Puyo to bring it to the shop and wound up leaving the internet cafe late. Carrying the groceries we run through town. I’m eating my salchipapas and boarding the super packed bus when I realize I left my class books in the cafe. I reluctantly get off because I will have to wait 2 more hours for the next bus. I just sit unconcerned on the side of the street and eat my dinner. A few minutes later I see Jeremy running back in the direction of the bus! So I run as well...he had gone back and got my books. The bus had already left with Adam but we were able to grab a taxi and catch it although we had to basically ride standing well into everyone’s personal space. As the bus cleared out we found Adam. I remember asking if it gets easier to pick out our stop in the dark the longer you are here, as there are no signals or lights. Jeremy says yes as we pull up to the church about 2 km past our house! We laughed and hopped off to walk the distance home. Then, Adam realizes he left his phone on the bus he manages to flag down a moto and offer to pay the guy to go in the other direction and catch the bus. We take Adam’s groceries and promise to wait at the top of the hill as going down the hill without a light is pretty rough. He heads off gripping the stranger with one hand and holding a flashlight (the bike’s light) with the other. Jeremy and I wait about an hour and begin to get worried, so we walk back to where we got dropped off searching for Adam, wait a bit more and finally descend through the slippery slopes of the back way. We walk into the house covered in mud and see Adam! The moto man had dropped him off at the house but sadly with no cell phone. Everyone else at the house had been cooking and drinking for some time as it was Rachel’s birthday...and we had quite the party planned for her. After dinner, and the three of us playing catch-up with rum, we make her sit still while we prepare the surprise. We go into the dorm room and put on the outfits we had found early and come out dancing to the Lion King song. Each of us had on a large green leaf attached in some fashion and showcased a variety of flora in our head dresses. The evening continued with drinking and dancing while in the jungle spirit. Adam and Shira even did an interesting take on the Backstreet Boys. Ha. We had chocolate cake and all passed out relatively early thinking about our planned jungle trek in the morning. Trekking Through the Jungle
In the am no one was really up for it, but we had made plans. We all race up the hill after throwing a variety of objects in bags. Once atop we realize not only did we miss the bus, but also had about 1 liter of water for 7 people, a few apples and 2 sleeping bags. Fantastic. A passing cop picks us up and drops us off at Manuel’s house. To appease the boys he even put on the flashing lights and sirens for a bit...sometimes it is like they never grow up. Manuel, David and Mesias are all patrons of our adult class and would also serve as our guides for the night. They gather the rest of the necessities and we set off. All I could think of was GREEN. We walked about 4 hours through sheer greenness and then along a river. Towards the end of the hike the skies open and a torrential downpour begins. It felt amazing. The camp consisted of two thatched huts, neither with sides. As we dried out the guys took to cooking. There, in the middle of the jungle they whipped up chicken maitos (where the food is wrapped in leaves and cooked over an open fire), palm hearts and better rice than we make at the house. We all sat around talking for a bit and eventually cuddle up together on the dirt floor for massive cuddling to conserve heat. I don’t know when the singing started but it was definitely reminiscent of summer camp. Throughout the night, random songs, mainly the Beatles, would break out and the bookends (those on the end of our cuddle train) would push either together for more warmth or open up to allow the whole line to rotate. We were all pretty happy to wake up in the morning, eat and get on out but the boys went to go try and catch fish for breakfast. While waiting for them, I walked down to the river alone and jumped into the cold water...it felt invigorating! About 45 minutes later they returned with one fish about the size of my palm, leaving us to eat rice, tuna and some sort of sweet coffee/tea. The hike back to town was mainly uphill and our tired butts were hurting. The waterfall near Triunfo was a blessed relief from the heat of the day. We wound up being very happy we went on the hike but the whole weekend left us dreaming about another day of recovery before classes began anew.
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