Buenas dias! Today marks the end of my spanish classes at El Sol-- it has been a great experience, and I would recommend that school to anyone interested in learning spanish in south america (and no--- I get no commission for saying this...or do I? he he he). To the left is a pic of my classmates, Brittany and bill from the states, and to the right is one of my teachers, Celia, who was AMAZING! Also, to the right is a pic of the parque Miraflores, which I refer to below (the pics do not want to go where I put them--- jerks!!)
The other reason for the title of this post is to talk a bit about my experience on Saturday, visiting a school in San Juan de Lurigancho, as mentioned earlier one of the poorest and densely populated barrios of Lima (a million people!).
The trip San Juan itself was interesting. We were worried w would have to ask a few cab drivers before we could find one who would take us, as is usualapparently, but we were lucky on our first try. And the drive to the barrio itself was quite a study in contrasts---we started out in a fairly nice part of Lima, near the EDUCA office, with relatively secure houses, plants and quiet more or less. Then we made our way to the centre of Lima, and then things started getting dirtier,the air got smoggier, but still beautiful architecture, etc... As we got closer to the hills and into San Juan de Lurigancho, you were greeted with a good look at the shanty towns that have sprung up, hundreds of thousands of people living on a mountainside, precariously perched on what looks like just dirt instead of rock---I would be terrified of a mudslide, but apparently they have been there for decades (which is also not surprising in a way, as many of the 'houses' look like they are in a sad state of disrepair).
Anyway, as we made our way into the barrio, things were much more run-down than I have seen in other parts of the city since I have been here (garbage, dirt, abandoned-looking buildings, etc...), though we did pass the ever-present McDonald's--- can you imagine?! There has been some trees and grass planted recently in the medians, I was told to help make the place look nicer and hopefully get people to take more pride in it. I have to admit a bit of green made a difference in my head. I wonder if it makes a difference for the people who live there?
We arrived at the school, which was hosting an educational exchange, talking about all of the interesting educational projects going on in San Juan de Lurigancho. I sat mainly in a session which talked about different policies and projects in getting kids to read, and about learning partnerships between teachers and students (ie: giving more autonomy to students). Very interesting for me, and I enjoyed being a part of so much positive energy and excitement. The whole experience, beyond being a lesson in the levels of poverty that this city suffers from, was also a great bit of inspiration to get the wheels in my head turning as I start thinking about what will be happening in Huancavelica.
Outside of that rather formative experience, I spent Sunday touring around a bit---took a touristy 1 hour bus tour around Miraflores (for only 5 soles--about 1.50$) which I actually enjoyed--- reminded me a lot of our tours around NY dad! Nilou, who will be staying in Lima for her CUSO position, found an apartment, so I helped get her set up a bit that evening. Her apartment is out of the this world---we were joking that her living conditions will definately not make it in to the CUSO brochure!! :) This weekend I also signed up with the somewhat expat but potentially useful group called South American Explorers (http://www.samexplo.org/) Had a few travel reports on Huancavelica which were usefulto leaf through, and also has a book exchange which I intend on taking full advantage of! :)
Anyway, so that is about all I have to update for now. Again, will post some pics soon so keep checking back. May also add some pics to previous posts, so you might want to leaf through---in any case I will let people know. Asfor upcoming stuff, the rest of this week will be consumed by getting ready for the trek up to the mountains, and tying up some loose ends, a few meetings, maybe trying to watch a movie or something--- get a little pop culture in before I am more isolated. We shall see. Keep in touch, and hope all is well with everyone!