miércoles, 2 de junio de 2010

"Don't cry for me Argentina"

Right, I am going to be honest with you guys here; I have been a very lazy person over the past few months. I have not bothered to write anything. I have been writing my journal and you can ask to read it when i get home but the reality is that I am just a bit too lazy and busy to write about every little thing that I am getting up o here in Argentina. I will fill you in on the places that I have visited here but I'm not going to tell you all the little details of the things that I have done.
The first place that i went to in argentina is a city called Salta. It is the most awesome quiet city and i really enjoyed my time there. I had a couple of trips out from Salta to some places called San Antonio de los Cobres and Cafayate. Cafayate is a wine making area. Their best wine is torrontés, a crisp, white wine.
After Salta, I went to Córdoba. Cordoba is a much larger city than Salta and is one of the principal cities in Argentina. It was a really cool place just to hang out and enjoy the atmosphere of the place. I also got to know some people who live there through my roomate at the hostel.
The hostel where I stayed in Córdoba was amazing; the atmosphere of theplace was really nice and they made free empanadas for everyone at least twice a week. I had a really nice time there and I was certainly very sad to leave.
The next stop was Puerto Iguazú. I flew from Córdoba to Iguazú because I was feeling lazy and I wanted to give myself a birthday treat. Iguazú is one of the sweetest towns that I have ever visited. It definitely doesn't feel like a border town and it has some life to it. I went to the waterfalls for my birthday and it was amazing. It really is a great spectacle. The sound of all that water crashing over the abyss is quite spectacular and it certainly takes your breath away. I really like Iguazú but I was also really excited when I left it because it meant that I was going to Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is an amazing city. I was really lucky because I was there during the celebrations of the bicentenary of the Argentine nation. It was the best party that I have ever seen. I really enjoyed Buenos Aires. It is so full of life and fun. I took the oportunity to take a tango lesson with a person who I met in Iguazú.
Then after Buenos Aires, we move to my current location, Mendoza, the wine capital of South America. I am having a great time here. The wine tour is amazing. You just go out and rent a bike and then you can ride between all the vinyards, trying wine and other things; there is one place where they make olive oil, chocolate, and licors including absinthe. It was an amazing day out. I am still here and I am looking at the different things that i can see round here.
I'll just have to tell you later what i get up to.

martes, 11 de mayo de 2010

"The 'Motorcycle' Diaries"

Ok so i am going to be very quick about the parts of my trip up to Argentina and then i will be up to date. Hopefully i will be a good enough boy to keep myself up to date from then on so that you all know the cool things that i have been up to and can be suitably jealous of my awesome life.

Ok so after i had finished with my time with Projects Abroad, i had a few more weeks in Peru before sara and i went to Bolivia to have adventures at the salar de Uyuni. In this time i did some cool sights things but i also went to Machu Picchu with Sara. We went with a group who had done the alternative inca trail which goes through the jungle. We got up at 4am to walk up to the ruins. It was AMAZING!!!!! When we got in it was really cloudy but the clouds cleared for just long enough for us to see accross the whole complex. Then the clouds came back and we couldn't see a thing but hey ho. Anyway we went around the city with our guide Herber. At Machu Picchu everything is shaped like a condor (well supposedly) It is an amazing city. then it started raining so we went to shelter in the cafe and wait to see if the rain would stop. It didn't. So we just went back down to spend the afternoonin the town. So that was Machu Picchu.

Next comes Uyuni; Sara and I went to Uyuni on the train with a quick stop in La Paz to book our tour around the Salt flats. We arrived in Uyuni on the train. Uyuni is a very dry and windy town. It seems to exist almost entirely for the tourists who come for the Salt flats. Our tour was absolutely amazing. We saw the salt flats and took loads of really cool illusion photos using the weird lack of perspective to create some awesome photos. Then on the other days, we got to go to loads of really pretty places like the coloured lagoon. which was an amazing thing to see. it is BRIGHT purple. well it was purple the day that we were there but the guide assured me that it really depends on the day and the wind. Sometimes it is just blue.

We also got to see the stone tree. but no stone condors!!

After Uyuni Sara and i went our separate ways. sara back to Peru to do more teaching and to enjoy er time in the jungle and me in to Argentina. It was really sad to have to say goodbye to Sara but i'm going to see her in August because she is going to come to England at the same time as Ashley and we are going to have an awesome time all going to see the best bits of England.

Next time... Argentina!

jueves, 29 de abril de 2010

"He's not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy"

So, i finished my time teaching and thus also finfinshed my time with Projects Abroad in Peru, right. WRONG. I still had some time left; the reason that i only tought for two weeks was because the next week was Semana Santa. That means parties,processions and no school in Peru. Monday-Wednesday there was no school because all the teachers were attending a teacher training course in Cusco. Then they all have Thursday-Sunday off becuase it is a national holiday. So yeah. I didn't do any teaching. They had got another job for us to do during the time, which was to sort out all the teaching resources that they have in the office. It may sound pretty boring but we had a good time and we also a free lunch out of it on Monday because we had to go into Cusco after to watch a parade and meet up with the other vounteers so Tim, the director, bought all of us who live(d) in Pisac and Calca lunch. We went to the parade which was very interesting with lots of people and lots of bands and the occasional speech from a vicar in a church asking the statue that they were parading around not to distroy the place with earthquakes. (The statue was jesus and he was "our lord of the earthquakes" so it wasn't that weird) And Laerke was there! She came and met up with us and we wnet to the parade together.
Then we had some awesome times at the weekend. It all started on Good Friday. We had a TWELVE course lunch!!!!! Yes twelve. One for each Apostle. they are suposed to have it on Thursday to commemorate the last supper but most people have it on Friday because it is somehow easier. I'm guessing the twelve thing is because Jesus asked each apostle to bring a course and he would provide all the bread and wine that they would require. As you can well imagine, I was VERY full after 12 courses of Dina's delicious food. They didn't even scale the portions down; they just kept on coming. It must be a very important time for them because it is the only time in just over three months that i saw them say grace.

On saturday we had a rest; and ate the left-over cake that we made for "The Feast". Then in the evening they had a parade combined with a flower arranging competition. What happened was that they made carpets of flowers on the square and all along the parade route. Then they had the parade. It was Jesus in a glass coffin first and then the Virgin and the Magdalen after. The boys carried the boy and the girls carried the girls. My host family got involved in the parade properly. My host brother, Nilo, and my host dad, ... Nilo, both took a turn carrying the coffin. they also had the fire emgine and the rubbish truck in the square. I will explain why. At many point during the parade, the statues did a little bob up and down. At this point the people all crossed themselves and the vehicles all blew their horns and sounded their sirens. it made for a rather surreal experience.
The next day was Easter sunday proper. and if you were expecting chocolate eggs and little bunnies all over the place, you would have been dissappointed. None of that. Just an awesome chicken lunch. It was roasted with loads of herbs and sauces and Mustard smothered over it. It was GOOD. And that just about sums it up for Easter.
Next time.....
Maybe Machu Picchu!

sábado, 17 de abril de 2010

Those that can, do; and those that can't teach; and those that can¡t teach, teach gym.


I know that i am still a really rubbish person for not being up to date in terms of blog entrys but here goes the next Mahoosive update so that you can all hear about the amazing things that I have been up to.

The first thing to mention is my project, as it is the main reason for me to stil be here in the Sacred Valley. I am/was(I have now finished) teaching at the main school in Pisac which has some 500 students in the secondary part. I taught on my own with a little bit of help from my peruvian partner teacher, Martha and a lot of help from all the other volunteers. The first week that i went there there weren't any classes becase they hadn't got around to being all organised. I helped them with all their organising and stuff.

Then the next week the classes began. It was an interesting experience and I am very glad that i had bothered to make really good and detailed lesson plans because i needed them. So the first day first lesson. We walk in. The students jump to their feet as if they have been electrocuted. They then do this weird hello thing.
"good morning my dear estudents", says the teacher.
"good morning teacher", chant back the students.
"how are you?" ask Marhta
"fine sank you. and you?" ask the students, probably not knowing why they are saying it.
"I am fine. sit down", says the teacher

That is where the disipline for the lesson ends. The students just flop down on their seatsand start talking like the were doing before the teacher entered the room. So the lesson begins. I tought all the classes pretty much by myself. The level of english of the partner teacher meant that it was best like that and I didn't mind it really it was quite fun.
Tought in the school for two weeks and if i learnt anything from my time their it was this. I do NOT want to be a teacher when i finally have to get a job. I really enjoyedmy time in the school but it would drive me absolutely crazy to teach the same things year after year to kids who don't want to be there and who are bored and playing with their Tazos and Pogs at the back of the classroom.
Yup so that was the next two weeks of my life. I was teaching nearly 500 students all of the time so that really didn't leave me any time to have a life. It also meant that i got quite behind with my journal.
"Naughty Henry. That was the one thing you promised yourself mot to do"
"Be quiet conscience, i already feel guilty enough about the matter."
So what did i do with the very little leisure time that remained to me whilst teaching? I went abroad. Yup, I went to have a weekend hoiday in Bolivia. It was cool fun. Sara, Casely and I went to "Copa, Copacabana" for the weekend. We left straight after Casely finished teaching on the friday and we got back at some ungodly hour on the Monday morning. Teaching that day was painful. On the way back we stopped to change buses for 5 hours in Puno. We went to a Bar and sat and played cards and ate and made a goodbye card for Ashley. It was like a comic book, detailing all "The Death Defying Adventures Of Peru Ashley" and her sidekicks. It was really fun.
Ashley didn't come with us to Bolivia because the government there has decided to hate the Americans by giving them a $130 entry fee. Probably the Americans do the same thing but hey ho.

Yup during the time when I was teaching the worst thing of my trip so far happened: Ashley went home. It was really bad. We all went to the airport togetherand said goodbye and were very sad indeed. Many many tears were shed. Afterwards we decided to drown our sorrows in mountains and mountains of Ceviche (The raw fish thing that is really good) We ate lots and lots of the stuff and drank buckets full of Inca Kola and it seems to have done the trick.
Then i had another week's teaching to do and then it was the end of my time at the Institución Educativa Mixta Bernardo Tambohuasco. (Try saying that with a mouth full of marshmallows)
They were very sweet to me at the end; the eldest kids are split into three classes. They got me loas of presents and things and one class even made me a cake and chicha morada and we had alittle party and talked about England and our princesses. Lots of them now know that they are going to marry a princess and be princes. Look out royal family, here comes the population of Pisac. and they've got marriage on the brain.
So yeah that was a quick summary of what i did in my teaching project.
Next time, the follow up and my free time in the Sacred Valley.

lunes, 1 de marzo de 2010

"In the summer time, when the weather is hot"

Hi everyone. I'm sorry tht I've been so rubbish at actually posting things here. So here is a HUGE catch up post. I promise that in the future I'll try harder to keep on top of the posting situation.
Ok here goes...
The last thing that i told you about was our awesome trip to Puno. After are awesome weekend away it was back to teaching for a while. The students all came along really well and the improvement in their English is so noticable for us. We finished on the 18th with an amazing final ceremony complete with little presentations from the individual groups. The advanced gave us perfomances of two fairy tales: The three little pigs and Snow white. They were fantastic and sooo funny. Christine did an excellent job starring as snow white herself. The intermediate group did a play as well, they had written it themselves and they visited Denmark ("Let's get out of here, this place stinks like pigs")
and also Italy. My basic group did a song. It was our own version of "Let it Be". Laerke asd i rewrote it during one of my clinic trips.
and here it is

Let it be -Laerke and Henry edit [Short version]

When I find myself in times of trouble,

Laerke and Henry come to me.

Speaking words in English.Let it be.

And in my hour of darkness,

they are standing right in front of me.

Speaking words in English.

Let it be.

Teaching words in English.

Let it be.

And when the broken-hearted students,

Living in Peru agree.

We will get the answers.

Let it be.

For though they may be parted,

There is still a chance that they will see:

Subject, verb then object.

Let it be.

Yeah, there will be answers.

Let it be.

Teaching words in English.

Let it be.

And when the night is cloudy

And the homework’s quite tricky

Hand it in tomorrow.

Let it be.

I wake up to the sounds of voices,

Practicing vocabulary

Speaking words in English.

Let it be.

He He!! After the students had got to do their bit we then did our thing which was a version of Volare in each of our Native languages. Irene started off with the real version in Italian, then came Ashley Christine and Me with a version that we found courtesy of Dean Martin. The danes took the reigns then and took off with their own translation into Danish. Then we all joined in for the final round; a large ammount of the Gipsy Kings version in Spanish. It went down rather well really.
Finally, after the distribution of certificates to all concerned, us included, we headed off to a restaurant nearby to have lunch all together. It was really lovely. They also all bought us presents. Laerke and I each got a new Machu Pichu journal signed by all of them. It was really sweet.
After lunch we went to a cafe which Irene assured us did coffee the italian way. She wasn't wrong and we certainly got good coffee.

The next thing to mention is the build-up to our holiday in the south. The weekend after finishing our project we went into Cusco to get the bus tickets for our big adventure around the rest of Peru. We made our plans and then bought the tickets to Nazca and then back from Arequipa.

Our week away went something like this...

On the Saturday afternoon, we left our dear Cusco bound for Nazca. The trip was fine and we had some great views the next morning when we woke up. We arrived in Nazca in the middle of the day and getting off the bus was an amazing feeling; it was acctually HOT and not raining. It was amazing. When we got to our hostal we found out that it had a pool. We were sooo happy so the very first thing that we did was to all have a dip. It was really cold but it didn't matter because we needed the relax.

Then after lunch we did some more hard core chilling after having booked a sandboarding trip for the next morning. The sandboarding was amazing!!! I have really never had so much fun in all my life. We slid down the dunes and then we used our sandbuggy to get back up the dunes again. The guide who took us Eduardo was really cool. then after the sandboarding, we went down to see some of the archaelogical sites around the place. The aquaducts were especially cool. It was a really awesome morning. In the afternoon we made great use of the pool to soak off some of the sand that had become engrained into our skin. it was a really nice day.

The next day, we did what everyone comes to Nazca for; we flew over the lines. At the suggestion of guidebooks and the hotel, we only had a small breakfast before leaving. It was a very good idea it turned out. The plane swoops over the lines in quite tight circles so that everyone on the plane can get a good view of the figures. I did take lots of photos but they are not very good and you have to zoom right in to be able to see the figures in most of them.

The next stop along our route was the beach town of Camaná. it was quite a sweet little town and the beach was amazing. we had two sessions on the beach in total and we really enjoyed it because it gave us some time to just relax and read and do nothing very slowly. Sara and I made a sculpture in the sand both days; first time round it was a mermaid who we christened Gertrude von Smith Hansen. The next day we made a shark called Bruce. After making him we went into the sea to wash all the sand off us. (The sea was very cold but we didn't care) and when we came back we found that some inconsiderate person had trampled all over our shark. We were gutted but we had managed to get some photos of him before hte murderous person came along and stamped onhis head.

The final stop along our route around the south coast of Peru was Arequipa, Peru's seond largest city and one of its liveliest. It was really cool to see. We went to see the frozen Inca sacrifices from the mountains at one of the museums; although we couldn't see the famed Juanita because she was having her annual holiday in the lab. Then the next day we spent the whole aftenoon wandering around the amazing Santa Catalina monastery. It was really cool and quite surprising at the same time. These nuns lived in remarkable luxury considering that they were nuns. They each had their own little house theing with two floors a little kitchen and a couple of rooms. some of them even had small gardens. I bought myself a little St Christohper medallion so that he can keep me safe when I am travelling. and that was about it for us and our advetures around Peru. We arrived back in Cusco exhausted and very happy just in time to start our next project, teaching in schools... But that is another story for another post.

martes, 9 de febrero de 2010

Upstairs, Downstairs

Hi everyone! I went to Puno this weekend and it was awesome.

It didn't start too well but that wasn't a problem when we got there because we had such a good time. The bad start happened before we even left Cuzco when we found out that they had sold us the expensive seats even though we specifically asked for the nice cheap ones. But hey ho!
the trip out was just fine. We arrived in Puno in the very early morning and we went straight back to sleep as we were really quite tired. We spent Friday mooching around the town and having a look at their rather freaky dancing.
Then on Saturday we had our awesomely amazing day. First we went out the Uros, which are the floating islands in lake Titicaca. They are really amazing. I would upload a photo but the blasted computer is being all stroppy and won't let me do things. then in the afternoon we went to see the funerary towers at a place called Sillustani. They too were awesome and one of the best bits of the aftrernoon was that we got to visit a traditional Quechua house to see everything there and we even learnt the difference between a llama and an alpaca. I have come to the conclusion that the alpacas are coller because half of them have dreads.
Anyway, in the evening we went out into the town to see what we could see see see. and the result was that we saw lots of dancing. They all dance down the streets in troupes. With al different band between every 4 groups or so. They do this along a square route until 3am!!!! when everyone goes to bed, or not!
then they are up for 6am the next morning to start the official dance competition whichb starts from the stadium and processes around the streets again.
This is really loco. And it is also an even greater shame that i can't put some photos up because the costumes that they wear on the Sunday for the competion are trully amazing.

The journey home was even more eventful than the outbound one as the bus driver ploughed through a flock of sheep at one point, killing at least three of them. He also tried several really dodgy overtaking manouvers and almost ran into other buses on several occasions. So overall a really interesting weekend.

UPDATE: I have just had a look at ashley's blog post and she hasd managed to get the photos to upload. So follow the link on the right and it will take you to her thinger.

jueves, 4 de febrero de 2010

"House of the rising sun"

Ok this is a bit of a weird post because I am talking about something before it happens.
This weekend we are off to Puno for the fiesta de la virgen de la candelaria. I put the rising sun because the Incas thought that the sun was born in Lake Titicaca and then travelled accross the sky from there.
Its just a short one to say. Tell you about it when I get back.