We had two other striders visit us last weekend, one from Switzerland named Regula who is a nurse working in Trinidad and the other from Columbia named Gabriel who is working with students in a small town named Llagagua. – a truly international weekend.
It was great to show them around Sucre, to take them to church, the market and visit our projects. On the Sunday was a festival in a small town called Tarabuco about a hours drive which happens just once a year. It is a parade through the streets of dancing in traditional costumes and a presentation of food and gifts to “Pacha Mama”. The clothes were amazing and the colours were fantastic. Each village has a distinct fabric and costume and all are very proud to have been selected to dance or march to represent their people. Each village had the traditional woodwind instruments and many wore belts filled with bells and special shoes with metal disks. The air was filled with singing, laughter and music… the traditional style Quechua singing is very high pitched!!!
In the afternoon each community had brought a selection of food they had grown, gifts of coca leaves, tobacco and other strange things all presented on a giant ladder to offer to Pacha Mama – the mother earth god. The young ladies and men did a stamping dance and were “whipped” by the elder of the villiage if they made a mistake… although they only pretended to whip each other with many smiles and laughter. We enjoyed seeing how the traditions of the rural communities are kept alive and how proud the young and old people are of their culture.
The photos don’t really capture the atmosphere – yes and it is me dressed up in the traditional costume…. they always seem to pick me out of the crowd for these silly things.
Also – as a strange add on – on the micro (mini bus) I bumped into a person who used to work at Abbot’s Hill school with me. I was speechless when a stranger came up to me and asked…”Are you from Hemel Hempstead? I used to work with you?” In the middle of nowhere!! It really is a small world.
San Jose is a district of Sucre, about a 10 minute walk from our house. We have been working there one day every week since we got here. It is run by two ladies from our church named Dorihna and Desiree from Brazil. They opened the centre to provide a place for children to go and do their homework as many do not have a quiet place to work at home. They also have a program for teaching bible stories and “life skills”. They teach basic first aid for example how to clean a cut, protecting from the sun and they ensure that the children brush their teeth at the centre. They do exercises to improve the children’s co-ordination – a bit like drills at army camp and simulate the children using brightly coloured toys and games.
We go and do arts and crafts based on the bible story of the week. Each week the children make something which they are always delighted to be able to take away with them. This week we were talking about the story of Joseph – when he became the government official in Egypt for the Pharaoh. It gave us a chance to talk a bit about history and what it was like in Egypt and how we can learn from the artefacts they left behind. So we made Egyptian necklaces using paper beads – rolling strips of paper around a pencil and sticking them and then threading them… see photos. Doing craft gives us a chance to talk to the children about the story, to ask them what they think, to teach them to share and most importantly give them lots of praise and encouragement which is sadly often missing from their lives.
The children in San Jose are all very affectionate and delighted to see us every week. We walk in and get swamped by hugs and kisses and shouts of proffi Roooof and Diiinnnooooo. ( Proffi is the word for professor which is what they call their teachers).