I can’t believe it! More than half of our trip is already over! We’ve had so much fun, and our group has bonded so much.
We’ve been working on the computer lab for 4 days now. It’s starting to take shape, with the help of two professional masons. Yesterday we started throwing cement on the inside of the building to thicken the walls. The masons showed us first. It looked so easy! And then it was our turn…. We had cement flying everywhere! By the end of the day, we were covered in cement! But we had a great time. The masons kept on looking at our work and shaking their heads. They did such a great (and clean) job on two of the walls whereas we went and sprayed cement on the walls we were working on. Oh well, we had fun. And after they fixed up our work – with much difficulty as the cement was drying quickly – our walls looked just as great as theirs.
Tuesday was our first day teaching the school kids English. I went to the San Antonio school. My group taught the kids basic phrases and animals. The kids were so excited to see us and get learning! A small group of girls started following me around and trying to talk to me. I had trouble understanding them, but they kept on talking. They ended up getting my camera and each girl took a turn taking a picture. I have about 25 copies of the same picture on my camera! They had so much fun and were hesitant to leave when our time was up. I am so excited to see them again on Thursday!
We also played with the kids at Montero school in between our work. I ended up talking with 2 shy kindergarten kids. Their uniforms are beautiful! The girls wear a light blue tunic with blue socks and black shoes and the boys wear a light blue shirt with black pants and blue socks with black shoes. The two sat with me for about 20 minutes and talked, and of course I did not understand. The girl had really curly hair, worn down. She kept on jumping up and down, and her hair bounced with her. The kids are so nice and just come up to you and start talking and playing, even if you do not understand them at all.
Yesterday, we went to Isla Paloma. It was a small island full of shells. On the way, we saw a bird fishing. It caught a fish with two spikes sticking out from its sides. The bird attempted to wiggle the spikes off. It was successful in doing so, then ate the fish whole. Upon arriving at the island, we got off the boat and walked to a small conserved area of Isla Paloma. There were so many birds flying on the trees! On our way back to the little rocky island, the current was coming in and we had to wade through waist-deep water. We even saw a huge jellyfish making its way around the island! We played Frisbee and within a few hours, the island had retreated to being 3 feet by 3 feet. We had a lot of fun on the island, and we got to know our group so much better.
Last night, Liliana from La Amistad (a small-scale ecotourism venture) spoke to us about how women of Chira Island got together to form a cooperative. They saw how the island was being destroyed by over doing the hunting, fishing, forestry, and chemical usage. They wanted to save the environment and preserve Chira for future generations, since the only thing – and the best thing – they can give their children is the island of Chira. Her speech was so empowering as she spoke of all the hardships that the women had to go through to start and maintain the cooperative. La Amistad has truly been successful, and I believe that the women of Chira will be able to do so much with the respect that they have gained from their actions thus far.
Chira at night is just as beautiful as it is during the day. The sun sets promptly at 6:00pm, and hides behind the sillhouettes of other islands. The sky becomes a rainbow of warm colours, spanning from a yellow to a redish-orange and fading into a pink and purple night sky. After dark, fireflies flicker bright green amid the pitch-black background. The sky dazzles with brilliant stars. I wish I could stay here and watch the sky all night long. On the ground, scorpions and spiders wander around. Some of them get up to 3 inches long! Luckily, I have only seen a couple of scorpions.
Our trip thus far has been full of fun and adventure. I feel depressed thinking that in one week I will be home in Calgary, in the cold weather. I like it on Chira. I like the heat. I like the food. And I like my family and my U of C team. I know that anything our team puts our minds to, we will be successful in completing fully and uniquely.