22.8.12 Santa Victoria Oeste
We started the day at La Huerta School, an establishment 8 kilometers from town and 28 kids strong. Ema is amazing with the kids—he marched in and immediately started making jokes and teasing the kids. He makes the whole day about them: their shoes, their games, their ideas and their vocabulary. It’s amazing to watch.
A typical Pisadas Saludables (healthy steps) day includes drawing, playing games, working with the materials such as reading Mis Amigos (the Argentine My Little Friends, a Christian magazine for school kids) and coloring, then teaching the kids how to wash their feet and keep them clean. At the end, entregamos a pair of Toms to each kid.
As soon as we got back from La Huerta, Ema and I hopped onto the backs of two guys’ motos to travel to La Escuela de La Falda, a school only accessible by two wheels, four legs or two legs. (motorcycle, burro or by foot.)
We were at the edge of the precipice the whole way, winding our way through the canyons and river beds at an uncomfortably fast speed for no helmets. But once I figured it was mostly out of my control, I focused on the wind (and dust) in my hair, my ADRA chaleco flapping in the breeze, the spectacular scenery and the knowledge that I’m spending my summer vacation in one of the most remote places in Argentina, working with a development organization and helping to make a difference in some kids’ week.
Instead of taking the motos back, we opted to hike the 15 kilometres from the school to town. I’m actually a bit proud of myself today. I hiked 15 kilometers at 12,000 feet in my Target moccasins with a head cold and a lactose intolerance stomachache. I have the sunburn to prove it.
Tonight we met a 21-year-old chef from Salta who’s working in a social development project here for a couple of weeks. His name is Rodrigo and he likes Bob Marley and Amelié.
I told Ema I don’t want to go back to real life; he told me this is real life. This is living: not taking things for granted—I’m thrilled for every little thing and I have enough space in my head to figure out the issues that do arise…mostly.
I feel like I can’t soak everything up enough. I want to feel like this at home, too! Do I need to volunteer more, sleep more, find people like these to hang around? Care less about what people think, for sure.
Tonight we’re staying in the municipalidad’s dorms. The city offices have a compound with a courtyard, two bathrooms and bunk bed dorm rooms. It’s clean at warm. We’re at 12,000 feet above sea level, falling asleep ensconced by mountains and an old school pueblo.