Thursday, May 25, 2006

Copacabana II: Work Hard Play Hard!

On Friday, when everyone met up at Tiquina (except the Calaminas people who we were going to pick up Saturday around lunchtime), a big group of us (read: everyone but the people in charge) headed to a place called El Paraiso for a swim. Nevermind that we had to go through a pseudo garbage dump to get there, it was worth it! Of course we arrived around 5.30pm as the sun was setting, so I didn’t have the courage to do more than wet my feet – the water was freezing! Guys and girls went to two different spots 30s away from each other but separated by a few rocks and a downhill path… Pictures were taken (on the left, left to right: Luisa, Maria Elena, Ninoshka, Isa, Me, Adriana, Paola, Natalia), laughs were had, and it was time to head back for a group dinner of arroz con leche followed by a guitarrada. There was no campfire, but most people present huddled together on some steps in the middle of camp and sang along to Adolfo strumming his guitar, it was mellow and quite enjoyable (photo below left, left to right and back to front: Adri C, Clau, Luly, Ninoshka, Elen, Martin; Freddy, Adolfo, Natalia, Cinthya, Moreina; Victor, Me, Pepe, Riselli, Maria Elena, Isa, Luisa; Chicho, Sofia, Mario, Abner, Alvaro). Of course, around 11pm it started raining so we all dashed to our tents, and within 10min the mother of all storms came down upon us, moving a few tents, threatening to rip off the cover of the tent where we provided medical attention (medtent), and making everything very very wet. Surprisingly, only a few of us ran outside to help stabilize the camp! After grabbing one tent to avoid it from drifting farther away from its assigned spot and hearing Claudia yell my name, I looked right and barely had time to dive like a goalkeeper to prevent the roof of the medtent from flying off into the night! Sofia, Chicho, Luly, Claudia, Pepe, and I finally got together in the medtent once things had calmed down and shared a few brilliant laughs before deciding it was time to move on. Pepe was “on call”, Sofia, Luly and Claudia decided to go fix up the kitchen tent, and Chicho and I went to sleep. What a night!

In Copa, we set up camp on the indoor basketball court of the coliseum and after a quick visit to Church (I stayed behind with Lucho to watch the truck and our belongings) we all headed to the beach for the traditional group dinner and Baptism ceremony. The insane people swam (photo on the left, left to right: Abner, Luis, Mario, Milton, Alvaro, Pepe, Andres, Chicho) while the sane people started preparing dinner, which was Salchipapas, yum (photo below on the right: Sofia with her ton and a half of sausages to be chopped up for dinner)! I peeled potatoes, cut sausages, and switched to self-designated event photographer, haha. A fire was lit and kept alive by periodically throwing on some gasoline (no comment), and one by one all the newbies went up to be blessed by the pseudo-priest Pepe, marked with a red mercuro-cromo cross by Sofia, and given a cool little red thread bracelet by the godmother or godfather. My godfather? Pepe, who taught me the basics of First Aid and pretended to tie his shoelace so I would attend my first patient… (Photo on the left: Pepe and I during my baptism as Pepe gives me the symbolic red thread bracelet)

Other good memories:
- Sofia’s jokes... El Cojito winning the prize
- Eating trout at the market
- Having what seemed like a never ending back ache fixed in less than 7min (thank you Freddy!)
- Having three people say thank you during the debriefing
- Crossing the lake as stowaways, all piled on top of each other and covered by blankets so we would look like random material instead of people, and getting the mother of all cramps in my thigh without being able to move or make the slightest noise. Ouch!

The list goes on...


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