Friday, June 02, 2006

Taller APAA

Two days after the APAA course ended, another course, called the “APAA Workshop” was beginning in Coroico (small town in Las Yungas, a warm and exotic area of Bolivia), the point of which was to train participants to become APAA instructors! This course was to be national and interinstitutional, with participants coming in from Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, and La Paz, representing volunteer firefighters, the SAR organization (Search And Rescue), and of course the Red Cross. See photo on left for the team who attended this mad workshop! Although I had a good chance of being invited to participate (based on my results in the APAA), I was not part of the initial list of people chosen to represent the La Paz Red Cross because the bosses thought I wasn’t going to stick around and therefore sending me was in a way a waste of human resources and skills training. Boo! Luckily, another volunteer (one of the identical twins, Mauri) decided not to go because he had his college graduation on Friday, and so I got a call at 1am inviting me to travel at 7am! Needless to say, I didn’t hesitate, and the next five days were a whirlwind of intensity, studying, bonding, and not sleeping.

The Workshop took place at quite a nice hotel near Coroico called Rio Selva, which had hammocks all over the place, five pools (two big ones and one shallow one with kiddie slides in it, among others!), delicious buffets for every meal, a disco/karaoke/bar, and direct access to the river. The weather was perfect, a little cool in the mornings and evenings but warm and slightly humid during the day. The biggest downside to the experience? The bugs, voracious blood suckers with a talent for picking the most awkward places to bite (eg. Between fingers, or in the middle of your back). Check out the view we had from the pool (photo on the right)... and yes, those are my feet.

Within one or two class sessions, we were split into three working groups. My team, whose designated workspace was a sketchy local on the edge of the hotel property, consisted of Freddy, Javier, Marco, Eric, Eliel, Richard, Windsor, and I. Over the five days, those lacking the official “Curso Para Instructores” (a course on how to teach, how to behave as an instructor, how to setup your learning space, etc) got a crash course, we reviewed techniques and updated changes, and then proceeded to prove ourselves (for the most part) capable and worthy of being instructors by giving a lecture and giving a practical class. You could fail once and try again, and that was it.

In five days, I think I slept approximately 10h. A few lunch breaks were pseudo-sacrificed, as I skipped dessert to rush to my room, change, and jump into the pool before rushing back to my room, showering, and going back to class. The amount of water and candy/sugar consumed by yours truly and whoever was sitting next to me was impressive, as we relied on cold water (which later on I decided was river water barely boiled and iced to below room temperature, yay immodium!) and sugar to stay awake and relatively focused. Oh and every morning from 6 – 6.30 we had “physical training” which involved warm-up and a team competition such as The Worm, Roman Chariots, Piggyback…

The last night a few of us hit the disco/karaoke/bar, it was a blast. As a result, a few people made it late to Graduation, but everything worked out and needless to say that the busride back was more fun than a barrel of monkeys – to be expected when the dozen people in each bus have just spent a crazy five days depriving their bodies of sleep and bonding through hardship and laughter. In my bus, that translated to laughing till our brains hurt, having a terrific shaving cream fight (see photograph on the right... And yes that person in the middle right with a white tank top and shaving cream on her face? That would be me.), and ultimately all falling asleep nearly in a heap until we pulled up in front of the Filial in La Paz.

Good memories:
- Me being the innocent victim of the tradition of pouncing on the person sitting in the middle of the car/bus/mode of transportation while going through a tunnel and messing up their hair (don’t ask)
- Me sitting between Pepe and Javier on the first day and having a blast (while paying serious attention to the lectures – yes, I can multitask when need be!)
- Marco falling asleep while he was my assistant, and saying “nothing to fix, all is well” when questioned on my performance once it was obvious I was going to repechaje
- Marco reading an objective without really waking up during Freddy’s presentation and it sounding like Rocky when he’s bleeding like a mofo and screams “Adriaaaaan”
- Marco showing up 1h late for the last session pre-Graduation, putting his hand up to contribute to class, and drowsily stating – when called upon – “um, I forgot what I wanted to say”
- Gustavo (the evaluator) falling asleep during Marco’s presentation and Claudia (his assistant) refusing to wake him up
- My group going to the river and following Manuel (another evaluator) onto a rock nearly in the middle of the water… leading to Adri Mondaca falling in and pulling me in with her (I just got my bum wet though)
- Me using non-scientific terminology and failing to give a definition of “skinny” (all I had was “the opposite of fat”)
- Pepe and I resorting to laughter during pre-Graduation sessions to avoid falling asleep (mostly at how others were falling asleep)

- The food

Pictures coming up as soon as I figure out how to make the Blogger uploading tool my friend again...


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