Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lomas de Arena

One of the places we have recently heard about here in Santa Cruz is a place called Parque Regional Lomas de Arena (Sand Dunes Regional Park).  Donya, who came for the CLA English program and stayed an extra 3 weeks, was getting ready to leave that night, so we decided to have one last adventure before she left.

It was an adventure just finding the place.  Although it is on the map and I had my Garmin GPS, it is on the southern edge of the city and you have to go through some very under-developed barrios to get there.  We finally got to the park and paid $6.50 for all of us to get in.

Then the fun started.

The sign at the gate said "4x4 and 4-wheelers Only" and it was no joke.  We spent half an hour going 4.3 miles on a sandy track with lots of mud holes and we still didn't know where we were going.  Here's a short summary video (720p) of the drive in, complete with music (from Christian parody band Apologetix) and charming conversation:

As I said, it was the most fun I've had in a long time.  Even better than going to the store.

We had the place entirely to ourselves.  Unfortunately, it was super windy (welcome to Santa Cruz) and it was too late in the day to stay long, but we had fun anyway.  Here are a sampling of photos (see the rest by clicking here).

  I took some more video on the way out, with the GoPro on the hood, where it got a good soaking (1080p this time!):

We will definitely be going back!

Winter Break 2014

The first semester of the year came to an official close on June 27.  Since then, we have had winter break until classes start up again on July 28.

Our first week was pretty much eaten up with unfinished responsibilities with the CLA program, but since then we've had two and a half weeks pretty much to ourselves.  We have taken time to prepare for next semester, do some personal projects and spend time with the girls.

Although we're in the tropics, when the south wind (surazo) brings a storm up from Antarctica, in can get pretty chilly, especially because the house is uninsulated and very drafty.  We have thoroughly enjoyed having a fireplace!

We watched a few World Cup matches with friends.
Watching USA lose to Belgium with their friend Nathaly

Kaylee took a break from homeschool as well, but has done a few Spanish and money classes with the girls.

We still lack some furniture, so I built custom closets for Kaylee and I.

The kitties took refuge in my warm toolbags during lunch


We attended a wedding at our church.  That was a good culture event. :)

Then, on Monday, we hit the jackpot!

. . .but I'll save that for another post. ;)  In the meantime, there are more photos of our breaktime fun here.

CLA English

Wow, two months have gone by.  I think that is the longest we have ever gone without posting on our blog since we started it, almost three years ago.  It's high time we updated you on what has been going on around here.

The main reason we haven't been writing lately is that we have been swamped.  The regular semester ended on June 6, but it was followed by a 3-week course that was a follow up to my Culture and Language Acquisition class.

From June 9 to 27, the seven students worked full time at learning . . . English!

Most  of our English-speaking coworkers were going to be gone, so we made an invitation for some people to come join us as "natives."  Three ladies responded to the call and Donna, Mary, and Donya showed up to give us a hand.  They were a tremendous help with the program as they spent time with our learners doing everyday tasks while speaking English.  The students were continually in their "home," a house next to ours looking for someone with whom to listen and practice.  

They also had a chance to experience some of Bolivia with the students.

Bolivian breakfast: Api and buñuelos with Eliana and Eli
Donna and Mary getting some produce at our market

Donya, Donna, and Mary try out some pacumutos at the market
Kaylee was a major help as a language helper and hostess.  Even Anne, Addison, and Lydia played an important role as little native speakers.  Some of the students spent a lot of time with them.

Our first dinner party
Addi and Lydia went to ask Matias if he could come over to play

We did a lot of shared activities such as:

Go to the zoo

Game nights
Matias is watching rodeo in the background while we play cards
Visit the library of an American-style Christian school

"Don't put the books back on the shelf unless you know the Dewey Decimal system!"

Home church (we were on guard duty)


It was a lot of work, especially because I was overseeing all of it, continually giving advice and answering questions.  We had fun, but we're glad it is done!  We are now in our fourth week of winter break and are gearing up for classes to start up again next week!

(as usual, there are more photos here: