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Share a Dream

We’ve been lucky enough to be at Funprobo when the boys from Share a Dream visited. 

https://www.share-a-dream.org
We met Oli, Guillarme  and Nicolas who are travelling South America supporting small grassroots charities by filming and making videos to capture the work of the charity and alongside they look for companies to sponsor each individual charity. They are really proactive and really positive and the end result is a plan to pay for training for a second prosthetist for Funprobo. This had been made even better by the team selecting to send the nephew of Florencio, our current prosthetist, as the beneficiary. This has shown Florencio how much we all appreciate his work and how the charity wants to invest in his and his family’s future as well.

The guys have filmed for a week including me working with the patients and a small bit about being a volunteer here in Bolivia. Video will be up on their site in a month or so. 

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Pony plans!

So I’ve decided (with the advice and support of my knowledgeable horsey peeps back home) that I’m going to aim to get a pony (or two) fit and smart enough to enter e-dressage! 

www.e-dressage.co.uk 

So I have a bit of work to do but I’m aiming to get Diana a lovely grey 5yo with a foal at foot into shape for the first test. 


Then perhaps with my brave pants on I can get Sonato the 5yo Arab stallion round another! 

In addition at the horse therapy charity we’re also embracing the world of dressage with a plan to get 4 of the boys competing at a walk trot test by the end of their 10 week Hipoterapia program. 

Humberto the owner has made me all the school letter markers so we look like proper pros now!
Ambitious? Maybe but I do like to be busy!!! 

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HELP PROVIDE LIMBS!

***Update all the money has been raised. Still organising the new 3D printer***

I am currently fundraising for a new 3D printer for the Centro De Meimbros artificales.

This new printer will help provided 3D printed prostheses for Bolivians who visit the clinic.

These low cost prosthetic hands can make a world of difference, considering a a prosthetic hand can cost upwards of $3000 this low cost functional hand is the best alternative.

My charity fundraising site can be found here:

https://www.gofundme.com/22mmwjch

Please, any amount will help 🙂

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Hiking Illampu

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We were invited on this hike by a Swiss and German couple who were also volunteering at the Centro De Miembros Artificales. Mathais and Kristen had much more experiencing having hiked in Ecuador; it was good to have someone show me the ropes 🙂

This hike gave me a look at rural life in Bolivia. The hike started in Sorata which was at a welcome altitude of 2674m after being at 4000m in La Paz. The first thing I noticed in Sorata was that we were the only other foreigners, it was once a popular destination for tourists but over the last 10 years it’s popularity has waned. The hikes around around the mountains of Sorata were well trodden; local guides made a good living from the steady flow of tourists. Now the guide books recommend that you bring a machete with you to hack back the undergrowth on the underused trails.

The four hour bus journey from Cemetario in La Paz took us higher across the Altiplano past lake Titicaca up in to the mountains to the east then finally down in to the valley to the town of the Sorata; all for princely sum of 15 bolivianos (£1.50)

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It was a Sunday many people were spending their time relaxing in the town square, which; considering the statue, looks like it could have been funded by the third Reich:

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Ever present in the background of the town is the mountain Illampu:

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It was easy to see why locals would consider the mountain a deity, always hovering above them.

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We stayed in hotel Panchita, it cost £3.50 for a private room with a shared bathroom, or £7 for a private bathroom.

In the morning we were approached by several people offering their services as a guide, we decided to save money and risk it on our own.

The walk up to the first lagoon was took us past the rural communities, many of the fields and farms clinging to the sides of the mountains.

 

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This might have been a strenuous uphill hike for us; but for the locals it was a daily commute.

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There were two routes up the lagoon, one shorter but with less scenery and the other the opposite. We decided to take the scenic route:

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After six and a half hours of walking we arrived at the first Lagoon:

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The night was cold I must have reached close to freezing, unfortunately my sleeping bag was not good enough for this so I had a pretty bad nights sleep

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On the next morning when the cloud had moved to the bottom of the valley the view from the tent was amazing, the next stage was to get the the glacier lagoon between the two snow capped peaks

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This part of the climb was much more steep than the last so we left out tents and heavier items at camp with the idea of getting there and back in a day.

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The local government had a project to bring more of the fresh glacial water back to the town below. Men were working at this attitude!

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Each of the pipes was about 20kg each, and after Mathias had a chat with a local they were all brought up the mountain by hand!

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As we got closer to the mountain it be came steeper, and the path became more difficult and slippery. The biggest problem was getting up the dried up waterfalls where the rock was very smooth:

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At this point we were 200m from the Glacier Lagoon, due to some errors in navigation and stopping to take in the scenery it had been hours. The cloud started to roll back in and it became hard to see:

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We decided to head back as we did not want to risk having to navigate back in the dark under the cloud.

When we got back to base camp I found my tent like this, we had been warned about thieves… but it was…

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The tent pole had been snapped, fortunately Mathias had some duct tape which was a quick fix.

We was another hiking group when we arrived too, with horses and a kitchen tent, posh gits…

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After another night in my cow savaged tent we headed back to town, it took just over 5 hours.

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Although we did not make it to the final destination it was still a great few days in the mountains.

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First (hopefully of many) FUNPROBO success story!

My first patient to leave the clinic beaming from ear to ear and walking beautifully with one crutch on his new prosthesis walked out today. He is happy for his story to be shared. 

Lucas was a bus driver still working at 61years old and had a bad accident in Dec last year involving another vehicle. He survived but others didn’t but the result was he lost his leg below the knee. 

Due to the stigma around disabilities here in Bolivia he had then refused to leave his house in case his neighbours and other people saw him until last week when he came to the clinic for the first time. Initially very shy and as he lives so far away from the clinic he had to stay in town and as a result was dropped off at the clinic at 8am and waited there until 6pm to be picked up. So he soon warmed up to us (10hrs a day with people can do that to you!).


He was the first patient here to really get to grips with the ppam aid and he used it 2,3 or 4 times a day while he was at the clinic. Often I’d have to wrestle it off him and convince him to have some lunch or at least a rest. His motivation and attitude was phenomenal. 


His prosthesis was made within the week and he put it on for the first time on Wednesday. Partly due to his motivation, partly due to how recently he’d had his amputation and I like to think partly due to his work in the ppam aid he left wearing it and beaming on Thursday. 


I have learnt a lot from Lucas in that short time which I’m sure will help me understand more and improve my work with people in his situation in this country. His legacy that I won’t forgot is “saca pecho meta culo” a direct translation of “shoulders back bottom in”!! And perhaps should really have been the title of this post! One very proud Physio here. 

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Climbing Chacaltaya


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It’s hard to breathe at 5,421 meters.

Both Amy and I had some doubts about climbing to the peak of this mountain; considering a week before we were out of breath just climbing the stairs in our apartment.

Rather that use a tour guide our friends Mathias and Kristen recommended we save money and just DIY. Mathias managed to negotiate for a Taxi, most taxi drivers were not interested in driving up to the mountain; until we found one who had never been, the driver ended up coming along for the hike!

After being on a bumpy dirt road for 45 minutes I realised why the other taxis were not interested, the city taxi seemed out of place tackling the mud and uneven roads alongside the 4×4 tour vehicles. The drive up to the climbing point was exciting already with sheer drops off a cliff face just a foot from the car.

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Chacaltaya is host to the worlds highest elevation ski facility and right next door to it as a scientific facility to study gamma rays.

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The ski resort is no longer used due to global warming; the glacier melted back in 2008, however it does still snow and at times it is possible to ski here.

The final walk to the peak of the mountain was difficult, it was a slow pace to the top.

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Finally at the top; the view was worth it!

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Tiwanaku

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At 13,000 feet above sea level Tiwanaku is the site of an ancient ruin which was occupied as early as 1500 BC.

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Tiwanaku is located west of La Paz across the Altiplano and very close to the borders of Peru and Chile. Its location played a key role is its importance as a focal point of many cultures in the the region, acting as a hub for politics and religion.

When most people see south American ruins the first thought is Mayan or Inca. Although later invaded and conquered by the Incans most of Tiwanaku’s history is dominated by the Tiwanaku culture. In it’s time Tiwanaku was technologically advanced compared to other cultures, for example the techniques for binding stone blocks using metal structs was only found in Tiwanaku and Rome at the time.

We managed to bargain one of the tour guides down from 130 Bolivianos to 100; however this was in Spanish! If you wanted an English guide the cost was 200 (Gringo Tax). This was fine seeing as 4 of the five of us could speak Spanish and I have to learn anyway. The guide was essential really as he added much depth to tour, which would have otherwise been a collection of anonymous rocks and ruins.

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The picture above show the main staircase which would have ascended a pyramid seven levels high. Originally the staircase was lined with black basalt half man half puma some covered in gold.

At the top of the staircase was a reflection pool used by ancient astronomers to view the movement of the stars, many of the symbols found at the site are related to constellations. The top of the pyramid was littered with shards of pottery, coming from urns containing offerings that were smashed on the ground. The site also contained offering rooms which were dedicated to different gods, you can see the ruins of these rooms below.

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Features of the site are all aligned with the movements of the sun, aligning on key dates of the solar calendar eg equinoxes.

The stone pillars below align with the sun coming though the door at points of the year

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In the pit that contains these pillars are many stone faces embedded into the rock,  it is a mystery who they are. The tour guide said they could represent the different tribes which visited the site.

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The majority of the site was destroyed during the the time of Spanish colonization, statues representing different gods destroyed in the name of the one true God.Much of the architecture is also marked by the removal of gold our guide told us. The destruction of the site was more about greed than the spreading of the faith. Personally I don’t think god was too happy about it.

Some of the statues survived, the best of which are held in the museum on the site where photography was not allowed. Below are some of the statues which are found outside:

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The sun gate below is covered in symbols which remain a mystery, they are believed to reference times of the year. Its location currently is just where it was found, so it may have been located somewhere else on the site.

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It was well worth the trip, it was just a 2 hour mini bus ride from La Paz which soon passed due to the scenery.

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