About Me

My name is Molly Clesen and I currently work as a teacher of students with visual impairments in Springfield Public Schools. I interned for 5 weeks this summer with the Manuela Gandarillas Center for the Blind in Cochabamba, Bolivia. This was an opportunity to empower and contribute to an amazing program in this local community by working with the clients to help them complete tasks independently, teaching lessons on writing, Braille, and other techniques, and participating in games and exercises to stimulate other senses. My goal has been to keep all supporters informed with up to date information about my fundraising efforts and experiences abroad. Even though I have returned, the center for the blind continues to need support. If you would like to donate to a very worthwhile cause, please click on the "Donate" button below. Thank you and any support you can provide is very appreciated. --Molly

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Divine Appointments and Purple Monkeys

¡Hola Ladies and Germs!

It´s been a fun and exciting weekend.  Friday started with a morning of Goal Ball with the staff, where I was injured by the director after I tried to block the goal ball from passing and ended up with a gash on my shin.  He thought it was HILARIOUS to ask where someone was and then throw the ball at her.  Great guy :)  Anyway, in the afternoon, we went home and then went to see Harry Potter 7 Part 2.  AMAZING.  The next morning, we went met up for Chapare to go to Villa Tunari, a quiet tourist town in the jungle.  The drive there was so picturesque, it literally looked like something out of Jurassic Park.  The trees were beautiful and the clouds as we decended out of the valley into the lower elevation.  Upon arrival, we found a hostal and decided to go to a park to hike and look for a place to swim.  We jumped over rocks containing jumping man-eating spiders in order to enter the river.  It was cold but some of the clearest, cleanest water I´ve seen in awhile.  We hung out at the hotel, which was more like a nature preserve, until the evening and returned to our very inexpensive ($3.50 per night) hostal.  The next morning, we woke up and went to Parque Machia, which is a tried and true nature preserve.  We had to pay for entrance and to carry cameras, but the money goes to caring for the wildlife that live there.  This was one of the neatest experiences I´ve ever had.  It was extremely hot and lacking a cool breeze, but we trekked up and down the paths in the jungle and took in the sights of monkeys and army ants carrying pieces of leaves to their nests.  Sadly, one of our friends from Sustainable Bolivia had been bitten by a monkey during a previous trip so we were very cautious about how close we got to the wildlife.  It was amazing that so many parents and kids kept picking up the monkeys and walking down the trails with them, without fear.  Only in Bolivia I think...haha.

The adventure continued with a 2 hour wait to catch a trufi (public taxi) back to Cochabamba.  The return was beautiful until we experienced torrential downpours and saw cars parked on the side of the road.  People flagged down our vehicle and a woman opened our trunk and screamed, "Our friend is dying, our friend is dying!  Can you please take him and my son with you to the nearest hospital?"  Not sure what the expect, some people helped move the man into the front seat of the car and we crammed four adults and a very scared 8 year old into the back seat of our van.  I was really afraid at the start that the man was gushing blood or had severed a limb.  It turned out that he was okay, they suspected that he might have had a concussion.  Jay, a friend from Sustainable Bolivia, who came with us to Chapare, happened to be an EMT and kept close watch over the man in the front seat while Katrina and I tried to calm the little boy.  We asked him all types of questions to try to take his mind off of what was happening and in doing so, I accidentally asked him if he saw purple monkeys at Parque Machia.  It ended up being pretty good comic relief because amidst his wailing, he paused briefly to ask me if I had seriously seen purple monkeys.  I had meant to say "brown", but for some reason, I confuse the two words, haha.  We arrived at the hospital in Colomi and the man was rushed to the big hospital by ambulance in Cochabamba.  We continued to remainder of our very long trip and arrived at about 9pm Sunday night.

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