By Jorge Rivero Gonzalez
The trip from Cobija to Pando was tough. More than six hours to the San Lorenzo district. We even had to cross the Madre de Dios River with a Ponton, a floating platform that Bolivians use to transport cars across the water when there are no bridges. After that, we had one hour more of travel. The twilight was approaching and our van, like a comet, was leaving a dusty trail as we moved towards our particular Sun: the Unidad Educativa San Lorenzo.
We arrived late in the afternoon and the children were already waiting for us. After a warm welcome by the local authorities, we started with our opening talk, where Mayte introduced the rest of the traveling team and invited the children to take part in a fun journey through the Universe with us. This activity always helps us break the ice and test the children’s knowledge about the Universe.
Then, we organised a night of observations in a dark field nearby. There were three telescopes where children waited in long queues for their chance to observe Mars and Saturn that were glowing brightly near the zenith that night. Children grouped together around us while we were explaining how to spot the different celestial objects visible on the sky.
We were exhausted at that point. It was a long day. Time to rest! In San Lorenzo there is only electricity from 6 p.m. till midnight so we had to prepare all the material before that time. Suddenly, all lights from the village went off and the sky was shining like a million diamonds hanging above our heads. No one of us wanted to go to sleep!
We woke up right after sunrise and got ready for our second day of activities in San Lorenzo. Between the school and our lodging we had to cross a road that was also used for the landing of planes. It was always crowded with horses and cows. The locals told us that the pilots had to fly low first to scare them so they go away and the road could be empty for the planes to safely land there.
In the morning we performed a workshop for the teachers. We spent the afternoon working with children. We were detectives trying to discover the way planets orbit around the Sun, we investigated what happened if the Earth were the size of a peppercorn and we concentrated the whole Universe in a balloon to find out why the galaxies were moving away from each other more and more every second. We had a great time!
We wrapped up the day mingling with teachers and children, talking with them about our activities but also playing football and volleyball. We gave away some postcards with astronomical images and promised to come back someday.