Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Another busy day in Granada (Wednesday)

JohnG and I were picked up at the house at 7 am by a shuttle, then taken to Lake Granada, just a few minutes away. We had arranged a three-hour, private boat tour of the nearby islands in the lake.

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Cathedral from the lake.

The islands are beautiful. Lots of birds. Sharks too, even Hammerheads, but we didn't see any of those. I think that costs extra. Some of the islands are for sale. You can get an island with a house on it for around $200,000. That doesn't include the money you'll spend on a boat to get home or to the mainland.

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I did fine the first two hours, then the motion started getting to me. On the way back, we stopped at an island to have a Coke. That helped. When the shuttle dropped us off at the house, I lay down, passed out, then felt fine.

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Laundry day.

Unfortunately, I didn't wake up in time to meet Marcia at the sewing co-op she volunteers for. When she came in, we grabbed a taxi and went across town to her school again. The taxi driver didn't take Marcia's advice about how to get there (and to avoid the road construction), so we ended up getting out of the cab somewhere in the barrio and walking the rest of the way.

We spent a couple of hours at the school. I shot video while she interviewed more families who've been invited to apply for scholarships. More great video of the kids. And mothers. And the barrio. And kids in the barrio. Their faces really light up when you flip the LCD screen around so they can see themselves on the screen.

I got more barrio video as we walked to the main street to catch a taxi. Once at the main street, just a block from the cemetery, I noticed we're standing in front of a pool hall. I start evaluating the chances of getting video. Then a young man in the back of the pool hall starts shouting in Spanish. Marcia says he's inviting me in. So I go in and get super cool shots of barrio guys shooting pool. Nice guys. We might hang out later and drink beer. Maybe do some pool hustling and win some cordavas ($$). If you don't ever hear from me again, that's what I did.

Dance Fever yet again

Several posts ago I mentioned that we staged a street dance for the kids in the Santa Lucia barrio where Marcia lives. The first night we did that, the kids were pretty shy. The next night we did it again, and the kids were revved up and ready to baila! (Dance!).

At the street corner 50 yards away, I started shooting. The kids were rockin'. Then it started to pour. I put the video camera under my shirt and ran towards Marcia's house. I stopped under the nearest portal overhang to wait for Marcia. She's nowhere around. I look back at the corner house, across Calle Santa Lucia (and on the other side of the minor flash flood rushing down the Calle) and everyone's inside the house, standing in the front door (one of those corner doors that are popular here), and motioning for me to come back, waving their arms frantically. What could I do -- I ran in the pouring rain back down the block. By the time I got there I was soaked. So with water streaming off me, I'm standing in this family's living room, Latin pop music blasting away, shooting these excited adorable kids dancing their hearts out.

I can't wait to edit it, but I'm going to post some clips in the next day or so just to give you a taste of it. After a half dozen songs, I leave my camera there, run in the rain to Marcia's house to get umbrellas and a plastic bag for the camera and iPod speakers. I run in the rain back to the corner house. Then we walk back to Marcia's house, amazed at how these kids are getting into it.

The next day, Marcia says "I don't think we'll do anymore dance stuff. We have enough."

I say "I'll bet the kids have been thinking all night and all day about doing it again and they'll show up again." Marcia laughs.

The next day, it's dark, we've been doing computer/YouTube stuff, and we're getting ready to go to dinner. Wham! Wham! Knock Knock, Bang Bang. "Answer the door!" Shouting and banging and suspiciously young sounding voices. It's the barrio kids and they've worked up dance routines and they want to perform for the camera and be in the movie!

Fortunately, there's a street light right outside Marcia's door, so we turn on the iPod speakers, crank up the volume to 11, and those kids start dancing it up. And of course, a small crowd of onlookers gathers on the curb to watch. JohnG is shooting photos with flash. My video camera is doing a pretty good job of shooting in low light. The street lights of the neighborhood give the scene an interesting look. All in all, I think it'll be a YouTube hit.

When JohnG has a chance, I'll grab a couple of stills from him.

Visiting a barrio school

On Tuesday JohnG, Marcia, and I took a taxi across town to the barrio school where she works. She used to teach English and art, but now does mostly fundraising. The taxi let us off near the cemetery and we walked the rest of the way due to street construction. The walk through the barrio was quite an experience. So much poverty. But the people are friendly.

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The school entrance.

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The barrio school Los Gorrioncitos (The Little Birds)

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The school interior. Lunch is served here for students, and for other kids who live in the barrio.

JohnG and I (and Marcia) are walking down the muddy street with probably about $8000 worth of camera equipment hanging around our necks and in our backpacks. But no one is threatening or unfriendly. Just the opposite. I guess JohnG and I must be really bad-ass looking dudes. Or maybe it's just that most people here, especially the kids, know Marcia and love her. One of those two things -- I'm not sure which.

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Uh Dude, where are we going?

JohnG and I shot photos and video for a couple of hours. Shots of the kids, the playground, and shots of Marcia and the school administrator, (I'll put her name here later), interviewing a dozen students and their mothers who've been invited to apply for scholarships that will help the families continue their education. This school is free, but the kids need money to continue on, for books, shoes, clothes, and possibly tuition (I'm not sure -- I'll check that out). The current scholarship money came from a generous family in the US. Some families in this school have a monthly income of $100, and the family is large.

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Barrio kids throwing rocks at us. Just kidding! They're playing a game.

Needless to say, we got a lot of great shots. When we left, we took the long way through the barrio to get more shots, and to walk as far as possible with a couple of young sisters who live down that way. Sorry I haven't posted video yet, but soon. I'll also grab some shots from JohnG to post. His shots are really great, and he's probably the only person I know that shoots more than I do.