We spent nearly two full weeks in Sucre as we had arranged to do volunteering at a nursery in the city. Alongside this, we had planned a week of top-up Spanish lessons with Fox Academy who had helped arrange the volunteering for us and a cheap home-stay with a local family.
We arrived on a night bus which got in to the station earlier than planned on Sunday morning at 5am and as it was still dark we had to hang there for two hours before making our way into town to try and locate our homestay.
We got dropped off in the taxi in the middle of a random street outside the centre and luckily the first man we asked was a helpful neighbour of Carlos and Olga and knew where to take us.
The room we had in the house was nice and it was really cheap at £9 a night. They had dogs (one was a new puppy) but both really annoying as they hadn’t bothered to train them at all and kept them locked up in a little yard outside the front of the apartment all day with crap and piss on the floor everywhere – not great when the bathroom is outside and in the middle of the night you walk through it!
Our first day at the nursery on the Monday was great and we loved it straight away. The nursery was in a poorer part of town and we helped look after 35 kids aged between one and five years old.
There were three ladies plus a cook and kitchen helper who looked after the younger children five days a week and were people little for their efforts.
The families pay 50 bolivianos (about £2.50) a month for the kids to attend nursery all day and they get breakfast and lunch too.
The nursery was in a poor neighbourhood where pigs ran free and dust floated through the breeze.
The kids liked to call Andy ‘gringito’ meaning ‘little gringo’!
Each day we helped look after the kids by playing games, stopping them fighting, helping them in lessons, prepping and serving them food and also doing manual things around the place like painting the fence in the playground.
Andy also fixed the roof using borrowed tools and a wonky homemade ladder that I had to hold. There was nothing so we had to buy the paints and Andy managed to borrow tools from local building sites.
We were so proud of the job we did on the fence, from plain wood to colourful with the kids hand-prints on one side.
The kids were great to work with even though some of them were really naughty and it was hard work, it was a rewarding experience!
The first week was the most tiring as we had both got used to not working at all. Suddenly, we were going to work every morning in the nursery for five hours before doing Spanish classes in the afternoon.
We didn’t do anything touristy around Sucre as there wasn’t that much to do – it was just a nice place to stay and we were too busy during our days to do much else! One place we spent a lot of time at when we weren’t working was Joyride Cafe, they did decent food and the most amazing stuffed pancakes with fruit, ice cream and cream for desert! We had a fair few of those over the course of two weeks.
At the end of the first week on the Friday night we went on a pub crawl checking out the local bars. The next morning we woke up to banging on our bedroom door and we couldn’t remember anything. It turned out we’d kidnapped the puppy from outside and brought him to in to our room to sleep with us for the night when we came home drunk. Olga was upset crying her eyes out as she thought he had escaped out of the yard but he thankfully was happy just chilling curled up on our bed!
During our second week at the nursery we had a party for the kids and Andy and I bought loads of treats for them and also little presents for each of them for our last day.
The little toys (cars for the boys and dolls for the girls) went down a storm and we were really sad to leave on our final day.
Volunteering at the nursery was definitely one of the best things I’ve ever done and I would definitely do it again. We were a bit let down by the way the staff treated us on occasion (walking banks) but overall it was a great experience.
Learning Spanish with Marisol of Fox Academy was really worthwhile and the grammatical rules finally clicked with her straightforward explanations.