Sticks, stones, and words

Starting with the sticks. The women in Zone S, Sam, Adrianna, and I put all of our female construction skills together to build a fence for our community garden this week. It went fairly smoothly due to some resourceful innovations. For one, we couldn’t pound our nails through the wood posts because they were too thick and hard so we decided to pound them half way in and use the “shelf” they create to hold up the horizontal wood poles and then secure them with rope. The next innovation was using a 2ft long saw to cut our twine because we didn’t have a scissor (genius!).  Due to these fence nuances, I am certain that our fence is the only one of its type and it seems quite sturdy. Next week we will use all of our brute force to dig post-holes and get the walls in the firm dry ground.


the biohuerto women


standing proud in front of their fence walls


resourcefully built

Then comes the stones. For this week’s adventure, Will, Anna, Emily and I traveled to Marcahuasi Stone Park. It is a “forest of rocks” located on a mountain plateau 3657m above sea level. There is an ongoing argument about how the stones formed. The two leading theories are erosion or aliens. I think erosion. The park is crowded with visitors on holidays but this Wednesday/Thursday we had it all to ourselves. We took a perilous cliff-side bus ride to the village of San Pedro de Casta where we ate fried trout for lunch, rented tents, and embarked on our journey upwards. The trek took about 2 hours and we arrived at the amphitheater, a circle of grass surrounded by beautiful rock formations that is perfect for camping. The oxygen in the air was diffuse but the beautiful views were concentrated. We set up camp, started a fire, and made another delicious tinfoil campfire meal – packets of potatoes, carrot, pepper, onion, garlic, olive oil, salt n pep; corn on the cob with fire-melted cheese; and apple crisp – all enhanced by a bottle of Chilean wine. The stars were sparkling, the conversation was enlightening, the fire was captivating, and the moon was waxing.

After a chilly night of rotating my hips, trying to locate soft spots on a hard surface, and opening my eyes in hope that the sun had risen, the sun rose! And there was magnificent views all around – a cow grazing with her calf, the reflective wonder of the lagoon, a breathtaking mountain panorama, tiny stone huts that’s doors I could hardly squeeze through, and a rock shaped like an aged version of Squidward with a goatee. We wandered and sat on rocks and wondered and sat on more rocks for a while, trying to take it all in. After all of our exploring we waited at our campsite for the burro to come get our cargo, taking in the sun, relaxing, and doing a little yoga. We were tired from a night with little sleep and the lack of oxygen we were sending to our brains at this elevation. We descended the mountain feeling satisfied and exhausted. Another weekend well-spent.



one of the magical stones surrounding the amphitheater


the sunrise


they picked a good spot to graze


lagoon-a matata


stone forest


can you find the face? this one was my favorite, a work of art.


squidward with goatee?


monumento a la humanidad

And for the words. After thinking up this clever title from a saying that was very popular in my childhood, I can’t stop thinking about the saying. I whispered it to myself when someone told me a mean thing and I felt bad. I used it to make me feel better and to convince myself that I am not hurt because they are just words. Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me. Or it was used when someone was pestering another (picture a mean child saying this to someone who got their feelings hurt by words), “Sticks and stones will break your bones but words will never hurt you!” It’s such an illogical, incorrect saying. Words hurt a lot more than a punch to the face. They often inspire a punch to the face or a tear in the dark. It comforted me, telling myself they can’t hurt, but it also just buried things. I’ve been seeing a lot about suicide and bullying in the media – about their prevalence, causes and consequences. (Most recently this article:, and this movement: I have also been dealing with some evident bullying dynamics with some of my kids in the classroom. This week, in one of my classes I had to lock the door to keep two boys out of the classroom because they were picking on and fighting with another boy and another class ended with a boy being punched in the face and crying (although according to the other child, he started it). I am not sure if this saying is still getting tossed around or if there is a Spanish equivalent but I hope that everyone realizes that words do hurt.


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