Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Homeschooling at La Campana National Park in Chile

We're still working out many of the kinks in our home schooling efforts. One of the things that seems to be working is field trip based learning. So recently we hauled the pod out to La Campana National Park which is in the Vizcachas Mountains about 60 kilometers from where we are staying in Valparaiso.

This was probably the most public transportation we have ever taken for a day trip, so we started out the lesson discussing how to catch the train, how the automated ticketing system works, where to find the bus, and how to find a toilet at a bus station without eating a meal. Since we haven't had a Lonely Planet guidebook with us, we're flying a bit blind relying heavily on our hosts for some advice; stuff like: "I'm pretty sure if you make it past the land of the big tomato to Olmue, you'll find a bus that will get you close to the park. From there, just hike into the park." Our homeschooling lesson continued by a colorful illustration of how to look really clueless on a bus in the middle of no where while butchering a major world language; our illustration rendered perfectly, inspiring a wonderful Chilean gentleman to help us flag down the next ride in our route. This photo below shows the man running away from us as fast as possible, fleeing the half baked field trippers.

Along the way, we continued our lesson discussing what horses eat in the Cordillera de la Costa, apparently smooshed tomatoes from the back of a truck.

And more information on why you might hang a cow skin from the ceiling.

Here was another quick lesson on why National Park's are located on the end of really long dirt roads:

And another one on why you might build a blue shack on top of a well a half mile up from the rangers station.

Ah yes, and the environmental lesson we originally set out on, which was to witness and understand the very unique ecological system of this region in Chile.

So we also spent some time understanding how a plant ecosystem can remain shielded from the world at large (in the case of Chile, huge mountains a short distance to the east, and a big ocean to the west). And of course, we chatted about who this Charles Darwin guy was, since he climbed this mountain during his "Voyage of the Beagle." Darwin was interesting to the kids, in part since Manuel, one of our hosts, while recommending the park, described how he came here with Darwin's great, great, ... great grand daughter, who herself is also apparently a scientist.

So there you have it, a serendipitous field trip based ecological homeschooling lesson on the last of the Jubaea chilensis (Chilean Wine Palm) forests.


Ies said...

What a great and funny blog, we loved reading it and seeing your photo's. Thanks for sharing this with us. Deep, you've got a career as a writer should you be interested in that ;-) Take care, give the kids a big hug from all of us please. They look adorable! Greetings from Oregon: Isabel, Kevin, Sean and Kealan.

JoMama said...

Hooray! Can you believe how beautiful it there? How (in general) lovely, kind, and helpful the local folk. I am living vicariously through your trip. I would LOVE to return to Chile and take my family there.

Deep said...

Thanks Isabel and J for your comments. Its a great motivator to find folks are enjoying the content. JoMama, Chile is indeed so beautiful, and the people are wonderful.

Bart said...

Hi Deep,
Your writings are very precise and descriptive, unlike these crazy coloured local buses who take you anywhere but where you want to go!
In the footsteps of her father, Sarah Darwin is actually going around the world in a new Beagle project,read more on
One of the producers stayed with his family and 2 small kids at Valparaíso Experience, they enjoyed just like you!
Safe travels, Bart
It's great to follow your adventures online, a

kimiora said...


So nice to be back in touch, and very cool to hear about your adventures in Chile. I love Chile! Reminds me of the time my sis and I were looking for the ice cream shop in Pichilemu and asked a kid on the street. He said "go down this street and take a right, go to across the square and ask someone "where is the ice cream shop?"". Priceless. Enjoy.

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