After a journey of six hours: by boat, on horseback, by bus, the teacher Nélida Flores has to cross the Bolivian border and the jungle to reach the school in the Argentinian side of Salta province. A school lost in the jungle made of mud, wood and sheet metal, where children study and live in the most precarious conditions.
This story really touched me. I was told Nélida Flores’s life by a friend of mine who is from Salta province where the teacher lived. I spent days and nights to get in touch with her. She had no e-mail address and I couldn’t find anything in the Internet. The only thing I knew was the small town close to the Bolivian border where she lived. I made hundred of phone calls to schools, to the Ministry of Education, and to both firefighters and to the police. Nothing. Few weeks later, I decided to make random phone calls in the area Nélida Flores lived. I don’t remember how many I did, but finally I could speak with someone who knew her and he gave me her phone number! 5 days later, I was ready for what was going to be one of the best experiences in my life. I did 25 hours bus drive from Buenos Aires to get to Aguas Blancas (White Waters). On Monday at 2 am, Nélida Flores and I started the travel. We walked 15 m before passing through the Bolivian border. The school Nélida Flores teaches at is only reachable from Bolivia. Then, in Bolivia we caught a bus to get to the Bermejo River. We travelled two hours in small mud roads in a bus full of Bolivian countrymen chewing Coca leaves. The driver was getting so fast, passing through watercourse, that I thought that he would break the bus. When we arrived to the river bank a Nélida’s student was already waiting for the boat to get to the school on the Argentina side. One hour later, we finally reached again Argentina on the boat with two students rowing on it.
Then, Nélida finished her travel horse riding through the deep jungle. As for me, I was running close to Nélida’s horse to make photographs. I carried a small backpack and my tent. I pitched it close to Nélida’s room. I stayed four days working with her. I saw her teaching in a very humble classroom where her students from 5 years old to 9 years old (mixed in the same classroom) can barely learn something.