Altiplano: Birds, Bunnies with attitude, and other creatures

While the Vicuñas, Llamas and Alpacas tend to show up on most tourist photos, there is actually a large amount of other creatures living in the Altiplano.

Most of the birds are found in the wetlands.  There are two types of wetlands: Hydric and Mesic:

  • Hydric – has water permanently
  • Mesic – has water sporadically and salinity can be observed

The smallish birds that are most often seen are: buff-winged cinclodes, slender-beaked finch,  black-hooded sierra finch and Puna ground-tyrant.

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I think these two are moor-hens


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Taking off


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Flamingo in the Altiplano Wetlands


I managed to spot a small group of 4 or so of these large ostrich-like birds on the side of the road.  Had to use my zoom lens to capture this photo.  They are very skittish and we had to be super quiet.

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What do you call a group of flightless birds?  Still a Flock?


Vizchacha = Bunny Rabbits with attitude.

They eat vegetation mainly from the wetlands.  We found a huge amount of Vizchacha in the “Las Cueves / Chañacaca” area which is made up of a collection of several overhanging rock caves located in the middle of a wetland area.

In this area, people have found evidence of occupation of small groups of humans from 9000 to 1000  years ago.    Evidence such as stone, wooden, and bone tools.  This may have been a resting place for people traveling to/from the coast.

They have a comical facial expression as if to say “I am sitting here and I don’t care who knows it”


Our bird guide:

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Smallish Birds:

This guy visited us at one of the rest stops, but I am not sure on the species.

These two were busy making a nest – maybe Moor-hens?

Another bird-spotting:

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I did see a bumble bee on this flower, but didn’t get my camera out in time so you can just take my word for it.  The bee was huge (width of my thumb).

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Didn’t see any condors this time – another good reason to return some day in the future.


#IBMCSC Chile #CSCChile8




IBM Design Thinking with JUNAEB

To better understand the needs of our users (JUNAEB staff), we have performed two IBM Design Thinking workshops with JUNAEB.  On the first one we focused on the problem statement, personas, and empathy map.

Design an effective way to gather data and view trends on obesity in the student population to better understand the impacts of the Contrapeso and other programs combating obesity in the schools.

Diseñar una manera efectiva de recopilar información y ver las tendencias de obesidad que se presentan en la población estudiantil para comprender mejor el impacto del programa Contrapeso y otros relacionados a la lucha contra la obesidad en los colegios.

The staff at JUNAEB really seemed to enjoy the process.  It was slow at first, especially with the need to translate each instruction and post-it note, but once we got going it was very successful.  We learned a lot about our target persona, the supervisors of the school feeding program, and some of the pain points they experience as they try to help.

We held the second workshop earlier this week where we focused on ideation and prioritization.  We got a really wide spread of ideas.  We had left the circular voting stickers at the hotel, so had to improvize with some ripped up post-it note pieces instead.  It still worked, but the photos of the post-its were not as pretty.

Overall we were very pleased with the results and are busy working away at designing the solution with JUNAEB.

#CSCChile8 #IBMCSC Chile

Going back to school for a day

As part of our IBM Corporate Service Corps assignment we visited two schools in the Arica y Parinacota region to better understand the education program and specifically JUNAEB’s school feeding program.

It was very informative, but also a lot of fun.

In order to enter the kitchen we needed to wear: sneakers, long-pants, a lab-coat and a hair net.  So we were quite decked-out for our visit.

We saw how the food was prepared and handed out to the children at snack-time and at lunch-time.  We were shown where the food was stored, both the packaged food and the fresh vegetables.  Each school also has a canteen where kids can purchase their own foods.  We were glad to see fruit as an option at one of the schools.

We talked with a lot of the kids at recess – most of it was a pretty basic conversation as they spoke no English and we spoke very little Spanish.  I would say “Me Llamo Jen” (my name is Jen) and “Yo Soy de Canada” (I am from Canada).  I would also ask them about their favourite sports.

The kids were fascinated with Helen from China and asked her a huge number of questions about China through our translator Gabriela.

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We were also invited into a couple classrooms where we introduced ourselves, and asked about favourite sports, favourite foods, favourite healthy foods and then we encouraged them to ask questions.   Then asked even more questions about China.  How do you eat with chopsticks?  How do you say hello in Chinese?  What are toys like in China?

The visit really helped us better understand the school system in Chile, and specifically how the school feeding program works.

#IBMCSC Chile  #CSCChile8

Working with JUNAEB to address obesity

A growing trend among the youth of our world is obesity, and this is also being felt very strongly in Chile.  Chileans are the number one consumers of sugary drinks around the world. Arica, where a Coca-cola factory is located, is one of the highest consumers per person.

As part of the IBM Corporate Service Corps, we are working with JUNAEB-Arica of the Ministry of Education in Arica to help address this growing trend.

There is a good Contrapeso plan which contains 50 measures (action plans) to help address obesity in the youth of the country.  These measures vary from increasing the physical activity of the students, to modifying their food intake at schools, and to improving student and parent education so the kids eat more healthy food at home.

It is a significant challenge as we have found that cheaper, processed foods are widely available in stores everywhere, and it is much harder to find healthy options.

In 2016, Chile launched a new law requiring black stop-sign labels on foods which contain high salt, high fat, and/or high calories.  This is a good step and we have seen these labels on many (but not all) of the products on the shelves.  However there is no apparent concern of the use of alternative sweeteners or the high number of processed ingredients or the environmental impact of the excessive packaging in these processed foods.

We continue to work with JUNAEB-Arica to find ways to digitally measure and track the weights and other health stats of the students so that they can better understand the impacts of various programs and initiatives.


A great beginning

Today Tommy, Helen, and I (one of the 4 sub-teams on CSC Chile 8) got to meet our host client for the first time face-to-face.  We were thrilled to meet Señor Victor Alberto Contreras Oyarzo and Señor Pedro Antonio Limarí Castro from JUNAEB (Junta Nacional de Auxilio Escolar y Becas), the National Council for School Assistance in Chile.

We heard about how  JUNAEB’s school feeding program provides breakfasts and lunches to millions of students throughout Chile so that vulnerable students can enter, remain, and succeed in the education system.  It is very hard to concentrate on your studies when you have an empty belly. In the Arica area alone they are preparing  over 23,000 meals per day.

Our focus will be to help JUNAEB address 50 measures from the Contrapeso plan which has been defined at a National level to combat obesity in students which is a growing problem in Chile.


Then we headed to the JUNAEB office and met the staff there.  They were so welcoming and really made us feel at home.

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We  met the teams from the Nutrition, Scholarship, Health, Logistics, and Resource units.  Then we spent most of our time  with the unit for school nutrition, learning about each other, and the school feeding program: Programa de Alimentación Escolar (PAE).


#IBMCSC Chile  #CSCChile8