Monthly Archives: April 2013

(b)earth day.

where to even start? yesterday was an incredible (and long) day, and i felt love from all over the world. a birthday is quite the holiday in peru. in fact, legally, people are free from all work for the day…unless you are a peace corps volunteer.

it all started the night before where mp presented me a video of all those i love and have loved throughout my life wishing me a happy birthday. there were friends from high school, college and beyond, and people fro seattle, nyc, boston, utah, all over texas and everywhere in between. within seconds of seeing hans dialing the phone (the opening shot of the video), i was left in tears. tears of feeling so much love from back home. for those four minutes, the usa and all those i love there no longer seemed so far away. it was the best way to start the day.

samia barged into my room to show off her new brigadir uniform, which then followed with my host mom running in to hug me and sing happy birthday to me. i then worked on finalizing the details of my earth day event for the morning, and i learned with about 10 minutes in advance that the ong that was coming to speak about reforestation in the bosque was not going to make it…so i had 10 minutes to come up with an hour-long charla about the environment.

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luckily, you learn to get pretty creative on the fly in peace corps. additionally, i was greeted with 70 students at my colegio singing happy birthday to me!

say, what?!

say, what?!

for the charla, i had an environmental youtube video i showed, then spent 30 minutes rambling about the ecosystem and reforestation. i also had us play a game outside…which went…well…let’s just say i was able to tie it all back in.

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afterwards, we planned a pasacalle in conjunction with the primeria, and my students followed behind and cleaned up trash on the streets, while the primary kids, ironically, used more resources to look cute in earth day costumes and posters…and was burning trash to show the consequences of doing so…i still haven’t figured that one out yet…

me with some of my alumnos ready to pick up the litter!

me with some of my alumnas ready to pick up the litter!

blanca with her cutiepatootie students!

blanca with her cutiepatootie students!

seriously. i don't get the burning things to make a point act, but it's peru...so it does kind of make sense...

seriously. i don’t get the burning things to make a point act, but it’s peru…so it does kind of make sense…

taking over the pan-american highway...it's what we do best.

taking over the pan-american highway…it’s what we do best.

you know, if one’s peace corps service was determined by the number of pasacalles one does…then i would be the pcv all-star…only because my site loves them, and is pretty reluctant to try something else…pero poco a poco we will see what we can do about that…

after an exhausting morning of corralling the alumnos around town and cleaning the streets, i came home and watched samia all afternoon. and she really demonstrated what it means to be four…tears…all day…for no reason…well, honestly, it was because she was exhausted, but i felt the consequences of that. for 3 1/2 hours straight it was just tears. at about the 2 hour mark it just became impressive.

also, our pesky chanchito has gotten bigger, stronger and smarter and keeps escaping. so i had to run after him a couple of times yesterday and redo his stake in the ground, which resulted him in getting his piggy-ness all over me…gross…

hammering the stake back into the ground...he was too close for my liking...

hammering the stake back into the ground…he was too close for my liking…

later that evening my family returned home, and they surprised me with my favorite meal: pollo a la brasa and of course, some birthday cake!

mi mama, yo y samia!

mi mama, yo y samia!

millie did such a great job on picking out the cake!

millie did such a great job on picking out the cake

i gave samia the reigns on my camera. i look like a giant in a 4-year-old's eyes...not complaining...

i gave samia the reigns on my camera. i look like a giant in a 4-year-old’s eyes…not complaining…

the johnsons wished me an extra special birthday with a special blog post on cat’s website. it still makes me smile!

later, i went to mochumi to visit with my branch president. sunday, after church, a lady there randomly asked me when my birthday was and so i responded with “tomorrow.” this caused my branch president to run after me in the street and invite me back the chapel the next day for “something.” i figured it was going to be cake, and when i was walking up i could here some of the kids say “ella viene!, ella viene!” but then the lights went out and it was just my branch president. he then proceeded to pretend to “interview” me/have a birthday chat. we then went downstairs, and they hit the lights, and i was greeted by everyone in my branch for a surprise party. it was great! there was a saxophone. and decorations. it was the best. they made me dance in the middle with every male in the room (per tradition). they pushed my face into my cake (per peruvian tradition). we danced to the saxophone some cumbia, huayno and marinera. everyone gave some palabras (per peruvian custom).

my branch president and family. love these people so much.

my branch president and family. love these people so much.

listening to the wonderful words of people in my branch.

listening to the wonderful words of people in my branch.

danixa giving her palabras.

danixa giving her palabras.

seriously. love this girl. she has come such a long way since i arrived.

seriously. love this girl. 

lourdes, jasmin and their sister. some of the girls i work with.

lourdes, jasmin and their sister. some of the girls i work with.

making my wish and getting ready to blow out my candle...

making my wish and getting ready to blow out my candle…

lucho wanted me to play his saxophone in our picture. seriously. this man has some great talent.

lucho wanted me to play his saxophone in our picture. seriously. this man has some great talent.

not an awkward picture with the elders. ha.

not an awkward picture with the elders. ha.

the leftovers.

the leftovers.

it was just so incredible. my heart was so full. in fact, it is still so full of all the outpouring of love i received yesterday. i wish i could stress just how small the world felt yesterday, because i truly felt love from all those all around the world. i have been less than enthused about turning 28 (for the first time in my life i feel old…), but i couldn’t have had a better day…including the chasing down our pig. also, i realized that birthdays are really just days to celebrate your relationship with all of those around you in your life, and i am grateful that i was able to do so!

peru. i fell more in love with you yesterday. every one else, thank you for making me feel so loved and cared for. i am so blessed.

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taking over the sierra.

beautiful huascaran.

beautiful huascaran.

or really, it would have been that the sierra took over me, since i spent the entire time there with a terrible cold that i am just now really getting over. in fact, it took two days after we came down from the mountainous city for my ear to finally pop…it was pretty tragic.

anyways, i headed to the beautiful department of ancash and stayed in huaraz, which is the department’s capital city nestled up in the andes, for a few days for a peace corps training for project design and management (pdm), and followed that training with my in-service training (ist). at pdm, we each brought a community partner that we work with, and introduce them to basic project design and management 101. it’s extremely rich in information and also follows an american schedule, which of course exhausted all the socios, as they are not used to working a 8a-6p schedule without a siesta in the middle of the day. it was also a lot of work to reiterate a lot of the principles that were being taught, but it was great to get to know my socio better, and we have become even better friends as a result!

half of our pdm group w/ socios!

half of our pdm group w/ socios!

me explaining some of the concepts with my socio, berardo.

me explaining some of the concepts with my socio, berardo.

after our long days of training, we went to the main city for water and just to take time to look around. this is me and some of my favorite fellow pcperu 19 ladies.

after our long days of training, we went to the main city for water and just to take time to look around. this is me and some of my favorite fellow pcperu 19 ladies.

and i totally decided to fall for the tourist trap of posing with an alpaca because why not???

and i totally decided to fall for the tourist trap of posing with an alpaca because why not???

while there, in between being sick and at trainings, some ladies and i took the time to see a few other places in ancash.

beautiful yanguy. the original town was destroyed by a landslide, and rebuilt itself in a new location.

beautiful yanguy. the original town was destroyed by a landslide, and rebuilt itself in a new location.

the domineering huascaran.

the domineering huascaran.

the beautiful, turquoise glacier made lake, laguna llanganuco.

the beautiful, turquoise glacier made lake, laguna llanganuco.

as you can see i was unable to contain my excitement.

as you can see i was unable to contain my excitement.

the awesome-looking bark on the trees.

the awesome-looking bark on the trees.

on our way to see pastoruri.

on our way to see pastoruri.

some wild horses.

some wild horses.

one of a kind cacti.

one of a kind cacti.

to get to the glacier, first you go by horseback and then hike for about another mile. this is me and my horse, ol' smokey.

to get to the glacier, first you go by horseback and then hike for about another mile. this is me and my horse, ol’ smokey.

carlhey and i on our horses.

carlhey and i on our horses.

the view on our hike.

the view on our hike.

i made it!!!!

i made it!!!!

the glacier is an excellent example of the dramatic effects of global warming. so much of the glacier has changed just within even the last year!

the glacier is an excellent example of the dramatic effects of global warming. so much of the glacier has changed just within even the last year!

another example of the melting glacier.

another example of the melting glacier.

brrrrrrr!

brrrrrrr!

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the reason.

the new junta directiva, the local alcaldes, and other community members that have offered their support to the new group

the new junta directiva, the local alcaldes, and other community members that have offered their support to the new group

the reason why i came back to site early was to put on an event to jump start a youth group that i am starting with the PRE. we spent the couple weeks before preparing and promoting it. going to all the colegios in the caserios, as well as meeting with the neighboring district’s mayors. and guess what…IT TURNED OUT GREAT! i really needed a project to take off. in fact, it softened the blow that i had yet another socio leave my site, which put a halt to my earth day project…so that means within the last month 3 out of the 4 people i have been working with have left my town…lucky, me! but back to the event.

at the event, more than 90 people from the caserios showed up. my socio, myself, and the alcaldes all gave speeches on the importance of looking ahead, and that they can change their futures. generally speaking, living in the caserios insinuates that they live in poverty. many of the homes have dirt floors, are sometimes made of adobe, there is limited, and sometimes no electricity. running water is a luxury and a bathroom inside the house does not exist. these families work hard for the things they do have. the idea of this youth group, is to combine a group of students (both secundaria and university age) and young professionals to be leaders and mentors in their communities. they are from a variety of caserios, spanning across 4 districts. with this group, we will work to disseminate more knowledge to share with the members of the community to raise the standard of living. they will work to determine what those needs are (e.g. family planning, sewing lessons, cuy raising, job skill training, etc.), and myself and the other members of the community will work to help provide them with the knowledge and skill sets to better life in their caserio.

this is just the beginning of this project, so i am excited to see where it goes. i am also just as delighted to have found a member of the community who is extremely enthusiastic and motivated to work towards sustainable change. see, didn’t i tell you that i could sense the winds were changing direction????

 

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semana santa.

clear, blue ocean in mancora.

clear, blue ocean in mancora.

last week was a national holiday here in peru, semana santa. everyone, both peruvians and volunteers, had the majority of the week off. to celebrate, i was originally going to go hiking in chachapoyas to a remote lagoon, but due to my needing to be back at site early and to the number of mudslides in the sierra right now due to the rain, i opted to head north with some girlfriends and relax on the largest tourist beach in all of peru, mancora.

first, i went and visited for the day at a friend’s site just outside of piura city, and we did a couple of english-teaching charlas. after, we packed our bags and headed west to the beach. the weather was warm. the water was perfect. the food was incredible. and it was nice to feel like i wasn’t in peru for a few days. no one stared at us, and the service at the restaurants were surprisingly attentive. i was there with a group of about 6 girls, and we just had a delight. we went to the beach all-day everyday, and would eat a delicious dinner in the evening, and normally went dancing for a little while after. all and all, it was incredibly relaxing. and i think, i am one of the only volunteers to go to mancora for the first time and walk away absolutely loving it…

kg, sandy & me.

kg, sandy & me.

the only notable adventure from the trip was the journey back. as mentioned earlier, i needed to be back to site a day early, which put kg and i traveling back on a big travel day. most large bus companies were already full, so we opted for a smaller company. the night of, we showed up a little early for the bus, and a guy told us that it was broken down, and was not going to show. so, while i waited to get the full story from our vendor, kg went to see if she could find another bus. luckily, she flagged a bus down that was headed to trujillo, and they agreed to stop in chiclayo for us. as they pulled up, i demanded our money back, and then accidentally took too much money back as i swiftly grabbed the remaining change in his hand, and hopped onto this bus that stopped to pick us up off the side of the road. the bus was completely booked, so we were stuck riding in the front cabin with the drivers, who basically sold us their seats for a pure profit. though i wouldn’t say we got the best night’s sleep or any sleep at all, as the driver was chewing on coca leaves, as the other drivers took swigs of liquor before taking over their portion of the drive. the sad reality, is that what we saw is not unique to our bus, but is more so common and we only witnessed what really happens on our bus trips. however, we made it back safe and sound and there was limited swerving on the road, so all and all it was quite the trip! so worth it! and honestly, i loved that delightful week with my ladies!!!

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