Category Archives: caserios

una noche en el campo.

dinner by candlelight.

dinner by candlelight.

a couple of weeks ago, i had the opportunity to have a sleepover with one of my lambaybesties in the campo. she lives in a caserio outside of changoyape. the next day i was going to head to chaparri, and her site is the last place before the reserve, plus we got to have some quality time!!! we ate some veggies and watched the count of monte cristo, and basically were just cracking ourselves up about how gross it is to be a peace corps volunteer sometimes…don’t worry, i will spare you the details. but it was such a fun night!

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rio leche.

the rio.

the rio.

my almost daily 15-mile bike rides in and out of the caserios for a couple of the schools i have begun to work with, has had me crossing the rio leche. the rio is a legend of sorts here since the ancient days, in that it was what brought life to this desert valley. the water comes from the highlands, and has been quite high for the last month or so. now with irrigation for their fields, farmers aren’t quite as reliant, but many of the families that live in the caserios still rely on it for water in their household, washing clothes, cooking, etc. it also makes for a nice halfway/rest point during my rides.

one of the many birds that are feeding off the harvested rice fields.

one of the many birds that are feeding off the harvested rice fields.

 

a group of the students from the primaria that my youth group and i have started to work with.

a group of the students from the primaria that my youth group and i have started to work with.

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in the know.

talking to a school director in tucume viejo.

talking to a school director in tucume viejo.

lately, i have been spending many of my mornings with the presidenta, vice-president, and my socio, from my youth volunteer group (ADEPZORT) traveling to the various caserios of my district in order for them to better understand what needs exist outside of the main pueblo. the culture and way of life in the campo is quite different than that of the pueblo. additionally, there are different needs for the youth and their communities. also, the campo makes up for most of the geography of my site, so at times we have found ourselves in the truck for 30 minutes to travel to these communities.

many of these communities are lacking water and electricity, and are the more impoverished pockets of my site. it has been a great reality check for the youth that have joined for the interviews, so they can better understand the realities of those they desire to serve. this weekend, the council is getting together to better form an outline of project ideas based off of the information they have collected by talking with school directors, health posts and community members of those caserios visited. i am quite excited to continue my work with these youth as throughout this process they have demonstrated an increase of passion of working with those in the rural areas of tucume. hooray!

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the great may escape.

goodness gracious. my, oh, my how time has escaped us…or really just me.

after celebrating the most incredible peruvian birthday, i hopped on a plane to visit friends and family in the us. i was overwhelmed in general, but also by the love of those closest to me. bu seriously, i was pretty overwhelmed culturally as well. being in the peace corps, you get so used to a certain pace of life, a very slow one, and also that about 90% of your time is spent independent of all other americans and in solitude in your country’s culture. another 5% is spent with any volunteer that may be near you, who you may see with varying frequency (once a week or once every month or so depending on schedules). and the final 5% is with other volunteers once or twice month, who are all living the same life of solitude as you, so really we are pretty not self-aware of  how strangely awkward we have become. so, to put me in a situation where i was constantly interacting with people, by the end of the 3rd day in a row, i slept for almost a full 24 hours to catch up. though, i am not complaining. it was so wonderful to see all of my family. and i am so blessed that my brother and close friend both flew in from nyc to see me.

it was especially nice to get to spend time with mp, who was my main reason to visit the us. when mp last left, we went to cusco and lima, and now it was my turn to pay him a visit. though, he kept me quite busy and even gave me a second birthday surprise! he coordinated with a local animal sanctuary to do an at-home visit with a SLOTH and FENNEC FOX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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i think it should also be noted that i got my hair cut for the first time in almost a year, and saw it straightened and cleaned, and i felt like a new woman. but obviously with the animals above i was on another level of excitement that was out of this world. eventually all good (read: great) things have to come to an end, and a very reluctant to leave girl was pushed on to her plane by an amazing mp to return to peru.

i arrived back to peru in one piece, and had a few days in site to remind everyone that i was still here and wanting to work, and also coordinate and prepare for our PEPFAR (president’s emergency plan for aids relief) training. with this training, my socia and i were able to take away a number of great new resources and statistics to share with our community, and now have the opportunity to receive aid money for our project.

doris and i after she received her certificate of completion!

doris and i after she received her certificate of completion!

the following week, we jump started our 6 classes of our sex ed leadership training program, but unfortunately later that week, she received news that she was being transfered to another post far from my site, so now i am still spearheading this training, but more so solo-style, since my health post is dramatically understaffed, and have them help out when it needed. but if anything, this motivates me even more to get my youth promoters trained, so they then can be doing this part and alleviate some of the stress from the health post as well.

i have been terrible about using my camera lately, so i will succinctly describe the other activities that have been keeping me quite busy:

  • i have been giving business charlas to the artisans, and helping them figure out what the costs of their products are and how to determine what they should be setting as their prices. and goodness, they were in need of this. one artisan had been selling these beautifully embroidered bread covers for only 10 soles, when the cost alone to make them was 35 soles.
  • 6 classes of pasos a week keeps a girl busy. let’s just leave it at that.
  • i have been working with my youth leadership council (ADEPZORT) on helping them with their community diagnostic. we have been visiting the most rural caserios and my goodness, you never get used to seeing the amount of poverty that exists in this country, or in any country, but you can’t help but want to give so many more opportunities to these people.
  • celebrated dia internacional de los museos with other volunteers, and finally visited my museum’s pyramids.
  • weekly youth group meetings with my mochumi young women’s group.
  • coordinating a 5-pueblo job fair for september
  • coordinating an environmental awareness event with my colegio for next week.
  • working on a website for the artisans
  • working on a video for the museum
  • and of course, camp ALMA!!!!!!!!!!! (which will be covered in it’s own post)

so i have been busy, busy girl and for that i am grateful. i have also been able to watch all of the new arrested development…superb! as a parting gift, here is a picture from the top of one of my pyramids:

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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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late(leigh).

oh hey! long time no see! sorry for the hiatus, especially after such a bleak one. i suppose i should update you on the activities that i have been up to. though up until last week, my work had been slow, i was still going out daily and working on charlas and encuestas with the ladies at vaso de leche.

doing my diagnostic in cruz blanca.

more encuestas being completed!

i also went to mocupe to help another volunteer with an event she planned with her school: an english singing competition! it was great. all the kids had planned a song to sing as a group and even choreographed and coordinated matching clothes. it made for a delightful afternoon. after which, i stopped into to chiclayo for some dinner on my way back, where i learned that there is a place that serves RIBS! obviously, it didn’t beat texas, but it will hold me over when i have my real red meat cravings.

phil, hallie and i served as the judges panel. too much pressure if you ask me. who wants to crush a child’s dream?

these girls were performing “wake me up when september ends” by green day. they even had a group of fans with balloons and posters.

my weekends here somehow always end up being way busier than the weekdays, which goes to show that peace corps really is a 24/7 job. a couple of weekends ago i was invited to a friend’s grandfather’s 80th birthday out in la ramada, which is a caserio in the sierra for salas. it was my first time to the sierra since being in peru, and it was breathtakingly beautiful. peruvians are marathoners of parties. this party started at 7:30 am and was still happening when we left at 8:30 pm. needless to say, that by the end of the day of eating, hiking, dehydrating, dancing and speaking only in spanish all day…i was exhausted!

la ramada, salas.

we went on a couple of hikes through miguel’s family’s land, which led us to a couple of rivers. while hiking through the lush, dense land we happened upon a lot of beautiful flowers, fruits and more.

this is the plant that they use to create the reed islands and kayaks.

banana tree.

 

this is when i felt like i was on an episode of LOST.

while hiking i tried a lemon dulce from its tree. it looked just like a lemon and smelled like one too. i thought my friend was trying to prank me, but instead it was just pure deliciousness. it seriously tasted like lemonade in whole-fruit form.

a view from one of points of the river we hiked to.

 

an ancient moche lunar calendar we happened upon while hiking.

 

the birthday boy. eighty years young!

this guy was great. he would come up say every single word he knew in english to me in one breath. i then realized what i sounded like when i spoke spanish. but really, he was just a hoot.

i also helped with a nationwide fundraiser in my town, called teleton, where my town had a 2-day event in the central park. the schools all performed different traditional dances, with some kids performing some solo numbers. it was quite a treat! and quite an eight-hour work day!

a performance and our booth in front of the muni.

i also took a much needed break and met up with some friends for some karaoke. if you know me, this is the best form of self-therapy (after bowling of course) for me, and turns out the place we went to had tons of country! i am not just talking about pop-country, but i mean REAL country (george strait, waylon jennings)!!!! needless to say, my fellow texan and i performed plenty of country songs with a number of “yee-haw’s!” to boot. we were far from the karaoke bars favorite customers, but at least we felt a little piece of home here in peru.

as i had hoped/predicted the eighth week was much busier. the huelga with the schools lifted, so now the kids are in school six days a week to make up for the lost time. my socia at the health post is back from her month-long vacation and people in my town are finally starting to recognize the only gringa in town. i forgot to have my camera with me to prove my activities, but i was back with partnering with the health post on charlas. i did a fun self-esteem one with balloons. it was a hit.

i also did a mini intro-session/charla of the peace corps to some business-owner friends. i have started to do some initial stages of planning with the police. i met with an artisan and plan on working with her artisan group and help them establish an internet presence and other marketing ideas. i went to an event out in morrope the other day with another volunteer, terrace. we hitched a ride back from the caserios in an enormous dump truck. while the fellow was out of the truck trying to take care of something, we replaced his cumbia cd with a cd that terrace made of herself singing environmental verses in spanish to the tunes of hit american pop songs. all i can say, is that he will be delightfully surprised when he next turns on his stereo. i mailed my early-voting ballot in. i have been eating CHIPS AND SALSA…chips and salsa, people!!!! i attended another wedding last night and took my place as the token gringa dancing the night away with all the old men.

of course there are still plenty of challenges to come: por ejemplo, my socia at the health post is going on an indefinite huelga starting this wednesday. but i will take a week full of positives for now.

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caserios.

my friend, doris, who happens to be one of my socios at the health post, took me out to a couple of the caserios in tucume: tucume viejo and las rayas. the district of tucume has a little less than 21,000 people living in it, with about 17,000 in tucume proper, and the other 4,000 in the caserios, which are the more campo (rural) parts of town.

we first went to tucume viejo to visit the health post there.

 

 

walking through the chakra.

the chakra.

while the obstetrician showed us around her post, we happened upon one of the first spanish colonial churches. it amazes me how much history is in peru, and yet it is just left to the wilderness.

 

 

we then traveled to las rayas. there we visited the health post, and visited the primeria school there. they were lucky enough to have a computer lab, with laptops provided by the an ngo “laptop for every kid.” the school was quite proud of this receipt, which they should be.

this caserio is nestled right behind the museum.

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