Tag Archives: outdoors

chaparri!

a couple of weeks ago, i received a last minute phone call from my friend, tina, who asked ali and i to join the ministerio de turismo at chaparri…all expenses paid. of course i knew better than to say no, and freely offered my help as they were looking for gringos to use in new promotional materials they are making for the ministerio de turismo.

chaparri is a nature reserve about 90 minutes from chiclayo and generally speaking is quite expensive to reach because of its remoteness. however, the reserve is famous to bird watchers and animal lovers around the world. it has partnerships with zoos in france and london, and pumas, foxes, wild hogs and the endangered spectacled bear…and of course countless species of birds. here are some of my favorite shots from the day:

letting us know we were headed in the right direction.

letting us know we were headed in the right direction.

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tree sap.

tree sap.

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enjoying the scenery!

enjoying the scenery!

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we thought we heard a cat...surprise!

we thought we heard a cat…surprise!

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the osos!!!

the osos!!!

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the photographer and bear getting personal.

the photographer and bear getting personal.

scratching his back (or) striking a pose? you decide.

scratching his back (or) striking a pose? you decide.

the bears were checking out the aerial camera.

the bears were checking out the aerial camera.

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ali getting photographed.

ali getting photographed.

just hanging out with a cobra...nbd...

just hanging out with a cobra…nbd…

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stepping inside the shaman's office.

stepping inside the shaman’s office.

the whole crew!

the whole crew!

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la gran experiencia!

the fancy hotel room that lan put us in when our first delayed flight caused us to miss our connecting one.

the fancy hotel room that lan put us in when our first delayed flight caused us to miss our connecting one.

my gran came to visit!!!! hold on. i am going to repeat that for you, so it can sink in: MY GRAN CAME TO VISIT!!!!!!! and my goodness, did she have quite the experience! before coming to visit me, she spent 2 weeks traveling with another tour group that went to cusco, machu picchu, puno, and bolivia! then she headed up north to the coastal desert, where we hung out. she attended my classes and meetings with me. in fact, i think she got as close as one can get to having the “peace corps experience.” we stayed at my house, and she slept in my bed, and i made use of the tile floor. we hung out with my family and friends, and she became the local celebrity. we also took the time to see some of the local sites out here, since my region is rich in history and filled with archeological sites.

enjoying her first ceviche!

enjoying her first ceviche!

breakfast with mi familia.

breakfast with mi familia.

 

enjoying the pyramid ruins in tucume.

enjoying the pyramid ruins in tucume.

another cute photo with my family.

another cute photo with my family.

loving the museo de tumbes reales.

loving the museo de tumbes reales.

we then took a day trip to trujillo, where we visited the ruins of chan chan and also, took time to walk around the city and, of course, ate delicious food!

enjoying the ruins at chan chan.

enjoying the ruins at chan chan.

the view of the plaza.

the view of the plaza.

just a couple of gals taking over trujillo!

just a couple of gals taking over trujillo!

after taking over the coast, we then traveled to a region in the south eastern part of the country, madre de dios. we stayed at a couple of lodges on the rio tambopata in the amazon rainforest basin. we were just tucked away in one of the few untouched parts of the amazon rainforest, and we were just a stone’s throw from puno and bolivia. needless to say, it was one of the most incredible vacations i have ever been on. we saw more than 70+ species while we were there, and saw various types of ecosystems. if you ever have a chance to travel there, i highly recommend it!

gran is all ready for the 3 hour boat ride to our first lodge!

gran is all ready for the 3 hour boat ride to our first lodge!

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enjoying our boat ride!

enjoying our boat ride!

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our incredible room at refugio. it was extremely relaxing, so much so that i ended up reading 4 books while on vacation! yes, please.

our incredible room at refugio. it was extremely relaxing, so much so that i ended up reading 4 books while on vacation! yes, please.

birdwatching with our guide.

birdwatching with our guide.

oxbow lake.

oxbow lake.

a log covered in bats.

a log covered in bats.

with a kepok tree.

with a kepok tree.

i used a machete to break open a brazilian nut and it only took me 3 tries!!!

i used a machete to break open a brazilian nut and it only took me 3 tries!!!

i love this picture. i asked our guide what a certain fruit was and before he even finished to say whether or not it was edible, gran decided to go ahead and pop a seed into her mouth. the seeds are actually used for dyes and paint because of it's brilliant color. gran is modeling it on her lips.

i love this picture. i asked our guide what a certain fruit was and before he even finished to say whether or not it was edible, gran decided to go ahead and pop a seed into her mouth. the seeds are actually used for dyes and paint because of it’s brilliant color. gran is modeling it on her lips.

the fruit in question.

the fruit in question.

we eventually headed 4 more hours down the river to stay at the tambopata research center. it was one of the most incredible places i have been to. it was so tranquil and beautiful. on our boat ride there, there was quite the rain storm brewing.

we eventually headed 4 more hours down the river to stay at the tambopata research center. it was one of the most incredible places i have been to. it was so tranquil and beautiful. on our boat ride there, there was quite the rain storm brewing.

our room at the research center.

our room at the research center.

the research center focuses its studies on the macaws, specifically the macaw clay licks. in the amazon, much of the wildlife feeds off the clay, which is unique to only this region. when the center first started, they handfed some macaws that were abandoned by their mothers. as a result, many of those macaws still visit and pass time at the center.

the research center focuses its studies on the macaws, specifically the macaw clay licks. in the amazon, much of the wildlife feeds off the clay, which is unique to only this region. when the center first started, they handfed some macaws that were abandoned by their mothers. as a result, many of those macaws still visit and pass time at the center.

enjoying a muddy hike!

enjoying a muddy hike!

parrots and macaws feeding on the clay.

parrots and macaws feeding on the clay.

fashion queen! but seriously.

fashion queen! but seriously.

enjoying the view of puno.

enjoying the view of puno.

honestly. the best part of the entire vacation was getting to spend time with my gran. she is incredible and vivacious and i hope that i have inherited her good health. but really. i have always had a close relationship with my gran, so i am so glad that we were able to have a chance to share this time together, and also that she was able to see the life that i have forged for myself here. love her. and miss her.

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camp VALOR.

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this last weekend we had our second camp of the year for our the adolescent boys in our department: camp VALOR!!! just like for ALMA, all 25 volunteers worked together to plan a 3-day, 2-night camp for boys ages 13-18 years old. each volunteer brought 2-3 kids from their site, and for 3 days, all participated in a number of charlas that went along with our “Iron Man” theme, including:

  • beekeeping
  • financial planning

    equipo verrrrrrrrde!!!

    equipo verrrrrrrrde!!!

  • gender equality
  • addressing “machismo”
  • team-building exercises
  • hearing from a local success story from a chiclayo business owner…a volunteer favorite…kango cafeIMG_3922
  • soccer tournament
  • self-esteem
  • future planning/vocational testing
  • job fair

    with our first mvp of the camp!

    with our first mvp of the camp!

  • cuy/duck farming
  • campfire with s’mores and singing until 1am
  • sex-ed charla with our pc doctor from lima, where they had the opportunity to ask extremely candid questions with a highly-qualified professional
  • trust falls

    team leaders enjoying our kids' soccer tournament.

    team leaders enjoying our kids’ soccer tournament.

  • a socio-drama about applying the knowledge they learned
  • human pryamids galore!
  • and of course….a condom race!!!IMG_3995

my team was the smallest of the groups, but what we lacked in number, we certainly made up for team spirit. one thing i really liked about my team, was the diversity in the personalities. half were extremely outgoing, and it was easy to see that they are given regular opportunities to lead and serve and their communities, and there are others who this was their first chance to gain these skills and were more reserved. there were a couple that no longer live with their families for a number of reasons, and had to overcome a number of obstacles in their lifetime that many of us never even have to worry about, yet they still came forward as strong independent leaders, and were given the opportunity to get know other boys like them, and others who have similar goals as them. that is the beauty of this camp. empowering these young men to rise to the opportunity ahead of them, and provide them with the skills to do so!

after a tough tie-breaker, verde won third overall in the camp!!!! wooo!!!

after a tough tie-breaker, verde won third overall in the camp!!!! wooo!!!

los tucumanos.

los tucumanos.

thank you again to all that donated and made this camp possible!

the lovely lambayeque ladies.

the lovely lambayeque ladies.

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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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international environment day.

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a teacher that i have worked closely with at the main colegio in town asked me to help him in planning and executing a school-wide activity for international environment day (june 5). we had a flood of ideas, but the biggest difficulty that was presented was engaging more than 700 students at the same time. as the main event, we had all the students come to the school in the morning and cleaned the entire school grounds. this was inspired by a “chiclayo limpio” activity on earth day, where all the schools in chiclayo took to cleaning their school, which really meant, cleaning all the miscellaneous trash that covered the school grounds. the kids really enjoyed this, as we had music playing, and we were able to actively and continuously engage the kids with the realization that when they throw their trash on the ground, no one will pick it up but them. that is a part of the culture that runs rampant here, is the blatancy of littering…willie nelson would be so disappointed. the additional problem is that the trash just builds up, until there is enough dirt that you are practically chipping trash out of the ground.

sweeping dirt. or really getting trash that has been built up in the dirt.

sweeping dirt. or really getting trash that has been built up in the dirt.

it wouldn’t be a real event in my site, if there was no pasacalle, so of course, after we filled trash bin upon trash bin, we got the school together to march through the streets with the municipality. hooray for the environment!

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camp ALMA.

the whole camp!

the whole camp!

this past weekend all of the volunteers in my department and i had our first camp of the year: camp ALMA!!!! it involved a lot of preparation, teamwork, a lot of support from our communities and especially from you guys back home!!!

camp ALMA is a yearly camp that we as volunteers put together for young women (ages 13-18) in our communities. for many, it’s their first time of sleeping away from home, and for all it’s their first time to camp and sleep in tents. each volunteer brings 2 girls that have demonstrated great leadership skills in their communities, and they have an opportunity to build long-lasting friendships with other girls, and also learn about what the realities are of other people’s homes. for many of these girls, it’s also an opportunity to build a new support network with other girls their age who can support them in their goals to attend university and other career aspirations, as quite often this type of support is not found in the home. the camp also strives to empower the girls to be in control of the decisions that are going to be making in their life. and finally, the camp is just a lot of FUN!

activities included:

  • team cheer-off contests

    team rojo's chant.

    team rojo’s chant.

  • teambuilding exercises
  • trust falls…because camp would be incomplete without them
  • belly dancing lessons
  • creating community maps to share about the communities
  • self-esteem, values and decision making
  • environmental awareness
  • group discussion with an obstetrician379655_10101100300600649_1065955547_n
  • cuy farming
  • mural painting
  • telenovela play
  • volleyball tournament
  • campfire with s’mores
  • peruvian women who made history
  • yogurt making
  • career assessment exam
  • career fair

    team rojo!

    team rojo!

  • sexual education: condom use, abstinence, finding an ideal partner
  • talent show
  • question and answer time
  • condom race
  • talent show
  • …and so many other fun games!
the amazing lambayeque volunteers! and apparently too much work has made us crazy...

the amazing lambayeque volunteers! and apparently too much work has made us crazy…

and to think we packed all this into 3 days is crazy! but the girls and all the volunteers had quite the memorable three days. when we left, all the girls were writing down their emails and other contact information so they could keep in touch with their new friends.  numerous hugs were given. and for a few, even some tears of goodbye. and let’s not forget, that these girls walked away being empowered with new knowledge of self-awareness and a sense of capability that they can accomplish their goals, and that numerous before have done so, and so can they. and that is a mission accomplished.

always fun and games with us! thanks again for your support!!!

always fun and games with us! thanks again for your support!!!

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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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(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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a little bit of everything.

oh hi! long time no see! what have i been up to lately? well, that is a great question, indeed!

let’s see…

my environmental arts group ended. this is everyone with all their projects they completed.

my environmental arts group ended. this is everyone with all their projects they completed.

this is my part of my world map painting group waiting for my socio to show up with the needed projector, and who didn't show up for the second day in a row...

this is my part of my world map painting group waiting for my socio to show up with the needed projector, and who didn’t show up for the second day in a row…

third time is a charm. after waiting for 2 hours on the third day, he finally showed. we had a blast drawing the map.

third time is a charm. after waiting for 2 hours on the third day, he finally showed. we had a blast drawing the map.

between my day planner and the random plastic bag i found in my bag, it was a pretty sturdy setup....

between my day planner and the random plastic bag i found in my bag, it was a pretty sturdy setup….

i hiked all 15k through the bosque de pomac, and it was a nice break from the usual distractions. this is the million year tree and is sacred to the incans who originally inhabited the area. also, the government is working on the reforestation of the bosque, since many of the trees were cut down to use the wood for pollo a la brasa.

i hiked all 15k through the bosque de pomac, and it was a nice break from the usual distractions.
this is the million year tree and is sacred to the incans who originally inhabited the area. also, the government is working on the reforestation of the bosque, since many of the trees were cut down to use the wood for pollo a la brasa.

a group of volunteers went camping. this is part of our group enjoying the sunset.

a group of volunteers went camping. this is part of our group enjoying the sunset.

i celebrated carnaval in illimo and joined banda verde. this was my favorite verde float.

i celebrated carnaval in illimo and joined banda verde. this was my favorite verde float.

though the red team went all out in the decorations. carnaval in illimo is a big celebration. the day before there was a giant water fight in the town square between the two teams.

though the red team went all out in the decorations.
carnaval in illimo is a big celebration. the day before there was a giant water fight in the town square between the two teams.

originally for international women's day, i wanted to give a charla to the women of vaso de leche about the importance of being a woman. though, big surprise, my muni said no and wanted to do a parade instead. so, i worked with vaso de leche to organize the muni workers for a parade. this is everyone after.

originally for international women’s day, i wanted to give a charla to the women of vaso de leche about the importance of being a woman. though, big surprise, my muni said no and wanted to do a parade instead. so, i worked with vaso de leche to organize the muni workers for a parade. this is everyone after.

after giving a little speech on gender equality, the band decided to play more more tunes, which resulted in a mini dance party. i was partnered with a regidor (equivalent to a city council member/officer).

after giving a little speech on gender equality, the band decided to play more more tunes, which resulted in a mini dance party. i was partnered with a regidor (equivalent to a city council member/officer).

ysabel and i after the parade, with the sign i made.

ysabel and i after the parade, with the sign i made.

i finally gave my community diagnostic presentation. it was....interesting to say the least...but it happened and some positive things came out of it.

i finally gave my community diagnostic presentation. it was….interesting to say the least…but it happened and some positive things came out of it.

my family and i went for a night out on the town in chiclayo and dined on the finest pollo a la brasa. seriously. it was DELISH.

my family and i went for a night out on the town in chiclayo and dined on the finest pollo a la brasa. seriously. it was DELISH.

the artisans had a number of new products, and so i spent an afternoon taking more pictures for them.

the artisans had a number of new products, and so i spent an afternoon taking more pictures for them.

 

and of course. samia and i are still keeping it real. school has started, so sometimes i help with her homework. or sometimes we just hang out and pretend to dance marenara.

and of course. samia and i are still keeping it real. school has started, so sometimes i help with her homework. or sometimes we just hang out and pretend to dance marenara.

the number of mosquitos in my site has increased significantly  i now know what it feels like to get eaten alive. i go through insect repellent like it’s my job, but it doesn’t seem to keep them away. also of note, as seen in the pictures above, there are a lot of ups and downs. and that is exactly it. there have been a number of challenges i have been facing work-wise in site. sudden changes with my socia at the health post…i had been working with her for 3-4 months on the preparations for one project, and now she is no longer working there, and other health post employees are overloaded already. my municipality has been more of a challenge to work with than anything else. the school i normally work with cancelled it’s first week of classes, then during the next week, i went to coordinate my program with them, there were zero teachers in the classrooms with kids, and they had yet to make the schedule for the new year, and the schools are just handing out textbooks/curriculum this week. in fact, the official school schedule will not be ready until next week…that is 4 weeks after the school year has started…and even though i am little astonished by this, i can’t say i am anymore surprised by it. in fact, all of it seems pretty par for the course, in regards to the experiences that one has not only living in a developing country, but also it’s just part of the peace corps experience.

the important part is concentrate on the positives and learn from the things that don’t work out. and with that, i am concentrating on the goals and things that i want to get done in site, and if i keep that perspective, i really think some positive changes will happen. and the winds are slowly starting to change in my favor!

…it’s about time…

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