domingo, 31 de octubre de 2010


The other day I was fortunate to speak to my parents and a close friends from the convenience of my room in Amashca. Technology allows those of us living abroad to connect to family and loved ones with ease and speed. However, technology can't do it all for us, and as I spoke with my parents that day I felt the distance between us. Speaking once every ten days can ease my mind with the sound of familiar voices, but it can't replace the consistent presence of the loving people who raised me. As many of us spread across the globe like seeds in the wind, I ask myself what consequences may result in regards to family, community and global society; will we become a world of people missing home?
This is not a new phenomena, but the context has changed, thanks to technology, and easy means of travel it gives the illusion that we are never "that far away," but our human biology, from senses to cells knows different, and they long for the comfort and security of home. I can't just stop by for a meal or a hello, and what is community if not that, people having access to people, not devices.
I appreciate the gift of technology, but I caution to romanticize it, preferring to see it as a tool, not an answer to a lonely moment. After all, take away the clothes, the cell, the computer, and we are just animals, wandering the planet, doing our best to survive, for ourselves, for our children, for the future.

lunes, 25 de octubre de 2010

Fourteen Thousand and Rising

Yesterday I clambered up over rock and dirt to a beautiful lagoon, Churup, nestled between a glacier and several other peaks, this mountain lake sits at 4,500 meters, which according to my calculations brings us to about 14,763 ft. The air is thin up there, and our puny sea-level lungs were feeling it. Thus begins my training. I'm turning a new leaf. I am ready to become, as they say, "hard corps," as in Peace Corps. I have had the time to adjust to my surroundings, pick up on some of the nuances of life in the campo (rural community), make sure I'm taking care of my health. Now it's time to kick some butt (pardon my french). The hike to Churup was a perfect beginning. Up there, one is able to think of life as a whole, perspective grows to include the clouds, the wind, the grasses, the endless sky reflected in the lake bellow.
In this life, we do our best to be happy, but how much is in our hands? I ask this to discover what it is that brings joy to a moment. Is it a lack of worry, concern? Or is it the presence of something, a knowing that you are where you are meant to be, that a larger force is watching over you, through your joys and your sorrows?Perhaps it is both. We have the ability to ease our anxieties, and to melt our fears. It is also up to us to have faith.
My own personal training for the next two years isn't just about a physical prowess or responding to cat calls with a cold wit. It is about rising above the boggy insecurities that keep me locked down, unable to let go of a bump in the road, holding me back. It's about getting up in the morning with the confidedence one gets from a double shot of espresso, or a couple of beers, (whatever your preference) but without the substance, relying on my internal fire, fueling me in all my endeavors.

domingo, 17 de octubre de 2010

In sickness and in health (A word on the struggles of maintaining health in the life of a volunteer)

There are so many factors affecting my health here that it is difficult sometimes to untangle the mess and find the culprit. Even more, it is rarely one thing, all is connected. Loneliness and stress affect the gut, fluctuating temperatures and dust can make one irritable, being stared at and gossiped about can bring about insecurity. Then again, there ARE bacteria and parasites that invade and cause upset both of the stomach variety as well as the emotional. So that’s why I’m here right now in my capital city, Huaraz, to discover or at least narrow down, what it may be.

Dueling with my stomach is no new endeavor for me, but I must say this feels more intense; my stomach and I are having a show down, who will draw first and fire the winning shot? Perhaps this dueling metaphor is inappropriate regarding an organ of the human body; perhaps I should opt to sit quietly with my gut and ask, ‘How are you?’ ‘What can I do for you today?’ ‘Are you missing you mom or was it that ceviche that’s making you rumble?’

I will learn, it is a process; please leave any comments of advice in the space provided.


sábado, 16 de octubre de 2010

Some Photos

My Kitchen


Cordillera Negra

In front of my door

lunes, 11 de octubre de 2010


I look for ways to be creative. In a place where resources are scarce, and the budget is slim, it’s key to look for new ways to make change happen. Take the students at the school; they are good kids, but there is a lack of discipline, responsibility and confidence that I have never seen before. I look at the school, I see peeling paint, classrooms with broken desks, atrocious bathrooms, and a staff of teachers that may or may not show up for class. They say the way you feel about yourself is a reflection of your environment. For these kids coming to school means something, but not the same as it does in our middle class institutions in the US. It is a place to be, more than a place to learn. These are my first impressions.
What can I conclude in regards to working with these children? I don’t want to give more of the same, forced curriculum (that lacks context), humiliation (both kids and teachers talk down to each other), and low expectations (graduation levels are probably at about 50%, from my calculations). I ask myself, what is new and fresh for kids growing up here, in the distant mountains of Peru?
I seek inspiration; I ask questions, I want to find a new path. The Peace Corps has given me some tools, manuals, etc., but the most important piece must be generated within me, my attitude and perspective in living in this community is the springboard upon which I’ll be able to get anything done. While there are some serious issues that impede learning here, there is also a handful of committed staff that show up and do their best with the little resources available; I admire this. I cannot do this alone. For now, I’ll keep going, step by step to the peaks that surround me to inspire my creativity, my heart and shed any fears that keep me from trying something new.

October 6th 2010

It is amazing to think that I have been in Peru for four months now, over 6 weeks here in the Sierra. Slowly, the pieces of this mysterious puzzle are coming into focus, rearranging, and creating a picture I never could have imagined, only dreamed of. While I hope in the future to be writing more of my work and projects, for now I can truly see how my everyday interactions, activities and experiences are laying the groundwork for what I hope to be a successful service. I am getting to know people; the loneliness that sometimes sets in, if not addressed could be crippling in the long run I look forward to having friends here.
Although I have felt some guilt regarding my “work” or lack there of, I think I have been too hard on myself. These first months are a challenge. In this context “work” for me includes doing my laundry (by hand), taking a shower (in freezing water), trying to understand a conversation in Quechua, climbing a hill and stopping to chat with people working their fields or grazing their animals, making a meal, taking public transportation (anywhere), not to mention making contacts with my community counterparts, i.e. getting thrown into a classroom for an impromptu English lesson, attending a birth, you know, the usual (!).
Peace Corps asks that at the end of the first three months we write a community diagnostic which we will present to our supervisor as well as our communities. There are a plethora of criteria we are asked to cover, everything from religious organizations, to malnutrition levels, to holiday calendars. We are to use formal and non-formal means to collect our data. Completing the CD will be interesting and I think introduce me into the realm of “work” as far as Peace Corps goes. But I know now, that my CD or my projects won’t mean anything if my heart doesn’t feel for this community and its people. That will remain my focus now, until the end of August 2012, and beyond.