jueves, 27 de enero de 2011

Recent Community Pics

Recycled Art Projects
Rosa and Sayda Celebrating Choclo Sale in the Chacra
My Host Dad Jaime Enjoying Choclo
Kevin's Project
Gratuitous Chicken Pic

Kichwata palanki Huarazchaw

The "Peru 15" girls at Laguna Churup
Lovely Thai Dinner
Me and Verito at Laguna Shallap
Mind Boggling Valley en route to Shallap

Five days of Quechua lessons, and I have a mixture of words, that I'm not quite able to form into sentences, in my head. I am looking forward to taking this new repertoire to the community for some real world practice. In the past few days we have had the opportunity to learn not only the basics of the Quechuan language, but given a window into the culture that surrounds us.
There are two main branches of Quechua in Peru, one is based in Cusco in the South, and the other here in the Cordillera Blanca. In contrast to popular knowledge, it is most likely that Quechua originated in this region, this being supported by the fact that there are multiple sub-branches of the language up in the north, pointing to a longer period of evolution. While Cusco was the seat of power for the Incan empire, the heart of the Quechuan people began to palpitate here, amongst the snow covered mountains. And here we are, a group of US citizens, our job: to integrate into a culture with ancient roots.
As our group of volunteers grows in Ancash, our presence becomes stronger, the variety of experiences grows, and bonds form within the volunteers and their communities. There is an amazing group of individuals dedicating two years to serve in communities near and far. On the other side of the Cordillera Blanca lies another set of mountains known as Conchucos, where over 10 Peace Corps volunteers have recently arrived for the first time since the 1960's. Access to transportation and basic services is very limited, and the terrain is rough by any standards. These volunteers are adjusting to life and work under extremely challenging conditions, beginning a new journey. Witnessing this beginning has provided me with a reaffirmation of our work here, of the potential, whether it's focused on building relationships, or new after school or health programs, those of us engaging in this work are doing our best to engage, create and build a life that matters.
In the space when we can come together as a group we have opportunities to explore a mesmerizing landscape, treking to isolated glacial valleys and lakes, trying to take it all in. Enjoying time with friends has been one of the most rewarding aspects of this experience. Engaging with each other has helped to put it all in perspective, generate understanding, and build a context for this strange adventure-a little clarity amongst the twists and turns.
This entry is dedicated to you, friends, both near and far, thank you.

lunes, 10 de enero de 2011

Arg...this won't last long, I promise

Things I hate:
when people come into a cafe and don't order anything, oh, just lounging, browsing the lending library, you know, we're on a shoestring travel budget...arg

The combi from this morning, what I sat on did not qualify as a seat, not with a metal bar in my back and a kid sleeping on my arm while the guy next to me coughs up his lung and we lunge through one pot hole after another, arg

"Buenos Dias preciosa/guapa/gringa/etc," I am not your girl, nor will I ever be, leave me alone! All I want is a shower and some breakfast and this guy is leering into my space at 8am, it's too early for this S%$#! Double arg.

Here is my angry face

That's about it, not a long list, I'm sure there's more, but I'll spare you all before you swear off reading this blog ever again.

Thanks for letting me vent,

domingo, 2 de enero de 2011

Greatness comes in small doses

Another year has passed, we move into the sci-fi sounding 2011-the future is here! Briefly, a Peruvian New Year is not complete, with yellow undergarments, the burning of old clothes (to start fresh), and fireworks-loud ones. I will mention, the countdown did not happen on time-things are usually late, "La Hora Peruana" strikes again. But what I really want to get to, since it is a New Year-the beginning of what will be a full 12 months in this country-follows.

Favorite things about Peru: The giving nature of the people
Peru, being a country experiencing much growth and still lacking many basic services in the rural areas is at times difficult to traverse in regards to transportation, daily tasks, work productiveness, but all this becomes tolerable thanks to the Peruvians themselves, the majority of whom, whether city or rural folks, will go to great lengths to invite you to events/food, converse, even a roof over your head, making the experience of living in this country a fulfilling and enriching experience. Without this level of hospitality and generosity I don't believe Peru would have the same attraction to tourists, volunteers, even industry in coming to this diverse and multi-layered country.
Next:The Mountains
Like the ups and downs that life provides, the mountains reflect this undulation in their peaks and valleys. There's an understanding created by the forces of wind, rock and water that we are small parts of a greater whole, of a landscape that can be both fierce and forgiving, it generates a respect for nature, community and self. While there may be inconsistencies-the deterioration of values due to outside pressures-a level of pride exists even in the youngest of generations that comes through in the way people share, work, and carry themselves. Above all I am learning to be patient with the life process, whether waiting for a meal or a combi; mountains are rarely in a hurry.
Next: The Food
There's a practice called mindful eating where you really take your time with food, taking small bites, chewing slowly, experiencing the flavors. While never having been to Asia or even a Buddhist retreat of any kind, I can see the Zen in the way people eat in Peru. Slowly, small bites, no rush, it is inspiring to an American who can't wait to finish chewing so I can stuff another spoonful in my mouth. Preparation of food is also slow and methodical, the easiest route is not always taken, sacrificing a longer process for results. In the mountains much of the cuisine is labor and time intensive, whether it is barley soup, guinea pig, or boiled potatoes with chili sauce, it is done right with care and consideration to tradition.

There is much more to discover in Peru, in my work and travel, in friends, but so far this offers a taste of the best this region has to offer. Come visit.