There is road construction on the road that goes from the nearest town, Carhuaz, past my site, through the pass “Punta Olymica,” one of the highest in the world, all the way to the other side of the mountain range, to a town called San Luis. The project: to pave this road. Time projection: three years. Meanwhile, transportation is being restricted to certain times, between 6pm and 7am, and between 12pm-2pm, Mon-Sat.
There is road construction going on in front of my house as well, on the seven block road that more or less leads to the end of the community; at this time, about five blocks of it are paved. The project: to pave these two blocks. Time projection: three months. In addition, my neighbor, about three doors down is tearing down her house; it looks like a warzone. Meanwhile, the room next to mine is being used as storage for all the tools used for this project. Most of the work of tearing up dirt and rock, digging holes, and general labor is being done by local laborers, both men and women. There are about 20 workers outside of my house at about 7am getting their tools and readying themselves for the day ahead. Unfortunately for me, I awake along with them and the clamoring of steel to rock, banter in Quechua, and other noises. I walk out of my door and as if I had just arrived in town I am stared at, there are comments and clicking noises that signal: the gringa is beginning her day.
Ah, the trials of living in a developing land, in much of the wealthy nations we simply take concrete for granted, its nice smooth finish making walking, driving, and getting around a pleasure, rather than an obstacle course. The reality is that all this construction, while good for the long term signifies much of what is not going well down here; it is a pain to get around, it takes a long time, you have to wait for the right time to catch a car, the roads (while on the way to improvement) are rocky and make maintenance on any vehicle frequent and expensive. And who lives out here, in the rural areas? People who are already poor, lack adequate resources in their communities, and in order to access a market, a hospital, a “better” school, have to endure the transportation equivalent of jumping through hoops, and it all costs.
I decided to write about this because of my mom. While I was feeling irritated and sorry for myself that the rest of my service will be in conducted amidst the rubble, wreckage, noise, and cat calling that comes along with construction, she found it all to be quite hilarious. Of course it’s MY house that becomes the home to 20 wheelbarrows and picks axes, and me who gets taunted in Quechua each day by a sassy lady. Well, at this moment in time, I am saying, " what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger," and I can dream of the still mornings to come in some cramped city apartment, or the meanders down an overdeveloped strip mall. Perhaps the tradeoff is to know that there is an open land surrounding me, where crops and dirt rule, where there are no roads, no asphalt, only wind, trees, animals, the occasional person, tiny against the landscape, and the open sky.