Friday, October 30, 2009

This should have been posted awhile ago... :)

Spring Update (it's reverse here in the Southern Hemisphere)

More World Map - ness. Notice our resourcefulness with the chairs. Also note that in Peru, there are no liability laws.

My sister Gladys (on the right) with Itlz (my niece) on our donkey, Ramon. Returning home from work in the chacras.

Fun with PhotoBooth at home during a rainy evening.

Me. Drawing some countries. On a ladder I do not trust. :)

Hola a todos! I'm reporting from Huaraz, Ancash (the capitol of this department!) from one of our amazing cafes which is complete with brightly painted walls, hundreds of libros (books), delicious veggie sandwiches and even a mural of Where the Wild Things Are. (I believe that movie is coming out or came out this month... right? Look, I'm not SO out of American happenings :)

So. What I've been up to lately. Mostly the Community Diagnostic actually. Which (hey!) is what we're actually supposed to be dedicated to our first three months in site. Basically it consists of gathering facts, conducting formal and (mostly) informal interviews with community leaders and people who live in your pueblo, attending meetings, making and giving surveys... basically finding out TODO about your town. How many births, what are the common illnesses, are there teen pregnancies? what do the youth like to do? are there youth groups? how many teachers are there and how often do they just not show up (often)? do people wash their hands? how many donkeys is too many? what does the alcalde (mayor) do? etc. etc. etc. Sooo... I've made some surveys for the segundaria kids, gotten to know the municipality folks by attending meetings (they tried to get me to buy the huge castillo firework thing that costs like S/2,000) and I now know all the problems and disputes my fellow townsfolk have had this past year, how many births there have been (61!) and the ages of their padres, and the average age to get married based on the last two years. I had some young kids draw me some maps of their town too, which was an especially cute part of doing this epic project. It's a good way to do productive things and learn a lot about what Shilla needs and wants from me for the next two years! Also, I'm learning a lot about Excel.... because when you have time, and a huge paper/project due in a month... there' s no better time to do it! I'll come back from my little adobe town with mad computer skillz (courtesy of fellow volunteer Lisette's patient.. or not so patient... teaching as well).

Besides that.. the world map is coming along. We finished drawing all the countries this week. Whew. All those little islands up norte are difficult! So we'll be painting these coming up weeks which should be the fun part. Ademas, I spent some time at the jardin (basically preschool) reading Mis Amigos (the kids book I brought with me), and getting to know the very chevere principal and teacher Erika. She is as tall as me.. and a peruvian! It IS possible. :) She has a lot of insight I feel to what Shilla students need and lack.

On the Host Familia front, I feel mas and mas part of the fam. Last night we (my madre, 13 year old sis and I) all cuddled in the same bed in the basement and watched the popular soap opera Luz Maria. It was raining and it was just... a comfy moment. Also, my little sobrina (niece) Itzl now is like my mini magnet. I'm exposing her to the many wonders of American and world music. I've been reading the wonderful book that Vivian sent me for my birthday (thank you so much for the package by the way!) about music and how it has shaped human culture (titled The World in Six Songs) and one part talks about how if a young kid is exposed to a range of music at an early age they'll be more open to different genres later on. So. That is my new little side project. Get Itzl to like artists such as: Steve Miller, soundtracks to musicals (like Happy Talk from South Pacific), Jack Johnson, M.I.A, Lily Allen, Ok Go, Manu Chao and yes.. even Flight of the Conchords, They Might be Giants and Red Elvises. Also, the C is for Cookie song (from Sesame Street) has come to be a favorite. Needless to say, it's been very entertaining and fun... even if we have to stay inside during the afternoons because it rains every day now. :) yay!
Living in Portland prepped me for Peace Corps!

I'd just like to point out that the music playing in the cafe is Cat Stevens. That is why Huaraz is awesome.

Happy Halloween (and Dia de los Muertos!) to everyone! I will be dressing up as a boat. Yup. A boat. Or better named.. a ship. Because our (the volunteers) theme is pirates. Although I doubt that it will be better than my bull two years ago with Rachel, it will rival with my mountain that I dressed up as in Spain back in '06. :) Eat Brachs candy corn for me.. or better yet.. you can send me some! :)

Abrazos y Besos

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Some pics of Recent Shilla Vida

World Map Drawing

Making puppets from plastic bottles!

The Little Library in Llipta

I love her jewelry.

Seriously. The most beautiful sunsets ever.

Some Epic Hike Fotos!


Pristine Lakes!

With the Peruvian neighbors....

Contemplating beauty. :

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My First Peruvian Boda (wedding)

So. I was invited to attend the wedding of one of my Peruvian cousins (who is the host sister of the previous volunteer here in Shilla). She and her husband are super amable and have the most adorable little boy. At the wedding, it turns out, he also got baptized (two for one!) and had this cute little tux on. But that´s besides the point. Anywho. So the mass part (since they are Catholic) was pretty much the same (except the priest asked the public if they wanted to receive communion and nobody went up to receive it) and then comes the after party. Peruvian parties (it does not matter if it´s for a wedding, funeral, birthday or a saint´s día) last a long time.. and by long time I do not mean 6 hours. I mean from 11:00 a.m. until 12 midnight. Yup. That is not an exaggeration. For everyone in the Peruvian Peace Corps right now, they would just nod and think that was normal. ¡So this post is just for you guys at home!

I had prepared for this and made sure to get my shut eye the night before.. since it was my first Peruvian wedding after all... and my familia was all going (including my two bros who live in Lima and hardly ever come to visit) and I knew that I would have to partake in the rampant drinking of alcoholic beverages and I would have to ¨bailar duro¨ (literally: dance hard). Their reception happened to take place in our newly opened coliseo which is this big indoor sports arena where you can play volleyball, basketball, soccer... and hopefully tennis (I bought a couple of cheap rackets and tennis balls recently.. I plan on lowering the volleyball net and teaching some kids a new sport! We´ll see how it goes). Needless to say, the coliseo is really nice and it was a good place to have a peruvian wedding reception.. lots of room, places to sit, the band had bueno accustics. (I´m sure the entire town, and towns surrouding Shilla, could hear the music all night long). The beginning of any Peruvain party is a little awkward. Everyone just sits next to their family and sort of talks a little... it gets better once the Pisco comes out. I ate, I did tomar (drink some alcohol) because literally they force it on you, and danced. I realized I really do like dancing Huayno (the two step.. it´s actually a very easy skipping kind of dance.. I can see why they do it and why they girls wear skirts while dancing) and being with the familia was really fun! After some time, all the party attendees got a little... borracho (drunk) and the fun starts. The band plays for about 20 minute sessions and then rests for about 15 minutes... and it continues like that. You dance, you rest and drink, you dance again. I think they do it this way because it really releases their feelings. My family, and the Peruvians I´ve met so far, work really hard and then they party hard in order to just feel. I think they drink during the parties to release their sentimientos and really feel the loss and joys of vida. They dance to just release.

We got back home about 11 p.m... I could still hear the music as I was drifting off to sleep... literally. The party was still going on. It was fun and I´m sure I will be seeing many more holidays and parties very similar to that one. Also, it was a great way to get closer to my familia. My host mom now calls me her hija and was hugging me a lot anoche. I feel so comfortable with them, they´re always looking out for me!

Next weekend, I´m heading to Huaraz for our monthly meeting with all of us Ancashinos. So, if you have skype you should get on sometime Fri evening or Saturday anytime if you can! I always want to give a shout out of congratulations to Amy and Dean! Just heard about the baby noticias! ¡Yay! Baby´s first trip.. ¿to Perú? hehe.

¡Hasta pronto!

Abrazos fuertes,

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Paseo (HIke) for the Ages

¡Hola a todos!
So. The title of this blog seems like it could be metaphorical. But it isn´t. Not even close! Last Thursday I embarked on an epic journey with my 3 vecinos (neighbors) and their two cousins and the family dog Peter up into the mountains. We didn´t go to Huascaran (the highest mountain in Perú, which I have a beautiful view of from my casa by the way), but we did go up to a very large point and saw 5 lagunas (turquoise, pristine glacial water lakes!) and we didn´t go back down the way we came up... we essentially were walking for 14 hours and it snowed where we ate lunch. (Take THAT Half Dome!) It was dangerous, very difficult, and amazing. So WORTH it. I definitely had difficulty with the air and the being tired.. but I persevered. And let me just say that Peruvians (especially those who live in the mountain pueblos of Ancash) NEVER tire. I aspire to be like them after two years. Oh. And I saw 5 avalanches. :)
In other noticias, the world map is definitely underway.. we have all the squares drawn up there and will commence the drawing tomorrow mañana. We played another riveting game of Ultimate Frisbee Peruvian Teen style this morning and on Thursday my sisters and I are putting on a Washing Your Hands puppet show for the kiddies in primaria. (complete with a little song on the pianica! now we just have to practice... :) Today is jam packed full of English classes (like every martes) and I think I will be going on a hike Sunday with the familia. (probably not as epic as last Thursday´s hehe... I mean... my right big toe nail is completely black! that´s just to give you a visual... )
Halloween is coming up and I believe that all us Ancashinos are going to be dressing up as pirates. I´d better get on that and see what I can rummage up for a costume. Although.. nada could compare to the bull and matador that Rachel and I were a couple years back. I will post pics up in a couple weeks from the hike to the clouds and back.
¡Hasta pronto!


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Livin' the Vida Shilla pics

Some cute children I teach.
The sisters and the nice

Rachel... next Halloween?
My Dirt Road
Celebrating Carhuaz's Saint Day

World Map!

Market Day

World Map: some of the students painting the ocean

Mi familia