Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ode to My Dirt Road

So. I´m a fan of the 8 mile dirt road that one needs to take from Carhuaz to my pueblo of Shilla. You need to go to the place where combis and colectivos wait until they are jam packed full of people (usually 23 people in a small van thing or 7 or 8 in a small 5 seater car). The fact that I am tall does not help me in my combi rides, but I am getting better. In fact, just today I sat in a combi that had 25 people in it and I sat on a little stool in the small aisel way! :)

It takes about 35 minutes to make the small journey once the car has the motor running. Bascially you go into the valley, switchbacking your way up into the mountains. The views are amazing. You have these rolling golden and green hills with chacras and eucalyptis trees dotting them and in the background massive white capped mountains. The little pueblos you pass down below seem cute and quaint and at some points even the water follows the road with a couple of little waterfalls. Granted the water is sucio (dirty) but it´s still water! Every time I take this road I notice something new, another crevace, another little casa, another melocoton chacra full of trees. In short it makes me happy. Sometimes, being a person who can sleep anywhere, I do fall asleep on the short trek... but so do the other Peruvians with me! So that must mean I´m acclimating ¿ right? Also, besides the usual Huayno music on the radio, people are speaking purely Quechua. I only have an inkling what they´re talking about when they say... "blah blah blah blah gringa... blah blah blah grina" and laugh. I just smile. poco a poco I´m learning this language!

Luckily I get to take this road quite often. If I want to go down to more civilization, it´s a must! I´m planning on walking it sometime soon... and I can´t wait for visitors (for all of you who are coming sometime in the next two years) to see it!

Abrazos desde Huaraz,
Em

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Little Older, A Little Wiser

I´m now writing to you all from a 23 year old perspective. :) A feliz, volunteer in Peru 23 year old perspective. My cumpleaños was spent in Lima for the theater training with Peru 11 youth development volunteers... and I have to say, it was an amazing day! I even received 3 different cakes! That´s how delicious it was. I got to meet all the Peru 11ers (who are amazing) and even play ping pong and this awesome new game that I´m now addicted to called Mafia (which you play with cards... not firearms). I even had a short visit in Yanacoto where I visited the original amazing host familia and got to meet (and reconnect! :) with some newbies from Peru 14! yay! I´m not a newbie anymore! Needless to say, it was a great weekend and I´m so glad that´s how I got to spend my birthday. Plus, I received a package from the padres hand delivered again.. which was great because I got to meet another Peruvian familia who insists I must come to their house in Huaraz everytime I´m there. No problema!

This week has been fulfilling in Shilla. That is the perfect palabra for it. Fulfilling. Yup! The World Map project is underway (there are 21 students who want to help! Plus the librarian who also paints really well is on board). We will start painting Monday morning. I´m putting together lessons about the different countries and hopefully we´ll be cooking up some grub from around the mundo pretty soon.. and listening to all my world musica I´ve been collecting over these years. We´ll for sure be highlighting Croatia at some point. :) And Belgium. And Spain.

Also, today the English Profesor y yo planned all next week´s English lessons which I´m psyched about! I now have about 30 primary school kids go to my twice weekly Stadium Field Days and I´m not underway on the whole Community Diagnostic thing. Plus, my room now has a splendid and sturdy wall and I have the most comfortable bed! Yay! One of my host bros who lives in Lima (and doesn´t visit often) is in town for a few days... we joke that we´re twins because his birthday is October 1st and he will also be turning 23. I feel like my Spanish is falting when I talk to him because he is so outgoing, always has something to hablar about and talks about 1000 miles a minuto. Florcita, Rey (the bro) and I watched The Incredibles last night on the laptop which I thoroughly enjoy in Spanish. Today is my little sobrina´s (niece´s) birthday.. she is turning 3 and we will make rice pudding with the ingredients I buy here in Carhuaz on this little outing.

¿What más? ¿What más? Kids are starting to know my name around town which is exciting. People still ask me all the time about the volunteer who lived here before me (they LOVED him which I can totally understand.. he´s really chévere!) and sometimes I get a little tired of explaining that I will be here for the next two years, and no he is not coming back, and no, I don´t know if another volunteer will replace me, and yes, I know he was your best friend but now I´m here and let´s be amigos! But, it will all come in time. Part of the whole development work thing is how people come and go, and how strong bonds are formed and then have to be broken and made again with new people who have the same strong aspirations and ideas. It´s actually kind of interesting. What would happen if I just stayed? :) People joke in my town that I need to marry a Shillapino and buy some chacras and just call it a día. hehe.

Oh! This past Wednesday I went on a paseo with all the secundary students to a place called Honcapampa.. which is located in Huascaran National Park. It was BEAUTIFUL! Too bad I forgot my camera.. but we saw ancient ruins and went on a short trek up to some small, but bonita waterfalls. It was a great way to get to know all the professors and those teens. Plus I even rented a horse for a half an hour... by the way.. I´m seriously considering buying a horse. Like.. my familia thinks it´s a great idea and there´s lots of places I could go riding here. hmm.... soooo tempted. I would be known around here as that gringa who has a horse, wears yankees and plays a weird instrument called a pianica. Huh. Hopefully they´d remember that I worked in the colegio a bit too.. but I wouldn´t be so offended if they remembered me for the horse thing. :)

Books Read Count: 4
Growing Fondness for the music called Huayno on a scale of 10: 8
Number of Cuyes eaten: 6
Visits to Huaraz: 4

Hope all is well in the States and beyond!

Abrazos fuertes,
Em

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

More Happy Talk

My host mom's laugh is my favorite sound. The more I can make her laugh, the better. Last night, when I woke to the sound of rats on the tarp above my head again I dreamt that I talked the rats into letting me sleep and to going outside... I told my host madre this and it cracked her up! She says I'm chistosa and alegre.. and if that's what I'm known for in my home I am very content.

Today I am off to Lima for a little theater training workshop with Peru 11. I am very lucky to get this opportunity (there was one more spot open!) and it means I'll get to learn how to incorporate theater into developing the jovenes. :) The colegio (school) next to me is building a theater in one of the aulas (classrooms) so that could be a prime spot.. Maybe my first project will be teaching the kids how to do the Thriller Michael Jackson dance... or Happy Talk from South Pacific. I will take the night bus and catch some (hopefully) shut eye and arrive in the early morn.

Let's see: this past semana was a short one... 4 high schoolers and I made the delicious chocotejas to sell so they can earn some dinero for their promocion (graduation) trip. Oh! I made french toast for the familia yesterday morning.. it was my first time making french toast if you'd believe it.. and it actually turned out delicious. Put syrup on anything and you can't go wrong really. And it was the first time that anyone in my host family had tasted syrup! Their happy faces and exclamations that it was rico was the best start to any day. So far, two breakfasts made! Maybe I CAN cook! When padre comes, he'll have to make pancakes.

Another random thing: practically everyday I read the book "Mis Amigos" (a book Aunt Debbie gave me!) to my little host niece Itzl. It's a picture children's book and is written in both Spanish and English and she absolutely LOVES it.. I think (besides the pianica) this book might be the best thing I brought with me to Peru. She is even remembering the English words! Tri-lingual at 4!

Room Update: it is painted celestial blue and cemented. Now just for the wall and door and furniture! I think it should be up and running by next week or so which is good because A) My sister had to move downstairs to share her room with me for the meantime which I feel bad about B) There won't be rats crawling above my face at night anymore and C) I won't have to worry about holes in the floor.

Until next time! (Maybe even from Lima again!)

Abrazos,
Em

Saturday, September 12, 2009

La Vida Shilla

The Construction of my Room!



Making some bread... I felt old fashioned :)

Yay for hammocks and mountains!


My little host niece eating good old fashioned American Red Vines.

Vida en Setiembre fotos

video

My host niece singing the "South Pacific" song... Happy Talk.
I like to think that teaching kids these things is actually developing them. :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

  So, it is bad that I actually like fried guinea pig intestines? Or that... it really doesn't matter if I haven't taken a shower for 6 days? When I'm living in Shilla these things don't bother me.. it's the going to Huaraz and actually seeing a mirror and then I pause for a second... then I decide, naaa.. it's all good. :) For some reason we haven't had water at my house for the last week, so really.. I have an excuse about the shower thing anyway! 

  The last week has been another good one. I can't believe how fast time is already flying by... today the new group of peacecordians are flying into Peru. I cannot believe that! I thought I was still the freshman.. But no. And get this! Two more people, who graduated from University of Portland in 2008 (just like me and this other awesome volunteer Colleen who is already here with me :) are coming! And, because UP is so small, I know both of them (granted, one much better than the other). This is definitely a time to start breaking out the "It's a Small World After All" song.

  A small recap of this week would look like: Celine Dion singing, playing duck duck goose with Peruvian kids, making breakfast for my host family this morning (scrambled eggs, toast, fruit salad.. I don't think my host grandma liked it... :), watching the TV show Bones on my computer at night, waking up to a rat crawling right above my bed on the tarp hanging from the roof at 5 a.m... then going back to sleep, getting a wall approved for my World Map project (yay!), getting the gripe (a cold), getting a little business group of 5th year secundaria jovenes started (equivalent to seniors in high school), and spending every puesto del sol (sunset) outside, marveling at how BEAUTIFUL it is.  My favorite time of the dia is definitely the evening and night. At night the stars are AMAZING. Seeing the milky way is as easy as spotting a donkey here. 

  I think I'm off to Lima for a few days this coming week for a theater training. So that is last minute and cool. I have a lot of ideas of what I'd like to do in Shilla... a theater health group, music lessons, a youth radio show in the neighboring bigger town of Carhuaz, etc. etc. Also, I'd love to have my kids here start some conversations up with classes or people from City Corps in the U.S.  Any biters? Any teachers or City Corps biters specifically? 

  In other news, I look forward to the candy corn madre... in another hand delivered package.. hehe.. my family only knows how to send things in an awesomely different way. I hope everyone is doing well and thank you for the comments on the blog! Keep sending them. I love to read 'em!

Abrazos fuertisimos,
Em
  

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Soup for Desayuno Tracey Chapman and Other Tales

¡Hola a todos!
I´m writing from an internet cafe in Carhuaz (just down the road) where I get to use an actual Spanish keyboard! yay! :) So expect plenty of ñ´s and accentos.

So this week.. back to mi sitio ... after a great weekend welcoming Colleen in Huaraz... and I´m starting some projects! I have been working with a professor in the secundaria (high school) who teaches English. Yesterday we had a great class teaching Tracey Chapman´s ¿Baby Can I Hold You Tonight? At one point I almost broke out laughing I was so happy that there I was... teaching a Tracey Chapman song in a small high school in a rural town in Perú. :) Amazing! Also, yesterday and today I played my pianica with the high school band in the morning. (they practice literally right outside of my house). The band consists of mostly boys and it´s proved to be a good way to get to know them. I wish I had brought music with me to Peru! I´m going to be starting up my Community Diagnostic soon so I will have to make some surveys and such, I´ll probably start my World Map project within a month, next week I will help a group of girls raise money for their graduation party/viaje (trip) making chocolates and jewelry, I played soccer during PE class yesterday and I hope to start doing something during the tutoria hours for primaria (elementary school).

Also.. noticias about mi cuarto (my room): I bought cement and a celestial blue paint for the walls. We are going to cement it up on Sunday and paint it on Monday and then I´ll buy the bed the previous volunteer had (he said he slept like a baby so I´m pretty excited! It also means my feet won´t be dangling off the edge.. yay!). I think I´m going to paint a little mural... originally I wanted to paint my room yellow but my sis thought that was boring.. so, seeing as she will probably get the room after me, I think light blue is also a good choice. I´ll paint a flower for her (her name is florcita) :)

So, alrighty. I just bought some yankees (the local campo shoes EVERYONE wears here to work in the chacras.. they are made out of tires), I´ve got the Peruvian plastic bag and some bread for the fam... I ate a hearty soup for breakfast (the rest of the familia had TWO soups!) and now will return up to Shilla for the día. Mañana I get to go see my sis play in a soccer game in Huaraz! woo hoo! This weekend I´ll stay in site which should be exciting. Hasta pronto!

Abrazos,
Em