Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In Search of Naked Babies

My buddy Sara Jane, lives at the my entrance point of a famous hike here in Ancash/Peru, the Santa Cruz Trek. Entonces (So), during tourist season, she sees a lot extranjeros (strangers/foreigners) walk by her doorstep. In one case, it was a couple who had brought a bunch of gently used children's clothing to Peru to give away. However, according to Sara, they had a tough time finding clothes for one kid in a previous village, and wound up feeling horrible as all the other kids got "new" clothes, minus the one kid. So they passed the clothes onto business owner here in Caraz, who then passed them on to Sara. However, Sara wasn't having much luck finding naked babies in need, so she passed them on to me. After a quick search through my site, I came to realize that it would be best to give the goods to our health post, so they could distribute them as needed, to the new mothers in need. Here is a couple of pics of my health post receiving the clothing.

Pre-Service Training

I've quietly let the one year in-country mark pass, as I've been having a hectic mes (month). After my trip to Easter Island, I returned back to Ancash for a short week, and then went back to Lima to assist in training the Peru 19ers (I belong to the Peru 17 group). It was fun and challenging, but overall very rewarding to see the new volunteers and help them transition to life here in Peru, develop realistic expectations for their next two years, and present a little charla (presentation) on classroom management and the realities of developmental milestones with regards to kids in the campo (rural areas). While my friends like to joke that I got called back to repeat training again, I'm quick to point out that I was referred to as "volunteer of the week" among the aspirantes (trainees/aspiring volunteers.  Living life in denial is very comfortable. 

The 19ers (about 50 in total. Mixing both Small Business Volunteers and Youth Development Volunteers) are a fun, good looking group. And similar to ours, they have their characters, inside jokes, and tons of uncertainties. And as with all PC volunteers, they seem to be able to make that instant connection with each other. Peace Corps, similar to Alaska, seems to attract a certain type of person, so I have no doubt that the 19ers will fit in just fine. 

Here are a few pics from my time in Lima (I got to be with my old host family again for 3 nights!! Great people!!! But unfortunately I didn't snap any pictures with them).

Jeff and I enjoying cereal and a sunset the night before I left for Lima.

Good cereal always attracts more friends. 

Cathy teaching the 19ers about recognizing the differences in cultural differences and personality differences.

Peru 19ers, and myself. I'm the guy in green in the back center. I've got my arm around my "PC brother" Robert. He's currently staying with my old host-family.
One last picture of the sunset in Huaraz. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Easter Island!!!

So I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go to Easter Island with a few friends from Ancash the first week of June, and let me say the island was amazing. The history and culture was more than plenty for me, but with the added scenery, I was set. This was a trip I will always remember, and one that made it VERY hard to return back to work, but here I am (I guess you can call this work). Check out the pictures and videos, because my description won't do it justice.

Side note: the "Birdman Races" I mention were races where a certain type of bird would return to these small islands near the main island. Then a representative of each clan would have to race down some cliff, swim out to these islands (with a reed surfboard-type thing) and then camp in caves, waiting for the first egg to be laid. Then the first guy to grab the egg won... the first part of the "race". The second part involved having to swim back, without breaking the egg. Kinda like a Rapa Nui Ironman.

Sea Turtle that was hanging out by the "port".

My first Moai 

The first sunset on the island

The "hats" are top knots and are meant to represent the hairstyle at the time. 

These 15 were the most photogenic. To learn more about them, see one of the three following video.

The travel team acting like the Moai. L-R: Brice, Will, Sara, Gisel, and Brie.

Watching a sunset the second night from a cave (lava tube) over the ocean. 

We went back to the 15 for sunrise. 

Horse remains on the beach.

Don't worry, there's are countless more horses on the island. I heard that horses out number people  (apox. 4,000 people live here) at various times in the year. 

We rented bikes the one day. The island is easily small enough to ride the whole thing in a day. 

Moai, half buried at the base of the volcano where the Moai were carved. 

Various Moai around the base of the volcano. These Moai never made it to their platforms before the culture ended.

Looking down from the volcano to where the 15 stood. Can you imagine moving something that big, that far... and this was an easy site.

As you can see the sunsets were great. 

This volcano is slowly filling with water, but was once an important lookout for the  birdman races. 

Will over looking the lake... sad that this was our last day on the island. 

Me over looking the islands where the birdman races took place. It's about a mile out to the islands... a pretty impressive swim to make, while holding an egg.  

My last picture before leaving the island. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Paro Contra la Mina (Strike against the mine).

Mining is a big money business here in Peru, especially with the current gold prices and world demand; however, similar to Alaska, Peru has a lot of natural beauty and natural resources that could be significantly impacted by irresponsible mining. Therefore, its easy to notice the uneasy balance between the money provided by the mines and their possible pollution. The most recent example being the paro (strike) that went on this week in the valley. Mainly the strike involved forceful shutdown of the main highway through the valley, where the road was blocked and no transportation was running (or if a taxi did run, the fares costed at lot more, and there was the possibility of rocks being thrown at the car). A normal 1.5 hour trip to the capital took Jeff and I more than 4 hours (and a lot of walking between the road blocks). Here are the pics. The girl is Coleen, a tourist that was stranded in Caraz who joined us on our journey:
This was our first road block, 30 minutes from Caraz. Nice guys, really, who really set the tone for the night. Every group we came upon, we'd chat up for a while, wish them luck with the paro, and then they'd wish us luck in finding a car.

Who said striking can't be fun? Just look at the guy in the red.

Our first physical road block was manned by this nice lady, who was in charge of moving the logs if needed (ambulance, neighbor, or taxi with enough money).
The road blocks got more impressive as we got closer to Huaraz, but still the people stayed freindly (no worries here).
Jeff finds his calling as a riot starter... luckily he's no good at it.
These truck needed to wait until either the end of the 48 strike, or until the people at the road blocks go to bed (or the bar).
The view from the other side of the roadblock. Again the people were very nice, especially after I guilted them about having to miss my flight home to see my sick mother in the US (Relax, this just a lie, mom's fine and was probably safely playing Banko at that very moment).
The one nice thing about walking it, is you see things you'd normally miss while in a combie that rips down the road. Here's sign advertising the services a local Chaman (Medicine Man).
We also caught this nice sunset.
Of the mutiple road blocks, this was one of the two major ones. They piled stones on the bridge, making it impossible for any cars to slip around it.
Finally, the night ended with a hitch on this truck for the last 30K. Cramped, but a real breath of fresh air (Lit.).

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Solar LEGOS!

The UGEL (the local school district) recently equipped each of the local schools with a laptop, a projector, dvd player and educational solar LEGOS. So now after school, the technology teacher opens her classroom to one grade a week, and they can come to make cool solar powered LEGO contraptions. I usually attend to play, I mean help the kids, and assist the teacher in learning how to operate the laptop and projector. Here are are few pics and video:

Friday, June 1, 2012

Brigadero/Hall Monitor

Everyday the radio* blasts the Peruvian national anthem at 8:00am. The idea being that the kids are at school in formation, raising the Peruvian flag to the anthem everywhere at the same time. Meanwhile, Yeferson is either just waking up, playing with his little brother in the driveway, or arguing with his mom about what he wants for breakfast. Getting to school is not a priority, no matter how much Dina, Roger, or I try to explain the importance. In fact, one day I was running late and offered to let him on my bike with me. He said no, and started walking. He left around eight, and I left about ten minutes later. Then later that day, around 9:30, I was walking out of a classroom, and here comes Yeffer strolling into the school. I guess he found something more important on the way to school then school itself**.

Anyway, this has been the long way to the following short story: A couple of days ago, my host aunt saw me in the street and told me to check Yefferson's notebook. The teacher had written a note to Dina telling her that she was nominating Yeffer to be the brigadero (head boy/monitor). A charge usually given to the brightest stars of the class. However, someone needed to read it to Dina. When I got home, I acted like Yeffer was in trouble and hyped up this note that the teacher had written to Dina. Dina was pissed, without knowing why, yelling random accusations, and course Yeffer was sheepish at best, not knowing what the note said either. However, by the time I finished reading the note, the both had huge grins and Yeffer acted like he had just got a pony for Christmas. Hopefully this helps motivate Yeffer to care a little more about his schooling. We'll see.


* Roger earned a S/.100 tip for cooking a ton of pachamancas (underground BBQ) during mother's day at the restaurant, so made the ill advised purchase of a huge speaker with laser lights, that now wakes me up every morning around 5:30am with Huayno music turned up loud enough that he can here while he works in the back chacra (field).

** I'm sure if Yeffer was a stronger reader, he would drop the Mark Twain quote on me about how "I never let my schooling get in the way of my education".