Thursday, May 18, 2006


Saturday, May 13, 2006

here i am!

well, its been about a month since I have posted anything... Chinchero was absolutely amazing, I loved every minute of it. I stayed with a woman named Roxana, her husband Roberto, and their 8 year old son Ribaldo. After staying with them for so much time, I really felt like we were a little family. Ribaldo was just like a little brother.. and we loved and hated eachother just like siblings. I think he will miss me a lot, even though one time he was so annoyed with me for locking him out of the house while he was brushing his teeth outside, he hissed at me "sal de mi casa!" (get out of my house!) yeah. it was fun. For two weeks I taught English for two hours every morning at Ribaldo's school. I really enjoyed teaching, all of the kids were amazing and so excited to learn... except for the first graders. They were brats. Every day I had weaving lessons for 4 hours with Roxana. I have lots of cool things that I have made, all partly incomplete, but I have all of the materials to finish them at home. I had a cord, three belts, a scarf, and a manta (like a small blanket), all in the making. Right now I am staying at probably the dingiest hostel in Cusco, for 5 dollars a night. It's 16 dollars a night to stay with your host stay family here, and I wanted to save some cash.. so basically Im living in a dungeon. But its in a cool area with interesting things, its safe, and relatively clean. Monday our whole group is going to reunite and we are off to Ollantaytambo, the town where we had orientation. Full circle! We are there for four days, and everyone is going to present their experiences and party like crazy for the last time. Im excited and nervous for my 30 minute presentation in spanish, and excited to see everyone else's presentations. My program ends May 20th (so soon! ahh!) and on the night of the 20th I am off by bus with Kate, Katie, Marge, and Carolina. We are travelling to Buenos Aires via Bolivia. Im excited for the three day bus trip (ahhh) and for of course, our final destination! We all have friends in Buenos Aires right now (I'm going to see Dave and Leah!) and we are going to see the sights and whatnot. We only have 5 short days in Buenos Aires, but we think it is worth it. We found a cheap flight from Buenos Aires to Bolivia, and we will bus back to Cusco from Bolivia. And I will be on my way back to the U.S. on June 1st. Oh my. I'm so sad to leave, but also excited to see everyone back home, and to work in Vermont this summer. There are so many things I am going to miss about Peru... the people, the food, art, cheap things, friends from my program, Chinchero in general... so much more but I can't reminisce and get nostalgic right now because I have to finish this damn paper and get my presentation in order. Just letting you all know, I'm here, I'm alive... love you all. more updates later!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

off to the campo

tomorrow morning i leave early to go to chinchero, where i will be for the next 3 weeks or so. kindof nervous and excited at the same time. life is a lot slower in the campo, which can be really nice and relaxing and interesting, and then just really.... slow. oops have to get off the computer, but there will be internet in chinchero.. expect an update once in a while.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

easter sunday

feliz pascua a todos! i am a little bummed out today because after today i will not see my group for a month... which is what i want to do but it will definetely be a little sad at first. on wednesday im getting up early and hauling away with my belongings to a small town called chinchero, about an hour away from cusco on bus. there i will live with a woman named roxana cusacuni and her husband and son (both named roberto). every monday through saturday for the next 3 and a half weeks, roxana will give me knitting lessons for four hours, 9 to 1. Some days we will work in her house and other days we will work in the collective with the other women (excuse me, and two men). at the end of the month i will return to cusco to meet up with the whole group, and then we are off to Ollaytaytambo (where we had orientation) for five days to do our presentations. how the time has flown! Despite the fact that i am sad about not seeing everyone for a while, i am excited to be in a place where i will have zero opportunity to speak english, and i will be working on a project that is just my own. woo! i am nervous about the cold (winter is coming and it is apparently colder in chinchero than cusco...) and the fact that i will be sleeping on the cold floor with my sleeping bag. all worries aside, i can´t wait. i have no idea if there is internet in chinchero, so i don´t know if i will be able to update or not. im guessing there is internet, because chinchero attracts the tourists with all of the knitting stuff, and i know there is a hostel. hmm. we´ll see. i think i will venture to cusco a few times during the month to get books, supplies, and to see the two girls who are doing their projects in cusco, katerin and grace. almost everyone is going to lima. marge is going (project on the afro peruvian community), caro (nutrition), sam (soccer), alison (gay community), kate (urbanization and ruins), chris (elections), shana (japanese community), and dani is going for part of the time to do her project on the jewish community, she is also going to trujillo. grace is doing a translation project in cusco, and katerin is doing something on bilingual education. there are four crazy kids going to the rainforest, katie aka pishtaco to do a photo project, alina to do something with women´s health, charlie with shamans, and joseph is going to study how everyone else´s projects affect the people in the rainforest. and i am all by my lonesome in chinchero, to do my knitting project. i am not 100% clear on what my main point of investigation will be in chinchero. i was going to do something about how tourism affects the products of the knitters, and what happens when i (a tourist) learn how to knit with them and make their products. but, i might be changing my mind to doing more of a testimony of life in chinchero with a photo essay, the products i will (hopefully) produce, and a written essay. we shall see! This past week has been Semana Santa (duh), and there have been a lot of interesting events and processions in Cusco. On Good Friday, there is a tradition of eating 12 different plates of food for lunch. It was crazy! The plates of food were smaller than usual but it was still a ton of food. We ate:

1. Ceviche (raw fish with dried corn, onions, and lemon juice...soo good)
2. Papa Rellena (a small potato filled with fish and then fried)
3. Sopa (soup with a milk base with fish eggs, sea weed, and veggies...not my favorite)
4. Aquita de Maiz (translates as corn water.. but is like a thick puree of corn, veggies, and potato, so good)
5. Pastel de Papas (a type of torte made with potatoes, eggs, and veggies)
6. Torteja de Squash (small fried thing.... sort of eggy and squashy in the middle?)
7. Pan de Choclo (Corn bread, really salty)
8. Arroz con leche (rice pudding)
9. Guisado de pera (Pears cooked in sweet sauce)
10. Pastel (Can´t remember the real name, this type of flat butter cookie cooked in paper, my favorite)
11. Uvas (grapes)
12. Vino (sweet wine, yum)
So much food! It was a lot of fun and really interesting, and we have been having delicious leftovers all week. I havent been able to go to as many as I would like, since we have been busy this week with exams, which are done thank youuu and two papers, which i have to finish today. ahhh. Last night we went to a Cienciano game (the soccer team of Cusco), they played Arequipa and tied. It was a lot of fun, and we made friends with a bunch of little boys and after an hour of hanging out they started asking for money and our relationships got awkward. Well, I have to go finish some papers and get everything set for leaving Cusco and embarking on my journey. Love you all, write me emails!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Back in Cusco

Last night we got back from our two and a half week trek around Peru. We started in Lima, and then continued on to Puerto Inca, Nazca, Arequipa, and then to Colca Canyon. I wrote an update in my journal while I was in Colca... here it is...

An update is definetely in order. Last time I wrote I was in Lima, the capital. Lima was really fun. We took a bunch of classes in different buildings like a school in Chinatown, a library, and an old mansion. Actually the classroom in the old mansion reminded me a lot of a Kenyon classroom in Ascension. Chandeliers and everything. We explored Lima a bit, and had a really cool tour in Chinatown. The interesting thing about Chinatown in Lima is that you can look and look, and you can not find a single person who looks like they are Chinese. Chinese immigration has been going on for so long that now everyone is pretty mestizo. The food in the barrio chino was great, full of fresh seafood because we were on the coast. One night in LIma we went to a pena (penya, there is supposed to be a squiggle over the n...), which is a concert type event of traditional music. It doesn't start until 10 or 11 at night, and goes into the wee hours of the morning. In between songs, the owner of the bar recites poems. At first they are just about Peru or the music, but as the night goes on the poems get dirtier and dirtier. After a while the audience starts to participate. First of all, 80% of the audience was 70 plus. And they knew the dirtiest jokes! It was funny because 2 am rolled around and a lot of us were exhausted from a really busy day. We ended up leaving and a bunch of people at least 50 years our seniors kept partying, dancing, and drinking. One day in Lima we had a whole day that was just about theater. We went to a really cool small theater and watched an amazing play whose name I can't remember right now. It was about a spirit trying to find his bones. He was travelling to Lima from the campo. It was about all of the military violence in the 80's and 90's and the desaparecidos that resulted from that violence. It was powerful and really well done. The play was actually written by Grace's advisor, a peruvian professor who now works at Brown. We then saw a really funny presentation of masks, and then we saw the workshop where the masks are made. At the end of the day we watched children's theater with a bunch of kids who had gotten out of school. It was about a mom rat and a dad rat who were trying to find a worthy husband for their daughter. They wanted to find the strongest man in the world (artie, pete and pete anyone?) to marry their daughter. They asked the sun, but the sun said the rain was stronger. This continued and they went from the rain to wind, wind to the Great wall (the story was set in China). The Great Wall was scared of rats, ,so they decided that the best partner for their daughter was another rat. It was cute, and the costumes were amazing. When we were in Lima, everyone went swimming every day at the beach and I couldn't go because it was a rocky beach and my foot couldn't handle it. I finally got to swim on a sand beach the day we left Lima. We left Lima by bus and went to Gonzalo's (the Lima director) beach house. There was a sand beach, so I could swim. It was amazing to finally swim in Peru! When I hurt my foot in the jungle, everyone went swimming in the river immediately after. I was so jealous. I couldn't swim the entire time we were in Lima, so I practically cried with happiness when I hobbled into the water near Gonzalo's. Carolina and I got swept out by a super strong current and we were trying and trying to get back to the shore. I used my lifeguarding skills to keep Caro calm (haha) and we eventually pushed through the current. The beach lifeguard was about to get us. Oopsies. We only stayed at the beach for two hours, because we had to continue on our journies. We went to an old plantation house that is not functioning as a hotel. It was beautiful and incredibly creepy at the same time. On the house level it looked lie gone from the wind, and below the slaves' quarters were like hell. We only stayed for a while, and then we continued on to Nazca. We stayed at a hotel for the night (with a pool! I swam twice) We got up early in the morning to take small planes to see the Nazca lines in the sand. They are about 1000 years old, and no one knows who made them. dum dum dummm. They were really cool, even though the tiny plane for six almost made me spew. There were designs of a spider, monkey, bird, astronaut (what? i know), hummingbird, etc. Whoever made them somehow designed them in a way that they would never blow away. After seeing the lines we got in the good old bus and travelled though the desert to Puerto Inka, an old Inca port that is nothing now but a beach with a hotel on it. We stayed at the hotel, and were there to have one class and relax! It was great. The water was frightening and scary looking that only two people braved the ocean, and it pretty much beat them up. However, there was a pool, and I got to exercise my gimpy foot once again. We ate dinner in a semi-inside room, a nd while we were eating I noticed a disco ball and varions colored lights. hmmm. After dinner they started playing disco tunes, but softly. Everyone was just sitting around chatting, but Marge jumped up and started to dance. The guys controlling the music pumped up the volume, turned off the lights, and on came the colored lights and strobe. It was hilarious because we were in such a relaxed beach setting, and all of the sudden it looks like a disco. I hopped and danced as well as I could with my damn boot. By this point, I wasn't using my crutches anymore. After dancing they turned on the tv's and we started karaoking! It was a great sober time. After a night swim in the pool, I went up to the room that I was sharing with Carolina and Pishtaco. They were both saying how their showers were the best they had in Peru. I get in, get all soapy, and the water shut off. So I hobble over to another room, and everyone's water was off. I had to shower with my giant bottle of water. The next day we got up early and travelled to the city of Arequipa. Arequipa has been my favorite city so far. Its not too big, and really pretty. It's not touristy like Cusco, or hectic and big like Lima. The architecture was amazing. We went to the convent of Santa Catalina, which was really cool. There are still nuns living there, but they are separate from the touristy parts. We saw some great art at the Modern Art Museum, and went out for Mexican food. It was delicious. They beer in Arequipa is called Arequipena, which is funny because it looks exactly like Cusquena. The Arequipean pride is very strong. We stayed in this really coold hostel which was once a massive house. Beautiful courtyards, stone walls, old furniture. Very cool We left early early in the morning on Thursday to travel to Colca Canyon. Oh! The night before we left for Colca I went to the doctor in Arequipa, and he inspected my foot. He told me to take the boot off and to start walking with sneakers and an ace bandage. Yessss. So I have been crutch, boot, cast, and wheelchair free for about a week now. My foot is a little sore, but it is getting better as I juse it more, hallelujiah. I seriously felt like I was never going to walk normally again. So we got to Colca Valley the mid-morning on Thursday, and we went straight to Chivay, the biggest town. There we split up into groups of three to go to five different towns. I stayed in Yanque, the closest town to Chivay. I stayed there because it is at the lowest altitude out of the five towns, and there is no hiking involved in getting to the town. Thanks foot. I actually really enjoyed my time in Yanque. On Thursday, Carolina, Kate and I walked around Yanque with Gloria, the woman who directs the homestays here. She took us to the school that she works at, and we saw teeny tiny babies asleep, and then we met the 3 to 5 year olds. They sand and danced for us. The next day I got up at 8 (my host father David asked me if I was alright, since I was getting up so LATE...) had breakfast and hung around with David. He is an artesano, and he makes incredible masks and other things like hats and decorations for festivals. Later in the day Carolina, Kate and I went to Kates house to ask her host father about our project. We have to do a project about the importance of water in Yanque. There are two sources of water, from two different mountain rivers. The town is split in two, and each half of the town has to use their own water supply. There is a very low level of competition between the two halves of town. It is interesting because the entire town is so small. We also learned about the war for control over a certain river between Yanque and another town, Corporanque. One person died (from Yanque), but in the end Yaque won, and now controls the water. Last night there was a procession to begin Semana Santa. A large float-like thing was carried around by a bunch of men. It was decorated in gold shiny paper, and silver platters. At the top sat a figurine of Virgen Dolores. Everyone followed her through the streets of Yanque, trowing flowers at her, carrying candles, and singing songs. The whole procession ended at the church for a short service. The whole event was really beautiful. The next day we got up early to take a bus to Cruz del Condor to see one of the deepest parts of the canyon. We actually saw condors! Two babies and two adults. They were massive, and it was incredible to watch them fly. The Colca Canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. Grace was telling us about how a lot of German tourists die at the Grand Canyon when they are taking pictures because the person tells them to back up to get more of the canyon in the photo, and they end up falling. I don't know. Dani decided to translate this into Spanish loudly for Rosanna in front of a bunch of German tourists. Good one Dani. After Cruz del Condor we went to Chivay and looked around. I went home for lunch. Sunday, our last day, we got up at 4 am to go to the hot springs. It was a long cold walk, but the springs were worth it. We had our first shower in a long time, which was incredible. We left early yesterday morning to travel 12 hours back to Cusco. And here I am! Phew that was a lot. This week we have two exams and two papers due, and then we all leave for our independent projects. I'm going to live in a town about an hour away from Cusco called Chinchero. There is a community of women who knit and make incredible textiles. I am going to live with one of them and hopefully learn how to knit they way they do with looms. I'm pooped from writing all of this... more later...

Saturday, March 25, 2006

watermelon gatorade

do we have watermelon gatorade in the united states? I tried it for the first time here and it is delicious! Anyway. I am in Lima, the capital of Peru. So far I really really like it. I was expecting the worst because everyone in Cusco says bad things about Lima. That it is dirty, dangerous, ugly... So I was pleasantly surprised by this big, bustling, beautiful city. It is such a refreshing change from Cusco. Cusco is small and beautiful, but also incredibly touristy. We are finally in a city that is just like, well, a city. Everyone is just going around doing their thing, not trying to sell us handicrafts or get us to eat in their trendy cafe. It´s nice. It is also on the coast, so it is warm and humid (which I have missed), and sunny. I sadly can´t go swimming in the ocean here due to the foot situation, but apparently I shouldn´t anyway because the part of the coast that we are near is incredibly polluted and choppy. I do have good news regarding my cast situation! I had it removed. Yep. I went to the doctor who put it on the day before we left for Lima (Thursday) and asked him if there was anyway I could get a walking cast instead. He said yes at first, and then told me that he has no idea where to get a walking cast in Cusco, and that no one uses them. Well. He told me he would cut it off anyway, and I told him to. It felt good to have my right foot liberated, but it also hurt still. My foot felt vunerable, and still unhealed. So I left the doctor with an ace bandage and my crutches, wondering if I made the right decision. We took a plane to Cusco yesterday, and arrived around 9:30 in the morning. We got situated in our swanky hotel, more like a house, called the Inka Wasi, run by this young guy who basically sits around and smokes pot all day and watches TV. I have no idea how he runs this cool place but he does, and it´s nice. We went out for a lunch of pure seafood, which was welcomed by all of us. Ceviche is the best, its raw fish that is cooked only in lemon juice. Delicioso. Halfway through lunch my foot starts hurting, and it increased to searing pain. By the time tears were running down my cheeks, Irma decided to take me to the hospital. I think most of the pain was due to my ace bandage being too tight (funny now, painful then) and I was given a shot. We talked to a doctor and he told me that yes, I could get a walking cast. Finally. So we went to an orthopedic store to check it out. I have never seen so many people with only one leg at one time. There were small children, adults, older people... it made me really happy and thankful that I have all of my parts working well, and reminded me that torn ligaments are nothing. So I am now sitting here with a massive black boot on my right foot. It has all of these buckles, think a large rollerblade, that´s what it looks like. It is really comfortable and most importantly REMOVABLE! Meaning I can shower and swim. Well still can´t swim here bc the beaches are rocky and not sand, but next week we are going to a nice beach and I can´t wait. Yess. I am supposed to still use crutches for the next 10 days, and then hopefully I can start walking on my cast. My goal is to be walking normally by the time we get back to Cusco in 2 and a half weeks. Wish me luck. Thankfully we have a wheelchair here so I have been travelling in style in the streets of Lima. Around the house and small distances crutches are fine, but for long distances I need the speed of my chair. It is really nice, but I still feel weird counting on people to push me, etc. Maybe I am just noticing now because I am in one, but there are a lot of people in wheelchairs here. Today we traveled around and saw the sights in Lima. We went to the Palacio de Govierno, it was pretty beautiful. I felt like I was on my eighth grade Washington D.C. trip all over again, but this was prettier. We also went to the Museum of the Inquisition, and saw torture chambers that the Spanish used. Scary. We then went to Chinatown and had a blast! Yummy chinese food lunch (Peruvian influenced and lots of fish), then looking around at all of the shops. We went to this hidden away shrine and lit incense and looking at chinese medicines, many illegal where we live. We tried to get something for the ligaments in my food, and the guy looked at us like we were crazy and asked if I wanted something to lose weight. Thanks sir. One thing that I like about most Peruvians (and what also took some getting used to,) is that they say it like it is. I have realized that we sugar coat a lot of things in regular conversation in the U.S., and tell a lot of white lies, usually to protect people´s feelings. At times I think that´s important, but I also like the straightforwardness in Peru. Anyway. We later had a class about the Chinese population in Peru in a chinese school. Very interesting, but also very hot and in a dim room and everyone was trying to not fall asleep. And here I am, about a block from our trendy hotel, in an internet cafe. Last night we had a class on the Afro Peruvian community in Lima, followed by a brief music and dance concert. It was great. Tonight we are going out for ice cream (apparently the best I will ever have...) and relaxing. Oh! Vanessa´s visit was so fun. We had lunch at home, and then later went out to San Blas to look around. We went to the amazing coca shop, and tried chocolates, toffees, and biscuits made with coca. Vanessa bought some chocolates and powder and apparently made it to the U.S. without any problems. It is so frustrating that we can´t bring coca leaves back home. It makes amazing tea, and has a bunch of other uses. There are obvious drug trafficking issues, but the amount of leaves a person would use for tea or cooking could not make cocaine. It is very frustrating, and coca rights are still being fought for here in Peru. Coca is such an important part of the traditional culture, and many people don´t recognize it. Stupid drug dealers. When we went to the island of Taquile, my host father was telling me about the importance of coca. He mentioned that he had a friend who brought him actual cocaine once, and how he tried it. It was so interesting hearing this from someone in such an isolated place. He had absolutely no stigma attached to taking the drug, and talked about it very openly. He didn´t like it, but he said it made him knit fast. Anyway... after the coca shop Vanessa and I went out for crepes at the German place, and then to the hooka bar. Our group had to go to the bar for a class. It was less of a class and more of an activity, listening to a rock group perform in Quechua. It was really good, and we all danced. And yes all includes me, in my former bright green cast. I was careful mom, don´t worry. Everyone was doing the cast dance, just like on Saved by the Bell when Screech and Lisa won the dance competiton! It was great. After the concert we went to a discoteca where a group was playing salsa music. We danced some more, I had to sit out a lot due to my foot, but it was fun. Random Quechua fact... Jaba the Hut speaks Quechua in Return of the Jedi. Yep! Some guys on the plane from Cusco to Lima told some people in my group, and the hotel that we are staying at happens to have a copy of the movie. We watched it, and it was mind blowing. We understood what Jabba was saying! It´s not a made up language! Unreal. Well I think that is it for now... We are going to be in Lima for a little over a week, and then we are making our way by bus to Arequipa, then Colca, and Nazca. We will be back in good old Cusco in a little less than three weeks. Expect updates later. Ciao!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


woowooowoo! Vanessa is here (sitting next to me, actually...) and it is so nice to have her here. We met up in the Plaza de Armas today after my classes, and she came over to have lunch. She speaks Italian but not much Spanish, so she understands but I am little like her translator. It is fun. We had a delicious lunch of crema (puree soup made with pumpkin, yum...), choclo and queso, and rice and chicken with a great sauce. Right now we are relaxing after a massive lunch and we are going to go out soon for some coca ice cream and then off to Quechua rock! What a day. I will post pictures later. Bye!