Thursday, March 22, 2012

Is this a Dream? really, that's a serious question I have about this motorcycle. I saw it last night in Caraz, and want to know if it's a Honda Dream? (For those of you who don't know what a Honda Dream is, you probably don't know my dad and brother, or even my mother for that matter. (Old) Honda motorcycles arrive at a close second to Golden Retrievers named "Max" on our family's list of loves)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Stanley Updates

We've had some travel reports from Susy (currently in Nome, AK), Yoselina (currently in Washington, D.C.) and Fernando (currently in Bozeman, MT). Take a moment to see their pictures:

Travel Updates

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Neither snow nor rain...

Shout out to the guys at the Broadway Post Office in good ol' Missoula, MT. In a big thanks to them, I believe my mom is batting 100% in her postage delivery success rate (25+ packages!!! I know she spoils me). She may think it's because of the red inked crosses she draws or the religious stickers that adorn the packages, but I have no doubt it's due to the fine service she receives form "the guys" at our local post office. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night nor postal systems of foreign countries stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

Thanks guys, keep up the good work.

Here's a picture of Jeff, half of the dynamic duo:

Wheat it's what's for breakfast.

There are various climates here in the department of Ancash, and each region is known for their specific harvest. So when a volunteer goes to visit another, it's not uncommon to bring a product from their site as a gift to the other volunteer's host-family. Gisel lives 2,000 feet higher than me, and so for Quechua classes she brought us a ton of wheat (we typically grow more fruit at the lower elevations; they grow more wheat and potatoes). Dina was excited when I came home with it. She dried the wheat, toasted it, and then later took it to the market to grind it (I think you "grind" wheat. The Spanish verb is "moler" and "molino" is either a grinder used to crush things like coffee beans, or a huge flat rock that is rotated in circles on top of another huge flat rock by horse power to grind other edibles).

Here's Dina and Yordi drying the wheat:

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Mr. Green Thumb

Hey Adam, remember summers of gardening in grandma and grandpa's garden? Pulling weeds, chasing butterflies, and then getting to go to the Black Sheep to buy GI Joes?? Good times, right!? Well thanks to Jill, Yordan and Yeferson are getting a taste of this. I've planted two gardens, and Yeferson loves to water 'em, while Yordan likes to use them as a bathroom.

Yordan in the pre garden picture.

The other pre-picture of garden number 2.

Yeferson putting in some hard time.

The final product. 
Here are a few pics and a (very) random video, and hopefully I'll be showing pictures of a bountiful harvest later:

Home Improvements

Turning 65 means you're ready to haul large log poles* and adobe bricks while assisting your son in building a extension to his home. This is proven by Roger's dad who came down from the alturas (higher elevations) to help roof the new den that Roger has now crossed off his honey-do list. Also one the list was: "Build a outdoor sink"... I can't wait to catch a smorgasbord of sunfish, perch, frogs, a turtle every weekend and keep them in this sink (big inside joke there).

Dina over-seeing the construction of her new sink.
Roger's dad trimming/shaping the logs

Roger working.

Father-Son construction projects... always an interesting dynamic regardless of culture. 

* I woke up one morning to see my host-grandfather carrying a pole down the driveway, and couldn't in good conscious let him haul all eight by himself. So I went to help and suffered a real ego check. These poles were real man eaters. I was caught off guard by the weight of each pole (probably between 80-100 pounds each) and their awkwardness to carry. I  needed to really dig deep to hoist one on to my shoulder. Then once it was on my shoulder, it was a 100 yard sprint so I could get the weight off as soon as possible. I guess I'm a little soft and out of roofing shape. I'll be working on this.

Start of the School Year

March madness is upon us, and I'm really feeling the effects. I had Project Design and Management (PDM) and In-Service Training (IST) the first week of March, and the first day of school happened sometime in the past weeks too*. PDM was a real brain buster for me. Each volunteer had to invite a leader or soccio (a person who works with you on your projects) from their community to participate in a three day workshop on project design. So basically, it was three days of lectures in Spanish, where my soccio and I focused on problems my community faces, and how we can address the biggest issue. I brought a teacher from my special education school, and we decided to focus on the lack of regular school attendance shown by the students. It was very taxing for all, and not too much fun, but very useful.

Following this, the soccios wen home, and the volunteers stayed for 2 more days of training addressing how we a PC volunteers can promote leadership and volunteerism in Peruvian youths. This training was much easier, but also very useful.

Here are a few pics from the training:

Andrea, my soccio, working hard at the training.

Me not working hard, showing off how I completed the "cube". 

Andrea presenting our final project idea: Community training on what is the CEBE (Special Education School) with the end goal of increasing community support and awareness, with the hopes that this will increase school attendance.  

Our trainer Louis awarding Andrea her certificate. Certificates are a BIG DEAL here in Peru.

* The first day of school was technically the March first. However, when I arrived to school, I found chaos. The school renovations the director was doing during my vacciones utiles were not completed, the teacher's classrooms were in disarray, the school textbooks Lima had not arrived, and to cap it all off not a single student showed up (typically parent's don't get around to sending their kids until 2 weeks into the school year... don't ask me why, but I've heard it has to do with nothing happening until the second week). So, with the teacher pissed, and the director caught off guard, I found myself sitting in one of the most awkward school meetings I've ever seen (and trust me, I've attended some pretty awkward school meetings). Basically it was 2 hours of the teachers telling the director that he is too old, he's the reason the kids don't come to school, and that they we're going to denunciar (ask for his resignation) him in front of the APAFA (Parent's Association) and OGEL (School Board/District Office); eventually, the director caved and announced that he was going to look at retiring this year. It was really hard to watch this, has he's been a great source of support for me, and is one of the few people at the school that is consistently willing to work with me. I spoke up once  in his defense, but then decided that it wasn't my fight and it's best that I stay neutral. Pretty tough to see.

Yunsa Tree

Carnaval time is winding down and so are the Montes. Montes are parties that every neighborhood holds, kinda like campo block parties. These parties generally consist of a few key features: lots of beer, an orchestra playing huayno music, and a Yunso tree. Yes a good ol' Yunsa tree, a tree that someone cuts down from their chacra (farm) and then the people decorate it with blankets and other valuable household items. Then, while drinking and dancing in circles around the tree, the men take turns swinging an ax or machete (kinda dangerous), and try to cut down the tree. After a few hours, the tree will fall and two things happen: everyone rushes the tree to grab the items (people always get hurt during this part), and the guy who dealt the falling blow becomes the Yunsa tree's padrino for the next year (meaning he has to buy all the gifts for the tree next year).

Here are a few pictures of the Monte in Yuracoto. However, due to the rain and darkness, I went home before the tree fell. However, reports I got the next day informed me that the rush to this tree was particularly bloody, as the tree fell down the steep hillside nearby, making it very hazardous for the drunk gift seekers:

It was suppose to start at 3:00PM at 5:30PM they started to decorate the tree.

These two kids stayed up in the tree tying on "gifts" for a solid hour. 

The Yunsa starts to take shape.

It was held at the chapel, which never gets used, on the hill that overlooks Yuracoto. A storm started rolling in right at dark.  

I like this picture because of the traditional quechua woman  with her braids, hat , and blanket in the foreground... however, I had to sneak this picture, as she was pretty shy. 

The sunset and the tree was just starting to get cut down... Caraz is off to the left.

This was the last picture of the night. I left when the tree was still standing. 

Here is a picture of the chapel on the hill, that I took a few days later. You can kinda see it  as the white spot above the trees. 

First Generation Kitchen Appliances

Here's a quick video of Karen, our neighbor, helping my host mom prepare lunch. You'll note that their kitchen appliances appear to be built to last:

* She's crushing a pepper called aji to make a salsa.