Entries tagged with “UMass Lowell Village Empowerment Peru service learning documentary solar panel” from Peru Village Empowerment Project

El mundo se salve

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Walking through the market by the parroquia just before we left for the mountains, I saw a man ahead, carrying a painting, a landscape, with a phrase at the top done in black.  It read, “El mundo se salve si cada uno hace su parte,” which translates into English as “The world is saved if each one does their part.”  It was a fitting complement, in a way, to the task at hand, traveling to a village in the Huarmey Valley to install a solar panel at a school.  We’re back from that now, as of this morning, preparing more equipment and supplies for the same work in other villages in the Casma Valley.   But the one venture (at high altitude) certainly wore out the team, a group of four, and we’ll need to rest well tonight to be ready for the next.

To get to the school we rode a bus to Quishuar for eight hours, and stayed the night there.  The next day we talked with the folks in that village about possible collaboration with the Village Empowerment Project, first in a formal meeting with the community leaders and then in more informal conversation, after which they treated us to crackers and Inka Cola and a bit of guitar.  Then we put our gear on donkeys and made a trek across the valley to Copi, which you can see from Quishuar but which is really not so close.  It made me think of a line I read in the Wisdom of Donkeys book, only turned on its head, to speak to the ‘distance of nearness.’  In any case, it was a struggle at times to put one foot in front of the other on the ascent, trying to catch some air, fighting dizziness and the tingling in our hands and cheeks, realizing how steep a mountain can be.  We made it, though, and immediately went to work on the installation, finished the next day, yesterday, in the afternoon.  

Once the panel was in we ate a late lunch/early dinner and left for the journey to LLaclin, where we could catch a bus to Huarmey (since the bus from Quishuar only comes twice a week).  The hike took us four hours, almost half of that in the dark, but we had a guide, a thirteen year old boy named Wauker (an old Quechua name), who also led a donkey packed with equipment.  At one point he told us there were some “wild” dogs ahead, guarding goats, which would probably be a danger.  When he picked up a rock I picked up one too, then he picked up another and I did the same.  The dogs came up, but Wauker’s dog held them back for a bit, we made it around them, and then Stephanie ran at them, chashing them off for good.  Well, between that sort of thing and the walking by the time we hit the town we were absolutely beat.  There was no place to get a real meal so we bought canned tuna and crackers and ate that before sleeping in a room above the store (you don’t know how good tuna and crackers can be until you’ve had them this way).   During the night we slept little since there were a lot of dogs barking and fighting on the road below, and we had to wake up at 3am for the bus.  So we came into Huarmey dirty (probably smelly), very tired, and a little hungry.

Now that I’ve been making notes and keeping a record of events and observations in my head, as well as on this blog, I realize there’s a great temptation to emphasize the foreign and unknown about Peru.  This is partly because the attitude belongs to the “travel writing” genre and partly because, in fact, there is plenty of difference all around me, constantly.  Just crossing the street here in town is an encounter with a flood of contrasts to what I know and expect.  But for the rest of the trip I’m going to make an effort to notice the universal, the things that allow us to connect across what might otherwise separate.

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