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

Regresamos

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Weíre back now, heading our separate ways, but with Peru not very far behind.  Iím writing this on the train, my bag on the rack above, full of dirty clothes, dusty camera gear, and a few souvenirs.  Just a few minutes ago, sitting in the station, I watched people going about their busy day, everything comparably clean and modern, provoking a kind of travelerís vertigo.  It takes time, I know, to re-enter this other world.  Twenty-four hours ago I was on a crowded bus, heading into Lima, looking at all the limenos staring out bus windows of their own, seeing the hills beyond, full of thatch wall and roof houses, trash scattered all about, the hard-packed dirt in front of metal shops and other businesses lining both sides of the Panamericana a dirty black gray.

My second project for the two week visit started several days before with a car ride from Huarmey to Casma and Casma to Yautan, where we stayed the night in the labor and delivery room of the posta (the health clinic).  We woke up at 5:30am and within minutes we were dressed and packed and ready to leave (this always amazes me).  We drove for a little more than an hour to Cacqui, at least until the road became too narrow and we had to walk, which we did with the students from the local school who had run down to meet us.  In this village we installed a solar panel and hired donkeys for the hike to the next place, Canchirao, probably about 12,000 feet.  When the donkeys still hadnít come around John and Sarah hit the trail, to get a head start, and Eduardo and Oscar and I waited.  It took another hour, though, to get blankets and bridles and ropes and then to pack, putting the three of us on the path pretty late in the afternoon.  We also soon realized that leading donkeys (we didnít have any other guide) is a pretty difficult thing to do.  Almost ever five minutes they tried to stop and eat, as the climb got steeper and steeper, forcing us to yank and cajole and push, adding another challenge to the walk.  Also, after the first two hours, the sun went down and the moon wasnít yet up, so we switched on head lamps.  The moon eventually lit our way, fairly brilliantly, but we had another three hours to go.  The only thing that made it bearable was when I gave up hope, remembering all the Camus I had read, particularly the Myth of Sisyphus.  Once I no longer thought about reaching the summit, it was a little less difficult.  Except we did reach the village, tied up the donkeys, and went into the clinic to meet John and Sarah, to rest, and to eat dinner, orange juice from a box, water, soda crackers, tuna fish, and chocolate bars.  When we went outside to see about feeding the donkeys, though, they were gone.  I heard dogs barking on the other side of the village and ran over (who knows how, with what strength or wind) to find one donkey cornered.  I chased him back toward the posta where Eduardo finally caught him.  The other one, we figured, had managed to get back on the trail to Cacqui

Anyway, the next day we went over to the school and the team started on the installation while I filmed.  There was plenty of interest in this on the part of the kids (we seem to pretty much undermine any lesson plan for the day when we arrive to work) although it took some time for the girls to get used to my camera.  At first when I pointed it their way they scattered and hid, chattering in quechua and squealing and giggling like any silly kids would do.  They were dressed the way you might imagine, in the boldest colors, a few with bowler hats, even more odd for the fact that the boys wore plain pants and shirts and sweaters.  Well, by afternoon we were finished, had a quick lunch at the school directorís house, and packed for heading out.  The other donkey appeared then and so we led that one with us, descending the other side of the mountain toward Tumipampa, where we would have a taxi waiting.  It was certainly easier going down than coming up except much, much harder on the knees, and a four hour hike is still a four hour hike.  Again we had to do part of that in the dark.  Unfortunately, Oscar also convinced us to take a ďshortcut,Ē a lot more steep, extremely narrow in places, with a long drop down on the side, slippery for the fine dust and gravel that covered it.   Somehow we made it and got in the car, which ran low to the ground for all the weight and kept hitting big rocks.  We got a flat tire as well and we walked more while the driver fixed that.  He picked us up and after we got the rest of our gear at Yautan we hit a paved road, which apparently had no real speed limit (we were going nearly 100 miles an hour for long stretches).  In Casma, after midnight, we checked into a hostel, went out for a later dinner, and got our showers.

Thatís a chronicle of events, of course, lacking anything like reflection or interpretation, the kind of commentary and observation that would begin to make sense of the journey in all its parts and as a whole.  The work exhausted me (Iím still tired, even after sleeping on buses and planes, as if the tiredness settled deep inside me) and Iím going through the shock of being back.   Maybe in the next few days I can sift through the memories and add one more final post, including some pictures.


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