Recently in Dimitrios Category

My previous post was written in Huanchay-Huaraz and this post is being written in Malvas, "El Balcon del Pacifico." Malvas is yet another town approximately 10,000 ft. above sea level, but unlike Huanchay-Huaraz there is a lot more walking, in other words, I'm out of breath for most of the time.

So, how did I get here? Well first off we took a 3 a.m. bus out of Hunchay-Huaraz only hours after my last post. After three hours in the bus we stopped in Turripampa, where my group helped move a windmill. After that we spent an hour in an asparagus truck to get to another town (the name of which I do not remember) to repair the water pump for a canal system. That was followed by another hour in an asparagus truck to get back to Turripampa then after spending some time deliberating on the next steps of the journey we spent over an hour in the asparagus truck to get back to Huarmey.

Once we reached Huarmey and got to the hostel, Maia (the only person from the crew who had been in Huarmey when we arrived) comes down the stairs excited because she heard people speaking English and knew it had to have been us. She began giving us hugs hello, but cut them short saying, "Eww you smell."

Chad (and possibly others) have mentioned in this blog that after all the traveling, working, and lack of showers, we generally arrive in Huarmey a bit smelly and always dirty. Needless to say, a shower is the first thing to happen, followed by food, when we reach Huarmey. And that bit of comfort was much needed for the next day's work.

Kevin, Ricky, and I got breakfast at the juice bar around 6:30 and then grabbed the 7:30 bus, which didn't leave until 8:30, to head to Malvas. It was a four hour bus ride that brought us to another one of Peru's mountain towns.

In the beginning of this blog post when I mentioned we were in Malvas I typed out it's nickname, "El Balcon del Pacifico," which translates to "The Balcony of the Pacific." It's called that because when you climb to the top of the town you stare out through the mountains and over the Pacific Ocean. It's a stunning view.

Unfortunately, even though the town has excellent views, the internet is not so great. Apart from this blog page and Google, practically nothing else loads (including most email servers). So, while I feel slightly disconnected from everyone back home, this blog should ideally give people an idea of what types of things the Peru Crew is experiencing.

We should be done with our work in Malvas tonight, but there is no bus for Huarmey until Wednesday morning, so tomorrow (Tuesday) we are planning on taking a hike. We have a few options but choose one. The first is a short two hour hike up about a thousand ft. for some great views of the surrounding mountain range. The other two options are each about four hours along, climbing about 3000 ft. each to either see former homes of the Inca people or to see one of the most beautiful lakes of Peru. The Inca homes will be interesting, but the lake supposedly has a curse. The group of us really want to see that cursed lake (but I already can't breathe after hiking through the town for an hour, I'm still trying to figure out how the four hour hike will work, donkey maybe?).

After that we'll have two more days in Peru, leaving Thursday night and arriving in the U.S. early Friday afternoon. So far the trip has been awesome and all of the groups have done a lot of work. I expect the next few days to be a great end to our time in Peru and a chance to buy the souvenirs everyone back home has been asking for.

I never imagined how difficult it could be to lug around about 50 pounds of camera equipment until I needed to carry it up a really tall flight of stairs, and back down repeatedly, at 10,000 ft. above sea level. Don't get me wrong, there are definitely other locations that are at higher altitudes, but I am definitely getting winded by the time I'm up the stairs.

Allow me to put that altitude into perspective for you. When I look up, I see nothing but layers of blues with each layer getting progressively darker as I keep looking up until I look straight up into the air and I see nothing but a sea of violet. When I look down the side of the mountain, there are a couple hundred yards of cliffs and steep hills and then they hit a floor of clouds. At sunset, you look down at the sun and everything around you looks like it has been painted in fire. The view here in Huanchay-Huaraz is completely stunning.

Those views are some of the things I caught on camera so far. Other things include the work being completed by Richard and Kevin. I've filmed them taking apart a windmill as well as constructing a tower for a solar-heated water tank.

I must say, however, the most interesting thing I have filmed was a pack of stray dogs chasing down mototaxis after midnight. I needed to avoid a shifty looking man, a transvestite that was hitting on me, the dogs themselves, and the driver of the mototaxi (he was not too happy that I had filmed his torment), but I got the footage. Then when I sat down to look it over, I realized that my white balance was really off. My heart sank. All that hard work and the footage looked horrible because I didn't set one thing properly.

Since then I have been much more careful with white balance and everything else. I want the footage I capture to accurately represent what I see, whether it be stunning mountain vistas or dogs on a hunt.

Peru's Places

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We have touched down in Peru, been here a couple days and have been spending our time in Lima. So, I have not yet seen much of Peru but I like what I do see.

We’ve been staying in Barranco; it’s one of Lima’s neighborhoods and also happens to be the arts district of Lima; I feel at home.

Just the other night we took a walk down to the beach (first time I have seen the Pacific Ocean mind you) and right next to the beach was a massive mosaic. I was simply stunned at the piece’s beauty.

But I forgot my camera.

In just a few hours we’re going to get on a bus that we will stay on for between five and six hours until we reach our destination and homebase for the rest of the trip, Huarmey. From there we will be going into the smaller villages in the valleys and cliffs of the Andes mountain range.

While there I know I won’t be in any arts districts, but the way of life will be a form of art in and of itself. The culture will be drastically different and I can only wait to see some of the traditional items that the people in the mountains make for everyday use, whether it range from a hat made of alpacca wool or a small piece of jewelry. Those pieces are art of a different kind.

Along the way I will be filming what I see, what the other members of the Peru crew see and our reactions to the culture and their reactions to our actions. How are these people affected by what we do?

Well, I can tell you that I know some of them are truly touched. Chad already talked about how we filmed the donation of a prosthetic leg to Javeth. Well, I have to say, as soon as she saw the leg her demeanor completely changed. She went from a cordial and kind person to someone who was simply happy. Happiness defined her in that moment. When we interviewed her later she said "Sentio contento," "I feel happy."

Making people happy and helping these people out is one of the main purposes for this trip and I am glad that I have the opportunity to be able to tell that story through both film and this blog.

We have arrived in Peru and I am writing my first blog post from the country. And just typing this entry is proving to be a challenge in and of itself. Why? The keyboard is set-up differently.

The biggest issue I'm faced with is the fact that there is no actual key for the "@" symbol. Rather you need to press and hold the "alt" key and then type in the code for the character, 64. So, small differences like that will take some getting used to. I am re-learning how to type. While it may not be something completely new, it is different enough that it will take some getting used to. I have the feeling that the same can be said for many more experiences to come while I'm in Peru.

I will not need to completely re-learn how to do everything, but everyday tasks will be different enough to throw a wrench into things. For example, I need to remember not to use tap water while brushing my teeth, otherwise my stomach will be fairly upset with me. If i wanted to use tap water to drink or even brush my teeth, then I need to use these little iodine tablets that I brought with me. That is a process that will take about 40 minutes for a single liter of water.

But it's these small differences that will form my entire experience of Peru. The many small changes that differentiate it from the way of life in the states.

So, I just finished packing about an hour ago and have my alarm set to wake up in less than three hours to give everything one last check, start heading out of the house and make it to the airport by 7 a.m. I am glad there will be time to grab some sleep on the airplane. After that there is always coffee. 

I've done some traveling before, but none of it has been to a place like Peru and it has also generally been more of a tourist type experience. This time, I am going to a country where more than half of the population is impoverished with about half of those people being in extreme poverty. That degree of poverty is one of the reasons the Village Empowerment Program (VEP) exists. It exists so that students can take their education, make use of it, and create the opportunity for others to benefit from this education.

Some students are working on solar energy projects, others are working on drip irrigation. I along with Professor Montrie will be filming the work they complete. The filming is my project for while I'm down in Peru. It's going to be an opportunity for me to improve my camera work while also working in less than desirable conditions (hiking up a mountain lugging around camera equipment will be interesting).

So, I'll end my first post by going back to the whole packing situation. I have no clue if I packed the right things. I am getting that feeling most people get when they pack for a trip, the persistent nagging of that inner voice asking what you forgot. You know the voice, it's a lot like a little five year old with a sweet tooth on a hot day in the summer, no pool, broken air conditioner, and an ice cream truck playing that tantalizing melody outside on the street. Can you picture the kid constantly asking for ice cream? Well I'm constantly asking myself what I forgot to pack. But, I'm not going to sweat it, rather I'm going to think back to a very simple philosophical approach to life that I learned at a very young age when I myself was constantly asking my parents for ice cream from the ice cream truck.

Hakuna Matata (even though I am slightly worried about not having slept enough).

Adios,

- Dimitrios

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