To live is to be marked. To live is to change, to die one hundred deaths. And I have been marked. And I have changed. To talk about this past month is to talk about health and productivity and success. I wouldn’t even recognize myself from this past rainy season. So what’s been keeping me busy? Teaching at the school, mostly. I teach for most of the day. I start each day with Science, Technology, and Environment classes, where we do environmental education mostly, but more technical subjects are not overlooked. I’ve been helping out in the english classes as well, mostly with pronunciation. Beyond that, I fill in whenever needed in other classrooms. I’ve been doing environmental story time with the primaria, reenforced with drawing and poetry. And I’ve started my HIV prevention program again this year. I’ve expanded it down through the second grade of the secundaria – 13 year olds are old enough to hear about this kind of thing. And the parents, teachers, and director agree.
Beyond teaching, I’ve been working closer with SERNANP on the political side of their work. Coordinating with local and regional governments, trying to get more recognition, and planning their Plan de Gestion for the next 10 years. Finally, something in the area of my degree. But this doesn’t take up too much of my time. This work is done at rare meetings and in conversations with the higher up bosses of SERNANP who are not stationed in my site.
So what else am I doing? My new program of Almuerzos Saludables (Healthy lunches) with the mothers in the communities. We all get together a few times a week and try out a new recipe. It’s either a recipe I come with, or a Peruvian recipe they already use a lot, that we try to make healthier – by using less sugar, less oil, less butter, substituting potatoes for rice, or preparing the meat with less grease, etc. And then, so they don’t get bored, I’ll throw in some fun things as well – like pancakes! We are currently limited by our lack of stove, but that might change soon and once it does, we can make breads, to substitute that plain white hard old dry bread they eat with breakfast and dinner every day. Zero nutrition. So as it turns out, I’ve taken quite an affinity to cooking. Here’s one of our recipes: (The mothers like to name them)
300g of rice
100g of carrots
100g of green beans
100 g of peas
100g of cauliflower
1 teaspoon of butter
2 limes, sliced
100g of shredded cheese
2 ½ cups of water
2 ½ teaspoons of salt
3 cut tomatoes
2 laurel leaves
Wash the vegetables and cut them into cubes. Wash the rice and leave it to soak for 15 minutes. Melt the butter in a medium sized pot and add the cut vegetables except for the tomatoes. Leave them in for about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir together. Add the water and the salt, the tomatoes, and the laurel. Stir well and set it to boil. When the rice is ready, serve in a warm plate, decorating it with the shredded cheese.
So there it is. Our cooking sessions turn into impromptu conversations about nutrition and the women love the company while cooking. They can’t always get together in one place, so sometimes I work with just one woman in her house.
So in addition to keeping busy with work, I’ve made a few other significant lifestyle changes, thanks to which I feel healthier, stronger, more energetic, and balanced.
I’ve lost my sweet tooth – no more sugar or sweets (except on rare occasions); I meditate every morning; I walk 10km 3-5 times a week; I have gotten serious about my yoga practice with daily sessions of 30min- 1 hour; I have cut back seriously on my coffee intake – from 2 cups/day down to one/week; I eat pomegranates as much as humanly possible – in addition to having tons of antioxidants, they’re the most delicious food ever made in the world; I have a mostly raw diet and have switched from 3 heavy meals/day to about 5 small meals, including snacks of almonds and carrot sticks instead of potato chips and chocolate. Etc. Etc. Etc. Long story short, I feel a million times better.
Still no word from the doctor about first aid training, but I’m gonna see if I can find some resources online and just do it without him. Also, no news yet on the museum. I’ll keep you updated.
Oh, also in really cool news – I was offered a job in the office of the congresista by ex-president Fujimori’s brother and I got to meet Antionio Brack Egg, minister of the environment. Separate Occasions. Both pretty big deals.
Until Next Time,