I’ve been busy lately. Really busy and happy and traveling a lot.
Last week I had an incredibly successful HIV Prevention activity with the kids in addition to my normal classes. The idea was that since there is only 1 television channel, no internet or cell phone and no radio, their main form of media was traditional huayno songs. And lately the songs have been getting off-message with lyrics like “Un choque fuga no mas, no quiero verte jamas, porque problemas seras” – basically translated to something like “Just a one night stand, I never want to see you again, because you will cause problems for me”. Not quite the message I wanted these kids to be taking as an example. So I decided to have them compete, by grade, in writing their own hyano song about HIV prevention. And it was incredible. They were all on message, they were excited, and they did a great job. I’m currently in coordination with a professional singer who has agreed to record the songs on her next album. Success.
I’ve also made great progress with the museum project. I’ve gotten in touch with an archeologist. She’s a professor at one of the Universities in Lima and is willing to come help us out. The municipality will pay for her expenses while she is working here, but she is going to come teach us proper care of the mummies, maybe do a study on the cultures of the mummies (I’m not holding my breath for a carbon-14 dating since it’s so expensive), and she’s going to help us establish tourist routes to archeological sites in the area, which there are plenty of. We’re also going to try to go around again an collect more relics – I have a feeling people will trust us more if there’s an archeologist along for the work. This should all start happening within the next few weeks.
Other than those two awesome major steps forward, I’ve been continuing the almuerzos saludables classes with the mothers and I’ve been meeting tourists in my site and traveling.
Oddly enough, my site has received an influx of foreign tourists, a Swiss Family Robinson, a german couch surfur, and an Australian kangaroo, all in one week! This is probably a sign that things are about to explode here. And I need to start working more with the families that own hostels to make sure they’re ready for it. It’s also refreshing to speak to foreigners. Conversations over wine about how littering and enjoyment of the view are fundamentally incompatible, about standards of living worldwide, and life in general – levels of conversation impossible to have with people who know nothing outside of our little town.
After meeting the tourists, I went with some people from SERNANP on a hike to one of the archeological sites, called Wakis. It is basically a ghost town. It was hard to get water up to their location, so in 1914, they moved the whole town closer to the river. It’s only about an hour of quick hiking and I think it’ll be a great tourist attraction once we get the archeologist to convince the mayor to put a little money into fixing up the path.
From there we went to a celebration of one of the other town’s anniversary’s. There was a lot of loud music and drunk people and my host uncle serenaded us throughout the night. It was probably the most fun I’ve had at a Peruvian party in a long time.
From there, on Monday I had to travel down to the coast for the first in our series of meetings on PEPFAR, which has just been expanded to the Lima/Ica region. It was an interesting experience. A lot of press was there, but not many representatives from our municipalities were able to make it to sign a contract agreeing to put an emphasis on projects of HIV prevention. We’re probably going to try again somewhere closer to site, to make it more feasible. And then there will be a 2-3 day workshop in Lima in July. I think my site is pretty ahead of the curve on the topic as it currently stands, so I’m not too worried about it.
12 hours of travel in each direction just to get to the meeting. Less than a full day on the coast and then back to site for just one day. Forget being productive at that point. I slept all day. I didn’t even do yoga. I read. I was pure and simple EXHAUSTED. And it feels good. Finally! Being busy.
After a day of recuperation it’s back on the combi and off to the capital city where I will be participating in a two day congreso on environmental education, taking a day to run errands in the city and then back to site for a week of work.
At the end of the month, I’m headed to Lima to coordinate with the huayno singer about recording the songs before heading up to Ancash for a 5 day tech-exchange with the volunteers that live there. I’m excited to see their sites – I haven’t been to Ancash yet and it’s definitely on the list. More on that later.
Hope all is well.
Sending home lots of love,