Amy in Peru: An Odyssey

Friday, September 15, 2006

Spanish wheels keep on turning...

So i have been chastized for my slow updates, and am now dutifully writing another post. This week has rolled along fairly slowly for me in terms of recuperating, and also marks the end of my spanish classes, which have been great for the most part (you can check out the school website at: if you are interested) I also have my computer back and the internet seems to be working fine now, so I should hopefully have some of my photos uploaded soon. In the meantime, please enjoy these random ones!! :)

I am not going to bore people with the litany of health stuff, but suffice it to say I have been treated like a daughter by the CUSO ladies (Charo especially), and I feel so lucky to have gone through this with such support. Generally speaking this week, it has taken a while to feel confident to eat (i am still feeling icky about half of the time, and often have to skip meals because of nausea, or cramps--- crazy!!) and i am still trying not to be so exhausted, but am finding it hard to catch up on sleep and generally feel 100%. However, I am able to eat solid food now most of the time, and i assume things will work themselves out soon and i will be back to normal soon. Have been drinking lots of mate and cocoa tea, as per suggestions, and hope that it helps!!

Outside of the physical ridiculousness, the week has been good, if busy. Outside of classes, i have attended several meetings this week, one of which was a very interesting panel talk Tuesday night at the Universidad Catholica, which is holding a human rights week. I went to this panel talk (in Spanish) on racsim in Peru with Carmen from CUSO and was happy to have had the opportunity. Basically, the three panelists came at the issue of racism in Peru from a historical perspective, an afro-Peruvian perspective and from a media perspective. Fascinating, and really useful (particluarly the historical one) for understanding a bit more about why things are the way they are today, and what historical roots one has to confront when working on issues of human rights and racsim in Peru.

Wednesday after class, I went to the CUSO office and was treated to my own private lecture on the history and politics of Peru. Another interesting and eye-opening discussion about some of the relevant historical roots (ie: paternalism and hacienda culture, for example, I believe are key to understanding more about the plight and attitudes of people here), and also a great overview of what has gone on lately and how the political system right now keeps cycling around itself. A great compliment, perhaps not surprisingly, to the racism talks the night before.

Thursday after class, I finally got to meet with people from EDUCA. After missing the outing on Sunday because of digestive stuff, I almost had to miss this one suffering from major cramps for some reason, but I went anyway, the cramps got a bit better, and I am really happy i was finally able to meet some people and find out more about what EDUCA does. It is located (like most NGOs here) in a big house in a fairly residential area (and ironically (or not), right in front of a school). Touring around the house and the offices was a lesson in use of space---- they have people crammed into every room, and have even set up offices on the roof of the house!! Every one was very friendly, and excited to meet the gringa going to Huancavelica. Luckily, I was also invited to go with the EDUCA people on Saturday to San Juan de Lurigancho (where I was supposed to go last weekend). I tried to find a link for this barrio, which is basically a shanty town, but they are all in Spanish so I won't bother posting one now. I'll write more about the experience on Sunday or Monday.

At the meeting with EDUCA, I learned a bit more about my placement and what is going on there right now, but mostly I got some info on logistics. Carmen and I will be leaving Lima on Saturday and going as far as Huancayo (which you should be able to find on the map to the left), and will stay there for a day to aclimatize and get used to the altitude, arriving in Huancavelica (also on the map) on Monday, the 25th. Beyond that, I got a bit more info about what EDUCA has been trying to do up there thus far, what has been acomplished, and I was given a broad idea of what the general problems (apathy, violence, poverty, etc...) and goals (education, capacity building, animation and energizing of the community, etc...) are for the area right now. I was also given a mountain of reading material which I will hopefully have a chance to go through next week, as i only have one Spanish class on Monday (I weaseled my way into another class to make up for the one I missed while I was sick) .

Thursday night (last night), Nilou and I enjoyed a lovely dinner at Carmen's house, which was a treat for several reasons. One: We were in a HOME instead of a hotel or a classroom or some other public space. I was so lovely to relax, listen to some music and have a glass of wine in a place so comfortable. Two: the food was great!! I couldn't have a ton with my wonky belly, but Carmen has a woman who comes to cook for her, and she made us a delicious pork dinner! Three: desserts!! We stopped at a bakery before going to her place, and got a bunch of sweets, including one or two traditional things (don't ask me the names now-- i have no idea--- there was a kind of hard cookie-square thing covered in multicolored sprinkles--- weird but good)

Today was the end of Spanish classes, and so to celebrate, the school had those of us leaving come after class for a pisco sour and a little chat. The pisco sour (left) is a traditional Peruvian drink, I am told. It is very sour (hence the name?), and the white foam on top is actually whipped up egg white. I drank with a touch of trepidation for the raw egg white.... but it was a lot of fun and a nice gesture. They also gave me a little pencil and a card signed by my teachers--- very nice touches! :) My spanish, I feel, has definately improved, and I am really glad I got the practice. Had lunch with my classmate Brittany (pics to come) today after picking up my computer and will meet her again tonight for a beer and to celebrate our class together. We got along really well, and I'll miss our conversations (in spanish)!

So that is basically my update for now. Like I say, has been a bit of a rough and busy week, and I apologize for being lax with my updates (lesley). Will write more later on this weekend, after my trip to San Juan de Lurigancho, and as I start trying to get myself organized for the upcoming move to Huancavelica (I am making a list: I want some perfume (things stick a lot here--- need something to mask), more warm clothes (i am going to freeze--- i can tell already), a warm hat and some pills i have been told help with altitude sickness. And as soon as I have an address, I will also be making lists of things to send me (books are first on that list!! Yikes!) Hope all is well with the posse, and keep in touch!


  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Stacey, at 4:30 PM  

  • I'm glad your feelin' better! Wow, what a crazy world. Your blogs are a very welcome addition to my day. Hey... the food sounds interesting - you'll have to share some Peruvian recipes with us when you get settled.
    Stay tenacious!

    By Blogger Stacey, at 4:32 PM  

  • I'm quickly becoming addicted to your blog! Thanks for the updates -- I'm glad to hear you are feeling better.

    You know I'll be sending you books at your new address! Bookcrossing fun!! Yay!

    Good luck with the move!

    By Blogger Keri, at 8:15 AM  

  • Hey Amy,

    I just love reading about your bowels and cramps. ahh. just like being at home. too bad there aren't any sound effects :) I am glad you are feeling a bit better - please get an okay from the MD before heading on your journay to the higher altitude. No sense pushing yourself and being sick for longer. are you taking vitamins and keeping hydrated? I am serious amy, these things matter!!!!

    I am so excited you are getting perfume - fill me in on the local preferences for scents! And let me know if you want a bottle or two in the mail.

    My life has turned into your life a year ago - spending time looking for and applying to things. Too bad I never learned spanish - seriously limits my ability to do international work. Anyhoo, found a few neat things and am in contact with Montreal re: PhD so something will happen i think.

    Miss you,
    love leah

    By Blogger reahpeah, at 11:11 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home