(Pics: 1 of the view from my new apt, 2 of my new apartment itself (item 3 below), and one of the dinner party (item 5 below)
Okay--- I have been delinquint in my postings, I know. Things have been crazy, and will be explained in the following chronological order:
1. WORK: Last week was SUPER busy, with 3 of the 5 days spent bouncing around in the truck (which was often perilously perched on the edge of whatever random cliff Luis decided was really a shortcut... freg!), visiting the rural schools which we were inviting in the hopes that they will be participating in the "Culture of Peace" project. (Some took the invite better than others--- the region of Paucara, in particular, was not super interested--- quite suspiciious actually--- this is where a lot of fighting happened during the Sendero Luminoso period, so maybe that is a reason?) These trips out of Huancavelica and into the mountains had us up very early in the morning and returning to much work late in the afternoons or into the evening. However, they were very interesting, and as usual, it was a treat to be able to access and visit some of the most remote regions of this already super-remote province.
As expected, the kids all thought i was an alien, for the most part (am sure the VAST majority have never seen a north american in the flesh), the schools varied-- some with power, some with water, all in need of so much. And as for the staff--- the majority of teachers either lived in these very remote and impoverished communities, or-- if you can imagine-- lived in a more central location (like Huancavelica) and chose to travel to school every day. This meant, for many of them, getting up at 4am, trying to hitch a ride (if there were any cars) part of the way, and then walking a few kilometers the rest of the way to the school. Every day. In whatever the weather (and let me tell you we are heading into rainy season...). After hearing/seeing some of this, i have little sympathy for those who complain about the 45 minute commute from their homes to work in their heated cars on a paved highway.... :)
2. HEALTH: I have caught a NASTY cold which has lingered now for about two weeks and is now making me cough like a veteran smoker--- very irritating (pardon the pun?), and so I am not quite feeling up to snuff generally. (And for the record: Yes dad-- I will be going to the doctor soon to get things looked to. And yes ,I have started taking my red puffers. And no, I don't think i need any daddy advice. Thank you for offering.)
3. LODGING: I FREGGING HAVE AN APARTMENT!!!!! I know. I know. I say freg too much. But seriously---- this event deserves a good freg. The crazy place I have been waiting for to 'almost' be done, was the most 'almost' done as it has been last weekend, so after some frantic shopping, and MUCH help from my coworker Alida, I slept my first night in my new place on Sunday night. (This was after sending back two wooden beds, both of which were crawling with earwigs, and finally settling with a crappy metal one, since sleeping on a metal bed was better than sharing a bed with earwigs...) I have a great view of the whole city (I swear I think this is the tallest building in Huancavelica), and am staying on the fifth (top) floor, which was the onl apartment which was ready for someone to move in. The five flights of stairs are KILLING me, but i assume i will be in excellent lung shape after negociating those things for two years. The building is in the back lefthand corner of Plaza Yananco, is about 10/15 mins from the office, the owners have been treating me too well (checking in, bringin me tea before I had my stove hooked up to a gas tank, etc...) and everything in the place, while not working perfectly, is at least liveable. (ie: the shower is warm, but gives almost no water--- feels like a dog peeing on you; all of the drains are leaking onto the floor; no glass in some windows so lots of moths at night; etc...)
There are two girls, Marie Carmen (12) and Nadia (16) who live with their Aunt (Maria, the owner) downstairs, and who have been super sweet and helpful. Even brought me up a little breakfast treat today, to mark Todos Santos, or All Saints Day (today, Nov. 1): a baked bread specially made for the day, called Wawa, which means "child" in Quechua, and perhaps not surprisingly, is shaped like a kid, and a pot of hot chocolate milk. What a treat!!!! I still have a ton to get to be able to live comfortably (ie: dishes, cutlery, a fridge, a chair, etc...) but at least i have the basics (a bad, a stove (with the gas tank now hooked up--- that was a production), a table). I have asked Luis to take me around tomorrow to get a bunch of stuff that we can tote along in the back of the truck. I have had sketchy luck arranging times to meet with Luis (ie: he just doesn't bother to show up, which seems to be the norm here), so I will hope that it actually happen and I can start cooking for myself soon.
4. SPECIAL EVENTS: EDUCA is part of a mesa (collective of NGOs?) working on the areas of peace and reparations to victims of the violence suffered here during the Senero Luminoso period, and Tuesday, after much planning and some deeply frustrating moments (for me anyway--- boy people do not organize themselves well!!), we put on our big event: a forum on the culture of peace and reparations in huancavelica. About 250 people showed up, and from lots of different sectors: schools, government, people from rural areas affected by political violence, kids, etc... We had a few interesting speakers come from Lima (Manuel, from the EDUCA office in Lima, and Rosa Villaran, a well-known woman who has been working with the CVR and with a campaign basically called "never again"), and all in all it went quite well. I could write more about my deeply cavernous frustrations with the planning and general relations (with the gov in particular), but I will not bore you with this (and also, i am scared if i start ranting, i won't be able to stop...) :)
5. OTHER: Saturday night, Alida, David (the American guy in the city), Mabe (a local woman who works at an engineering company in town) spent a very nice evening in the home of Graciela, who is a Peruvian woman who has moved here from Egypt with her German husband and two young children. Her husband was away for the weekend, so she invited uso ver for drinks and dinner--- had a great time--- it was so nice to talk about staff outside of work, and David and I snack in a few English conversations… :) PLUS: she has a space heater---- what a dream to sit down and enjoy a meal without wearing your jacket!!!!!
6. CONCLUSION: Long post—I will endeavour to post a little more frequently to avoid this backlog. But I guess better to be busy than not, eh? Plans for this week include trying to settle into my new place, meeting with David for a day of English and general pooping around Huancavelica, trying to amuse myself as Alida and Oscar are gone for 5 days (yikes), working on Friday with Angelica just to have something to do, etc... Hope all is well with everyone, and hope Halloween was a blast!