Hola! Next week, our group of five students will depart for a 5-week stay in Trujillo, Peru. Our project is a partnership between Emory University’s Nourish Chapter and the MOCHE Project, an organization based in Trujillo that works with rural weaver women, emphasizing business education, sanitation development and infrastructure, and community outreach.
Our participants, Sana, Jing, Kimberly, Brogan, and Kathryn are in the process of finalizing travel plans from Lima to Trujillo, brushing up on their Spanish, and collecting essentials for the trip. We are all very excited to immerse ourselves in a different language, culture, and workspace and to make a meaningful difference through our work with MOCHE!
Week 2 is officially complete in Peru! Remember in our last post we were going to purchase sheep? We are sure some of you were as interested in how that transaction would occur as we were. The three of us hopped on the motorcycle and headed to a farm with a couple alpacas, cows, and sheep. There were about 20-30 people from the community the sheep were being purchased for. They all got in a line and shook our hands and everyone ended up in a giant circle. Jhuver, the community president, started speaking and the sheep contracts we stapled earlier in the office were passed out. Supposedly the sheep were in the mountain and were never seen by us and Jhuver had to travel to Juliaca to obtain money for the sheep. Unfortunately, it was quite uneventful. Below we will all give details about our past week from each of our perspectives.
Emily here! Thank you for reading our blog throughout our journey in Peru! This week was an interesting one and the longest I had ever gone without a shower in my life (I may beat this record in the upcoming weeks). I have NEVER been more grateful for plumbing, the ability to shower, and for heating in my entire life. On Tuesday, we went to a nearby community to watch a model stove be implemented and it was so exciting to see! It made us really excited to see what we will be constructing. It’s frustrating the time it took to start the construction of the stoves but our plans are to begin very soon.
On Thursday and Friday we taught English for an hour, but unfortunately out of the 30 students we were supposed to have, we only had 4 Thursday and 2 Friday. It was fun to see the kids who were there so excited about learning, but we didn’t feel as though we were making as grand an impact with only a couple of students showing up.
We played a lot of Gin Rummy this week and I joked with Hannah that by the end of this trip we will be able to do mental math, be professional Gin Rummy players, and will be able to speak a little Spanish. Hannah makes fun of me because I add -ano to the end of a lot of English words and act like they are Spanish. For example, I said, “Is airplane aeroplano?” She replied with, “Seriously you always just add -ano to everything! It’s avion!” Whoops – at least I gave it a shot! It has been hard communicating with my family because they speak the native language and Spanish so sometimes I am lost in translation. My host mom is great and really cares for me, especially when I wasn’t feeling well this week. For dinner she made me a cup of tea that helps with stomach pains, which was very sweet of her. The best part of this week was going to Pucara Thursday with Hannah’s family and seeing the traditional dancing competition with a traditional ritual before the competition. Instead of trophies, first place received a cow, second place received a calf, third place an alpaca, and fourth a sheep. Way better deal than the plastic trophy we get in America!
This week was pretty stagnant, we are just eager to mix it up and start the stoves next week. We came to Arequipa for the week with Jhuver, who’s family lives here, to explore more of Peru because if we stayed in Chijnaya we would only be playing cards and sitting in the cold weather making little impact in the community, which is not our intention.
Alright, I don’t want to go through everything Emily already discussed from our adventures this week so instead I will just talk about how these events had an effect on me this week. The sheep buying was a bit of a let down as we were expecting this grand exchange. As Jhuver went to Juliaca to receive the payment we stayed back at the office to gather teaching materials for our English class and then tried to fill our time scanning the web. It was here that we decided to go to Arequipa for the next week because we wanted to see more of Peru instead of sitting in Chijnaya playing Gin Rummy. There was also a fiesta celebrating the schools 50th anniversary. My host brother, Manuel, had made a lantern in the shape of a school to carry around the community with other students. Some of the lanterns that these kids made were very cool in all different shapes and sizes. We walked behind the students accompanied with traditional music. Once getting back to the school a bonfire was made and dancing was performed. It was here that I made a connection with my little host sister, Naid.
I have been coloring a lot with the kids in the coloring books I got them. They are constantly trying to see what I am doing and although we can’t really understand each other because they can’t understand my broken English I still think we have made a nonverbal bond. It was also Manuel’s birthday on Tuesday and the night before they prepared an entire alpaca which was lying on our kitchen table when I got home. They were also up until midnight preparing it.
The rest of the week was pretty mundane except for the dancing and ritual Emily has already mentioned. I am excited to be in Arequipa for the week enjoying a mattress, the heat, and plumbing throughout our stay. We visited a beautiful monastery today and enjoyed walking around the city.
We plan on trying to fit in all that Arequipa has to offer, including a Peruvian cooking class offered at the hotel we are staying at and was the number 2 thing to do while in Arequipa. I am enjoying having Emily as my travel partner because we have been on the same page about all that has happened since our arrival in Peru. I am also a bit anxious that we haven’t started our stove construction yet. I hope that everything is still on time to begin building them when we return to Chijnaya.
Hello! We are so excited to be on our way to Iquitos, Peru soon. We’ll be working with Project Amazonas in the Santa Cruz forest reserve for 5 weeks, helping to improve the latrine plumbing system and a little bit with education.
We’re leaving this Sunday and will be in our field station by Tuesday after spending a night in Lima, then in Iquitos. Hopefully there won’t be any complications with all the travel, especially when we arrive in Lima (since we’ll be arriving on 3 different flights). Once we’re in Iquitos, we’ll be meeting with the coordinator for Project Amazonas who we’ve been emailing like crazy for the past few weeks.
We’re a bit worried because we’ll be working with a community along the Amazon River, so we won’t have internet access on a regular basis (until we make the boat ride/trek to the mainland to find an internet cafe). We’re hoping that we can schedule that once a week so we can update the blog and keep in touch with NINO and our parents, but no guarantees. The UNM chapter is there (in a different community) right now, and apparently they’ve been using payphones to communicate – we might have to do that as well.
In any case, we’re all very excited about the trip and can’t wait to be able to give new updates!
Hola de Iquitos! We have now been working on our project for a little over two weeks under the direction of two local contractors, and are making great progress. The majority of our work consists of mixing cement for the contractors to use on the walls, digging holes for support beams, making support beams, and moving water and cement to the contractors. The work is hard and tiring, but incredibly rewarding. We have three weeks left and by the end of our time here we should have the floor and walls complete, assuming we are able to get door and window frames. We work each day from 8am-1pm and have the afternoons off. During our offtime we read, write, tan on top of the 50ft bird tower, hike, visit the local villages, or swim. On Sundays we go to the local community of Santo Thomas to watch the soccer games. Everything about the jungle is beautiful…..except the bugs. While some of them are interesting and cool to look at, most of the team looks as if they came down with chicken pox. We have seen beautiful butterflies, milipedes, flat worms, and many spiders. One of the first days we were at Madre Selva a tarantula wondered into our dining hall (joy). Other than the bugs we have seen monkeys, snakes, frogs, lizards, and many types of birds. We are on a short break in Iquitos until tomorrow morning when we will head back up the river to Madre Selva for the remaining three weeks of our project. Until next time, adios!
Hello all! Much has changed since we last wrote. We made it to our community Chijnaya and found out our host families. I, Emily, am living with a woman named Isabel (30), her daughter Marisol (6), and her son, whose name I still cannot pronounce nor spell, (13). Marisol goes to the school in town and the son goes to colegio (high school) in the nearest (bigger) town about 15 minutes away, Pucara. The house is two stories, Isabel on the lower level and the kids on the top level. I have my own quarters detached from the house with a bed, table, couch, and dresser. The kitchen is a detached space nearest my quarters, although everything is right next to each other. My backyard is relatively large with a gorgeous view of the mountains. We have about 6 cows, 5 sheep, 5 chickens/roosters, 3 baby pigs, a cat, and a dog – we could have more as I discover new animals daily. I am pretty much in bed at 8PM and up around 6:30/7AM. There are many thoughts that race through my head daily and many new discoveries for only the short amount of time here.
My good friend Aaron told me I should bring a soccer ball and pump for the kids and THANK YOU Aaron for the idea! I have never seen kids’ faces light up and be so excited before. The boy was thrilled and takes the futbol to school a lot to play with his friends. They also loved the famous gourmet popcorn from Chicago and seeing pictures of the city from postcards I brought! Every morning from the time I wake up to the time Marisol goes to school we play volleyball (practicing for our next future competitive team, Aubry and Jess?), and soccer. Aaron, my skills at soccer are getting better by the day, and Hannah and I have been able to catch some of the World Cup.
My house is a bit on the smaller side but my family was gracious enough to provide me with a room to myself with a bed, table, and chair. I do feel a bit bad though because it seems as though my room was previously the kids room and now all four of the family members are in one room with one bed. There are four members in my host family, the mothers name is Lourdes and she has two kids, a boy and a girl. Miguel is the little boy and he is six years old yet his birthday is on Tuesday and I believe they are having a birthday party at the school. Naid is the little girl and she is only three years old. They all seem to be nice and accommodating. I bought the kids coloring books and crayons as a part of my host gift and the kids love to color in them. Every time they finish a picture they run to show me. Miguel is a very good artist and at age 7 he can color inside the lines perfectly with all different colors. Miguel goes to the school in Chijnaya, but Naid stays at home with Lourdes. I am still not quite sure of what the name of the father is or what he does exactly but he is always the one to keep the conversation going at dinner, which I appreciate. I am hoping that since we will have a longer period in Chijnaya this week I will be able to learn even more about my family members.
Ours days have been spent in our office in Pucara working on a manual for the stoves for all the communities receiving stoves. Did we mention that we do the 15 minute drive from Chijnaya to Pucara on a motorcycle with the three of us? By the end of the trip Hannah and I may be sitting sideways on the motorcycle like the local women can!
Both Hannah and I have not had much of an appetite and they serve us a lot of food that we cannot nearly finish at our meals. The nights get very cold, but luckily Hannah and I are given MANY thick blankets to stay warm. The first night I was woken up at 3AM to a rooster singing his “cocka-doodle-doos” outside my quarters until 7:30AM. That night I learned that roosters don’t always wake up at 6AM as an alarm, but can wake up much earlier (there is a city girl for you). The next night Hannah and I were both woken up to a violent dog fight in the streets at 3AM, which lasted many hours. Once it ended, my rooster began it’s routine, so the nights are filled with many wake up calls. Hannah and I agree that if there is one thing we are beyond blessed to have it is plumping: to be able to walk down our hall at home to the restroom with a toilet, soap and water at the sink, a shower, and the ease of filling our water glasses without worry.
We met our first friends Thursday night, Diego (12), Isbet (7), and another boy (11), who took us up to the top of the mountain. I am scared of heights, but I pushed myself to the top to see the views. Thank The Lord I did because the views were INCREDIBLE! We could see the entirety of our community, which is about a 5 minute walk all the way around, and it provided a different perspective of the community.
We spent the weekend in Puno and yesterday we had an amazing day at the Uros Islands and Sillustani. The Uros Islands is HUGE and we were definitely not expecting the vastness of the islands, which contains 2000 people and a school for the kids. We met some really nice men, a father and son, from Orange County who we traveled with all day. After listening to the president of the Uros community speak, we got on this amazing boat made of reeds to the main island where there were restaurants for lunch. We had a delicious lunch with the men, Matt and John, we had met, which was fresh trout with rice, and definitely the most Hannah and I had eaten yet. After Uros, Matt and John had invited us to join them to Sillustani, which is an old archeological complex of Incan burial structures.
This next week will be an interesting one for us. Tomorrow at 8AM we will be buying sheep for another community – yes, you read that correctly. We will go to a community Tuesday to discuss stove implementation there and beginning Thursday we will start teaching English at the school in Chijnaya for an hour each afternoon.
This is the first phrase we were told about Peru. Peru time, Peruvian driving, Peruvian carefree. Those things are not what we are used to. YIA – you’re in America – honey, not anymore! Juliaca is filled with people and cars and chaos. It reminds me a bit of Chicago, but Chicago is much more orderly – who would have thought! I saw children running down the side walk in their adorable plaid and brown uniforms waving the Peruvian flag – talk about Peruvian patriotism being instilled at a young age! Today was a big market day in Juliaca so there were many people roaming the city. As soon as we stepped off the plane and Hannah felt an immediate shortness of breath, whereas mine did not come until after breakfast (what else can you expect at 13,000 feet of elevation). After David and Ralph picked us up from the airport we had breakfast; which consisted of tea, ham and eggs (about a 1/4 cup worth), and ciabatta. Jhuver, who will be our main local, met us at breakfast. He told us he really wants to use this time to practice his English so Hannah and agreed to give him English lessons a couple of times a week. It is crucial he maters the language so that he can obtain his doctorate degree. We have been having interesting and choppy conversations with each other discussing the weather in Chicago (I didn’t know how to say brutal so I went with muy muy frío en invierno, pero caliente ahora). Over breakfast we made plans and heard what we would be doing in our time here. We drove through the busy streets of Juliaca a couple times to pick people up, drop off Ralph at the airport, and while there we met the Mayor of Chijnaya and his wife. He dresses a lot more casually than typical politicians in America. As we left Juliaca, we passed the Universidad Andina, which has the nicest modern buildings we have seen thus far. On our way to Puno we passed many hills, cows, and a couple horses.
Details for our 6 weeks here:
The plan was to leave tomorrow but I don’t feel 100% so we will leave Wednesday for Chijnaya. The new stove construction begins Wednesday! These have been newly engineered stoves and chimneys to replace the old stoves. Some are so bad that families have to go back to the old burning wood in the kitchen and smoke is all over the kitchen and in the house, which is extremely detrimental to the health of women and children, who are the ones mostly around this smoke. The money raised through our ventures and through those supporters in the giving foundation have provided all the materials for these stoves (the exact number that we provided is still TBD), but the organization was extremely grateful and successful. We will work with Jhuver to make sure the stoves are being constructed and running on time. There is a possibility for us to work with kids at the school to teach them how to use their new computers they received, which I would love to do! Again, we would help Jhuver learn English as well and he would help us learn Spanish in return! I feel as though I can understand some things better already, it is the formulating what to say back out loud what I still find to be the most difficult aspect, but we are giving the language our all! They speak another language in Chijnaya as well, we hope to get a phrase sheet to learn some words we can speak which will be nice!
The wifi doesn’t exactly exist in Chijnaya, but we can go into Pucara, the nearest town where Jhuver lives, about 5 miles away, to use the internet. The guys we are working with are all extremely nice and helpful! David is a lawyer in Puno, he is there a majority of the time, thankfully giving us assistance when Jhuver is not around.
Today was a very busy day once we arrived in Puno. We got our hotel room and had a half hour or so to relax before lunch. We headed into the financial center, the most important area in Puno, for lunch. We went to a new restaurant and the food was delicious! We all got quinoa soup (so good Mom!) and for the main meal I ordered like a local (with my father in mind), I got the alpaca something or other which came with vegetables and fries. It tasted just like pork, even Hannah agreed when she tried mine. It has only been day one and Jhuver has already asked if we were coming next year to seethe stoves after we implement them – we are already creating a lasting friendship! After lunch we walked to Lago Titicaca, which was so beautiful and calming. After this, Jhuver took us to his Universidad, supposedly the best of the 8 in Puno because it is the only National University. We met one of his old professors that he still works variously and we were even shown the anthropology museum. There were many skulls, artifacts, and the burial process of the Lupaca tribe. We even saw some bodies buried in the traditional way. It was very interesting to hear Jhuver share all the information he knew about the museum and have us learn all about its history. After seeing his Universidad we took a mini bus immediately back to the hotel because we were all so exhausted.
We can’t wait to meet our families and give you more details on what is to come!
Emily and Hannah
PS. We would post pictures, but my camera is not allowing it at the current moment!
Hola! Buenos días! Three of our team members arrived in Iquitos yesterday afternoon. We have been exploring this amazing city while waiting for the rest of our team to arrive. We have a meeting scheduled this evening when the rest of our team arrives with one of Project Amazonas staff members who will be accompanying us down the river to the Madre Selva Field Station tomorrow morning. This will be our last update until we return to the city on June 15th for the weekend. So far the three of us who arrived early have been having a wonderful time. The food is delicious, the people are friendly and nice, and everything is beautiful. The hardest thing to adapt to so far has been the humidity (also for me personally the bugs), but we are getting used to it quickly! Pictures will come as soon as we return to the States. Until next time, Adios!
We embark on our adventure to Peru in 5 hours! We will meet up with the rest of our team in Iquitos, Peru on Thursday and venture to the Madre Selva field station Friday morning. Due to the lack of wifi at our project site we won’t be able to continuously update our blog, but we will call and check in with NINO weekly and update our blog whenever possible. 😀
Welcome to our first blog post!
Before we continue our journey to Peru we thought it would be a good idea to share with our friends and family what we are doing in order to prepare for our trip, go over some of our thoughts and expectations overall, and give you all some information about how our blogs will be working throughout our seven weeks in Peru. Our hopes are to have a blog posted once a week throughout the course of our trip. This may not always be possible due to the spotty internet connections in the areas where we will be working but we will try our hardest to keep everyone up to date. We might even be able to post more often than that, we just are not sure about what we will have access to during this time. In addition, some posts may be general/overall updates from the both of us and some will have both Emily and I’s positions on how our trip has gone so far. For example, this post will have both mine and Emily’s take on how preparations are going and what each of us are excited and apprehensive about for our trip.
After graduating and returning home I have been applying to jobs, as well as making sure that I have everything I will need while in Peru. This has been a bit stressful because there are certain items that will be needed that my family and I have to go out and purchase because they are not things you can just find around your house. We have made multiple trips to the store and we still do not have everything I might need. In regards to the trip itself, I am very excited to embark on this journey. I have never done something as grand as this so I am still a bit nervous since I do not know what to expect. I am also very nervous about living with a host family by myself while there. Although I have taken multiple years of spanish lessons, I am still not fluent. This aspect makes me even more scared because I fear I will not be able to communicate adequately with the family. Also, being a shy person does not help either. I have been trying to practice my spanish skills as much as I can in the hopes that I will be a little better. I may be concerned about this aspect of the trip but I know overall this will be an amazing experience and I will have my close friend Emily there with me the entire way to help me through.
Hello all – Emily here! Thank you for following our blog and I hope you have a great time reading throughout this journey Hannah and I are about to embark on (granted we are able to post each week). For those that know me well, I am a planner that enjoys lists, details, and organization, but I know well that going on a trip such as ours cannot be planned to the T. (As I am writing this blog post, I have about ten sheets of paper with different lists surrounding my computer). Finally, this past senior year I began living life more spontaneously, such as a last minute (I mean 20 minutes before we left) trip to Memphis for UD’s Elite 8 game with my best of friends with no game plan. We figured out living situations when we arrived and lived the entire weekend in the present moment. This taught me a lot about how life is spontaneous and we cannot plan life, rather live in the present and enjoy every moment. Additionally, for me, it represented that living each moment of life is something that will never be regretted and life cannot be limited because of our fears and plans. I do not enjoy living life with expectations because you will be disappointed most of the time, so going into this journey I have no expectations, only excitement and a bit of nerves. Hannah and I were just discussing the fact that there are about two weeks left until we leave and it is hitting us that this is actually happening! This journey means the world to me because I am passionate about creating a world that I want to bring future generations into; one full of peace, love, happiness, strength, faith, and a caring humanity. I am blessed to be able to share this journey with Hannah and I cannot wait to see what the two months in Peru has in store for us!
Emily and Hannah
University of Dayton Chapter
Today was the fourth day that we have been at the work site! It’s quite a bit of work and we’re short two people this time. Olivia wasn’t feeling well and Summer started helping out at the school in the neighboring community. Last night I learned an interesting fact about the kids who go to school in Santo Tomas, they have about 33 kids that attend school regularly. Out of those 33 only three go on to secondary school in Yanashi, which is very expensive for them to attend because they have to pay a host family to stay with on top of their necessities for school. It’s such a small turn out, but it makes me realize how easy it is for kids in America to gain a proper education.
Today our workday consisted of leveling out more land for the clinic site. Edwin told us that we had to cut about seventeen meters worth of trees and in the couple of hours that we were there we cut about 10 meters, so overall it was a great workday, even with our group being so small! Upon arriving back to Madre Selva, the Rockhurst students (the biology class) were taking off. It was surprising how free everything felt with just six people there, plus I think it really allowed us to get to know one another better because we didn’t have to worry about random people giving us mean looks if we were talking too loud.
The rest of our day consisted of moving furniture that we took from the empty huts into our huts, napping in the big dormitory, eating and then playing charades at night. Sam W. found a weird bug bite/cut on his knee that looks really infected, if it’s not better by tomorrow he is going to let one of us cut it open and pour alcohol in it. After dinner we all had about an hour and a half to hang out so we decided to break up into groups and play charades. The greatest reenactments were: Jurassic Park and The Heart is a Lonely Warrior by Sam W. and A Bug’s Life and Johnny Tsunami by Sam H. Once the generator turned off we all waited in line to go to the restroom, but ALL of the bugs in the rain forest decided to hang out in our restrooms that night and attacked us as we tried to go in. There was only one clear one and even in that one we had to make sure there were no leaf cutter ants because Sam H. had been bitten by one before. Once we got to our huts, we thought that we were free from all of the bugs, but unfortunately Sam^2 were not. They had a beetle in their room and it was in Sam W’s bed, it got so bad that Brie went in their to kill beetle but it failed and we all just laid in our huts dying of laughter.
This morning our wake up call was a herd of cows passing by our huts. It was the most random thing ever, and if that wasn’t exciting enough Sam decided that his wound was too infected and wanted us to open it up and clean it. Summer played the role of surgeon and tried to keep Sam calm and she opened up his knee. All of us just stood around taking pictures and laughing because it was such a funny site to see. “Doctor” Summer advised Sam to keep it wrapped and then let it air out once we got back from the field site. At the work site today, we continued to chop trees and make burn piles. We have a little ways to go before we finish leveling everything out.
When we got back to Madre Selva Brie and I went in search for this spider that decided to hide itself in my mattress! It took us a while but we finally found it and really overkilled it because we freaked out so bad. This is where Brie and I lived for the past month! It was a lovely little hut inhabited by a large wolf spider and millions of mini ants. Regardless, I loved it and my moldy pillow!
Today and yesterday consisted of doing some more chopping and making large burn piles around the clinic site. We are trying to save all of the plantain trees and palm trees, but everything else gets chopped down. So far the land is looking really well! It’s going to be a nice large area where other things can be added on to in the future, should the community members find the need for them. From cutting all of the trees, the entire group has experienced millions of ant bites from the little ants that hide out on top of the trees and then fall on you once you tried to chop down the tree. The good thing is that the mosquitoes aren’t really biting too much; it’s really just everything other than mosquitoes that has been feasting on us since we have been here. Edwin, Emerson, and Devon come back tomorrow though so we will have a better idea of what to do since we’ve finished cutting the land for the clinic.
Every Sunday we have a rest day and go to the community to hang out with the members and play soccer. It is always so fun to get to see everyone in a relaxed state having fun and enjoying the company of one another. Everyone in the community is pretty close so being around them kind of makes you feel like you’re joining part of their family. Sunday is also the day when we get to talk with our family members! Everyone bought phone cards and tried calling but some of us weren’t that lucky, so we went back to Madre Selva with empty phone cards and more bug bites.
On Monday our materials for the clinic arrived! Yay! It was so nice to see people from all of the three communities get together and work towards bettering their health and communities. It was inspiring to see them care enough to travel the distance just to help us haul everything off of El Gran Yanashi. In the evening I went with Julio and his family to Yanashi to buy gas and we had the chance to talk about his family and different things that he thinks will help improve the community for his kids, the clinic being one of them. While we were coming back from Yanashi we got caught in a rainstorm and had to put bags over our heads so that we wouldn’t get as soaked, this made me realize the difficulties that people in the community can face if they have to make a late night trip to the clinic in Yanashi, which takes about an hour to get to in a slow motor boat. This clinic is really going to help everyone in the communities avoid nights like the one I experienced.