Saturday, September 5, 2009

Huaraz pics

the wall
sweet pic
I dont remember how to spell the name of the lake but its pretty awesome....glacial lake

almost falling
glacial lake

Thursday, September 3, 2009

It's been awhile...

I have realized for the past month that I have not written anything in my blog for about 2 months which is pretty lame if I am honest with myself. Now, I really have no excuse given the fact that I have free wifi in my municipality. With that said, this is my long overdue update to my blog.
First, I guess I will talk about trips and vacations and what not. Towards the end of July I ventured up to Ancash for fiestas patrias (peru’s independence day). Where is Ancash you ask. Ancash is a department in northern Peru. The capital of the department, Huaraz is about 8 hours away from Lima by bus. Why go to Ancash you ask. Well, first off, a bunch of other volunteers from my group we’re heading there to celebrate fiestas patrias. Second, Ancash contains the Cordillera Blanca. The Cordillera Blanca contains the biggest collection of tall nevadas in Peru. It is captained by Huascaran, which is the biggest mountain in Peru. The cool thing about Ancash is that, unlike in Arequipa, most of the nevadas still have snow on top. With that said, when we were in Ancash we did ice climbing (yes with picks and those sharp shoes) on a glacier. Furthermore, we saw some cool glacial lakes and enjoyed the festivities there. Although Ancash was cool, Arequipa is still the best department in Peru.

Another celebration we attended was dia de Arequipa or more commonly known to English speakers as Arequipa Day. Every year Arequipa has a huge party for the anniversary of its creation. The party includes 4 different concerts at once on Friday night and on Saturday a huge parade which lasts all day. It was rather fun and hopefully I’ll be around for it next year.

As far as work is concerned, July and August have both been rather slow months. However, this current week has actually been rather exciting. We are starting up computer classes again in Mid-September because the municipality has received 10 new computers with internet!!! This eliminates the previous problem I had with working at the high school because people are in the municipality at night. I plan on teaching how to use the internet and how to make your own website. In addition, I would like to teach personal finance using excel but only a few are interested in that so I think I’m going to teach them individually.
Aside from this, the tourism association seems to be resurrecting itself. We’ll have to wait to see if that actually happens. The best thing that has happened recently is that I am now coaching the high school soccer team haha, which is great. We just started this week. We practice at 5AM in the morning which is horrible but not really b/c I go to bed at around 9 or 930 every night. I think it’s a great activity for the youth though. It instills a little discipline in their lives as well as serving as an activity which they can do outside of school (there aren’t any of those).

I will be heading to Lima on Saturday for training and medical checks. So, hopefully I’ll be able to update while I’m in Lima. Until then, hope all is well.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Camp Valor/Fight!

This past weekend we held what is called Camp Valor. It’s a kind of retreat with all guys of about 14 or 15 years of age. The point of this camp is for the boys to bond with other boys from other towns in the valley as well as to bond with the male volunteers from the valley. The topics we covered at the camp were leadership, entrepreneurship, project design and organizational structure. In between each charla we played different games like dodgeball and crab soccer. It was actually very successful given our circumstances approaching the camp.

In addition, yesterday, Lari played Sibayo in the first round of the Copa Peru. This is basically the biggest cup of the year. Lari had already won 4-0 in Sibayo. Therefore, Sibayo would have to win at least by a score of 4-0 in Lari to just tie. It ended up being a 0-0 tie. However, at the end of the game the players from Sibayo were rather upset with the ref of the game. Practically the whole team surrounded the ref and were yelling at him. The refs tried to escaped the field and did but not before one of the Sibayo players kicked the ref in the butt pretty hard. After that, the team from Lari reentered the field and trash talking ensued. Then, one of the Sibayo players went after one of the Lari players. You must keep in mind that there are no police in town. Once this happened, all the fans from both teams entered the field and a rather large fight broke out. It was kind of scary, but ended up stopping on its own and somehow the Sibayo team made it out of Lari safely. Apparently it was the first time something like this had happened in Lari which I find hard to believe.

Friday, June 5, 2009

One Year in the books…14 months to go

One year in Peru!!! This is a bit premature given the fact that my one year mark will be tomorrow. However, I will not be able to make this post tomorrow so everyone will just have to settle for this post a day in advance. So, I thought I would look back a little on to what I remembered from one year ago. One year ago, to this day, I was still at what Peace Corps likes to call staging. It’s where you first get to meet all the other volunteers from your group. It almost feels like the beginning of some sort of reality show. It’s like how Road Rules and Real World name all of there groups, well we were named Peru 11. Upon arrival in Miami for staging it felt kind of like arriving at college freshman year. You really don’t know anyone and you don’t really know what to expect. Not knowing what to expect is kind of the charm of pre –Peace Corps Service. That first day in Miami you split up into those big groups to go out like you did freshman year of college and you make your first judgments about the people around you, most of which were probably untrue. Then, the staging portion begins the very next day with a full day of…what is Peace Corps, what are the goals, what is development, etc. After staging, you board a plane with everyone else and arrive in Peru at night time which is what the new volunteers will be doing today. As I remember, the ride from the airport to Huampani (a sort of resort outside of Lima) was interesting. Lima really looked like a poor place in the dark of the night. Once we arrived at Huampani, we were assigned rooms and finally got to rest. The whole excitement of the experience was what kept you sane during those days. That first week of Peace Corps was a great high, but then it starts settling in that you’re going to be in Peru for 2 years and 3 months!!! Plus, the house you stay in at training, in most cases, is a lot better than the house you will be in for 2 years.

Peace Corps is composed of many ups and downs. One year ago I was on a high. Right now, I’d have to say I’m in the middle. The reason Peace Corps is made up of so many ups and downs is because of the countless failures you face. Everyone arrives to Peace Corps service well aware of the failures to come. However, it remains rather difficult to put one’s head around just how many failures one will face. Up until this point, all of the main projects I have planned and tried to bring to fruition have pretty much failed which is rather hard to stomach again and again. However, many lessons are learned from such failures. One of which is that one really cannot change people by his self or herself. It takes a volunteer’s effort in addition to their community’s efforts. If the community does not provide the effort for the project, it will never reach its goals. Although one can beat his self or herself up over this fact, it really is not worth it. Many people have a problem accepting the fact that no matter how much one tries to change a person, if that person does not want to change, the person will never change no matter how much one tries. It is a simple fact of life but one that is hard to grasp. However, with the help of Peace Corps it’s one I have come to realize.

PS – A crying sheep outside my door all of last night…only in Peace Corps.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Some Argentina Fotos

cool pic
japanese garden
devil´s throat
the smaller part of the falls

drying off after going under the waterfalls

cool pic

deep in thought

champagne on the bus..niceee
bocaaaa...we were there early given the empty seats

Argentina/Community Leadership/The wind again…

I recently made a trip to Argentina which was my first rather large vacation and my first outside of Peru. We spent the most time in Buenos Aires but also made it up to Iguazu Falls and made it across the river to Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay. These two side trips were definitely the coolest portions of the trip. Iguazu is one of those things that pictures really don’t do it justice. Colonia is just a really cool, picturesque town in Uruguay and is very easy to get to. There is a ferry that takes about an hour which runs everyday. However, you must buy your tickets in advance! The best way to get to Iguazu is by bus which is an 18 hour trip up and 18 hours back. This takes a lot of time but is totally worth it. As far as Buenos Aires is concerned, the nightlife is great, lots of restaurants with real pizza and pasta as well as the steakhouses. There’s also a really cool Japanese garden. Another must do is a Boca Juniors game if they are playing at home when you are there. That was really cool.

Back to real life. Once I got back from Argentina we partnered with an NGO from Arequipa called COPLAN and held a workshop on community leadership and teamwork. This will be the first workshop in a series of three. The partnership actually is a win win for both sides because COPLAN would never be able to coordinate something like this without us and we get access to having Peruvian young adults come to speak to the kids. The first workshop seemed to be a success. Hopefully all the kids continue to come.

Oh and the wind. A couple of days ago I woke up with a back pain which was connected to the movement of my head. Therefore, I figured it was because I slept incorrectly. Two days passed and I still had the pain. However, that day my host parents were going to harvest some potatoes and wanted me to come. I said no because of the back pain and of course they immediately were very worried. Everyone was telling me oh it must have been some bad air or the cold etc. Whatever, I’m not going to try to argue with them. I ended up getting some sort of plant which I cut open and rubbed the inside on my back. Then, at night my host mom made this woman come to do something. She through some plants on top of what looked like burning coal (it wasn’t) and then put the smoking bowl in my sleeping bag and made me take a breath of the smoke. Then, she put the bowl underneath my bed for a couple of minutes. Who knows what that was supposed to do. I do feel a little better today but I don’t think I’m going to give the smoking bowl the credit.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mine or no mine

Last night, a rather large multi-national mining company named Newmont came to Lari to give a presentation on what they wanted to do in Lari. Many might already know Newmont as the company which has the largest gold mine in the world which is located in Cajamarca, Peru. Because of this, I believe many of the community members already knew them as well to some extent. The informative meeting was supposed to alleviate any doubts or concerns the community members had about what the company would be doing. So, what exactly does the mining company want to do?

Well, apparently there are seven stages to mining. The first of which is sampling which Newmont has already completed in the targeted area. The second stage is exploration. According to the Newmont brochure I received, exploration is “the development of geological studies, geophysics and topography to determine the possible sites of mineral concentration.” This is the stage which Newmont would be performing over the next 6 months. The company does not need permission from the community to carry out this phase. However, I believe they tried to be respectable in case they needed to perform some more drastic tests in the future so they had this meeting.

Well the meeting was a complete and utter disaster for Newmont. Basically, they made a presentation on mostly the benefits of having them in town and kept on reinforcing that they would be socially responsible (to the tune of 25 soles a day for 8 hours of work of a community member, hmmmmm). Also, they explained the fact that this phase of work would not require permission, because it really did little harm to the land. Now, before the meeting I was informed that no one in the community wanted the mining company to do anything except the community president. After the meeting, I can confidently say that the information I received was 100% correct. Almost every community member expressed, rather fervently, his or her concerns to the mining company. It became more of a debate than anything. The thing I was confused about was why the mining company stayed for so long. It was rather clear the community wanted nothing to do with any sort of mining activity whether it was harmful or not.

It was rather difficult for me, because I knew I could not take part in this meeting. I could only be a spectator. Getting involved in such a meeting would probably leave me much too involved in the politics of the town. However, I am definitely against any sort of activities done by the company. First, supporting the company in their endeavors to do exploration would almost be like endorsing them for the stages to come. Second, the company can express their desires to fulfill their social responsibility. However, what is the one thing we all learn in business class? We learned that a company’s top priority is satisfying their stockholders, which means making profits. Unfortunately, that is what will always come first. So, yes they might provide some benefits to the community but probably the minimum. Third, if there is a mine here, the development will not be sustainable. The mine won’t be here forever and once it is gone, the community will be so used to the economic benefits the mine has produced, it won’t be able to produce any benefits for itself. Fourth, although a mine can do everything in its power to prevent pollution or accidents, there is still a great risk of something of the sort happening, and pollution is a major risk for an agricultural community.

So, clearly I have many problems with the whole idea of a mine here, haha. Last night was rather interesting to see though. I was surprised that no one in the community came around to the idea because of the economic benefits. Apart from that big news, my tourism association president is going to resign which will provide another large bump in the road, but thus is life here in peace corps. There are a heck of a lot of bumps, but we continue on nonetheless.