Monday, July 25, 2011

Final Group Arrives, Interesting Conversation with a Local Mom

July 20-22, 2011

Wednesday morning we were up at 6:15 am to get back to Lima to catch the plane to Cusco. We have 11 students on this trip. Carlos was at the airport catching his flight so we got in one final conversation and goodbye. I can’t wait to hear how his college, bike trip, and band work out over the next year. I’ll miss you man.

We arrived in Cusco for lunch after a lengthy flight delay. At lunch they gave us ice cream! We didn’t get that on any of the other groups. The flavor was lucma. Wow, it might be my new favorite flavor. We then got on the bus and headed for Pisac.

In Pisac we stayed at the same awesome hotel, had dinner, and watched more Copa America. In the morning we hit the famous market. Dylan bought an incredible painting of Machu Picchu with a condor, puma, and a snake in the background. He is going to get a tattoo made out of it. Sweet. Those three animals represent the heavens, the Earth, and the underworld in Incan culture. I’m jealous of it.

As we were loading on the bus, I saw a heavily loaded KTM 950 out front of our hotel!!! It was a Swiss man and his son touring around Peru. He owns a hotel in Lima and has lived there for awhile. He gave me a pretty intricate but beautiful route from Lima to Cusco and said that they have a motorcycle club in Lima. So I have his number and might try to look them up in a few weeks when I am there.

After the market we headed to Urubamba for lunch and to meet the mayor. He is usually gone on business but he was actually there! That is a big deal, we were pretty excited. We then headed back to Ollantaytambo for a few minutes and then back to Palomar.

They greeted us with the usual music, flowers, and confetti. We then launched into an epic soccer game with the local boys. I played goalie for the Peruvian team and got lit up by Seth. But it was fun, and the students quickly realized what 9,300 feet of attitude can do to you.

In the evening we had the Pago ceremony. Raul was really into it and added a few things that I had never seen before. They burned the offering at 10 pm, but I was already fast asleep. Three nights in a row of staying up past midnight finally took its toll on me.

Those first few days were really hard on me. I missed the last group so much, and going back to the exact same campsite and city didn’t help at all. Every small place throughout the campsite and town comes attached with memories of the last group. It was very hard for me to get into the new group. I felt like Maverick after Goose had died. I was there, going through the motions, but I couldn’t engage. Madison did send me an email telling me how the last group deserved my best and basically that I needed to suck it up and continue to be a good leader. I needed to hear that. Thanks.

Friday morning we met the families and headed off to begin work. Did I crack the same lame joke? Yes. I’m a math teacher, I get to do that. We are building 5 galpones this group. Some of the groups have a lot of work to do but we will work together to get them done. As we visited the last group, we had a very interesting conversation with the mother of the family. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

Paul Farmer said, “All suffering is not equal.” So it was hard for me and Molly to go from such a poor community in Huilloc to a much nicer one in Palomar. We wondered if these people really needed it. Well, the mother told us how she and her husband decided to only have one child. That way, they could make sure he had food, clothes, and a good education. That’s it! It is like we are getting to see every step of the process from poverty to development. So I am glad we are here. We might be the final step to ensuring education for this community. After that, all the basic rights are being met and they are free to enjoy life in a happy and healthy way.

I had a great talk with Dustin who lives in Florida in the afternoon while hauling dozens of heavy adobes. Back at camp we had another epic soccer game. Once again, I was lit up in goal. I really need to work on that if I am going to live down here.

At night we played president in the kindergarten hall. It was fun, and WAY less intense than the last group. That is probably a good thing.

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