December 9-13, 2011
Saturday turned out to be a great day. I got a call from Fiorela, who is Nohemi from the dorm’s older sister. She invited me to the high school to a fundraiser for the Mosqoy Project. Mosqoy is the Quechua word for dream. It is a Canadian project that helps students from the mountains continue their education past high school! We already have a relationship with them and they have several spots saved for our girls when they graduate. Of course I was going to stop by.
I headed down for a lunch of fried trout, which was pretty amazing. We chatted for awhile and watched a soccer tournament that was part of the afternoon’s activities. Fiorela and I left and she mentioned how she was walking home. Since that entails about 3 hours, I immediately offered her a ride up to Socma. Besides, I hadn’t stopped by in awhile and wanted to visit her family. It is a great ride up there and I had some alcohol free cheecha while chatting with her family. She then brought out her math homework and we worked on it for awhile. They had a few puppies wandering around, and her little sister was playing with them. I couldn’t help myself and had to go for the puppy shots with my camera.
I headed back into town for a potluck/party with the remaining volunteers in town. I am having a lot of trouble dealing with the fact I am leaving soon. I have made such good friends and connections down here that it is really hard to let go. I don’t want to go. Sacred Valley Project needs so much help over the next few months. I am nervous about going back to Grand Haven and my old life. How much have I changed? I know the reverse culture shock is going to be really hard on me, but I do miss friends, family, and my students.
Sunday Bianca and I headed up to Vincentina’s house to talk with her parents. We want to implement a few special interventions for her and wanted her parent’s permission first. I also wanted to buy a few weavings for some amazing donors. This time I counted, it was 41 complete 180 degree turns to get up there. There is this little valley that I think is the most beautiful I have ever seen in the world. You come up to a hairpin turn, and there is a river flowing down from the mountain. There is lush green grass, a small adobe hut, several large rocks, a broken fence, a few cattle, and you can see three waterfalls cascading down into the river above. I stopped the bike and we just stared. Her parents weren’t home so we decided to come back early the next day. Neither of us were disappointed about this.
Monday we had a volunteer meeting to organize this week. It is crazy. I am pretty sure I am working 10 hour days trying to get everything set this last week. Our big topic was where we were going to move. We had 4 days to get out of the dorm and move into a new place. We ended up deciding to take Señora Juana’s place very close to the plaza. It needs a ton of work but it is all we can afford. It holds the possibility of us selling items in her store out front and reaching tourist traffic for donations. I am now feeling guilty about heading home and not staying to help get the location ready.
I also got to Skype with my Interact students back home! The girls here and the students there chatted for about 30 minutes, a little in English and a bit in Spanish. The girls here were fascinated and were all packed around my computer. The students back home put on a little dance party for us which was fun. It was good to see and hear from them.
Tuesday was just another typical ridiculous day down here in Peru. I started with an hour long coffee meeting with Keri. We talked about the possibility of me staying down here for January and February. Besides SVP needing help, she is achieving her dream of opening a health clinic AND a restaurant down here. I could assist with both, as well as help out with two more mobile health clinics. She also talked about the atrocious educational system (more on that later) and how I could open a community tutoring center. They were interesting ideas.
I then headed to Cuzco on the bike (never gets old) to run some errands. Most importantly, there was a package in customs from my parents with my new credit card (someone got a hold of the old number in the States and it was cancelled) and some tasty snacks. I got a few more things done then rushed back to Ollanta for a huge birthday party for Elsa. Her house is where I keep my motorcycle and I know everyone in the family. It was crazy!! It was an all day party with a live band, tons of food, and quite a bit of beer. That family has been so nice to me and I was happy to give her a present and share in the festivities. I was the only foreigner there, and was thinking how crazy it was to be dancing to the traditional music of the Andes and sharing in the party with the local people on a Tuesday afternoon. I ended up dancing to several songs with Nohemi's mom. I made a few new friends and had a great time. I managed to avoid most drinking because I knew I had to get to the dorm for exam reviews.
I got to the dorm around 5:00 ready to work. I had no idea what was waiting for me. For a week or so we have been asking the teachers at the school when exams were. This is kind of a big deal and we wanted to review with the girls. But no one would tell us. It turns out exams were supposed to be next week but the teachers all just kind of wanted to end the school year. So the girls showed up with 4 pieces of paper for homework. One was a lesson they learned THAT DAY about all new stuff they had never seen! The other three were exam review problems, which didn’t really match up with what they learned that trimester. And oh by the way, the exam was the next day!!! I was so mad. This basically means the exam is a joke. A JOKE. It wasn’t over what they learned, they had no time to study, it is a waste of everyone’s time. We stayed up late and got through the three review sheets. The high school here is in terrible shape. I have a bunch of angry thoughts on whose fault it is and how it can be fixed, but if someone from Ollantaytambo read this they would probably just get mad instead of fixing the problem, so I won’t say anything. The bottom line is that there is an amazing community of young people here who want to learn, and the school is failing them. Arg.
Here is another video to go along with the girl effect video. I really think educating young women in the developing world is important. Hopefully I can eventually convince you of that. Then, once you are convinced you would consider clicking on the link at the right and donating money.