January 5-12, 2012
Ana’s best friend from her boarding school and his mom came down for a week to visit. She was happy to have someone her age around here and of course it is nice to have visitors. One of our goals was to take them up into the villages to visit our girls and let them see what life is really like outside of the tourist zone.
So we headed up to Soccma to check things out. We started at Nohemi’s house and spent some time with her sisters and mom. Her mom gave us some delicious tea and the puppies were a big hit as usual. We then headed over to Maria Elena’s house to give her a Christmas present bought by one of my students. But neither girl was home, I guess they were down in Urubamba taking some sort of test or something.
We then started our hike out to the famous waterfall below the Incan lookout. We climbed up to get the view from above first. But the whole time we were walking, the locals were telling us how all the people worked together to fix the lower road that had been destroyed by landslides. That means we could hike down to the bottom. Yes, I’ve always wanted to stand underneath a huge waterfall!
We headed down and it was awesome! Coming up to it the mist was so thick it was almost like it was raining. I got underneath and the water was COLD. And under the main stream it was a lot of force, I could only stand under the side parts. But it was a lot of fun.
We then hiked to Anita’s house and chatted with her and her family for a bit. It was a beautiful hike home and a great experience for Brenden and his mom.
Now is a good time to talk about Peruvian paperwork and electricity. The last few visits to Soccma I have learned about and become a part of their ongoing electricity problem. From what I understand, for years and years they have asked for electricity for their village. For one thing, it is a huge problem for the kids to try and do homework. They have such long walks they get home around dark and then have to burn expensive candles to see if they want to get anything done! So a few years ago, the electric company finally started running lines up to the village. The deal was, they would run the lines as long as the village paid for every house to have a meter installed. Alex raised the money in the states ($6,000) through the Rustic Pathways Foundation and paid the company. Last summer the work was finished on the lines and electricity was turned on for one week to test it. But then they shut it off until the meters were installed. But for some reason the company would not install the meters. They told the village to hire someone else to do the work, but will only return the money to someone from Rustic. Well, the only Rustic affiliated foreigner from October to April in the Sacred Valley is me. So it has been a several weeks long process of getting paperwork from the states to give me the power to represent the foundation. I have been to notaries, municipalities, offices in Cusco, photocopiers, and village meetings. Right now we are close. We have one more document to get authorized then I think I will be able to get the money and pay for the meters. The date on the receipt is June of 2009. It is classic Peru. There aren’t normal laws, but the paper trail for something simple is long and arduous.
Our volunteer Rachel’s last day was the 6th and she wanted to do something interesting. Well, I had two children’s books (written in both Quechua and Spanish) that two students had bought over the summer for their family. I promised I would deliver them before I left. It seemed like a good time for a motorcycle ride, hike, and visit to a tiny village up in the mountains.
We set off on the ride up the valley, and she enjoyed her first motorcycle ride. (How many times have I provided someone’s first ride down here?) There is about an hour hike up to the village, and it was a lot easier than back in June. Adjusting to altitude is a great thing. The family was happy to see us, and it was great catching up. The father (Genero) showed us the guinea pigs, his fields (very proud), and we sat in the kitchen to talk. I then presented them with the books. His son Gido immediately opened one and started reading in Quechua. His father was correcting him when he made mistakes. It was awesome to see a young boy reading out of his first book. I had to film it. I have never seen a book outside of a classroom before, the family was really happy. Then, the mother (Josefina) grabbed the other book and started reading too! Thank you so much Maya and Emma for buying those!
This past Wednesday I got the chance to go with Keri and Anisha to visit a young boy who lives near Palomar. I have had great experiences working with Awamaki’s health program, and am especially inspired by Keri’s work. We hopped on our motorcycles and headed up to his house. The story is basically that Alex has a mental disability. A few years back, he fell off his bed and injured his hip. Somehow, his family either didn’t notice or didn’t know what to do. Considering how transportation and medical services work down here, I’ll bet they felt like they couldn’t do anything and hoped it would heal on its own. Well, it didn’t. He can’t walk and spends his entire life in a bed. He is now 12, can’t speak, and his family is kind of burned out on taking care of him. Awamaki provides diapers for him, and they try to visit him as much as possible.
It was a pretty powerful experience. Keri is absolutely amazing with him, and his face lit up when we walked in. She changed his diaper and just hung out with him. We chatted, played with the cats, and talked a little with his younger sister and brother. Sometimes they take him outside, but we didn’t get a chance this time. It was tough to see this kid who is now going to have to go through his entire life lying on a bed because of mistakes and a dysfunctional health system.
I guess he has been taken to several doctors and none can perform surgery to fix his hip. He is also waiting on a special wheelchair (a normal one won’t work). The special school in Urubamba for kids with disabilities that I visited has offered to accept him, except there is no transportation available to take him every day. So that’s it, 12 years old and a life in bed ahead of him. I didn’t take any pictures. I just felt that some things and moments were better left private. If you want to meet him, get down here and I will take you to visit.