February 20, 2012
Gabriela is our new program director for Sacred Valley Project. She is from Rosario, Argentina, hometown of Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Lionel Messi. Our final feana (workday with all the parents) was Friday and we had a few concerns about some of the girls returning. We had heard rumors that a few weren’t coming back and we wanted to invite Jessica to return as well. So we spent the week traveling around on my motorcycle and visiting all the girls so Gaby could meet them and we could talk to the families.
We started with Jessica and Dina from Pallata. Gaby did a great job of meeting the girls and Jessica really seemed to want to come back. But her parents weren’t home so we drove up to Pumamarka and talked to her sister instead. She also really wanted Jessica to return so things were looking good. We also went to Dina’s house and chatted with her family for a bit.
After Dina's I took her to the fish farm in Pallata. We stayed there with a Rustic group two summers ago and I have a lot of memories there. Plus it is cool to see thousands of trout swimming around in the tiny pools.
Next we went up to Soccma to visit Maria Elena, Nohemi, and check on a new girl who might want to join. It was great to see Maria Elena and she and her brother promised to hike the extra two hours up to Marcuray to tell the new girl’s family to come down on Friday to help. The trail is too small for a motorcycle.
Katy was next. Gaby jumped right into her spiel about why Katy should return. One thing I wish I would have explained was the process of how to have a serious conversation with families in the Sacred Valley. You are supposed to small talk for at least a half hour, wait for tea, then eat a huge bowl of soup, and finally get to the serious stuff over several glasses of chicha. It was awkward at first while her mom was serving us our tea and food, but it ended up being fine when her dad showed up around chicha time. Unfortunately, I understand how important it is to share chicha with the family and had two glasses. Arg. I hate how it is shoved down your throat even though you insist you don’t want any. The drinking culture is so frustrating to me. Also, the talk didn’t go so well. Her parents really wanted her to stay home. At least I got to go outside and help the younger brother split wood. It is one of my favorite activities back home and it felt good to get a little workout. Gaby wanted to take some pictures so the whole family washed up, put on nice clothes, and wanted to look good for the pictures.
The next day, Friday, was the faena. I got there early in the morning and immediately went to Alicia’s house and lay in a curled up ball of pain. Of course chicha is just a cup of bacteria and it destroyed me. The next three days were basically me in bed with hourly trips to the bathroom and feeling like someone was stabbing me in the stomach. Awesome. I finally broke down decided to take antibiotics. I was here almost 8 months and my stomach never adjusted. Arg.
After enduring the sickness, I was more than disappointed to know that Katy never came on Friday. Neither did Jessica or Anita. But the new girl did come, so it wasn’t a total catastrophe.
So Monday I was feeling better and we headed off to Jessica’s and Anita’s to see what was up. Jessica’s house was a disaster. We got there at 10 am and there had already been a lot of chicha consumed. One of her dad’s arguments against her returning was that we don’t have sugar for tea. What? Um, I’m pretty sure the girls get great meals and there is plenty of sugar. I would know this because I was there every day for four months! I was upset but Gaby did a great job of staying composed. So it looks like she is not coming back.
Anita wasn’t home but at least we were able to coordinate the mobile health clinic in Soccma for the following week. Keri has a group of 20 volunteers from Wayne State in Michigan for a few weeks and they have a lot of volunteering lined up.