A Travellerspoint blog

Entry #9 Easter Island

Man! Are those boys handsome, both the stone and the live ones!

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Easter Island

Middle of the night, Friday, February 10

I arrived in Santiago at 1:30 am. Immigration took a while as I did not read the signs and was in the wrong line for some time. $100 to enter Chile as a ding against the US who has made it harder for people from Chile to enter the US. The airport was dark but one shop open, so I bought Gatorade, candy (my standard first purchase in any country), and pretzels and looked for a place to work on the computer.

Lots of people were with me as Santiago seemed to be where flights arrive after midnight and then people wait for their connection.

At 5:30 am, I checked my bags and paid the exit tax, went to the ATM for Pesos, bought a dunkin donut and a small cup of coffee whipped cream on. I scooped off the cream and kept going.

I went through security, which was no problem and found an obliging piece of floor, pulled out my pillow and rested for an hour.

Lan Chile flight loaded at 8:30 am and I found that I was at the window in a 2 seat section without a seat partner YAAAAH! I could have upgraded to business class for a mere $150, but I decided against it, even though the sleep would have been welcome.

Out came the eyeshades, earplugs, my pillow + 2 pillows supplied by Lan, two blankets and I tried to sleep as I would arrive at 2:00 pm and didn’t want to miss my first day on Rapa Nui.

When we were 20 minutes out from landing, we could see the island. Quen insisted on a picture looking out the window. We kept looking for the giant heads on the island, but could not see any. As we landed, it was obvious that we have found the tropics. Off came the sweater.

Cecilia from Residential Taniera met me with lovely lei of purple bougainvillea and a white waxy flower. I love being met in Polynesia! Short ride to the hostel and then guava juice and I began to walk to get the lay of the land.

Jack, the resident guide was introduced and he explained his program. It was pricey, but it would be personalized and goes in the opposite direction of most of the tours, so you have the sights usually to your self with unlimited time to explore. I agreed to a one-day tour with him beginning at 7:30 am which would include breakfast on the coast to watch the sunrise, 11 major stops, lunch on the beach and ending close to 7:30 at the southern tip of the island at Orongo where the birdman competitions took place. I could decide if I wanted a second day later. He recommended lots of sun block, hat, and sunglasses. He supplied lots of water and colorful commentary on not only the island itself, but also the history and politics. He is from Poland originally, is a photographer, artist, writer, formerly in the French army and speaks 8 languages. Needless to say, he was very interesting and could speak on many things.

Off I went to the ATM for money for the tour only to find out they only take MCard and I had VISA. While I had a MCard with me, I could not remember the pin. So, off to the gas station, as the bank was closed, to cash travelers checks. Mission accomplished and back to the hostel.

I was in Easter Island during the 2 week Polynesian festival with native dance, singing, cooking competitions and sporting events. In fact, the brochure we received upon entering the plane in Santiago featured Jack’s photos. My first night, beginning at 10pm, was the choir competition. I sat on my bed reading thinking about dinner and the festival and decided on a short nap. I woke up to singing at 10:00 pm. While I thought I would get up in a minute, I woke up again to singing at 1:00 am. I finally roused at 7:10 am, just in time to meet Jack for the tour. I would have to wait for another night to partake of the evening festival. Sometimes, no matter how interesting the event, sleep wins!

Saturday, Feb 11

7:45 we are loaded, Jack, Coti (his assistant) and I were on our way to catch the sunrise and have breakfast. It was still pretty dark, but you could tell the sun was coming up. By 8:05 I was sitting in a camp chair with breakfast of tea, bread, ham, cheese, local marmalade and guava juice. It was wonderful.

Breakfast ..rise EI.JPG

Early impressions of Easter Island are;
It is much bigger than I thought
It has much more vegetation than expected
It has loads of horse wandering all over
It has a lot more trees than expected
I knew that the island was made of 3 volcanoes, but was not expecting the other 50 vents and volcanoes that had allowed lava and steam to escape.

The first major site, Ahu Tongariki, was a tomb with 15 statues that had been decimated by the tsunami for 1960. All 15 are back in position thanks to a Japanese Crane manufacturer, but perhaps not in the correct order as no one is really sure what went where. What I have learned on the island and from my reading is that all of the statues were face down after the clan wars of the 18th and 19th centuries. The few sites that have standing Moai (moy i) have all been restored since the 1950’s. Most of the Ahu (pronounced ah who) are still destroyed with the lovely statues face down and broken. Even on the ones that have been put back, you can see where they were cemented back into place.

As I stand in front of the line of faces, it is hard to get a true feeling for their size, as you are not permitted to walk on the Ahu, so at times you are 15-50 feet away from the base of the statues. It was also hard to get a good look as I was facing into the sun. I learned all about how they were made, how to tell if a statue was ever on the Ahu and the ceremonies when they were raised. I was in sight of the volcano Rano Raraku, which is the quarry for all the Moai, but could not see any from where I stood. Only one of the statues at this site had the red Pakoa (pronounced poo cow which might be a hat, hair or crown) on the top of his head. There are 5-8 more Pakoa in the area that have not been put back. I was photographed next to one and I finally have a feeling for the size of the statues, based on the size of this headdress. WOW!

Next off to Ahu Te Pito Kura, for the largest Moai on an Ahu and the navel of the world. This Ahu was where I saw my first fallen Moai. This lovely statue was broken into three parts and the corral and obsidian eyes were pried out. This happened to all the Moai when they were destroyed because the attacking clan felt it would take the Mana away from the people. Mana was given to the Moai by the king and the holy men when they were erected. Mana gave the community a feeling of safety and wellbeing on which they depended. I began to see how the destruction of the statues could bring a feeling of helplessness and despair to the people.

The naval of the world is a perfectly round rock that was supposed to be brought to Rapa Nui with the first king, Hotu Matua. It is surrounded by 4 smaller round rocks in the directions and the main rock has magnetic energy.

According to Jack, when NASA began using EI, they found three areas on the island that had electromagnetic energy. Jack demonstrated this by turning off the car in a certain area, and yet the car climbed the hill without engine or wind assistance. NASA has also built a larger than normal runway as a possible emergency landing site for the space shuttle, as well as placing other atmospheric measuring equipment on the island.

Next to the beach of Ovahe, which was absolutely deserted except for Coti and I. Quen and I had our pictures taken and I dipped my toes into the Pacific. It was pleasantly cool and not as cold at the dip I took in Peru, which has an Antarctic current.

Then on to the largest beach, Anakena and the royal Ahu. This site was the first to be restored by Thor Heyerdahl (famous for his Kon Tiki expedition in the 1950’s). He had his crew and 20 local men, lift and place one of the fallen Moai using the old techniques of levering it up and placing stones underneath. It took about 20 days to do this. There are 7 Moai on the royal Ahu, 4 with red pukoa all of different shapes. It is wonderful and you could see the white sand and the water just beyond the statues. This is also one of the sites where palm trees have been planted. They were planted in the 1950 and are now sterile. These are not the palms that normally would have been on the island.

The Royal Ahu.JPG

This was also my lunch stop and we went to a small shack selling food on the beach. I had a lovely lunch of fish, veggies and potatoes and pineapple juice to drink.

Next we took the road diagonally across the island and stopped in a eucalyptus grove for a coffee and cookies. Eucalytpus is another tree that was brought to the island in the 50’s. It also is hard on the land and as they go forward, these trees will not be replanted.

One of the festival competitions that was going on was the triathlon in the crater at Rano Raraku, the quarry. Coti and I climbed up the hill, in the heat and sun, and looked down into the crater. We got there just as the competition started. In reed boats made my the contestants, the men would row across the lake trying to be first and obstructing the path of other men trying to be first. As they get to the shore, they jumped out of the boats with their oar, dropped the oar, picked up a yoke of two bunches of banana’s and began to run counter clockwise around the lake to where they had put the boats in. Did I mention they are only in a loincloth, body paint and tattoos? The guy who was first out of the water, was overtaken just as part three began where they drop the bananas, pick up a reed raft they made themselves, and do the final leg where they swim across the lake on the rafts to the finish. I can’t remember who won, but the whole event took less than 25 minutes to complete. The field was 8 men and the boys competition followed.

Coti and I returned to the car and at this point, I decided that I would take a second day tour in order to do the quarry with less people and better temperatures.

Next we came to Ahu Akivi where there are 7 standing Moai. At this site, all the Moai face the sea, whereas at all the other Ahu’s, the Moai face away from the sea and over the land they are supposed to protect. An American Mulloy and a Chilean Figuora reconstructed this site in the 1960. It was determined that this site had astrological significance and was perfectly lined up the light during the solstices. This pair of archeologists also determined that all the Ahu’s were lined up with great astrological precision.

Quen and I also had the opportunity to enter one of the many caves. It was a welcome change because it was out of the sun and cool. The three volcano’s left the island full of lava and porous caves, which is why even though it rains a lot, the fresh water filters quickly away. The cave was interesting and we entered in one area, and exited from a small hole in the back. Without Jack, there is no way I would have made it out of the hole. During the clan war and the time when Peru and Chile were raiding the islands for slaves, the islanders lived in the caves to hide.

Next we went to the second Volcano, Rano Kao, and looked down into the crater. It was amazing and very close to the sea. The walls were very steep and had fruit trees and crops growing. The islanders learned that the volcano’s craters formed a perfect microclimate for crops and began farming in small stone circles to protect the crops.

The final destination today was the village of Orongo, on the backside of the volcano and high in the cliffs on the southern side of the island. For several weeks of the year, the people lived in circular houses on the cliffs and prepared for the birdman competition. Men would climb down the cliff, swim to the bigger of two small islands to the south and wait for a smoky terns to lay eggs. Then, the men would repeat the journey back to Rapa Nui with the egg in a headband on their forehead. The first one back with a complete egg and was able to hand it over to the priest won. Did I mention shark invested waters and possibly having to wait up to a week to be able to procure an egg? The last of these competitions was in the last 1800’s and now is illegal.

By this part of the trip, I was pooped with the heat and sun. I was happy to come back to the residential and take a cool shower and find dinner.

Before dinner, I went to the western most part of the city and sat looking at the ocean and watching the waves crash. There were body surfers and the temperature was just right.

It was a perfect way to end my first full day on Easter Island.

Sunday, Feb 12

I managed to set my alarm the previous night, so I had ample time to get ready to leave. As I knew we would be going back into the crater, I opted for my hiking boots instead of sandals.

It was very over cast, which was fine by me because the sun really did me in the previous day. As we sat on the coast with breakfast again, from the clouds on the horizon, we knew that we would not see the sun rise and might get rain instead.

The quarry at Rano Raraku was what I most wanted to see. On the island, almost 300 Maoi were originally placed on the altars. Another 500+ Moai are at the quarry, some of them still in position to be carved, as if the artisans are simply on break and will be back in a minute. When you arrive at the site, you see over 40 heads dotting the hillside, some leaning to one site, some face down, some on their backs, and some with just a little of their head showing. I don’t know why, but this site was the most impressive to me. You should see the largest one, El Gigante, which weighs over 90 tons.

We walked all over the face of the volcano and saw many places where 4 Maoi were all being worked on simultaneously in very close proximity. Then we went over the volcano wall and into the crater where there were more Moai. I found it hard to believe anyone would want to carve one inside the crater considering you would have to send it down the hill, then over the volcano crater lip, then down the side of the volcano to the new destination. We sat on edge of the crater that faces the sea and overlooked the site from yesterday with the 15 Maoi.

Inside the..y at EI.JPG

Outside the quarry.JPG

The wind was fierce and cool as the clouds rolled past. As we sat there, there were birds flying overhead and riding on the wind currents. Easter Island seems to have three types of birds, pigeons, red hawks and a small sparrow size bird that has lots of blue and gray. While we sat on the edge, a feather from a hawk fell from the sky. I picked it up and thought I would carry it with me throughout the year. (MORE ON THIS LATER).

Just as we were leaving Rano Raraku, the sun finally broke (10:30 am) and the first tourist arrived. Jack and his amazing timing strikes again.

Next we went to the quarry where the red topknots where carved. Although there were over 200 Moai in place, only 90 topknots or Pakoa were ever quarried. Archeologists don’t know for sure their meaning and they also feel that this was a later development. There were different stages and styles of Moai during the 400+ years they were used by the society. It appeared that they kept getting larger and larger as time wore on and the wars between the clans began. Maybe El Gigante, was supposed to be so inspiring, that the wars would stop. (Jane’s theory!)

There was another cave to explore and this one had a stone bed that would have been covered with plant materials and leaves. By the end of the 1800’s,the society had been so depleted and downtrodden, most of them were living in the caves. Add on top of that most of the rulers and wise men had been taken away (with most of the oral traditions and written languages with them) it appears that the remaining people could not tell the explores why the Moai where even there. That is why Easter Island is still such a mystery and the scientists can only make educated guessed on the meanings, the society and their culture.

One of the festivals most interesting events would happen this afternoon so Coti and I got in the car and went to a hillside I had passed yesterday. It was a huge hill with no trees on one face and a worn path in the middle of the hill. The competition is where men (sometimes boys and women as well), lay on their back on two banana tree trucks that have been tied together. They latch in one foot and hold on to handles on the side, and in this position, they slide down the hill that is at a 45-degree angle and where they can reach up to 80 km/hour. All this is done again wearing loincloths, tattoos and body paint.

Coti and I arrived and set up our camp chairs, pulled out our water bottles, put up my umbrella and waited for the festivities to begin. We had to wait awhile as the ambulance we passed as we arrived had to come back before the competition would begin. Previous competitions had serious injuries with broken legs. I had a wonderful time watching the crowd come and go and see the family dynamics at work. These are a handsome people and I so envy the women with their gorgeous long black hair. There were lots of tall spindly weeds ending in a flower, and several of the ladies where braiding them into lovely headdresses. Family members where collecting the weeds and bring them to the craftswomen.

The first two contestants were boys ages 11 and 13. I had thought they would go down the track in the middle of the mountain, but they all ended up going to the right of it through the grass. There had been lots of rain during the night, which might have made it too dangerous. Both boys made it with no problems and were cheered loudly.

There were 13 adult participants and most started off with no problems. At times, some of the sleds would slow down, so you would see the rider raise his torso off the sled in an attempt to pump the sled down the hill. There were different techniques with the legs, some were up in a V, some had their knees bent with their feet on the raft, but most came down with the legs straight in front of them. By the time they were at the bottom of the hill, most of the men would stand up on their sled and then jump off and run down the hill shouting and dancing, probably happy that is was over and that they were alive. One man only made it half way down before he slipped off the sled and went hind-end-over-tea-kettle along with the sled down the hill. He managed to stop and stood on the hill and gave us the I am okay sign. All the guys who had already finished met him at the bottom of the hill with hugs and congratulations.

Riding dow..a trunk.JPG

The final contestant was a woman, who just like the men, came down the hill and made it successfully. She got the loudest ovation, even though she did not have the fastest time, and both Coti and I were glad that no one needed the ambulance. One of the successful contestants walked past us and I got a nice view of the body paint. Lovely eye candy! The men were about my height, medium framed and muscular. Very nice!

Coti took me to see the last three Ahu sites with standing Moai that were close to village. These were very impressive sites, all close to one another one, one with 5 Moai and two with single Moai’s. One of the single Moai had been reconstructed with the white corral eyes and the dark pupil. When I looked at the Moai from a distance, I thought he looked sad. Apparently, all the standing Moai at one time had these eyes, but when they were destroyed, the eyes were pried out and carried away.

The only o..th eyes.JPG

I was again pooped and was happy to come back to the residence.

I went off to find dinner at a wonderful café called Café Taa that had been recommended by the residential. They also had Internet access, albeit on the German language keyboard, so some of the letters were AWOL for a time. My apologies for anyone who had e-mail that night. Dinner was scrumptious with gazpacho and a fabulous fruit salad. During dinner, the monsoon and torrential rains began, but by the time I walked home, no problem.

Monday, Feb 13

I SLEPT IN TODAY! YAAAAAAAAH! It was so much fun.

There was the agricultural part of the festival today where each of the competing families would bring in their produce to be weighed. It was amazing! Tubers that I never understood what they were, pumpkins that make ours look puny, huge stalks of bananas, pineapples and sugar cane, all to be weighed.

I had an adventure at the bank to get money out of my Visa account. I love doing everyday things in a different culture. It is very informative and interesting.

Cecelia graciously agreed to wash my clothes, as the items I wore for the last two days were dust streaked and VERY smelly. The simple pleasure of freshly laundered clothes is one of the many things I am thankful for. I spent the afternoon catching up on my blog during the heat of the day and intended to nap so that I could enjoy the evening dance spectacular at the festival.

Jack tells me that he had talked to the priest of the village about the new parochial school that will be finished in March. They are looking for English teachers and will pay people to come. Jack has offered me his house to stay in, as he will be in China for 6 months studying at a monastery with his 3-year-old daughter and adopting two other girls from China. I am to contact him after I get back to the US, if I am still interested. One option for 2007.

Two new people, in addition to the mom/daughter team of Victoria and Pilar from Chile, are David and Jenny from England. They are lovely and are doing a 6-month journey around the world. David has quit his job at the bank and Jenny has a job to go back to, if she wants it. The jury is still out.

The lights at our residential went out at 9:15, so we sat in the dark and chatted until it was time to go the festival. David, Jenny and I headed out with flashlights in hand, but the almost full moon also helped us along. As the sidewalks tend to end abruptly in places and where you would end up in a trough, we walked down the middle of the street. The entire village was without power, but the dance area must have had a back up generator as it was partially lit. The dancing began at 10pm and we ended up eating dinner at the site. We had kebabs of supposed chicken, but ended up being pork and chicken.

All of the seats were taken so we stood and watched. Lovely women doing hula type movements with their hips (I swear that Polynesian women have an extra joint or hinge in their pelvis!) As Jenny and David had a 7:30 appointment with Jack, we made it an early evening.

Tuesday, February 14

My last day in Easter Island, and I left feeling a little sad, but also that I had seen what I had come to see. I did walk to the museum to see the replicas of the written language of the people. Only replicas were on display, but they were interesting. Very few of the originals exist and since they represent concepts and not actual words, and the wise men were taken away, they cannot be transcribed at this point. I also did a little shopping and walked around the village.

Let me describe the village.

The streets are on a partial grid of about10 streets North to South and about 6-8 East to West. The airport makes up the southern border. The streets have lots of trees with vegetation, so unless you are a block away, you don’t see the shore line. There are bananas, and other fruit trees all over as well as the ubiquitous bougainvillea in all sorts of color. The poinsettia trees were well over 6 feet in height, looked a little spindly, but you could not miss the red leaves.

It is tropical and when the wind is not strong, humid. I am here at the hottest time of the year and Jack assured me that after the summer, the temperate is really very nice for the rest of the year. I will need to return during a different month next time and see. OH yes, I will be back, because the statues are just too interesting.

Horses roam not only all over town, but also in the surrounding areas so you need to watch where you walk, no matter where you are. It is not uncommon to hear the clatter of hooves on the pavement behind you, or coming down the street at all hours of the day. At one point, a horse with two riders was cantering down the street. As they approached one house, three dogs leapt into the street barking at them. Rider number two kept shouting HI HI HI trying to shoo them away. As that pack moved back to their house and the horse proceeded I could tell when the next pack found them form the Hi HI HI I heard in the distance. Most of the dogs are owned and let you know in no uncertain terms if you are approaching their perimeter.

One afternoon when Victoria, Pilar and I were walking down town, we were met on the sidewalk by a kitten around 4 weeks old. He was timid, but responded to petting. We left him and I asked Francis and Lillith to take care of the little mite. Luckily, he was not around when I returned several hours later.

There are 3800 permanent residents on the entire island, including one polish man. I don’t have a clear picture, but I think it is 40% islanders and 60% from the mainland, predominantly Chile. Is it a small community, so everybody knows everyone else. You can pretty much do what you want and no one minds.

Cecilia told me that my flight was delayed, so I didn’t even go to the airport until 2pm. As the plane was delayed, we all received vouchers for a sandwich and drink. I took the drink, but I had just finished my favorite lunch from EI, an empanada, chips and coke, so I was full.

I had an aisle seat, not my favorite, but oh well. As the flight was only 4 hours due to the excellent tail winds, we landed about 10:30 Santiago time. I shared a cab with two other girls to the center of town and I got to Hotel Paris before midnight.

Wednesday, Feb 15

Today I went to Auckland en route to Bangkok.

By the end of the day, I had learned the following.

1. Think twice before you book a budget hotel. The room was fine, bed was clean, and I was safe. End of story.

2. FedEx, DHL and the Chilean post office will not send food, candy, coffee or alcohol to the US. Our customs officials don’t allow it. Hence, those items stayed in the backpack waiting to get back to the room.

3. If you stuff your backpack into a locked at a museum, having dropped it on the floor first, you are likely to find when you return to the locker, liquid dripping out of it.

4. When you get the nudge from the universe to dump the aforementioned items you have been carrying since PERU, DO IT!

5. When you call the reconfirm your flight, ASK FOR A WINDOW SEAT.

6. Even when you have asked for a window seat, arrive at the airport early and ask for a window seat. If you do not get a window seat, ask again to a different agent.

7. Once you have cleared security and are in the gate area, find the customer service counter for your airline and check on something about your flight. ASK again for a window seat. THREE ASKS IS THE CHARM!

Suffice it to say that I am in Auckland, at a Comfort Inn that has a washing machine in the room. I AM IN HEAVEN and all is clean around me. Next entry, from Bangkok.

Posted by ladyjanes 22:10 Archived in Chile Tagged armchair_travel Comments (1)

Entry #8 Dance Camp in Peru

The perfect way to start my year abroad!

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Dance Camp – St. Eulalia – Feb 4-9, 2006

Sat Feb 3 -
I got back to town on Feb 3 from Trujillo and I met some of the group going to the St. Eulalia for the dance camp for Dances of Universal Peace. I have never done this type of dancing and was surprised to meet Bob, one of the 8 people from North America who would be attending. I am not sure why, but I thought it would only be women. There would be up to 40 people attending from Peru, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Brasil, Venezuela, one from Spain, one from Holland and 8 from the US.

I had dinner with Bob, from Washington State and also met Leigh, from Portland.

Sun Feb 4 –

At breakfast, I sat with Bob and Leigh and Rowena, from Australia. Rowena had been traveling around the world for 8 years teaching diving. She had recently been on a bus from Cusco to Nazca that was held up a gunpoint. She lost everything and spent the entire day on the Internet at the hotel trying to get her life back in order. She was rather philosophical about it and had decided to take the offer of grad school in Aust in Marine Biology, providing she could get her airline tickets redone. I had mentioned to Bob that I needed to get to a store to buy a blanket and Rowena said that she was ditching her sleeping bag and that I could have it. I gave her several paperbacks that I was done with for trading at the book exchange and we called it even. The Universe provides again.

Also at the hotel were two Peruvian’s Carlos and Eduardo, the later who would be giving us drumming lessons during the camp. It was an hour drive from the outskirts of Miraflores to St. Eulalia. The town was small and made up mainly of vacation homes and compounds of bungalows for holidays.

Our compound is owned and run by Peter who is a stately gentlemen with gray hair who was all over making sure we all had hot water and sweeping the steps and the tops of the houses to get rid of the extra water from the unexpected rain we were experiencing. There were over 10 bungalows and the grounds had numerous mango, banana, avocado, apple and pear trees and flowers ranging from hibiscus, roses, bouganvillia and jasmine. Wonderful to walk through and smell or sit at one of the many tables or benches and just enjoy.

I would be rooming in a house with 5 other women. Leigh, Cynthia and Janine from the US and Anna Maria and Nancy from Columbia. Our bungalow (The blue house) had two bedrooms with three beds each. Leigh and I were in the smaller of the two up stairs and we weren’t sure when Cynthia would arrive. Janine came up a day later so for the first night it was only 4 in the house.

After dinner, which was soup, rice and seitan and lovely lemongrass tea, we had our first dance session.

The Dances of Universal Peace is an international program where people gather to sing, dance and pray from the heart for the furtherance of understanding and global peace. In our group, three languages were spoken so the opening invocation was done in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Luckily they did a lot of translating so that those of us with only one language could understand and follow. The dance room was a large building with mats in the middle, a central position for the musicians, flowers and incense and around the perimeter, chairs and benches to put your shoes. There are three doors and lots of windows but at times it got a little warm with 40 bodies moving together.

What a lovely and handsome group of people. I felt like an Amazon towering over most of the women, but luckily there was one man who was considerably taller than I so I didn’t feel like a giant. There is always a smile to greet you and lots of hugs and even though I could not understand some of them without an interpreter, I know that I was accepted and loved.

The first night, the leader was Grace, from Ft. Collins, who began the dances in Peru over 7 years ago and who was the driving force for this workshop. Other leaders of the dances included the rest of the organizational committee. This event was the first time most of the South American countries were together for an event. During the week, the main group comprised of dance leaders, dance mentors and their mentees, met in the afternoons to discuss the logistics for the South American Network and the future of these dances for the entire continent.

Each session began with walking in a counter clockwise direction to balance ourselves in the space and the session and to begin connecting as a group. After that, the leader, who also generally accompanied the group with guitar, drum or other instrument, sings the melody for us to learn. Then came the steps and after a little practice, off we went. It was generally lovely, gentle dancing with lots of swaying and chanting at times, all with the intention to pray to the higher powers for global peace and understanding. We were singing in English, Spanish, Hebrew, Aramaic and other languages and luckily, it was usually only a few phrases per song. Whenever I got lost, I would just hum along or go la la la and as that is half of Allah, Zubin (from Holland) said that was fine. Most of the dances come from biblical text or prayers and hymns from any of these traditions.

We ended about 10:30 and then off to bed.

Mon - Wed, Feb 6 -8

The daily schedule was breakfast between 7:30 and 8:30. Dance from 10 until 12:30. Lunch at 1:00, afternoon meeting for the main group and drums lessons for the rest at 3:00. Break at 5:00. Dinner at 7:00. Evening dancing from 8:00 until 10:30. There were also early morning sessions of yoga, tai chi and other forms of light exercise that started at 7:00 am. I never made any of them, because I was sleeping so well.

Tuesday morning, Thomas from Spain lead a Family Constellation for the South American group as they began to work through some of the differences that were causing a little tension. It was all in Spanish and the people that went said that it was amazing. We were all invited, but most of the guests who were not involved with the meetings did not attend.

Breakfasts were fruit, fresh juice, coffee or tea, cheese, olives, bread, cereal, yoghurt and jams and condiments.

After the first evening session, most of the dance sessions were lead by one of the countries in the group. Each group did at least 7 dances and brought something new to the group. There was usually one of two dances that resonated with me and usually had me in tears. There was so much love and spirituality in the room that you could not help but be moved from time to time. People were very respectful of others emotions and did not intrude. The Brazilians won for the most energetic with the most playful rhythms.

Lunches were always the biggest meal and usually had some type of salad, a main dish including seitan (a gluten that was cooked like a meat and would take on the flavor of the spices) bread, fresh tea and a pudding for dessert.

The drum sessions were wonderful, if not a little exhausting. The first day, Eduardo, gave us a simple rhythm that we all practiced and got quite good at. We were very high energy that day and thoroughly enjoyed it. The next day, we were more tired with lower energy, but were more confident with our drumming and dove right in to our second major rhythm. My hands became quite tired, so I lay on the floor to enjoy the energy and the sound. I was right next to one of the metallic drums, and boy it was piercing.

Dinners were smaller with soup, a light meal including rice or potatoes, dessert, tea and bread.

Wednesday night, our last night of dancing was wonderful with lots of different leaders. After the session ended, we had a bon fire with drums, flute and songs. People sang and danced and even jumped over the fire and the moon came out over us all. It went on well past midnight.

Thurs, Feb 9 –

This was our final day in St. Eulalia and we had a short session at 9:00 for a final dance before the buses arrived at 11:00 to take us back to Miraflores.

We were a little late starting and began with a giving and receiving practice. This involved two lines of people facing each other. The left hand side silently gave a gift to the person standing in front of them and the receiver would say thank you. When the chime sounded, everyone moved one step to the right and repeated the process. This way, we both received and gave gifts to everyone we had danced with. I was fine until I came to Zelice, a wonderful woman from Brazil who had the most delightful smile. I noticed her the first day and although we didn’t understand each other most of the time, there was a wonderful connection. Luckily, I came prepared this morning and used all of the tissues in my pants before the ceremony was through.

The buses were early but bus number one was very late in leaving as we all had a hard time saying goodbye and getting that last hug in before we left.

Back in Miraflores, we went to the Hostel Buena Vista to collect bags and try and find lunch before most of us made connections in Lima for other locations. Leigh was kind enough to let me use her room to reorganize my bags and make calls before I left Lima. Being away from the web was wonderful, but I had some catching up to do with things from home and arrangements for hotels in Auckland, Bangkok and Santiago when I return from Easter Island. Not all in place as of yet, but moving along.

Juan Marcos, one of the men from the dance camp, and I shared a cab to the airport and we were there in plenty of time for our flight at 8:35 to Santiago. I was seated next to a lady from Peru who shared candy with me and sang in her sleep during our short flight to Santiago. It was only 3.5 hours in the air, but also a 2-hour time change so I left at 8:30 and landed at 1:30 am. I am currently in the Santiago airport, it is 3:30 am and I can check my bags for my flight to Easter Island at 5:00 am. Yah! Then off to the gate for a short sleep until I board the plane at 8:30 am.

Now that I am no longer in Peru I can say this. The Peruvians are WONDERFUL DRIVERS. This would not be easily recognizable by the US standards because intersections are an amazing collection of cars from every possible direction all negotiating their way around. Yet for all the honking with multiple sounds, I did not witness one car wreck, one slightly crumpled fender or witness one international signal for unspeakable acts. Remember how I said that the horn was the most used piece of equipment on the car? It is simply a device to alert drivers within your vicinity that you were in the area and requesting space on the road. My hats off the all the drivers in Peru. They are amazing.

What did I learn in Peru?

  • I am braver in a crowd, but more friendly and outgoing when I am on my own.
  • Letting go earns you better results than pushing your own agenda. (I know, this is obvious to everyone around me, but I had to find it out for myself).
  • Best item I brought from home – jar opener that stands in for a drain stopper when doing hand laundry in the sink.
  • Item I forgot that I wish I had – inflatable hangers. While most of the hostels and hotels had hangers, some did not and others could not be removed from the closet.
  • I HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF WITH ME! I have already mailed my big sweater home and plan to either dump or give away more stuff before I make it to Thailand.
  • FedEx does not allow ANY FOOD STUFFS IN THEIR BOXES, not even coffee or chocolate. So, no food goodies for the mail from now on.
  • I will have to wait for another location for Rhett Butler auditions.
  • Items I will buy as I arrive in a new country – shampoo, Kleenex, Gatorade, candy and cookies, phone card, washing powder, sun screen.

What I have noticed so far from my travels.

  • * International travelers tend to be liberal in their views. Sorry Rob, I don’t think there has been a Republican in the bunch so far. I will keep the survey going though and will let you know the results.
  • * Well over ½ of the people I have met from the US or other Western Countries have done a stretch of 6 months to a year of international traveling.
  • * The group I have met so far always have wonderful ideas of where to go and how to get there and are a wonderful source of good books to read.

I continue to search for a WIFI Network so that I can access to download this and the other entries from Peru including pictures.

Next entry, Easter Island. Quen is very much looking forward to his next photo.

Posted by ladyjanes 22:07 Archived in Peru Tagged postcards Comments (0)

Entry 7 Peruvian Excursions after the kids

Overbooked, but I saw it all!

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P #4 - Excursions after the PPA to Cusco, Machu Picchu, Arequipa, Chiclayo and Trujillo

Bright and early on Saturday, Jan 21, Jean and I left for the airport to fly to Cusco. Before that I left my main bag at my next hostel, Hostel Buena Vista, as I did not want to lug all my gear for the next two weeks. The nice man had been woken from his sleep, but somehow managed to understand that I would be coming back on Feb 3rd to stay.

Flight was uneventful and we were picked up by Josephina who shuttled us to our hotel, Hotel Villandre. We were about 10 blocks away from the main square, but on a safe road and got a room at the back of the hotel.

We were instructed to take it easy and were offered coca tea. Not bad, but I am not sure what all the shouting is about. As Cusco is at 13,000 feet, both Jean and I had been taking our high altitude pills, but drank the tea and settled down for a quick nap before the city tour at 1pm.

We boarded the bus with guide, Guiermo, and first went to the cathedral which was amazing and showed us that Jesus had actually eaten guinea pig for the last supper, not lamb as we had all been lead to believe. Imagine all this time, thinking it was lamb. I have post card that shows it so it must be true. Out the door and surrounded by people taking pictures of us and trying to sell us postcards.

What I have found is that almost none of the museums or sites that we visit have interpretive information in print. Probably so you have to hire a guide to understand what is going on because few of the museums have signs in both Spanish and English. Even the books that you can buy in the area are all in Spanish so no help there.

On the bus, we next went to Corichanca which was a monastery built over an Inca temple. It was wonderful to see the stones up close and too see how they fit without mortar. At every Inca site, they tell us that during all the earthquakes, the Inca buildings are the safest. All the additions made by the Spanish and later people are always destroyed, which is how they found this site after the 1950 earthquake. It had all be plastered over, but the plaster shattered and revealed this building. It originally was a walled compound with only one entrance and a square of temples to the sun, moon, thunder, rainbows and I can’t remember the other three. I have a picture of the smallest stone, no bigger than a fingernail. The reason why the walls are so strong is that they are built wider at the base than at the top and large stones are cut so that they go around the corners. The buildings were almost never over one story and the roofs were thatched that had to be replaced annually. The Inca always used local stone so sometimes it is basalt and sometimes it is limestone. Still very impressive when you see the size of some of these stones.

Next, on the bus and up the hill above Cusco to Susqueyama (or Sexy Woman as mangled by the English Language). It is a huge fort and look out and was very impressive. It forms the head of the Puma that Cusco was built around. Other landmarks down in Cusco form the spine, tail and legs of the giant cat. We were beginning to feel the altitude and walked slowly. There were lots of people at the bus to sell us things, dressed in local clothing, with spinning demonstrations and llamas on display for photos. Most of the areas where tourists go, you can take pictures, but the people expect a tip for the photo.

Next, up the hill a little more to ???????? which was mainly a site for prayer and sacrifice. At this point, Jean was suffering for both altitude and the Peruvian Panic, so Guiermo, gave her alcohol to rub on her hands and inhale and to rub on her throat. Helpful but not entirely, as she finally ended up on a flat rock with Jim, a Dr. from Atlanta, holding her feet up and me taking her pulse. Back in the bus for two additional stops before we went back into Cusco.

+++++, the red fort was a small Inca site with reddish stones and more local people for photos. Our final stop was ????? which was a 15-minute hike up the hill to a site that was a retreat for the Inca gentry. It had been threatening rain the whole time, but as we got to the bottom of the hill, we had a lovely break in the clouds and the sun on the mountains.

We got Jean back to our room and set her up with an extra pillow, remote for the TV, space heater and 10 minutes of oxygen out of a tank. She was set for the evening so I ventured out, with a map of Cusco and a business card from the hotel, to find Barb at her hotel and Bob who came up on a later flight. Some of the best advice the guidebooks give was to always travel with a business card from your hotel so that you can show it to a taxi and they can get you home.

Barb had just finished 4 days of hiking the Inca trail ending at Machu Picchu. She said she had never been so tired in her entire life. She had four days of hiking broken up into 8 hours, 8 hours, 5 hours and then 3.5 hours. Tourists were allowed to carry no more than 15 pounds and the guides and barrers carried the rest. She said the tourists struggled over the terrain, even the 23 year olds from Denmark, but that the barrers ran up the hills with tents, luggage and food. She said the worse part was the pit toilets, not because of the smell, but because your legs were so tired at the end of the day that as you go to squat, they would shake. It sounded like she enjoyed it but not sure if she would do it again.

Jan 22
Sunday, Jean and I were going on a bus tour of the sacred valley. It would cover many Inca sites and towns including the famous market at Pisac. My seatmate was Tina from Denmark who will be completing her tour around the world in April with Easter Island, and Jean sat next to a man from Germany who was taking 6 months away from work to travel.

We stopped at one market and then our bus descended into the valley that was very green and full of crops. It is in sharp contrast to the area around Lima. While the people are still poor, they are at least able to raise food for themselves and to sell. The dogs look a lot healthier here and most wear collars and even play with each other and chase balls.

In Pisac at the market we had two choices. Our stop would only be for 30 minutes and then we would be on the bus up on another site. If we chose to stay in the market, then the bus would return at 12:30. Jean indicated that she would be back on the bus, but was not to be seen at the first deadline. We went up the mountain without her and one other person to the Pisac ruins.

The Pisac Ruins involved quite a hike on a narrow ledge up to a summit. Half way up I decided to rest, save my strength for MPicchu the next day and then returned to the bus. There was one portion of the trail that I had to navigate and I called it the Devils Staircase. It was steep, uneven steps that clung to the side of the hill. In addition, there were lots of tourists so someone had to be on the outside. I took my time and kept letting pods of tourists go past me. As you will see from most of the photos I took in this area, the standard piece of clothing for tourists is a lovely, brightly colored plastic poncho. I have a shot of the Devils Staircase with a herd of colorful plastic coated tourists descending the stairs. They either look like garden gnomes or hobbits. My poncho is deep purple.

At 12:30, the bus was not ready to return to Pisac and I hoped Jean would be okay with the wait. She had become aware that time was a fluid thing. Once we got back to Pisac, there was no sign of Jean. The guide and I did a quick look through the market and still no Jean. He said she probably got a ride to our next stop, Calca for lunch. I did not feel that had happened as she had left her purse on the bus that had most of her money, her documents and her ticket showing what was next. I went on the bus to Calca, but still no Jean. I borrowed money from some Australians for a phone call to our hotel in Cusco and still no Jean. I told them to tell her if she calls that I am in Pisac looking for her.

The guide helps me find a local bus back to Pisac. No Jean. I speak to a shopkeeper I bought from and told her my story. She agrees to keep an eye out for her. At the head of the market is a police car, so I look through the market for men in uniform. I find them and tell them about Jean and show them her passport. I explain that she has no money, may be sick, speaks no Spanish and is lost. They are regional police and they very kindly take me to the local police station that is right where the bus left me off from Calca. When I begin my story again, one of the policemen says, yes, he has seen her and they had put her on a bus back to Cusco one hour ago. (She probably got on the bus that I got off). So, I get on to another local bus for an hours ride back to Cusco. Luckily, a very nice man gave me his seat, as the road was incredibly hilly and uneven.

I arrived back in Cusco at the regional bus terminal (dirt lot) and the bus driver helped me find a taxi back to the hotel. I arrive and Jean was in the room. Luckily, she had some money in her pocket and the business card from the hotel so she got back without mishap. She felt so bad that I had missed the rest of the trip, but I was just glad she was safe. I learned lots about myself this day and will carry it with me for the rest of my trip.

Monday, Jan 23

Up at the crack of dawn to catch the train to Aqua Calientes, the stopping point for Machu Picchu. It will take us four hours in the train but it is 30 minutes before we have even left Cusco proper. In order for the train to gain altitude, it has to go through a series of about 5 switchbacks. As we are going back and forth during the switchbacks, I notice on the top of the roofs are little shrines that usually include a cross, some flowers and two figures of bulls. Hmmmmm? Haven’t found anyone to ask about this yet.

We find that our tickets are mixed up in that the one with my name says I am returning tonight to Cusco and Jean’s says she is staying two days in ACalientes. Our guide says that I will have to be Jean for the train ride but it should be okay. During out ride ACalientes, I strike up a conversation with Jamie and Jason, students from Adelaide Australia and I hope to see them when I am in Oz in July.

When you get to ACalientes, you have to leave your bags with porters from the hotel and then get on the bus for MPicchu because the guide only has us for two hours and many of the group is only day-trippers. My hostel was called Machu Picchu and it was included on the sign with two other Hostels. Before you boarded the bus, we had to pass through yet another market and then cross the raging river with a footbridge.

The scenery was wonderful and we do many switchbacks to get up to the entrance. At the entrance, we are split into another group with Guide Darwin who speaks English and off we go. IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL! Machu Picchu does not disappoint.

Favorite v.. Picchu.jpg

We climbed all over the site in two hours and at times it is hot but by the end we are soaked. (I didn’t have my poncho yet, but I will before tomorrow). Jean and I had lunch and then it is time for her to go back down the mountain to catch the train back to Cusco. A long day for her, but at least she got to see it.

It continued to pour during lunch and I told myself that I would give it one more hour and if it was still pouring, I would go back down and return tomorrow. In 15 minutes it has stopped so I went back in. I ended the day totally soaked, but I got to walk to highest point in the main site where the famous pictures are taken. It is worth the wet, beside, I needed to wash the sweater I had on anyway.

One of the highlights of the day, which Barb had warned us about, was a young entrepreneur I call Mr. ADIOS GOOD BYE. This young man, 8-12 years of age, dressed in local garments, met the returning busses at every switchback saying a long plaintive wail ADIOS GOOOOOOODDDDDDDD BYYYYYYYYE. As you crossed the river, he ran ahead of the bus. On the other side the bus stopped and let him board. He cried his signature chant and then proceeded down the aisle collecting contributions. I had spied him at one of the first switchbacks where he had 6-8 apprentices with him. I wonder if he gets a kick back for the buses that he does not get to ride?


I found an Internet café that night and checked in with the mail and went to bed very happy in a room that over looked the roaring river. Even with the doors and windows closed, because it was cold, it sounded like I had an air conditioner on high fan all night. HEAVEN!

Tuesday, Jan 24

With my lovely purple poncho at the ready, I board the bus to MPicchu for day two. I had intended to get up very early and get up to MPicchu on the first bus, but did not make it. I was finally there at about 8:30 and found Bob, who had been on the first bus. It was very overcast, but I knew it would burn off around 10:30 and was prepared to wait.

It was a lovely morning with drizzle on and off and the purple poncho was a big help. I found a place to sit very high and watched for over an hour and the clouds came and went and the mountains appeared and then disappeared behind them. There were also llama races going on during the morning. It appeared that one lucky female llama had 5 suitors and you could hear them calling and clattering over the paved walks. During one time of overcast, a fearsome battle was waged and then the clouds parted, she was down one suitor. I don’t think there was a death involved, but the looser decided to make himself scarce. There were only 1/3 the number of tourists as yesterday, so on my high perch, there were several times when I heard no one but the llamas of course.

When the sun finally broke, it was just when the main set of tourists who come up for the day arrived. As I knew that they would be busy in the lower section, I chose to go higher and find the Inca Bridge, which was a 20-minute hike from the top. Again, not many people on the trail with me and I let them pass me as I took my time and stopped for photos. I saw many lovely flowers and even wild strawberries just ready to be picked, humming birds, mini-orchids and the bridge. On the way back, a group ahead of me found a large centipede having a munch. He was very handsome in his black coat and lots of red legs. Photo taken, I moved on.

I ambled around all the places I had not visited yesterday, retook photos that now were devoid of tourists and end up leaving the park around 4pm. I spoke to a lovely couple from Ouray and Ridgeway Colorado who loved it as much as I did. You may remember, I kept running into Coloradoans in France. I wonder if they were be everywhere I travel this year?

I met Bob for dinner to help celebrate his birthday. We found a great restaurant that was Peruvian/French and the food was wonderful. Papaya and avocado salad to die for!

Wednesday, Jan 25

This morning was filled with picking up my laundry and doing computer work to try and keep my blog chugging along. Then as soon as I find a wifi, I can download it. The train back was uneventful and I had the seat for two to myself that was nice. We were treated to a fashion show in our coach with two of the ladies modeling lovely alpaca items and two of the men dressed in native costumes.

Back to the hotel Villandre and bed.

Thursday, Jan 26

On this day in Cusco, I tried to see as many of the sites included in my tourist ticket. The Inca Museum was the best I have seen and had many displays in English as well as Spanish. It is incredibly detailed and a must see when in Cusco. I happened to see Tina for the Pisac trip and filled her in that Jean was fine and back in the US. She said that the rest of the tour was not that good, so I did not miss much. For the same price, I entered the church next to the cathedral and it was a huge disappointment. I did get a view of the square I couldn’t achieve anywhere else, but otherwise, it was a miss in my book.

My guidebook has steered me to two different eateries, one called Café Padre’s whose proceeds go to a home for teenage girls. The food was great and I came upon Kim, a Kiwi who has lived in England for years and teaches school. She is on sabbatical and traveling around the world and will work with the street kids in Cusco. She was lovely to talk to as we shared lunch. The other place was just down the street and boasted a lovely book exchange, so I traded two in and took two. What a great system. I plan to keep track of the books I read from the exchanges for the year. It should be an eclectic bunch.

Friday, Jan 27

Morning of running around saying goodbye to Cusco and then the plane from Cusco to Arequipa, the colonial city. Only 9000 feet so no need for the pills anymore. Road to my hotel with Alan and Sandy from Canada. He is doing a PhD in Anthropology, but not the digging kind. My hotel is nice, has Internet and is close to the square. I walked around it in the afternoon and sat in the balcony for dinner with a local dish of hot red pepper filled with meat and cheese. Yummy. Located what I think will be my first wife opportunity which is exciting.

Saturday, Jan 28,

I take it easy as I have been running for about 16 days without much of a break. I decide to buy sandals as mine are in my luggage in Miraflores and I don’t want to wear my boots every day for the next week. Within a day, they have given me blisters so they will not be continuing with me for long.

Sunday, Jan 29

Still taking it easy, decided not to try and cram in a one-day trip to see Colca Canyon and the condors and vicunas. That will have to happen on my next trip, as there will be one, as I did not get to see the Amazon on this one. I did go to the Monastery of St. Catalina, which is really a convent. It is amazing and all the kitchens in each of the little nocks fascinate me. Went to the wifi site and never achieved connection, so I wrote blog entries and drank coffee.

I am finding it a little lonely and I don’t feel adventurous right now. I realized that I am looking forward to the community at the dance camp and being on more a schedule. I must remember these times when I am so scheduled that I wish for flexibility. Just one of the phases I will find during this trip. I think another thing that is eating at me is my limited Spanish and having to go ahead by myself. All within my power to change for the better.

Mon, Jan 30

I leave Arequipa at 8:55 pm and find I have a layover in the Lima airport until 5pm when I leave for Chichlayo. So, books in hand, lunch to be had and time with computer in the Internet center at the terminal. Not a bad day and I got all my expenses transcribed into my new notebook so I can keep track of my budget. (Way over it at this point, which I expected. The first three months will end up being the most expensive as the placements are far apart and lots of travel in between to get to them.)

Tuesday, Jan 31

Chiclayo and one of the tours I was most looking forward to, the Senor of Sipan. This is the archeological site of a Moche ruler (dynasty before the Incas) and it was fascinating. We had an excellent guide and it was me, a couple from Germany, a couple from Switzerland, two ladies from Peru and Costa Rica and Arturo, the guide. We ended up as Sican (another Moche site) Tucume (again Moche with some Chimu culture) and finally Sipan. Fascinating and the Sipan museum is wonderful. You need guide as none of it is in English. Amazing to see the amount of detail work the Peruvians were doing between 800-1400 AD with copper, silver and gold. The pottery is also amazing and the rituals and social structure. Most of these sites looked like sand mounds, until you started to dig and found that they were actually pyramid, like the Maya or Aztecs made of adobe bricks. Most of the sites been disturbed by Huachayeros (Huacha = holy site, robbers) Some of the destruction had been done over 400 years ago, but some of it was quite new and in fact, lead the archeologists to really find the SIPAN tomb.

I didn’t realize that until I got to Peru, the Inca was simply the last culture and the one found by the Spanish. There had been 12-15 distinct cultures before the Inca and most with incredibly buildings and aqueducts to bring water to the dessert. The best thing about them is that when they overtook a culture, they didn’t automatically destroy all their buildings. The rule might be captured and brought to the conquerors city but so were artisan and crafts people. They would take the best of before and incorporate it. HUMMMMM?

Wed, Feb 1

Today I am in for an adventure, I am taking the bus between Chiclayo and Trujillo, three hours south along the coast.

The bus was large and the seats were comfortable and a tv in front showing a movie in Spanish. I had an aisle seat, luckily, because the young woman in front of me had her seat totally reclined. Not sure why hers needed to be reclined because she spent most of trip lounged against her patient and very long-suffering boyfriend. I think the movie was Blackhawk Down, but couldn’t be sure.

I spent half my time looking out the window as the dessert and dust. It is so hard to believe the disparate climates and terrain of this land. Also amazing is how successful the early culture was to capture the available water and use it efficiently to grow crops. Over 200 kinds of potatoes, and over 1000 kids of corn. Today the same region grows cotton, sugar cane, and rice. In Peru, the yellow corn that we eat all the time is only fed to chickens. One of their main corns is a pale yellow, has kernels as large as a man’s thumbnail and makes popcorn the size of marshmallows. Plus the purple corn, I have mentioned before is an amazing drink, Chicha!

Thurs, Feb 2

Today, was my visit to the Chumi cultures archeological site of Chan Chan. The tour was split into two halves, the am to the Huaca de la Luna and de la Sol in a small bus. These pyramids are south of the city and had an amazing freezes in them, some with the original painting on them.
Very hot in the sun, and I burned on my neck even with 30 sun block on. We were back in Trujillo for a lunch on our own and then back into a larger and much nicer bus for the Chan Chan portion.

Chan Chan is a huge complex with 9 major palaces, each with three main sections. We saw the Tschudi Palace, one of the smallest. This complex had massive looting so most of the artifacts are gone. That does not stop it from being an amazing complex of gigantic proportions. The freezes are amazing and they have done a wonderful job of restoring most of the walls to give us a feel for the scale. One of the best things about this afternoon is that it was overcast and cool, which made it very pleasant. In the bright sun, Chan Chan would be a furnace. The universe always provides, all I have to do it ask.

Fri, Feb 3

I flew back to Lima today and I was looking forward to returning to an area where I felt comfortable and under control. I had a lot of small things to accomplish like hotels and deposits to pay, phone calls to make, laundry to do and finding Fedex to send stuff back to the US. I am planning to do that at the end of the every country to send back paperwork and books I won’t need for the rest of the trip and any souvenirs from the area. I am finding that my luggage weight more than when I left. It think it is the humidity, but it could also be I am getting a little tired and am not anxious to lug everything around.

I am contemplating mailing the laptop home. If I do not locate and become comfortable with WIFI, the machine may become a heavy luxury that adds weight to my bags as well as a source of concern for its security. The jury is still out, but we are contemplating it. On one hand, the computer is a great source of entertainment as I can type and process things as they happen. If I do send it home, I will need to buy more journals and do a better job of writing every day while the information is recent and I can remember all the names. You may have noticed that there are certain areas with ?? for names that I cannot remember, as I have already sent my Peru book back home.

This ends the excursion portion of Peru because tomorrow, I am off to the dance camp.

Posted by ladyjanes 22:05 Archived in Peru Tagged armchair_travel Comments (0)

Entry #6 Second week with the Kids in Peru


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Jan 16-20 – PPA week 2


Monday, Jan 16

This was a day of many challenges for the entire team. Several of us had come down the Peruvian Panic, as I call it, over the weekend and were feeling drained. Add to it that Jean, Mary and I had a long weekend in hot weather and that added to the fatigue. (I will think long and hard before I commit to weekend excursions during future placements)

Painting was again a haven of calm and we added Mryna, (who is an artist) which will help tremendously. Patty, Myrna and I were doing outlining on most of the creatures and Carlos was on the ladder outlining the waves in black. Suddenly, there was an ominous sound of dripping water and we look over to see Carlos part way down the later clutching the paint and black paint dripping down the wall over the trio of octopi and all over the floor. The team sprang into action to rescue Carlos and begin sopping up the mess. There was no water close to us and our rags were not that much help. Luckily, we had paper down and could use that to stop most of it, but it was all over the ladder and covered at least 10 steps. This was at about 10:45 and I can report that by the time we left for lunch at 12:30, almost all of the repair work had been accomplished on the wall and floor. We will need to let it dry and little, and will paint over some of the characters, but if you did not know it happened, you would not be able to tell.

Siblings and the kindergarten group were pandemonium this afternoon, and if the team was frustrated on Friday, it was worse today. We were not allowed to take our group away from the others because a special teacher was coming to work with the kids and she was expected at 3:00. She finally arrived at 4:15. Jean is my new team buddy as she found she was not needed in the afternoon to work with older girls. Carolina has taken to her and Jean being a school psychologist was helpful. She drew pictures of each of the kids for them to keep and charmed Marco when she outlined a Mariposa for him to color in. (Butterfly). I have it in my keeping and will show it to you when I return.

With both groups commingled, we were 4 adults and 16 kids. Not the best ratio when it comes to 4 year olds. At one point, we were in the rusty playground and Patty was not having success keeping the girls from escaping, Roalia included in the bunch. As they disappeared around the corner, Patty and I followed to find them all squatting behind a bush, having a pee. Shrieking and running they escaped through the building. Prior to that, they had stolen the mechanical car and were running amok all over the campus. More chasing them back to the area and we all left frustrated, hot and feeling pretty defeated.

One of the things that GV indicates is that volunteers will always work with an equal number of local people. This has not been the case, and today, we had no local person to help us that added to the day. We explained our day to Mili and she helped give us a perspective. First, it was Monday and some of the kids had gone home for the weekend. Even if the PPA is better than home, they don’t always want to come back, especially because the PPA has rules and at home, there may be none. Second, the helpers that are normally present were directed by Sister to clean for the special teacher instead of helping us.

Mili had her share of frustration because she joined the bus to summer school and saw how unorganized the program was. As of today, the GV will not be doing summer school. Jean will help in the boys’ bathroom and Myrna on the mural.

Dinner for me was a subdued affair as my stomach was still iffy.

Tuesday, Jan 17

Flexibility – Mili suggested that I work with the toddlers this morning as that was what I originally had asked to do. I had a brief moment of not wanting to give up control of the mural, but knew that it would be fine under Patty’s direction. So off to Toddler land I went.

Even though I had not seen them since last Monday, they warmed up a lot faster. Bob had been working on transitioning Carlito to other people because the first few separations had been so traumatic for Carlito. I got to take several of them for a walk in the stroller, but they soon were asleep. This is not allowed because too much napping early in the day means no afternoon nap. So I took Connie and Carlito back and played with them. The rest of the group are twins, Carilta and ??, Shena, Connie (16 months) and Carlito (14 months). Carlito is one of 9 children, Connie is an only child, the twins have 4 other siblings and Shena I can’t remember. The DR was there to check them and most of them have chest congestion.

I got to feed Carlito and I think the menu was liver and rice, chicken soup with egg and then a juice drink for dessert. He was so good and ate everything, and was excellent at telling me that the soup was too hot. He did not cry, but would not accept a bite until it was cooled. Then changing and naptime. How cute! I look forward to seeing them tomorrow.

The mural looks great and progress has been made. They have completed the final stencils and now it will simply be fill in details.

The siblings were an entirely different group. Apparently, Sister had gotten to them and you would not believe these were the same children. I also was changed and stood back more instead of insinuating myself on them. The mechanical car was in view and you have never seen such teamwork in your life. The car is heavy, can seat 4 and is mechanized with a full engine. I could not believe how they all took turns, changed places and worked as a team to get that car from point A to B. Their main goal was to get it down the ramp and away from me. No such luck, but they tried.

Patty had promised the kindergarteners since they were so good today, movies tomorrow as they had missed last Friday. Jean and I decided we would add our group as well.

Dinner was at a fabulous sandwich place that was very popular. We all loved it. Mili said that one team was so picky about what they ate that they went there three times. Our group is medium picky, with one true vegetarian, one who eats no fruit or veggies, one who has a tooth ache, so only wants soft food, one who wants no additional crabs so always wants extra veggies and no rice and potatoes. Then there are the tender tummy bunch, me included who drank lots of Gatorade, ate rice, bread and not much else. Did I say we weren’t picky?

Wednesday, Jan 18

Toddlers and the worlds longest walk. Right after everyone is dressed and ready to go, usually the Brown ladies show up to help. The Brown ladies are ladies from the community who usually come in once a week to help in different areas. They all wear a brown dress and are very nice. Today, it was time for the walk so 5 adults including Pamela and I, 4 strollers with seating for 5, and 10 additional toddlers set out to Vamos a Ver (go and see). The first 5 minutes seemed to be fine, with lots of stopping to look at the mariposas and discuss the trees. One of the ladies brought saltines and another water, so when we stopped, the whole herd converged for their share. The walk fell apart with the appearance of a dog that lead 6 of them away from the herd. 10 minutes to round up the escapees. Then around the corner past where the mural was being painted and Patty signaling that they need me to go up the ladder and stencil the sun and moon. It will have to wait. At one point when we were on a concrete platform and some were too close to the edge, a car drives up. The head lady in Brown piles all the ambulatory toddlers into the car for a quick trip around the building. Then they all pile out and we continue. As soon as we were even close to the entrance, I make a beeline with my buggy loaded with two back to toddler land. I drop them off in their respective pods and run to add the stencils. The detail work looks great. Pamela informed me that when I left, each of them had 5 to handle.

I am back in toddler heaven in time to feed and this time there is one adult per child. I have Connie who eats fairly well but does lots of train wrecks for me. At least it isn’t liver and rice again, it appeared to be beef and egg and rice, noodle soup and juice for dessert. Bob 2 arrives and is supposed to help one of the twins who is really supposed to feed herself. She puts a spoon in and then he does. Everyone else is finished and she is still eating. Bob keeps calling may day and I finally bring her juice over which she drinks completely. I think she was just so thirsty, she wasn’t interested in food.

After our lunch we take the kids over to the video room that is set for about 70 kids. I walk with Diana and Wendy and Erica trails behind. I am pleased to see that Marco’s group also arrives and he ends up sitting on my lap during most of it so I am in heaven. Erica is more interested in making my watch do things than watching the video. We tried Shark tale but the DVD kept stalling so we switched to a version of 101 Dalmatians and they held it together for about 35 minutes. So many of the kids wanted you to hold their hands, sit on your lap or just have a moment of your time. I wished I was an octopus or a kangaroo so I had more lap space.

Finally it was time to go and all the kids’ whindged but with a candy in their mouth, off they went.

Dinner was at a chicken place and as I hadn’t had much to eat, I charged right in. We discussed why most of us were there and it felt like a good end to the day.

Thursday, Jan 19.

At 2:00 am, I had my first trip of many to the little room and by 3am, I knew that I would not be attending the PPA today. Major stomach upset which left we weak, sweaty and dizzy. Jean, God love her, went before breakfast to the store for Gatorade and water for me and many friends stopped by before the bus left and say Hi and see if they could do anything. At that point, most of it had stopped and I had taken my Imodium, so it was just rest and see. (Outside, Juan was getting a parking ticket for staying in one place to long)

I tried to read, but my eyes hurt. There was nothing on tv, so the ipod and I had a quiet morning. Then at 11am, a marching band marched through the square playing the Col. Boggie March from Bridge on the River Kwai. Funny, I would be in Thailand within one month and would be at my old horse camp at the river. I can’t understand why Mary or Myrna had not told me of the entertainment because both of them had stayed home one day.

I felt much better when they all returned, but did not go down to dinner, as sitting up was not a good exercise at the time. I knew that I wanted to make it on Friday, as it would be our last day at the PPA.

Friday, Jan 20

Our last day at PPA and it would be a short day as they always prepare a goodbye party for us. The team had collected money for basic office supplies for the PPA and Jean went on Thursday to Staples with Mili. She was expected a store. It was an 8 X 8 kiosk with office supplies. 10 reams of paper, pencils, pads, paper clips, etc would be our donation. Mili said other groups had done the same.

As we arrived, we knew our day would not be that productive because the Red Cross ladies arrived for their day to help. It is obvious to us that the kids do have visitors off and on and that there might be other kids who could use our help. But we also knew that we would cherish the relationships that we had with the kids we worked with and feel that in some ways, we did make a difference. Mili kept stressing that to us. Just because the difference wasn’t the one we were expecting, that did not mean that there was not a difference. Hopefully, by the time we left, we were thinking a little more like a Peruvian than someone from the US.

I spent the morning signing the mural, looking in on the toddlers, organizing the office supplies and generally walking around and taking pictures. Lunch was water for me and at the party, I took one sip of the Pisco Sour and the Inca Cola. (National pop drink that is yellow like Mt. Dew, has a banana smell and it sweet and bubbly).

I could not wait to see the bus unload from summer school so that I could find my four favorite siblings for photos. (The highest count that came off the bus at one time was 191. Remember, in the States, the bus would have seated 48 kids). It arrived and immediately, I saw Diana and Wendy and we had a photo. Then there was Marco and Erica and again a photo. Then a little munchkin asked for a photo he is in the camera as well. What lovely kids they are.

As I look at the PPA, I kept asking other people if they had unlimited money, where would they put their energy. Mary as the former nurse would help the clinic. Bob 2 felt that there could be better vocational training for the older boys and girls, because at 18, they can no longer stay at the PPA. With upwards of 50 % unemployment and a lot of underemployment and limited college opportunities, they need some help.

As the PPA sits right now, although the building need major help, I believe they use their money where it is needed most, the kids. They are clean, well fed and safe. For all they have been through or continue to go through, they are amazingly happy and accepting.

I would spend my money to get the basic office supplies for the staff and work with them to repair more the buildings so they would have more space that was usable. Peru has two cycles of major earthquakes (30 and 50 years) and the buildings are not built to withstand them. That is where I would put my money.

The goodbye party had each of us stand and tell the group what we had learned. Mary brought us to tears as she said thank you and that each of us was leaving a little of our heart at the PPA. Then a small selection of girls and boys did a dance for us complete with hips swaying and shoulder shimmies.

Group picture and then we had our last trip on the blue bus. The next time we come back, it will be a new bus.

Dinner was in the suburb of Barranco, the artist colony. Water and rice for me and packing and early to bed, because tomorrow, Jean and I leave for Casco and then Machu Picchu.

Thank you Mili and the PPA. It was wonderful and I will never forget the faces of the angels at the PPA. What a way to start my trip! YAAAAH!

Posted by ladyjanes 22:00 Archived in Peru Tagged armchair_travel Comments (0)

Entry #4 First week with the kids in Peru


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Week One at the PPA – January 9-13

Monday, Jan 9

Breakfast of rolls, tea or coffee, eggs if we want them, fresh fruit, fresh squeezed OJ, and Mili, knowing Americans, bought cereal for us.

One of the things that we will each do is be the scribe for the group for a day. We will then write it into a journal and read it to the group at breakfast the next day and include a thought for the day. My day will come during the second week.

Mili explained at breakfast that we would not be on our regular schedule until Wednesday, as today we have a meeting with the staff and tomorrow we take a tour where most of the kids come from to get an idea of their background and challenges.

Our transport arrived. It was a school bus had traditional seating for 48, very early model, dull turquoise paint and almost unlimited air conditioning. The windows were rusted through at the top just under the luggage rack and in places were wired to hold them in place. ( ** Good news about this later in the story.) Our driver is Juan and we are picked up after he has left the children at summer school. We drive for about 10 minutes to San Isidroe, the neighborhood that is between downtown Lima and Miraflores.

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The orphanage is a gated community with many two-story buildings, usually painted in light colors. The orphanage is called Puericultoria Perez Aranibar (PPA from here on) and was established in 1920. In its hay day, it served over 2000 kids, but only 550 today. We meet the staff and the new director, Roxanne, who has only been in place for 8 months. There have been a lot of different directors during the 18 months that GV has worked in Peru. The staff is lovely, mostly women except for the Brother who oversees the older boys and Napoleon, the grounds supervisor. They are all smiles and a very few have English and most of us have not much Spanish. We tour of the facility and are startled by the contrasts we see.

Most of the buildings that we see have not had any modernization and many have windowpanes missing and roofs with no integrity. The grounds have flowerbeds that have lovely flowers, but most of the other areas are sparse with grass and dusty. Most of the playground equipment is from the 50’s, rusty including a slide that as the child reaches the bottom, he or she must make a tactical maneuver to avoid being lost in the rusty hole just before you exit the slide.

One area is very different, the kindergarteners area in two wings administered by Sister Anna Maria. She is small but mighty. Her grass is green, her kids obey, her flowers are lovely, and the beds are made. We are confused because in the dorms where the kids sleep, there are toys on display on the tops of the lockers and windowsills, but the kids are not allowed to touch them. Each of the girls’ bed has a doll on the pillow, but we get the feeling that they are not to hug, they are for show.

We see the toddlers’ area and they have not gone to summer school. It is arranged in little pods with walls about 4 feet high. Each pod has a staff member and 4-6 toddlers. There are several play areas, with plastic playground stuff and toys and go-carts for toddlers. Each pod has a TV or radio and many painted murals on the walls. Most of the murals are of either typical cartoon characters or idyllic scenes with white boys and girls picking flowers and holding hands. Hhmmmmm? We were not allowed to go in but many of us felt the magnet pull us, but it was off to the boy’s bathroom.

Fifty 8-17 year olds use this bathroom with 7 toilets and only three stalls with privacy walls. The shower area is all open which is not unexpected, but there is pealing paint on the walls and ceiling. The Brother is very happy we are doing this project. The money for the project was raised by donation from a previous team member, so all we need to do is the legwork. You can always tell where the Brother is because he rides a purple bike and parks it outside the building he is in.

The orphanage, in addition to about 5 other agencies, is under the direction of a governmental agency called the Benefencia. Money generated by the PPA does not go directly back to the PPA but is pooled with the other agencies and then some of it comes back to the PPA. The PPA, however, does not know one month from the next how much they will receive. It is probably better for us to make monetary donations through GV and designate where we would like it to go, instead of giving it directly to the PPA. ** The good news about the bus is that again with previous donations, money for a new bus is available and Mili and Juan are shopping for one. One was found during our second week, but will not arrive for us to see it. We did see photos and it looks wonderful.

As we complete our tour, there is an area within the PPA that looks all spruced up. All the buildings are glistening white and all the observable windows have glass. This is an area the Benefencia rents out for weddings and meetings. Some of the money gets back to the PPA, but not all of it. Another area where this is done is the wonderful soccer field. It is green and lovely, but it is rented out to local soccer clubs and the kids are not allowed to use it.

The final stop on the tour is the Chapel that is housed in the same building as the administrative offices and the GV office. It again has been spruced up because a local important TV personality wanted her daughter to get married there and she paid for the paint and repairs. So, one way or another the PPA will get fixed up. It just comes in fits and starts!

We were waiting for the bus to return to take us to lunch, but it had not returned from summer school. Suddenly it appeared and I fell in love. The faces that showed out the windows were wonderful. We did not count them, but out they all tumbled and were so anxious to say hello and receive hugs. They were all off to their respective dorms to lunch, but not before the relationship started. Toddler heaven.

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Lunch was at a restaurant named Cuba and we will eat there everyday we worked at the PPA. Mili picked it because it was close, offered two choices daily and was safe. It was also close enough for us to walk back daily, which most of us did.

In the afternoon, only two groups was ready to go, one which was the bathroom so off went Bob 1, Alicia and Barb to tear down the existing stalls in order to begin the prep work for the walls that had been ordered and would be installed next week. The other group was the older boys, so Kim and Patty went off for their first soccer game. The rest of us were without projects so most of us went to see the toddlers. Bob 2 was an instant hit and charmed everyone, especially little Carlito, 16 months old. Mitzi was also a hit with the toddlers and played with them well. I sat on the floor with about 8-10 of them and tried to identify them and learn their names. Many were very shy and hugged the walls, even when a desirable toy was being offered. There was one little boy, Bratzo, who was the little man of the bunch. He strutted around like he owned the place and mainly stole the most desirable toys from the little guys. Finally by the end, several of them would come over and allow me to talk to them and demonstrate the toys. I looked forward to the next day so that I could gain their trust.

We got to see them being fed. Even the under threes were on a schedule and when the dinner bell rang, they were all taken off to their pods to be washed fed and put to bed. One pod had 5 little guys who were each put into a little wooden high chair complete with table. Then, if they could not feed themselves, the staff member would sit in front of them and systematically feed the group.

It was fun and a little daunting and I wondered how I would do. Everyday would bring me new things.

Tuesday, Jan 10

This day began with the journal at breakfast and the thought of the day, sorry, but I didn’t keep copies of them, but we will receive an e-mail copy of the journal if anyone is interested.

We did not take the PPA bus for our tour, and just as well because we had a long way to go and the bus would have struggled. During our trip, we discussed the upcoming election for the President that will take place in June. Currently there are 24 candidates and all will be on the ballot the first go round. Then if no one has the majority, the top ones have a run off. Currently a woman is in the lead, but it is early days yet. Even Fujimoro is a candidate, even though he is in exile after being accused to taking a considerable amount of the treasury when he left office the first time.

Mili explained that while most of the kids have parents, but that the parents are very poor, probably have multiple other children and they cannot keep them. A social worker from the PPA came with us and we did several stops to see parents who were considering the PPA and to hand out literature to others. At the PPA only about 5% of the kids are actually abandoned. There are also three that have some learning disability/mental issues, which is a first for the PPA. Only about 2-3 % of the kids are up for adoption, and not many of them are adopted.

After about an hours drive, we were in a dusty area of town where most of the houses were one room, one level dwelling. Some of the neighborhoods were laid out in streets, but others just climbed up the sides of hills in a random fashion. Some of the neighborhoods had electricity, but almost none had running water. The water trucks came by 2-3 times a week and you had to buy and store water. Sanitation was pit toilets. No trees to speak of and no grass. We finally turned off the high way and went down the road into a dusty valley with several developed areas for a school, playing fields and even a manufacturing plant. You could see the coastline but the air was heavy with dust and pollution. The plant had been a Toyota factory, but it had been closed in the 70’s. We stopped in one area that was guarded by a policeman. We thought this was one of our stops to meet the parents of some of the PPA kids. The policeman at the entrances told us that this was not the neighborhood that we wanted. He also would not allow our bus to enter because he said it was not safe.

When we found the correct neighborhood, we did not find the right house, but visited one of the dining rooms. It was a rustic kitchen that served meals for 1 soles (about $.20) for 50 people twice a day. They try to focus on the old folks and children, figuring that the parents, if they work, may have a meal there. Some of their foodstuffs are supplied, but not near enough. The menu said arroz con pollo, chicken and rice. They ladies were happy to show us around and the president of the kitchen came and welcomed us. Our group made a donation in hopes that more people could be fed. Next we stopped at a preschool just as the kids were ready to have their lunch. They were all eating a slice of apple. Parents pay one soles a day per child. Most of the parents do laundry for the village, clean houses or something like that.

It would take a parent from this neighborhood at least three buses to get to the PPA. If they had more than one child, the cost could be almost a week’s wages to bring them home for a visit.


As we left the neighborhood and started back, we all had a better understanding of the situation and why some children don’t receive many visits.

We ate lunches on the bus on the way back and were told that most of us would be doing our usually afternoon tasks. Barb, Mitzi and I met with the 6 siblings that we would work with for the rest of the time. Twins, Diana and Wendy are in the same dorm, so they normally see each other. Twins, Erica and Marco, are in the same area, but in different dorms as they are segregated by sexes. The other two girls are not siblings, but they are two of the special needs children that don’t receive many visitors, so we took them as well. Carolina has Prater Willie (sp?), is learning disabled and at times appears autistic. She is really closer to 8 years of age, but has the capacity of a 4 year old. She has great ability to focus on one thing and does not like to be disturbed when she is doing it. Rosalia had a bad upbringing, of which I do not know the details, but is not very verbal except for an ear splitting shriek that brings you to your knees quickly.

So off we go to the special needs area, which is across the campus in the toddlers’ area. Inside are many games/puzzles/tools that therapists might use to test the progress of the kids. Carolina sets to work with a box with square blocks that she puts into color order. Numbers don’t count, just the colors. Mitzi and Carolina hit it off and from then on, Carolina clings to Mitzi. With coloring books and crayons in hand, coloring lasts all of 3 minutes and then is the scramble to find a small bike that has all it’s parts working at the same time. All have flat tires, some the chain is off. Some have the chain but no peddle and some are just hopeless. We find one that is passable providing an adult pushes. Empuje was the word of the day and Barb and I wear our selves out empujeing Erica and Diana around. Marco has found a little car that you push with your feet like the Flintstones and is off to the races with clay, puzzles, chalk and anything else that is available that he can load into his little car. At one point when older boys came and tried to steal his car, he called for me, senorita, to come and help him. I would not let them take it and peace reigned again. Every so often, Marco would stop the car, open the door, make a chalk X next to him on the pavement and then proceed.

I am drawn to Erica and Marco, especially Marco, who only wants to paint and drive his little car. Erica has a wonderful smile, except for the camera but has a hard time sharing and when thwarted, pouts and holds a grudge. With three adults and 6 kids, we only almost lost them once, when the little car was making it down the ramp out of our sight. I had my hands full, but luckily Barb ran and corralled the little escape artists.

When it was time to go, Carolina was very resistant and cried and whinged but finally came with us. With abrazos (hugs) and besos (kisses) we returned them to the domain of Sister Anna Maria for the day. Rosalia is a handful and resistant to team work and directions. She appears to need lots of one on one.

Most of the rest of the group went home on the bus, but Mili, Mitzi and I stayed for Sweet Dreams. The group for Monday did not get to do it because by the time they arrived, the kids were already asleep. This turns out to be a theme for this program as you cannot judge from one day to the next when is the time for them. (Flexibility again) We waited a few minutes and then were told we could go in. Three pods of kids with about 8-10 beds per pod. Mili and her brother Carlos took the wild bunch in the middle. I had the pod to the right and at the first bed, the little boy asked me to sing to him. So I gave him, and everyone after him, one refrain from Baby Mine, a hug and kiss and a Buenos noches and moved on. Some of them held on to you so tight and kept wanting you to spend more time with them. I loved it. I kept telling the group how much fun it had been. Mitzi and I finished our pods at about the same time, and Mili and Carlos’ group were literally climbing the walls and hanging on the partitions. Hard to believe but some of the kids were actually asleep by the time we left the room even with all the racket going on around them.

It was a challenging day on many levels and tomorrow will be normal schedule for most of us and a change for some including me. FLEXIBILITY!

Instead of working with the toddlers, a group of us have been asked to paint a mural in one of the large playrooms for the toddlers. Patty and I are in the lead on this and discussed a jungle scene, but ended up with a seascape. The mural across the room is over 16 feet and looks like Vermont with three colors of blue snow and houses. Right in the middle of it is a bright yellow Donald Duck cut out that was added after the fact. Mili and Carlos went and bought the paint we would need so that we could start tomorrow, as well as paint and supplies for painting the boys bathroom. Before we leave for the day, we pencil in the rock that will be far left, we have a lovely huge window in the middle and decided to put the sun on one side and the moon on the other. We found several children’s books with sea animals and Pamela, Mili’s childhood friend who is her right hand person and assisting us, is excellent at enlarging the images so that we can paint them.

Mili also called us into the office to inform us that it was likely that the school might be at the beginning of a chicken pox outbreak. Everyone already had it, except Bob 1 and he wasn’t worried about it.

Wednesday, Jan 11

Today all the programs are in full swing.

Jean and Myrna go off to summer school where they are blessing the new pool. Jean is ready with suit under clothes and can’t wait to get into the pool. It turns out to be an above ground, 3 feet deep and only about 8 feet long and 4 feet wide. After blessing by the priest and speeches, no one enters the pool. Jean does a striptease and enters the pool and is lifeguard of the day. At first, only 5 kids could be in the pool at one time. They got 45 minutes. After that they increased the kids to 25 at a time, but only 10 minutes each. Most of the time was spent getting the 150 PPAers into and out of their suits. Myrna was in another area with wading pool for the littlest and she said that splashing was the word of the day. Summer school is run by the city and includes PPA and other kids. It is not running smoothly and becomes a source of frustration, to the point where Mili pulls our involvement out during week two. Details to follow.

Painting of the mural begins and we focus on getting three layers of water in gradually lighter colors as far up the wall as possible. We manage to get the sand bar of light brown, all the blue on and the rock is a slightly darker shade of brown. Pamela is madly enlarging our creatures and we begin stenciling them on the wall with carbon paper. (Yes, it still exists). We feel at this point that there is no reason why we should not complete this project in good time.

Afternoon programs much the same except that we lost Rosalia, the shrieker (Thank you!). Carolina absolutely beams when she sees Mitzi and tells all the helpers as we pick them put that she has a visitor. (This is a rare thing for her and obviously is very special). Today we brought bubbles and paper and pencils and the bubbles are a source of competition and hard feelings. I found the bottle I took did not have a little plastic wand, so I went back to the office and found a pair of scissors that I could use. I would not let them handle the scissors, but allowed them to blow. I noticed the difference between the girls and little Marco the boy. Marco had the panache to gently blow and achieved wonderful bubbles 99% of the time. He however, did not have the technique of peddling the broken bike around. The girls spit at the bubble wand and hardly every achieved a bubble, but had peddling down like champs.

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I had a brake down with Erica because I would not cave in to wishes that I be exclusive with her. She pouted and Barb went over to comfort her. We ended the day okay with me chasing them back to their dorm, literally, because they hate going back, but loved being chased.

That night we went to the Inca Market and began looking at what would be available all over in Peru. If you want erotic pottery, they have it. Also alpaca sweaters, woven goods, gourds, stone jewelry and pottery. Mili had not come with us as she had some work on her thesis to do but Pamela said she would meet us at the entrance to the market. Time is a relative thing in Peru and so when she was a few minutes late, no fear. After 30 minutes and no Mili, we got on the pay phone and called her cell and her Mom answered. No Mili. Then we called her home number and her Mom answered. No Mili. Just after we completed the call, Mili arrived looking wild eyed. She had been waiting for 40 minutes at the restaurant. As none of us had the address, we did not know where to go. After the mishap, every taxi full of us had the printed address to the restaurant. Dinner was a Chinese buffet and the Peruvians all appear to adore Chinese food

After Dinner, Jean and I met with a travel agent who would end up coordinating the remainder of my unoccupied time in Peru and Jean’s short excursion to Machu Picchu. Jean, Mary and I also decided to the weekend trip to Paracas and Nazca.

Thursday, Jan 12

It is obvious that the boys’ bathroom will require a lot more prep work, because the paint will not stick to the walls. So Carlos and Barb set off to find primer, scrapers, paint remover, goggles and such. More manpower will also be needed so Bob 2 and Alicia agree to help with the bathroom.

Painting continues and we begin with the animals. I focus on the sea horses and Patty has a trio of octopus. Bob has an idea for the starfish and we end up with two big ones and a little one in between that is sleeping. Patty has borrowed the radio/CD player from the office and our little hideaway is an island of quiet and tranquility compared to the rest of the work areas.

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The afternoon is the siblings again with the 5 from yesterday and another break down with Erica. During our chase back to the area, she fell and got hurt. One of her friends defended her and tried to hit me. Sigh, I must build up my not taking things personally. Mili give us several small Spanish lessons and we all ask for assistance with phrases we need the most. Mine is Vamos en tocar tournes (We are going to take turns), sientete (sit down) and camparte (share).

Tonight we go to a traditional Peruvian buffet and show that highlights all the different cultures in Peru. If I have not mentioned before that Peruvian food is wonderful, I apologize. They still grow over 200 varieties of corn, where as the Inca’ had 2000. One of my favorites is Chicha which is purple corn that they make into a drink, or a dessert that has a pudding/jello consistency. They had that on the buffet. My other new favorite is a beef dish with cilantro called Seco and I also tried the octopus and a potato dish with cheese and spices. Yummy.

The dancing was wonderful and lasted almost two hours. That was a bit longer than Bob 1 had hoped for and he was the life of the party during the dance that ritualized the flight between the angels and the demons. One girl comes down the stairs in a white dress (similar to square dancing with big petticoats, but a lot shorter) and a silver helmet that looked like something from Norway. Bob said she looked like a cheerleader and when she blew a whistle, Bob convulsed the table into giggles, especially Mili when he said GO TEAM! Mili said she would never be able to see that dance without thinking GO TEAM!


Friday, Jan 13

The painting is coming very well and we have almost all the stencils done so now all we have to do is finish the sky and add the details to the fish. The boys’ bathroom has been scraped and primed, so it looks like they will be able to paint early next week and wait for the walls by Friday. The original contracted doubled his price, so Mili spent a full day with other contractors. It looks like the walls will begin going up next Friday.

Friday afternoon is always movie afternoon and Kim headed this project. They got Shark tale in DVD and bought popcorn and pop. We arrived after lunch ready to bag popcorn to find that they had changed kitchen on us so Mitzi, Jean and I went to the Toddlers area and waited for the corn to be ready to be bagged. We were planning for 75 kids. As we arrived with the popcorn, we handed out pops and bags of popcorn. We did not realize that the small bottle of pop, that looked like juice, were really carbonated, so be bathed the first set of little guys in gooey, sticky syrup. At he end of the movie, the kids all got a candy on the way out.

This would be our last night with three of the team, Mitzi, daughter Alicia and Barb would leave us tomorrow. I was a little panicked as that meant I had the siblings all to myself. Just as we showed our flexibility when the bathroom needed help, Mili assures me that I will not be alone.

Dinner was wonderful and we did the group picture just before we waved Mitzi and Alicia off to the airport. Jean, Mary and I have a very early morning tomorrow, so we closed down early that night. Up at 3:45 to be on the road by 4:00 for our first stop Paracas.

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So at the end of week one, the team feels a little frustrated that we are not moving as quickly to completion as we had thought. I am committed to allowing the universe to help me flow through next week, especially with Erica. Little Marco has my heart and I love his energy. Off to bed.

Posted by ladyjanes 21:55 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

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