So I guess it’s been awhile since an update. The good news is that I’ve been busy! For those of you that know me pretty well you will know that this is a very good thing for me as I do not handle free time all that well. I’ve still been working with the school that has an awesome environmental program and gardens where I planted a bunch of seeds of a native tree species. One of our three program goals is natural resource management with an emphasis on reforestation, so our boss has been really pressing us to plant these seeds. Hopefully some of them will grow! It's kind of hard here in the desert but vamos a ver. Work with my Municipality is getting better...more people are talking to me and letting me know about meetings and projects I can get involved in. I have lots of ideas for future projects, I'm just hoping that someone will be receptive!
A couple of weeks ago I had to opportunity to go to the site of another volunteer to help with a project of his (we call this in PC a "tech exchange"). My trip was awesome! The site of my friend Matt couldn't be more opposite of mine. He lives about 6 hours away in a mountain site called Yauyos in the souther part of the department of Lima. His community is in a valley with green mountains expanding on either side. It was green, kind of cold, and a little rainy, and I couldn't have loved it more! I'm not sure how I would handle living there, but going for a visit and escaping the heat and sun of Paracas was pretty nice. I helped him with his cocinas mejoradas project, which involves building improved cookstoves that are more efficient so they require less wood to burn and are a lot better for the health of those that are preparing the food (less smoke inhalation). He's been doing them in personal homes but I actually helped him with industrial cocinas that we built in a couple of the schools in his town. It's a really cool project that I would love to possibly do here in one of my annexes in the future. It was great getting to spend time with a friend in a site so different from mine, and Matt was a great host. Everyone in Yauyos knows who he is and greets him by name. It was like I was with a local celebrity. That's another big difference for a lot of volunteers compared to me...my site is so touristy that I haven't been able to make personal connections with a lot of local people (other than those I work with directly) because they assume I am just another white tourist.
After my mountain getaway, I returned to site for a SUPER busy week. My APCD (boss of the environmental program) came to my site for his first official visit. I wasn't sure what to expect and I was kind of nervous, but it turned out to be pretty laid back. He was here for 2 days along with my Volunteer Coordinator (a 3rd year volunteer that works in the Lima office to support the work of my APCD) and one of the PC Doctors. They seemed to enjoy my site and we had some good meetings with socios so all in all it went well. It was just a little weird because they were here for 2 days and all the other visits were only for like 2 or 4 hours. Oh well, I guess they wanted to take advantage of their trip to the beach. A couple of days after that we had our regional meeting, which I was actually hosting here in Paracas. Didn't I mention it was a crazy week? Over 20 other volunteers from the region made the trek to Paracas for our meeting. Weeks before this I had been organizing the logistics in hopes that it would be a smooth weekend for everyone. I secured a location for the meeting, negotiated with hostels where everyone could stay, and made a deal with a tour company so that everyone could visit the Islas or Reserva if they wanted. The weekend came and went pretty smoothly, other than some chaos with the Sunday tours where the boats going to/from the Islas were very backed up and people had to wait for hours and even missed their second tour (myself included). But I think everyone enjoyed the beach, some ceviche, and the tranquilo vibe that my site has to offer. Though I must say, I can't wait for our next meeting in Ica so I can actually relax!
Oh yeah! The day before the regional meeting I had an event that went pretty well! I had been bugging my socio for awhile about how dirty the local beach was and that we should organize a beach cleanup and he finally got on board. So Friday we had a beach cleanup with about 15-20 volunteers including some local kids, members from the Municipality, SERNANP parkguards, members of the Marine Authority, and another PC Volunteer who happened to be visiting Paracas with his mom who was here from the US. I was really happy with the turnout and the result...a definite improvement since the local beach here is pretty gross most of the time.
I can't believe March is almost here, and I can't believe I've been in Peru for over 5 months! Some days it seems like it's crawling by and others it's flying. I've got a lot going on in March including a week of training/meetings outside of Lima and then FINALLY my first real vacation for Semana Santa. I'm looking forward to my travels and to get to visit a new part of the country. Well I think that's about all I've got for now. Mi vida Peruana is pretty great and I've got lots to look forward to!
Until next time,