Friday, February 20, 2015

Nearly 4 months in

Hello everyone :)

My lovely friend Thomas just reminded me that I have not blogged in a while, so let me give you a quick update on life here in Huaycán....

These first couple months took me by storm, our volunteer count was pretty low so I was sharing volunteer coordination and teaching responsibilities with the ED and other volunteers. 

On top of this I have started in on my responsibilities as program director; so far I have been leading our journey to getting a Salesforce CRM (customer relationship management) system to manage our data, created and started administering baseline satisfaction surveys for all programs, created (and streamlined existing) volunteer guides, worked on improvement of the parent check-in and library programs, met and started collaborating with the executive director and Huaycán staff of another nonprofit called Ágape so we may refer any difficult family cases to their social workers, and designed the new math program, which we will be kicking off in April. Among assisting with other basic nonprofit maintenance. Whew!

I've moved into a new apartment as of the end of January (which is still very unfurnished, for which reason photos will come later). It's only blocks from the volunteer house, and the family who owns it has been AMAZING in that they have loaned me all sorts of furniture, utensils, and even a washing machine (the washing machine was a godsend - otherwise we wash our clothes by hand or give it to the volunteer house janitor Queta, which meant waiting several days to get it back - very difficult for the impatient American in me). The owner of the apartment's name is Irma, she is an elderly but feisty woman from Ayacucho who teaches literacy in the area and loves to speak Quechua (the Inkan language) to anyone and everyone. Also, for those of you in the states, you may not understand why this is something to point out, but the house has a hot water shower that I don't have to wait to heat up!! Remember that last time I lived in Peru I was in a rural area where we didn't have hot water and I had to heat my water on a stove for bucket baths ;)

Here are some photos our lovely (Boulderite!) volunteer Sally took of the housewarming party I had with Irma (the owner of the apartment), Queta (who found the apartment for me!), my Peruvian friends Jacki and Jose, and all the volunteers: 

Opening the champagne! 



In January we also went to a beach area called Punta Hermosa with Jacki, Jose, and a bunch of volunteers. After all this time in Lima since 2011, it was first time going to a Lima beach. It was a lot of fun - we ate ceviche, laid in the sand, went in the ocean once or twice, and enjoyed each other's company.

 Thumbs up to ceviche!

 Yoga on the beach!

Love these ladies :) Jacki, Jessica, myself, and Shelby

Taking photos of each other!

One last yoga pose at sunset

I also took a vacation with several other volunteers to Ica and Paracas, where I got to see a winery and Pisco distillery, romp around in a dune buggy (one of my favorite parts of the trip), sandboard down some huge dunes (bigger than the Colorado ones!), see the "poor-man's Galapagos" the Islas Ballestas, and generally hang out by the pool. I got some pretty bad bed bug bites from this trip, but I think the awesome things we did still makes up for this.

 Plaza in Ica

Islas Ballestas, Paracas

 The candelabra or cactus, a formation left by the Paracas culture from around 200 BCE

 Sea lion

 Sea lions under one of the many arches in the area. The islands are called "ballesta", related to the English word "ballista", meaning crossbow, as the arches look like the arch of a bow.

 My Ballestas partner, Marc from Germany!

 The witches of Cachiche park in Ica.

 One of the heads of a seven headed palm tree in Ica.

 All the piscos and wines I tried. Can't say I'm a big fan of any of them though, unfortunately, I think pisco and Peruvian wine may just be a couple of those things I just will never love.

 Pisco fermentors.

 Cross on sand dunes.

Used pisco fermentors - the top was broken off after fermentation finished to remove the pisco.

I've also just been hanging out with the Light and Leadership folks in and around Lima - climbing some of the mountains behind our house, doing BBQs, you know ;) I'll leave you all my miscellaneous photos from the past couple months:

 One of my favorite pastimes - playing ukulele and guitar together on the mountain at dusk with Luis and Zach.
 After climbing the mountain with volunteers and Huaycán friends!

 All the volunteers at the ED's house for a Peruvian-style BBQ!

 Lara (our ED) and her husband Carlos - aww!

 Coffee at my favorite coffee shop, Arabica

 Alpaca sausage & Peruvian goat cheese sandwich from my favorite shop probably ever, La Gastronoma

 Found Indian food in San Isidro at Food Fair! It was a mission our social media volunteer Pooja inspired me to take :) I have since made many a batch of Pooja Chai

 Irma's daughter made me a chicharron (fried pork belly) sandwich and a cafecito for Día de Amistad (friend's day aka Valentine's Day) :)

 Spent a lot of time with Jessica, our art volunteer! She is such an amazing new friend and I am so happy to have her here with to go on adventures with! I'm trying to convince her she has to stay in Lima with me.

 Vegetarian food at another amazing cafe in Pueblo Libre, Ecotidiana

 Got flowers as a present from one of our 8 year old participants named Linda in one of our poorest zones, Zone S, during art class. She told me "Miss, te quiero!", which means "I love you Miss!" and gave me a huge hug. I think this moment summarizes pretty well why I love my job :)

 A hummingbird in a garden near my house

Some of the many aloe plants in the area

 Art from one of our loyal participants Franky

Volunteers Jessica and Sally relaxing in the outdoor cafe next to the Lima Civilization ruins in Miraflores called Huaca Pucllana

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