Monday, May 21, 2007

Day 251: Santa Cruz Trek... to the Punta Union Pass at 4750m

Here are some images taken from the popular Santa Cruz trek. It was tough because we opted to carry our things unlike most people who hire donkeys and local men to carry their things. We had exquisite weather as seen in these outstanding views.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Day 250: Happy Birthday Benj and Kev!

Here's to Kev (25) in Mozambique and Benj (28) in Peru on their shared birthday! Happy birthday!

For more info on Kev's Peace Corps experience, check out his blog!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Day 247: 4200m on the Cordillera Negra

We visited the adjacent Cordillera Negra for a day and saw some beautiful high grassland plants. Mom bought a flower guide and we had fun photographing and identifying what we saw. Below is an outrageous Puya Raimundi, a century plant known to flower once its lifetime. They can grow up to 80m supposedly when in bloom.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Day 245: Skolnik Padres visit Musho

One of the first few days was spent wandering the hills of Musho, acclimatizing to the high altitude. Note Lola wearing her bright orange pollera. The older women of Musho adored this display of integration to local customs.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Day 242: Email is back up and running... No Falling Styles

To all of you who figured out my email code... you are amazing. We have gotten our No Falling email back up and running, so keep the notes flowing!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Day 235: Campamento ALMA

For three days, 12 Peace Corps Volunteers and a handful of Peruvian professional women hosted 36 adolescent Peruvian women at a leadership camp called ALMA, Actividades de Liderazgo para Mujeres Adolescentes. What an experience it was! We gathered early on a Friday morning with our 6 girls from Musho and headed south down the valley to the city of Carhuaz. There we met the other 30 girls, piled into 4 combis and slowly made our way up the 45 minute dirt road that would take us to a place called "El Mirador" or "The View." For the next two and a half days we kept extremely busy, doing everything from learning about women's health to making paper to holding an intensely competitive "olympics!"

Here is a picture of the whole group, looking out over the Cordillera Negra.

Friday was Family Planning day, and a day to think about personal and women's health issues, self-esteem, values, and just getting to know each other. Local obstetricians helped out with the educational sessions, helping us volunteers to address the local health challenges and culturally sensitive issues. In the afternoon we made recycled paper and were hoping to have an amazing session on the consequences of teenage pregnancy... but unfortunately the woman in charge of the session went into labor herself at about 11am :) She has a healthy baby boy, is happily married, and works as an HIV/AIDS specialist for World Vision International. She would have been an excellent example for the girls to look up to, but such is life! And then, Benj and I led the group in an evening of "Opening Night Campfire" activities, Widji styles. First, we entertained the girls with a theater presentation of "Gringos Saludables" or "Healthy White Folks" about a Macho teenage boy who thinks that women are meant to have babies, clean, and stay at home. Thankfully, three fairies help him understand the roles of women and men. We were visited by the Widji Midgies... two small dwarves who had participated in the first ALMA over 100 years ago and returned to tell us some funny stories. We did some funny improv games, including "First Date" and "Party Quirks" and then closed the evening with a couple of songs... "Amiga Mia" - a song about career choices adapted from a family favorite "Sabina the Peanut" - and then finally a rainstorm/HeyHo/Lalalalalala rendition to send the tired girls off to bed.

Here's Libby, dressed up as Verdecita, la hada encargada del cuidado del medio ambiente.... Greeny, the fairy in charge of protecting the environment!

Here, Benjamin and Mark get goofy in their roles as "Olympics judges' - Saturday we focused on Professional Planning, leading the girls through a series of exercises that would help them to think about their futures, their dreams, their goals. We talked budgets and the costs of starting a family, the steps necessary to go to college and to apply for jobs, opportunities available to the girls in their towns, and other plans in their futures. And then we split them up into 6 teams and had them compete in a crazy afternoon of Olympics! The sports represented included: Tug of War, The Egg Toss, Volley Ball, and Flip Cup (with water :) ).

A shout out to the volunteers who worked so hard to pull off an amazing weekend for 36 really special girls from Ancash!

For three days, 12 Peace Corps Volunteers and a handful of Peruvian professional women hosted 36 adolescent Peruvian women