I’ve been at my job for 3 weeks now and you might think that I am getting into some sort of routine but this is not so – predictability is not characteristic to this type of work. Every week a new schedule is posted on the wall and every week welcomes a new adventure and challenge.
One of this week’s challenges was living through 2 straight days of real Peruvian winter – sub-15 degrees C, cloudy with small strange little raindrops just chillin’ in the air (they defy gravity), fog so that you can’t see more than 15m in front of you, and chills down to the bone (says the Wisconsinite, so believe me).
Another challenge was getting the supplies to make a fence for our biohuerto/community garden project in Zone S. We asked the woodman to deliver it last week but he called and said the truck was in Lima so he couldn’t come. Then we went and talked to him and he ensured us the wood would come next Monday. Anticipation rose as we (Leslie, Adrianna, and I) made the steep hike up to Zone S with shovel, hammer, and nails in hand… will the wood be there? Posible que si. But wood there was not. We had 7 strong women ready to do their darndest to construct a fence and all we needed – for the second week in a row – was the truck to arrive with our wood and cement. Leslie and I headed down to give the woodman a piece of our mind while the resourceful Zone S women decided to tear down an old shed and use some of that wood for the fence. 2 hours later Leslie and I returned to the garden-to-be on the back of an old pick-up truck loaded with wood and cement as the women sat amidst piles of rubble, having successfully torn down the old shed. We unloaded the truck as the sun set and hope rose that next week, with materials in hand, we would build a fence.
A third challenge was finding a place to buy a piece of a pole for a 2-person tent. In last week’s episode “crammed camping near waterfall” we broke a tent pole. The tent belonged to a Peruvian friend who had made us promise to buy him a knew one if “anything happens.” We did not want to buy him a whole entire tent for having broken a small piece of one of the bendy structural pole things. Knowing we wouldn’t find such a thing in Huaycan, we headed to Gamarra, which is the limeñan version of the Mall of America. It has much more character, much scarier mannequins and much more of the clothes are covered in plastic of some sort (sequins, glitter, etc), but it’s the same idea. There is a row of stamp stores, a row of balloon stores, a row of trashy lingerie stores, a row of big cooking appliances stores, a row of small trinket stores, rows on rows on rows on floors on floors of clothing stores, and hidden deep in the corner of a sketchy concrete building lies two camping/outdoor gear stores. At one of these outdoor gear stores you can find a women who is willing to sell single tent poles. This woman is our hero. We left the store victorious and proceeded to explore Gamarra, I with stick in hand, pretending it was my magic wand. Bippetty-boppity-boo.
The final challenge was dealing with the fact that I would not be attending the annual Ostenso Family Reunion for the first time in my life and additionally I would not be in my homeland for its proudest day – Independence Day. Fireworks, family, and food. To cope I visited my Peruvian family, which consists of my Professor José and my host mom and grandma. José treated us to real Peruvian cuisine and guided us through Gamarra. Rosana welcomed my friends and I into her home to catch up and stay the night, enjoying cake and palta and each other’s company. The next day, in honor of America, we drank cheep beer and ate ice cream and listened to/belted out some classics (American Pie, Sweet Home Alabama, Fishin’ in the Dark)…