Stories and Volunteering. Photos Too. (9/25/08):
1. el versión español está abajo
(so you guys have some proof that i learned something)
i thought id send an email out about my ongoings as of late. I last wrote from Cusco, Peru and i am happy to say that i got outta there and things improved greatly. I went to a city called Arequipa, which is so far my favorite peruvian city. I was there for the city's birthday so there were lots of fiestas and i had a really great time. The main reason for that was I managed to meet a lot of local people there who took me around to some of their favorite places and to where the real peruvians hang out and celebrate these days. The only problem i had with this is that i stand about a foot taller than most people here and so when they take me to a tent in the middle of a park thing where theres a live band, and im the ONLY white dude, well... yes, everybody sees me. i seem to be good at attracting a lot of old drunk men that like giving me a thumbs up and saying "california.... THE DOORS! do you surf?" either way, that weekend was fun, and i continued hanging out with the friends i made for another 2 weeks before leaving. in that time, i also did some hiking in one of the worlds deepest canyons, but for some reason it wasnt hard at all. it was strange. beautiful nontheless.
from there, i headed on a 42 hour bus voyage back south to Santiago, Chile and Mendoza, Argentina to visit friends one last time (Because i spent a month and a half in santiago and 2 months in mendoza). originally, i had planned on flying home from santiago, but everythings changed and that was basically my last chance to see them. it was really nice to see some familiar faces again and take 2 weeks in familiar places... i tried to make it a surprise for all but everybody already knew i was coming when i walked in the door. i didnt do anything spectacular other than spend some QT with the homies. i was also taken aback by the metropolitan-ness of santiago. i hadn't realized, but during my time in the north of argentina, bolivia, and peru i had gotten comfortable with a much lower standard of living and then going to santiago was pretty intense for the first few hours.
after flying to Lima, i spent 5 days there and also met some people who showed me around quite a bit. the weather sucked, but the food was great. sorry argentina, but i think i have to say that peruvian food is my favorite so far on this trip. i checked out the central market there and was pretty amazed by all the animal parts that they all eat here, and that ive never even seen. made me wanna go back to the good ol days where i ate dung stew and brains. speaking of that, i guess ill keep this up since its created so much chatter:
1. bbqued chicken hearts (good)
2. gelified cold pigs feet (horrible - tasted like a pig smells)
3. im def. forgetting something gross here
so, that brings me to my current situation. im volunteering for at least 6 weeks in this small town in northern peru called Huanchaco, its sort of known as a surf destination for a few travellers, but its mainly a fishing village for the locals, and vacation spot for other peruvians. at first i thought i was gonna be super bored here (cause i had a light work schedule) but i am really enjoying things after my 2nd week just came to an end. also, there is a high concentration of douche-y surf duds that keep trying to sell me drugs, and they are pretty much the only inhabitants in the bars (other than the volunteers). to fill my time, i have been surfing almost every day but still suck, and am working as an english teacher in a neighboring city. other than the drunk dude that couldnt even speak spanish that showed up to class last night, thats going pretty well. i have a class of 20 but its more common that 6 people show up. theres also a really nice group of volunteers here as well. i work with one other girl, but there are a few other volunteer organizations here teaching english, health lessons, or surfy things so the 8 or so of us are trying to adapt to this small town lifestyle. the other night, we made tamales at my apartment here and impressed all the locals when we told them that they were actually good.
but the main organization i work for right now is called Fairmail (www.fairmail.info) check it out. My job is to teach 10 teenagers from poor communities or without families photography, and lead the photographic excursions. right now, we are working on a "navidad" theme so i can be seen here on the beach with peruvian kids in santa hats. i get some strange looks from some of the locals... like "whats that giant red haired beast doing with all these peruvian kids in santa hats?" after all the pictures are taken, i sort through them and send the best ones in to get printed as postcards (which are sold on the website). and from there, the kids recieve half of the earnings. The kids are really great, its really fun during classtime, we joke around a lot and i sometimes help them with their english homework. my coworker is leaving after this week, so next week i start as the only teacher for the class and i have to come up with some new themes cause we've quite exhausted the navidad one... lemme know if youve got some good ideas. Also, if any of you read more about it and think its a good organization and want to donate some money to it, let me know and i can see that it gets put to some good use. you can also buy the postcards in bulk and sell them where you work or something... spread the word if you'd like. ok enough promotion.
so yeah, thats basically my life... monday and wednesday nights i teach english, and wednesday, thursday, and saturday i teach photography. inbetween that, i surf, learn to cook peruvian food, and do what i can to meet some people here. i also found a dog shelter i plan on helping out with with some of my extra time. sounds like im a bum, but im really happy with what im doing and glad to be giving back a bit... i just wish i had more time to stick around and really get good at it.
As far as the future holds... HA. i wish i knew. i will call American Airlines tomorrow to change my flight home. I think i might try to go to the ecuadorian jungle to do some volunteer work in an abused/injured animal shelter and play with JAGUARS!! if not, i found an organization that needs help tracking andean bears. From there i hope to visit colombia for about a month, but it depends on when i fly home. if i dont come home for thanksgiving, ill be there for christmas. my plan is to stop in LA for 3 days or so before going back to santa cruz, but ill keep you all posted before i actually get back.
ok amigos... ya saben el parte hasta mendoza... lo que hice en Arequipa, Cusco y no les voy a aburrir con estos. después de salir de santiago (con poco tiempo allá), fui a lima por 5 días. me lo pasó bien... en realidad muy tranquilo, pero tambien 5 días en una ciudad así no es bastante. yo conocí algunos lugares de la ciudad, y tengo ganas de volver para que pueda visitar un poco más. el mercado central tenía gallinas muertas!!! y muchas partes de animales asqueroso... el olor era malo. díos mio... hay una mosca acá que me está jodiendo.
bueno, de allá viajé a trujillo y dentro de un par de minutos estaba en camino a huanchaco para mi cita con mi "jefe" aquí. Estoy trabajando como voluntario con una organización se llama Fairmail (www.fairmail.info). estoy profesor de fotografía con ello con niños... o sea, adolecentes de orígines bien pobres. los chicos son "cheveres" como dicen acá, y nos caemos muy bien. un día tipico en la clase va así:
1. charlamos un poco sobre la tema del día, y yo trato de explicar algo tecnoloico de la cámara y como funciona.
2. vamos afuera normalmente (un día hicimos un clase de modelos en el baño como nuestra "sala oscura") y ellos sacan fotos de la tema. por ejemplo, ahora estamos con la tema de navidad, entonces yo (el gringo gigante como algunos dicen) voy con 10 chicos peruanos en gorros de papa noel en la playa y sacamos fotos interesantes. los demás nos miran como si fueramos locos a veces, pero no les importa nada.
3. regresamos a la oficina y comimos algo mientras bajan sus fotos en la computadora.
basicamente, esto es el trabajo aquí... me gusta mucho. desde ahí, los chicos hacen postales con las mejores fotos y reciben un mitad de las ganancias (el otro mitad va a los dueños holandeses). si ustedes quieren comprar algunos postales (o muchos para tu impresa) pueden contactarme. se ven los postales en la página que yo les dí.
aparte del trabajo, paso el tiempo surfeando, o intentando conocer gente aquí, pero a veces es difícil porque muchos de los chicos en la costanera venden cocaina y como yo soy un gringo, ellos piensan que es lo que quiero hacer con mi tiempo acá. También yo y los otros voluntarios aquí en Huanchaco intentamos cocinar platos peruanos... porque la comida acá es buenisima! hay muchos sabores y mucha variedad también. La otra noche, hicimos tamales verdes... mmmmmmmmm.
que más??? umm, ok... también tengo un clase de inglés! soy profesor de inglés! ha. solo es un clase de conversación pero anoche me preguntaron sobre "phrasal verbs" los cual no sabía antes... pero me explicaron lo que son, y hice una lectura corta de que significa "to get down" y "to throw up." bacán.
tendré 3 semanas más (por lo menos) aquí, y despues creo que voy al norte a ecuador. en ecuador he encontrado un trabajo voluntariado con animales de la selva, con jaguars y osos!! me gustaría trabajar con ellos, pero no sé cuanto tiempo me queda acá en suramerica... no quiero dejarles sinmigo (sin mi?) en tu continente, pero tengo que volver por el dinero en aquel momento. lamento eso día, pero echo de menos mi familia mucho.
voy a regresar a california en diciembre un día, creo. vamos a ver. ok, espero que ustedes hayan disfrutado mis noticias... voy a intentar escribirles con más frecuencia... ciao,