Sunday, February 21, 2010

Rainy Season Fun

These last few weeks since my last update haven’t been overly eventful. It is the rainy season, of course, which completely changes my town’s makeup. Some important things have happened though, and we have made some great advances with some of my main Peace Corps goals.Mostly I’ve had a pretty relaxed last month with time to prepare for school, which officially starts on March 1 (unofficially starts around March 15, thanks to teachers and students that are used to classes starting at the end of March).

The biggest, or most important I should say, thing I’ve done this February is finish our community trash composition study. That sounds exactly like what it is, we studied the type, weight and volume of garbage production per capita in my town of Tomas. With this study done, which entailed going to a select number of houses (or in our case, as many houses as had people in them) and collecting their trash and separating and measuring it, we know what size of micro sanitary landfill to build. It turns out that to build a landfill that will last at least 5 years it will have to be about 25 x 15 x 6 meters in size. This seems really big, but it isn’t too bad considering it is for my town and the town just up the road. Construction starts in April and will be done by June. The next step (besides making sure that the construction happens) is to start educating the people on garbage management in their homes!

Besides that, we’ve been going forward with tree planting. So far, 293 eucalyptus, 30 tara, and 25 queñuales, for a grand total of 348 trees! That may sound like a lot of trees (or maybe only a few?), but I’m still short of my PC goal of 1,000 but much more importantly, our tree nursery still has over 3,000 trees ready to plant this year. I’m not too worried though because March 3 is our big day. We have a community work day, called a faena, which means that all community members have to come and help plant the trees. We won’t plant all 3,000+ trees, but we should make a pretty good dent with over 1,000. That leaves me with about 2,000 trees to go. Yeah…I’ll let you know what happens. I have faith that they’ll make it into the ground. Things here kind of seem to work out, with enough pushing.

Besides my community projects, I’ve been travelling to new parts of my district (called Tomas, which entails my town and lots of surrounding land only accessible on foot) and of my province (called Yauyos, which is kind like the county I live in.). I’ve been to a community called Tupe that has its own language, Jaqaru. Tupe also has its own very unique dress, which they still use today. This community still exists because they have a sling-like leather piece that they used to throw rocks and defend themselves from first the Incas and then the Spanish. That sounds ridiculous, but when you see the pictures of where this place is, you might realize that just getting there is difficult, let alone if someone is hurling rocks at you.

I’ve also confirmed what I already knew regarding the District of Tomas (which you can Wikipedia, “Tomas, Yauyos”), that we have some INCREDIBLE natural surroundings. I’ve seen waterfalls, mountains, and animals that would make most any tourist willing to test their lungs at the high altitude just to see them.

Life is going well but school starting will be a welcomed change from the relaxing, slow paced, quiet life that takes place during the rainy season. And now some pictures…

The mountain called Cajarreal, the Sacred Mountain of my town of Tomas. A very prominent peak.

Some alpacas running from our community truck.
A waterfall that i've never seen before, since it is about a 5 hour walk from my town. Thanks to a community pasture planting event, i was forced (luckily!) to make the journey.

My family's new dog, Oso, and my friend Luis (age 9) in front of some of the newly planted pastures.

A landslide blocking the road up to my community's cow farm. Some heavy rains are the cause of this.

The little girl is wearing the traditional "Tupe" clothing, including the head wrap. All the women and girls wore this style of clothing.

A view of the valley that eventually heads to my town. My town is about a 3 hour drive up the valley from here, so it is a VERY different climate where I live (colder and wetter).

My boss, Diego, head of the Community-Based Environmental Management program during his visit to my site. We're on the short hiking trail that passes through some pre-Incan ruins, with my town of Tomas is the background.

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