Saturday, May 8, 2010

Random things that make my life awesome!

In the month and a half since I’ve last written a few cool things have happened. I’ve met a very important person, made some new things, been called a few new names, learned some interesting things about the Spanish language, and seen things that will make you lose your head (or at least boggle your mind)!

First, my host dad and I started a project that I never would have expected when I started with the PC over 20 months ago. We make yogurt! Seriously, we make a small amount of yogurt each week (usually 10 to 12 liters) that we sell to anyone who comes looking for it. We’ve made pineapple, lucuma (a Peruvian fruit that doesn’t have an English name) and unflavored. We sell it for 3.50 soles per bottle, which after cost of production earns about 2.50 soles. The 2.50 soles per liter of milk profit is great, considering that selling fresh cheese (which we also do) only earns about 1.00 sol per liter of milk. Yogurt takes a little more time, but it is worth it and after only about 3 weeks of production we’ve developed a pretty steady demand. The quality is high and it is all natural. It is a great income generating project. I’ve helped to get the initial materials, my host dad has used great initiative to have a sticker made so our product looks professional, and we’ve done the actual production (which takes about 3 hours of work and 5 hours of incubation) together. It is fun and I enjoy being “paid” in fresh yogurt.

Second, the Reserva Paisajística Nor Yauyos Cochas (RPNYC), the protected area where I live, celebrated its anniversary. To celebrate, the minister of the Ministry of Environment, Antonio Brack Egg (that is his real name) made a visit. The Minister knows about Peace Corps because PC has a contract with Peruvian protected areas, but it was fun to share lunch with him nonetheless. He is in the top 15 in terms of power rank in Peruvian government, so he’s kind of a big deal.

Thirdly, the annual Tomas horse race and duck pull (Jale Pato) happened. The horse race is exactly what it sounds like, people bring teams of 4 horses and there is a round robin style contest of a 300 meter sprint race. It is really fun to watch, the entire town is sitting in the hills watching, there is lots of food for sale, and it ends with the Duck Pull.

This, unfortunately, is also exactly what is sounds like. To decide who is the padrino, or sponsor of the next years race, they pull the head off of a duck. Besides the question of why, you might ask yourself how do you pull the head off of a duck. The answer is simple, tie a duck by a rope between tow large poles, then ride underneath the duck on your horses and pull on the head. If you pull hard enough or after enough tries, someone will eventually get the head. To make things more interesting, many people who were watching the races all day drinking get on horses to have a pull at this event. It is completely chaotic and looks like it could be right out of the wild west, except (thank God) without guns. It is a little cruel, but in the Peruvian highlands certainly not unusual. In many places they are adopting new ways to decide who is the Padrino without killing a duck, but for now it was at least a sight to see for this American.

Besides those things, I’m co-coaching under 14 soccer with the Priest, I’ve been working to keep up the tree nursery, SLOWLY making progress with the municipality to start having municipal trash collection, and I’ve been helping with the harvest, which is back breaking work that started last week. Life is good!

Now, enjoy the view from Peru!

My host brother, Dany, gathering a tuber called Oka during the harvest.

My sunburn from the harvest. I was fully sunscreened, although little did I know that being hunched over for hours could leave a small part of skin exposed...
The cup next to me is fresh aloe, thanks to my neighbor lady.

Yauyos "family" dinner of spaghetti and honey wine. The original 4, Brad, Sarah, Kate and I

After a pole holding the duck fell down, they used the community truck to hold the duck up so the riders could pull its head off.

Sarah, Sasha, Antonio Brack Egg, and Myself at the anniversary of the Reserva Paisajistica Nor Yauyos Cochas.

Proudly holding our yogurt bottles, my host dad and I.

Eating the remains of the yogurt...delicious.

My host dad proudly putting the stickers on our yogurt bottles.

Pasteurizing the milk before making the yogurt. Although it looks sketchy, we practice very good hygiene.

1 comment:

Margaret said...

Hi Jared, what a great update. I love the pictures and all of your stories (except the duck pull....arrrrggghhh)....The yogurt sounds wonderful and it's so hard to believe that you are in the final stretch of your term in Peru. It will be great for T and E to see you there. It will also be great to see you at home in the good old USA. Lots of love, Peg