Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Peruvian Independence Day

The month of July is almost over, Peruvian Independence day is here and I only have 4 more months as a PCV.

With only 4 months left, I can happily say that I have visible results (finally!) as a PCV. I guess the first 18 months or so were worth it to be able to have accomplished something worthwhile and important.

I’ve often talked of a Garbage Collection system in Tomas, but now the dream has become a reality. As of July 12, the town of Tomas has trash collection twice a week! Each Monday and Thursday, a worker who is paid by the municipality, passes through the streets from about 6:30 to 8:00 a.m. collecting trash from each house. Some people still throw trash in the river and there are many families that don’t know how to separate their recycables, but the vast majority of the town participates in the trash collection and we’ve kept a LOT of trash out of the river. The worker completes her duties very well, and my environmental committee makes sure that the Micro Landfill is well managed and that no flies or dogs or other vectors are in/around it. It is awesome to say that I’ve been the driving force of this work!

Aside from that, our world map is only one day away from being done (a few minor details to finish), and I’m the foreman of a high school science project that we’re preparing for a national science fair. Life is fun, and life is good.

Even before my service ends in November, I must use my vacation days before September, because during the last 3 months of service I must stay in Tomas. So, in planning to use these days, I recently took a three day trip to climb to a glacier in the department of Junin. The glacier is called Huaytapallana, and it was seen as sacred to the Incas. I went with three other PCVs from the Junin department and we did one day hiking, one day mountain biking, and one day horseback riding. The trip was fun, although it wasn’t nearly as “hard core” as the guide said it would be. The first day was supposed to be 4 hours hiking, but since we PCVs are already well acclimated to altitude and we ourselves are pretty “hard core”, we did the hike in 2 hours. Even though it didn’t meet our expectactions, it was still a fun trip and a great chance to see a dying glacier and know the Andes a little better.

I’m excitedly waiting the arrival of two good friends from the States, Erik Torgerson and Linnea Johnson, who’ll be here next week, and latter on in August the visit of Elizabeth and Tippy. I can happily say that before September I’ll use all my vacation days. Does Peace Corps seem a little like the “Posh Corps”? For the moment, maybe a little, but the vacationing is my last chance to know Peru and we are still advancing well with our environmental work in Tomas. So I look at it this way, these months will be good for the mind, body, and the spirit of a PCV. Travel, experiencing new places and things, and doing my best to make a positive difference in the lives of my community members.

The view from high above my town, pretty much the ceiling of the western hemisphere.

Standing on the Glacier at Huaytapallana.

Jatuncocha, which is Quechua for "big lake" at Huaytapallana.

My seniors in high school working on our research project for the science fair.

Me, sporting the new vest of my environmental committee, with an Alpaca. You know, standard life of a PCV.

Our community Micro Landfill, before being used.

OUr community Micro Landfill, this time in use.

The environmental committee in our new office. It could use a spicing up.

Mountain biking with Lauren, Briana, and Will in front of the glacier at Huaytapallana.

The Under 14 soccer team, after a celebratory trout lunch with our team photo.

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