Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Reflections: part 3

The catholic church is no longer very powerful nor do the majority of people worship regularly although almost all are nominally Roman Catholic. There is a increase in "evangelical" churches, but it is not a factor in government or civilization.

I don't think the Spanish May have done as much to improve the potential for the indigenous as perhaps other European colonial countries. Language and religion and European way of life were enforced without much education or government structure to go with it. Just domination. And when the Spanish left, not much remained to build on.

As a result it is only in the 1900's that anyone thought to do archeological digs around Lima and they have uncovered hosts of pre-Inca civilizations. In face the Inca were very short term, if unifying. But since they we here when there Spanish came, the got in all the history books. There is much still to learn about the "other" America!

But in a small part of one school I was able to encourage a teacher and share the fact that volunteers from the US do care. For this year, that will be enough.

And of course I will not look at the US as the only or primary "America" anymore. Or read about drug cartels and corruption as "their" problem. The roots and causes of what we see on the surface are twisted, but deserve consideration.

Of course 1000 thanks to Bob, the spousal unit, for understanding and supporting and picking me up at the airport - the best hugs ever are in Terminal 5!

Reflections:part 2

Lima is mostly a stop off to what people come to see in Peru - the jungle or the mountains. It has about 3-4 "nice" areas to live - meaning green grass, tidy parks, walled homes.

But cross one large road and the rest of Lima is sand. Miles and acres and deserts of sand. With multiple family houses and heavily gated shops and a very few parks. Streets in many areas are unpaved. There is migration within the country from the rural to the city but very little chance to any true advancement via a middle class. The private education system is restricted to those who have money and can get into the best schools. Even the ranking military is apportioned to those who have money or family tradition.

There is very little way out of the sand.

Nine months if the year a heavy cloud cover banks in Lima making it a temperate climate rather than a tropic one. But it also means lack of sunlight for months on end. Two hours south or in the mountains it is sunny. And of course the Amazon is hot and truly tropic. Interesting geography.

Reflections part 1

Re-entry into the US was harder this time. Not the airport - I have Global Entry and the longest part is waiting for luggage.

It took 2 or 3 days to stop wanting to smack people for whining about long lines at Starbucks and anything political. The US is still the greatest country with the most advantages and opportunities in the world - even the right to vote and make changes in how we are governed. And express those opinions with very little thought to repercussions and no fear.

That is a much more amazing situation than we can imagine.

Plus hot showers are a wonderful thing!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

light show park

We spent on Sunday evening at a wonderful park full of fountains wiht light shows, concerts and decorated tress for only 4/S - about  a dollar. Lots of families were taking advantage of the wonderful space.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

More Lima ruins

We made another trip to ruins today - once again reminding us that the Incas we think were all of the pre-Spanish activity were hardly a blip on the historic radar. This temple dated back to 500 BC. It as a temple and then a burial grounds and then a worship space again. The bodies are buried in year fetal position to prepare for rebirth.

Then we went it the a 600 year old Olive Garden brought over from Spain. The trees were twisted and still producing Olive oil. Are onus them were some of the most lovely homes I have seen in a Peru - built by the Europeans who came her after WWII.

Student teachers

Today was fun - we had 4 teacher wannabes come in and teach the children. We tore strips of paper to paste on a mural, but they were immediately rolled into throwing ball and made the floor look like the aftermath of a political convention.

They may be rethinking law school. After all civilized groans never act like children!

Monday, September 26, 2016

What do I miss?

Yoga!  (besides the obvious of Bob, family, and cat) I miss stretching and relaxing.

St. Mark's. The sun. Deep dish pizza. Home Saturday!

What is the best thing here? (Besides the obvious of the other terrific volunteers) The teacher I work with is one of the most creative and talented I have ever seen. We will find a way to keep in touch.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

In every culture

There seems to have been a movement in many countries in last century of people who act like they are supporting the common good and uplifting the disadvantaged, but it has been a thin cover for Mao"s Little Red Book and in retrospect sometimes seen as abusive. We went to a museum of The Peruvian version of this movement - late 80-mid 90s. Atrocities in the rural areas against the very people they were trying to redeem, but when the locals did not join they were shot. The movement only briefly made it to the city when it ended.

I toured the museum with my new friend who lived in Vietnam until 8 years ago which made it even more interesting.

The lessons were numerous! Good ideas carried out by peoples with other agendas. No interest in the real needs of the disadvantaged. Lack of understanding of the value of education that gives people choices how to think.  Above all the superiority that says "unless you do it our way, you will be shot."

The Other Sunday Morning activity

Yes - I am in Starbucks. Just waiting for a quorum. Then I'll yell "in nombre de Deo y de....." Or I may just finish my coffee and enjoy the WiFi. To work on next Sundays sermon!

New influx of volunteers  - 11 more bringing the house total to 20. They are all nice, of course, because CCS people are by definition nice or they are vacationing elsewhere.  Should we tell them all the little tricks about hot water we have learned in 2 weeks? Naw - discovery is character building.

Last week of teaching - the time has gone fast. Starting to think of next year.....

Friday, September 23, 2016

THE mall

Mira Flores is the highest class neighborhood and we went to their mall today. It is build at the top of a cliff, but not on top - instead it is built into the cliff with spectacular views of the ocean from every table in the countless restaurants. All high end stores - think North Michigan Avenue in a mall. We had paid 12'S from our house to be mall, but trying to get a cab at the mall no one would take us back for less than 30s! We finally walked 4 blocks down there street and hid the shopping bags - that got us a 12 S ride. Charge what the traffic will allow.

And it's the weekend!

Just like home

They may not know the names of the cadidates but they have all the tattling, finger pointing, blaming,  finding issues where they are none, name calling, and loud denials of guilt down pat.

Or maybe the politicians are acting like 4 year olds.....

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Criss cross cultural

One of the team is from Vietnam originally and spotted the ONLY Chinese-Vietnamese restaurant in Lima. So we went. The usual numbered menu and the usual spot for fried rice so I ate well. On the boarding TV was a Michael Jackson imitator singing Beat It with the back up group of Smurfs. Can't even make this stuff up. Check it out on YouTube......

This followed a visit to the museum of contemporary art which was mind stretching for my brain that likes stuff to look like things. This took a little too much imagination engagement - given that all the notes were in Spanish.

They did have a cool display of stuff dug up from a junk yard that was not going to disintegrate. So it is what will remain of our civilization. I have been thinking about this recently as I looked at all the buried artifacts that tell us about ancient times. What will remain of the 21st century if we are all cremated? One word: plastics. Bottles, lids, doll arms.

Pause to ponder.....and if I get a sermon out of it the trip is tax deductible. I am pretty sure.

A lesson I have never taught....

Today was sex Ed for the 4 years olds.

At first that startled me but they just showed a short film about  how two cells come together either in an egg or in the mothers body. No one giggled. No one was embarrassed. It was just a fact. Then we looked a pictures of various animals who either have eggs or are born alive. To round it out we saw the birth ding scene from The Good Dinosaur  where the eggs hatch and then did a work sheet on egg, baby hatching, adult. Hung it by the counting and coloring pages and went to lunch.

Fads of Fours

Since I have been here several fads have gone around the age 4 classroom: putting a scarf over your face to be a bandit, jumping off tree stumps that have been in the play yard the whole time but someone just noticed. Digging sand like dogs, looking at the underside of the table each time the  teacher looks away. Today it was holding fingers to make a gun a shooting the 3 year olds after breakfast. it seemed so spontaneous but universal which makes me suspect they are unionized. Or a flash mob.

The Dance of Peruvian liberation!

It took only 1.5 hours - 45 minutes being lost and 45 productive minutes at the Pharma and Postal Service but I found my way out, did two errands and arrived home! Happy Dance!

Ding! I am free to move about the neighborhood!

The PS is described as the Evil Empire. They tax everything shipped out and everything shipped in.mso one volunteer got a package with a couple of scarves and sox and paid $40 in taxes to the delivery guy in order to get it off the truck. Here Amazon is only a river! So no one mails anything and the only revenue is tourists who mail post cards. But I boldy went on and mailed my 10 cards knowing full well I have NEVER known what it cost to send cards home! The only ones that have not made it were from Morocco.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


The meals are low on fiber - meat/chicken plus rice and potatoes or pasta. Breakfast is bun, cheese, boiled egg, coffee. So lots of protein but only salad every 4 days or so.

And I can't believe I have reached the age when I notice fiber....

Mercifully...no pictures

In learning all things Peruvian we had dance instruction today. Each culture seems to move a different body part - the Thai had impossible hand move. Here it is a shoulder-chest wiggle and...um...more wiggle thing. Looks great on the locals.

We also cooked ceviche - which is a misnomer since it is raw onions , raw peppers and raw fish dipped ever so briefly in lime juice with spices. Apparently adding anything else is an anathema.

And shopped at the Inka Market - everything but everything is made of "baby alpaca" which make me wonder if there are a bunch of little naked alpacas in the mountains that need sweaters.

There is a Starbucks-Chilis-KFC complex with valet parking.

4 year olds

The little tykes are universal! Given play dough or sticks or mud or Legos the girls will make fake fingernails and the boys will make guns. Girls constantly chatter and there are "in girls and out girls." Boys are indiscriminate in their punching.

This school is specifically to give a leg up to kids whose families total income is $2 a day or less. That is way below subsistence. Which is why we spend so much time feeding them.

Still they are regular kids!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Sunday Pisco day

So Pisco is not only a place but a drink - made at a winery. Where we went for lunch. And took a tour. And had some samples. Couple of reds. Couple of whites. Warming us to Pisco - 48% alcohol. Eye watering good and useful for sanitizing hospital equipment as well as drinking.

Ole! We go home now.

Sunday SAND day

After the beach we went to some of the vast mounds of sand that make up this country.

Here we rode in dune buggies. The clue to the daring of the driver should have been the harnesses - not seat belts.  This was an adolescent male with a open air buggy who had NO FEAR and a buddy taking videos of all of us screaming our heads off.

The young in the group went sand boarding but that looked like I should try it at home in my own sand box before I do it in public.

Sand in the hair, face, teeth, arms, feet, eyes - and places I did not know I had places. Huge fun!

Sandy gram

Sunday SUN day!

We took a trip south of aLima to a place where the sun shines! Pisco is 3 hours south, on the beach and a world way from my work site. It is all about the tourists - we know when all the toilets have seats and paper that it is a tourist zone. But the sun was shining and it was 80 degrees! We left at 6 am and were in paradise by 9.

From Pisco we took a boat tour to 2 islands whose only occupant is birds and sea loins and only product is...um...guano. Mounds. Tons. An olfactory sensation! It is "harvested" every 3-5 years and used for fertilizer. So the inhabitants are protected and encouraged! We did get wonderfully close in The boat (think Chicago Sea  Dog without any safety restrictions).

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Fridays for 4s

We feed the children breakfast, snack and lunch. Friday as we sat them down to tuna on a tiny bun and a cup of hot quonina, the lawn service started up the weed whacker. No way anyone can eat with a week whacker - and the worker was in full body garb and a mask!

Then just as started the days of the week, there was drill of some kind. Everyone went to the central yard and brought a bag of supplies. Not a fire or tornado - earthquake drill.

It took new play dough for everyone to get things quiet again.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The sweet life

Good day at preschool and another Spanish lesson. To celebrate almost the end of the first week we went to Wongs emporium of fine foods. But after that in search of a chocolate store we heard was around here somewhere we were drawn to the charro stand. Oh, my. 33 cents of delight! Deep fried bread rolled in sugar and stuffed with Carmel. Several of the major food groups....

Then we found the chocolate shop and got a lemon filling wrapped in the peel which had been sugared and the whole thing dipped in chocolate.

Suddenly there is an housewide sugar high and I found my self on Instagram. I have no idea how. Or how to get back.

It is a fun and wacky group who are very accepting of antiquity. In persons.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Look! Up in the sky!

It's the sun! First time to see the Peruvian sun since we got here. Think: one random warm day in March. It made all the difference. Kids walked around with hands in the air and people took their hands out of sleeves. Good day!

So to top that off we went to the Temple of the sun, an Inca ruin here in Lima. It is on top of a high hill overlooking the sea and it is completely understandable that the world would end where the edge is. It is part of a sacred area dating back to 5000BC. Claimed to be the earliest in the world. Covered many times over with sand - which most of the coast of Peru is.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

What's for dinner?

Apparently wild Guinea Pigs are popular over here. For dinner. Not Fluffy you make a pet - big rat like ones. But they breed them and keep them in the house for eating like farmers raise chickens. The difference is that chickens rarely are served with the head still attached. More like duck and fish. But furry. Not on my list to intentionally consume.....

Ah - translation.....

I thought the teacher I work with asked if I had any songs. Of course I have songs! I start to tell her about one where you count to 10 on  your fingers. I am counting in English and then Spanish and she is getting more and more,shocked looking. Turns out she was asking if I had any SONS. Ah - different number!

Monday, September 12, 2016

To work!

I am teaching 4 year olds in a government program (a la Headstart) with the best teacher ever! She completely understands how age 4 does not sit and do paperwork or even need just endless free play but the entire day is built around experiencing many facets of one point or story. It was very fun to watch! And I have already doubled my Spanish with helpful words like Banyo and rappido. (Spoken only - no spelling.) Tomorrow I teach a song and finerplay in English - perfect!

After lunch we went the very tourist prosperous area of Lima, on the hill above the ocean. In stark contrast to where we are teaching. Around the school there is no grass, stray dogs and cats, and mounts of bagged (or unbagged) garbage. On the hill it is tidy and green and spacious with fountains and an Inca market with loads of souvenirs. I suppose Chicago has the same contrasts, but to drive it one day was striking. (Where we live is a step down from high end and has a few parks and green space, little shops and a few stores, high walls around single family houses. Very safe feeling.)

But back to shopping! My first purchase was a sweater - not that I was anxious to have an alpaca sweater but it is cold here. 62 sounded fine until we realized the sun would not be making an appearance until late spring. It does not rain - just thick overcast. Coffee is very important!

15 of us arrived at once but we are all good intended and friendly. Things are going well, even with 7 of us sharing a bathroom. Sorority living without the secret handshake.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Day trip travel

Easy flights here - left on 9:15 am to Panama, landed 7:05 PM in Lima. Then an hour and a half in traffic to the house! But it less tiring than flying overnight to Europe.  So today is not the usual post trip fog - except in the sky where it was gray and then cloudy followed by overcast. Mid 60s.

Orientation all morning - and introductions of team members. The usual fun and interesting team. Two couple just got married and this is their honeymoon - they will go on from here to Machu Pichu, but how nice to spend part of it volunteering. One is the usual late 20-something, but the other one waited for the ink on the AARP cards to dry before marrying. I told if they had waited a few weeks I could have giving them the volunteer/group discount.

But speaking of church...today is the celebration of The Lord of Miracles


Essentially prayer saved the town/church from an earthquake and annually they have a huge procession and worship. We were there! Then into the catacombs under the Lima Cathedral - only the poor were buried there since the rich could afford caskets. When they opened the graves the assembled pits of various bones - but the caverns and pits are original. Upstairs we could hear the celebration mass going on. Very very wonderful.

Food fantastic at the home base - as usual. Apparently one of the common foods here is guinea pig which. I suppose tastes like chicken...

Thursday, September 8, 2016

What time is it?

So because South America is further east, even the western coast there is in the Eastern Time Zone. Except they do not have Daylight Savings. So minus 5 hours from Greenwich, and an hour off from New York....using a cosine or hypotenuse or something... the time in Lima now is...

The same time as Chicago!

I don't even have to reset my watch!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

More Advice and Excitement

Altitude change: Move slow, drink lots of water (just not the local stuff). Some kind of tea related to cocaine...apparently widely available. Glad this trip is not week 1!

Getting excited to step on a new continent. Cross the equator. See the Pacific Ocean. Explore Lima.

And of course explore churches! In Russia I managed to get to 7 parts of services in one Sunday morning. Looks like Lima's churches are close enough together to beat that record!


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Wither weather?

As we wind down in the last hot days of summer up here, Lima is just starting spring. Highs in the upper 60s and lows in the mid 50s. For the first time in weeks I am thinking about a sweater!


Monday, September 5, 2016

Altitude Attitude

Contemplating a weekend in Cusco to see the Center of the Inca world and connected with a St. Mar's student there for a gap year study.

Altitude at Lima: 5080
Altitude at Cusco: 10800

Lost of folks at church Sunday said it was the hardest altitude adjustment. I put a call in to the doctor for altitude pills and shifted my plans to go up the night before the tour.

Evidently one goes DOWN from there to Machu Pichu!


Monday, August 29, 2016

THAT summer flew!

I thought volunteering in September would make the summer less crazy but it just filled in with wonderfulness! Like closets and shoes! Grandblessing and trips and wine coolers.

But now it is less than 2 weeks to Depart Day for Peru!

Easiest flight ever! It is 5 hours to Panama and 3 more to Lima - leave at 9 am - arrive at 7:15 pm. Hardly even jet lagged!

Big team of us going on September 10 - from all over the country, as usual. But it will mean a full house. That is one of the things I like about CCS - the volunteer house where we live and speak English together. The other people are fascinating! What motivates singles or couples or college age kids to volunteer? My personal response originally was curiosity about the world and a desire to get off the Tourist Track (sometimes!) and live in the community.  After almost a decade of annual trips I am motivated by the amount I learn about the people and how that alters my views of the news here and from other places.

We are in a neighborhood of Lima  to live, but no idea how far it is to where we teach. Assignments coming Friday!

No malaria in Lima and my cholera is up to date now.....

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Peru 2016

Trekking to the Southern Hemisphere this year - Lima, Peru in September.