Friday, December 26, 2003

i will have to wait on the photos!! it is taking too long to upload righht now. but there is good news...i decided to get a computer (ps, not with the pencils for peru money...) and my friends are going to bring it with them when they come. i am told an internet connection is not too expensive... i'm hoping with a bit faster of a system i can keep the web page up a bit better and with it also be able to do some presentations when i get back in until january for more photos. love, laurie
it is nearly a month since i was able to successfully make a posting to my web page!! welcome back! the folks at blogspot generously have given me more space!! thank you!!

So where in the world did i leave off?? i have notes and notes in different journals now and can barely keep my thought straight. and yesterday was christmas... so why don't i start there? christmas in sipascancha was amazing and thanks to many of you, i was able to significantly contribute. Last week we celebrated in sipascancha. it was a 2 day celebration! On wednesday the kids and herman, one of the teachers cut down two trees from near the river. one went in the comedor and one went outside near the church. pavela made ornaments with ribbon and dried flowers from the greenhouse. we had lights for it that played what might be called cheezy christmas songs and also had different patterns. the kids and i cut out snowflakes. we made the star with wire and garland! the first day we got up early to count the pieces of chicken. (we had to have enough for 380 children!!) and it all went on the tree first in the comedor. (The wind and rain pprevented us from decorating the other tree too soon!) Well it was beautiful. when it got dark the kids and some of the adults just stared at it!! on thursday we got up early toi wash and count all the chicken we bought for lunch that day. we had to have enough!! A traveling priest arrived to conduct a mass! we moved all the benches from the comedor and put them out in front of the church. (the church is too small to house everyone!) We cleaned up the altar and swept the dirt floor and put fresh flowers around. the kids all sat out front of the church waiting for the service. and typical to latin time it took awhile for that to start. but it did finally. it was in quechua and spanish. during the service i was yet another time a godmother to a 2 month old sweetie named Flor.

(a small digression here: i am learning NOW that there are many reasons one is a godmother. one, if you cut the childs hair for the first time, one of course if you participate in the baptism and third when they graduate from high i have cut the hair of now 2 babies, participated in 1 baptism and on monday will be the madrina, or godmother for a young man graduating from school in ollantaytambo!! the first time i was completely unaware that i had earned the title of madrina. i was just asked to cut cynthia's hair and i thought it was because the family saw that i had scissors. well they arrived with a cuy dinner, and after the cut, it was announced to me i was the madrina. i ahd to look up the word and then realized!! the second time, being aware what it meant to cut the hair of the child and being it was one of my midwive's friends boys, i said yes. but the ritual was abit different...small clumps of hair were tied off and the madrina had the responsibilyt to cut the first 5. there was a fiesta again with cuy. and i will tell you more about the other expereince after monday!!)

so back to christmas...we had the baptism and tehn we hustled off to finish cooking the special christmas almuerzo. we had fried chicken, (pollo frito), salad, (ensalada) and corn (maiz). it was all food that could be eaten with the fingers as we did not have enough utensils! So you had to see this...400 kids..class by class..waiting patiently for their turn to eat. after one group ate, they washed out their bowls and the next group then ate. and everyone after eating, got a mandarina. they were so quiet and patient with the process. and they never get to eat any fresh meat, other than cuy and i'm not sure how often that is. so then the music started and we danced all afternoon with the kids. the parents all stood outside the square and watched. ( and they had a separate feast.) this went on until after dark!

the next day we prepared to make hot chocolate and serve sweet bread. Therte was a reneactment of the nativity scene complete with sheep. each group of kids sang a song. we served the hot chocolate and bread and then prepared for the gifts. some kids got to be acknowledged for good studies. and again class by class, they came for the gifts. each got sweet popcorn, a ball, a small toy, a piece of candy, new shoes, a book and some piece of clothing. (some in need of more clothes got more.) we had a microphone hooked up and we called each child by name and gave them gifts in a plastic bag. they were ecstatic. and once everything had handed out, we saw balls everywhere. (and earlier 2 boys were playing soccer with a stuffed plastic bag...) so it was very cool!

Other than sipascancha i got to help out with yet another project aiming to serve hot chocolate and sweet bread to children in the communities around Ollantaytambo with my friends Washington, Carlos, Alex, Danny, maria, etc, over 1000 kids!! and way up in the mountains. we had 2 trucks with all the ingredients and off we went stopping from village to village. apparently washi and carlos have been doing this for years with their mom, maria. So mothers were expecting us and had hug kettle of water on to boil on fires outside.we then added a bunch of shved chocolate, canned milk and sugar. the kids arrived with cups and were served the hot chocolate and bread. i brought pencils, paper, erasers and sharpeners. and from village to village, we played the peruvian music LOUD and all sang. and yes there was even a bit of rum and beer. again it was incredible to see the looks on htese kids faces.

but i have to say once christmas eve arrived i had very little to keep me occupied. there was a huge market in the center of cusco with people selling plants, trees, branches, incense, food, gifts, etc, etc. The saddest part of it was seeing all the campesinos planted in their little spot selling things and then sleeping their all night in the rain with the children. apparently its a custom here to have this market and many people from the country come to sell things and then the kids receive a piece of chocolate or something form the city of cusco. so there were lines of poor peole everywhere waitng for their chocolate. And this was mixed with others out to buy gifts. it was striking to see the contrast. and the weather was miserable. and i wandered around just looking really missing my family and friends.

on christmas eve night i got to spend the evening with a family here. their whole family arrived after 10PM to wait for midnight. sadly, their grandmother had died a few days earlier so everyone was abit sad. we decorated candles for the service and drank sangria. and at midnight everyone made sure they hugged and kissed everyone with a wish for a feliz navidad and we all cried.

christmas was yet another lonely day but a little less sharp feeling than christmas eve. i spent some time with friends. but, my highlight was a long run, getting to talk to josiah and mica and my folks, and getting to give a gift to a girl here, janet who sells chocolate candy in the plaza. shes 12 years old and has been selling candy since she was 6. She is one of 5 kids of a single mother who cooks in the mercado. so i had met a friend, found her and scurried off to a private place where she could open her gift. it was a coat. we then went out to eat chicken.

now being the day after christmas...i will post all this and follow it with photos from the fiestas. i hope you enjoy them! i really miss you all. i'm grateful for the time i got to spend with all the kids and have thought of you all and wished i was closer to spend it with you too!

Monday, December 01, 2003

This trip is from back in december with my dutch buddy, louisa. we met in the plaza and she was here for 6 months. (hubby paco joined her her in january. and is totally repsponsible for my computer working!) a really cool couple! so this trip was with our friend washi. he leads a project together with his brother in ollantaytambo for the children who walk down from the mountains for school. his project makes sure the kids have a nutricious meal everyday before they head back on an over 2 hour walk back up into the mountains. so washi, alex and sambino took louisa and i on a hike back up into ollantaytambo. i refused to go by horse...don't like them, but louisa hadn't been here that long and wasn't realy accustomed to hiking in the the altitude, in fact not accustomed to hiking at all! it was her first camping trip and lasted 3 days! it was beautiful. when we headed out it was raining. our first night was at an inca rest area. washi told us that when the incas were overtaken by the spaniards, the higher up ones headed into the mountains and now the people of a community called patacancha are felt to be the most direct descendants. (pictures of the kids from this community will was a christmas project.) our second day we headed straight up it seemed. i kept asking...'are we there yet??" and when i reached the camping spot, i announced to everyone, 'where in the hell is my lunch??', or something to that effect. we camped by a lake. we awoke to near snow and it was freezing. a young girl from patacancha, (judging from her clothes) was in and out of the trees around our camp site. she was very shy. later she came down and i bought a belt from her. we then headed down to weot, i think is the spelling. We met a woman who happily shook our ands, as she was mixing llama shit fertilizer into the dirt! and we met lots of kids and gave them pencils and balloons, and the food we had left over. and in weot, we waited at a woman's house for the van. she prepared a variety of things, coca leaves, flowers, etc as an appreciation of our safe trip, outside we held our hands together over it and then she buried it in her backyard. and then it was back to ollanta.