Friday, July 20, 2012

Tupananchis Caman...

Saying goodbye to some familiar faces...

Love them, love them all. Peru YAV's 11'-12'!

We love Peru!

My dear friend Gladis from the office

Rolo and I on my last day

Pastor Benjamin!

With Sarvia

And Ybon!

Lima YAV's w/ Rusty and Sarah (other PCUSA mission co-workers in Peru)

Julia and Giuliana - my host family!
Always and forever - sending lots of love from Lima! See you next week stateside!
Elena

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The ABC'S of #limalove

A : aji de gallina - agua caliente
B : bichos - bilingue - bulla
C : corriendo - clorets - ceviche - chifle - canchitas - cusquena
D : d'onofrio triangulos
E : espanol - ensaladas - espiritu
F : fruta - futbol
G : Gladis - galletas - Giuliana - gringos
H : huancaina - [the] Hornes - Hannah
I : inalambrico -"ita/o"
J : Julia - Jesus Maria - jugos
K : Kaley - [the] Koballs
L : Lurigancho - lavanderias - limonada
M : Miraflores - Malecon - mercados - Mary - Metro - menu
N : naranjas
O : "o sea"- oceano- "ojala!" - ONG
P : platanos - Paz y Esperanza - poco a poco - pancitos - "pues" - pisco sours - palta
Q : "que?" - Quechua - queso fresco
R : Residenciales San Felipe - [the] Red
S : sobreviviendo - skype - Stella Maris
T : trafico - tiendas - transporte publico tan barato - tallarines
U : usted(es)
V : vacaciones - vistas del mar
W : [the] Webbs
X : -
Y : ya - yogur
Z : zapatos

Two weeks from today.....I will be back home in the Buckeye state and I could not be more excited! On the other hand, this list represents but a fraction of the people, places, and things that I will surely miss about my home here in Lima, Peru.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Peru Crew VI

Good morning good blog-reading folks - sorry for yet another prolonged absence, no excuses...

On the bright side I have many a tale to tell - first and foremost, the amazing visit from Peru Crew VI!

Hard to believe that this much time has passed since then, but almost 3 weeks ago 16 of Broad Street's finest arrived at Jorge Chavez International Airport, right here in not-so-sunny Lima, Peru. Bearing in mind that my dear old Dad and baby sister Anna Banana were among them - needless to say, I was pumped. First family visit/interaction in almost 11 months, can you blame me? It was quite a family reunion in the middle of the reception area!

Through my work at Paz y Esperanza I had the privilege of playing both a team member and leadership role for this years Crew (side note : an enormous thank you to my co-leader Jed Koball of Joining Hands, could not have done it without him). After 4 intense months of preparation we were confident we were all ready for the adventure that awaited us.

We started our 2 weeks together in Lomas, Carabayllo - a large urban district on the outskirts of Lima (similar to San Juan de Lurigancho, my former Lima home) - where we partnered and worked alongside the youth group who call themselves JESHENI. Their goals are many and their members too few, but what a fantastic gathering of young adults working to make a sustainable difference in their community. Among our activities was a successful park clean up and planting of trees (who knew how much landscaping was in our future!).

One of the members of the aforementioned group, Milagros, was given the opportunity to accompany us on leg two of the trip up to Huanuco - we are so blessed that she said yes! Which brings us to the farm and shelter portion of our trip. Both are located just outside of Huanuco which is a beautiful small town situated right between where the mountains and jungle meet - our view from the farm was breathtaking.

Our main task during this time was to work alongside our partners at Paz y Esperanza in what we lovingly titled a "beautification project" for the shelter. I am one among many who will sing the shelters praises out loud. Talk about a group of committed men and women working to care for and rehabilitate victims of domestic and sexual abuse (I have a feeling my dad might throw in the word tenacious around here somewhere and with good reason). We steadfastly worked alongside our 'brother' Francisco (a.k.a. "Panchito") in hauling rocks, clearing gardens, planting "ornamentals", vines, and a variety trees in an effort to create an even more sacred space for these beautiful children and adolescents and those who care for them.

If you ask me it was a success times one hundred! Not only were we able to get a ton, and I mean a ton of work done on the property (thank you to Francisco and my Dad's steadfast leadership) but we were also blessed to share in group activities ranging from countless games of volleyball, friendship bracelet making, a field day, a bonfire, singing, dancing, group lunches, and immeasurable amounts of laughter. What a week, to say the least.

But wait there's more...after saying goodbyes to 3 fantastic members of our team, 14 of us headed up the mountain (this time via plane which we were all grateful for) to Cusco! They were a whirlwind 2.5 days but a great way to unwind a bit, continue reflecting on the past week, and take in some incredible sites. Another big thank you is due right here to Pachatusanktrek tour company, specifically Jessica and her husband Sergio, who were fantastic guides through a part of Peru that is so rich in history and culture.




After some brief luggage debacles and a quick 'tour' of Lima it was time to say goodbye. Goodbyes were tough, enough said. However, I would like to reiterate that my adventure with Peru Crew VI is one for the books and I am truly blessed to have been given the opportunity to share this experience with all of them.



Home in 22 days (unreal) - I am sure there will be a few more tall tales of Peru to share with you all between now and then.

As always, sending lots of love from Lima,
Elena

P.S. More photos coming soon!!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

INCA TRAIL!

Good morning loyal blog readers!

It has officially been one week since Mary, Hannah and I (plus our amazing group) made it to Machu Picchu, after a long 4 day trek through the Andes Mountains - that's right we survived the Inca Trail!

Words cannot begin to adequately express what an amazing week we shared - uphill, downhill, SO much laughter, more coca tea than we knew what to do with, and an amazing group of 15 young adults, 2 guides, 1 amazing chef and 17 porters. We were a force to be reckoned with let me tell you. 

Upon our arrival in Cusco we got ourselves settled, checked in with our trek company (http://www.perutreks.com/ - HIGHLY recommend) and spent the following 48 hours fully adjusting to altitude (not a problem for this group), "carb-loading" which we believed to be perfectly acceptable given the journey we were about to embark on, and thoroughly enjoying each others company.

Monday morning was finally upon us - 4:45 a.m. wake up call - buses were scheduled to pick us up at our hostel between 5:20 and 6:00 a.m. Sure enough 5:30 a.m. and there they were - Hannah was mysteriously taken by herself first, a mistake that was thankfully corrected when we arrived at Km. 82 to begin the trek. Anyways, after a 2 hour bus ride to Ollantaytambo and then another hour to Km. 82 we were READY!

The team getting ready to start!

The first day was needless to say gorgeous but in retrospect, by far the easiest. We arrived to camp around 5:30 and really began getting to know our group over a delicious dinner. Side note : the food was amazing! Far exceeded my expectations. 

Then came the dreaded day two - we had been warned about this fateful day - it is widely known as the hardest day and now we all know why. We were pleasantly awakened by one of our guides and a few porters with a hot cup of coca tea at our tent (a morning ritual) and were to report to breakfast, packed and ready, 45 minutes to an hour later. Okay we thought, no problem. Little did we know we were about to face a 6 hour climb straight uphill that would be far more grueling than any of us had anticipated.

Rock stairs - straight up - my nemesis.
We started at the bottom!
Let me tell you all that making it to the top of that pass was one of the greatest feelings of victory and triumph that many of us has had ever experienced. Grand Canyon times ten! It was amazing. After another hour and a half downhill we were safely at camp and overjoyed to see our applauding porters, a hot meal and tents.

Day three started out a little tired and a lot sore but all in all ready to take on the last (and longest) leg of our journey. What I knew about this day going in was that it was the longest day, started with uphill, then flat (or Andean flat as we so fondly named it, more like slight up and down) and then a good 3-4 hour downhill. Seemed doable at the very least. I must confess that this actually proved to be my hardest day - my knees had taken a beating going downhill the night before and were thoroughly displeased the next day. After some ibuprofen, a wrap job and some rest I was back on my feet, thank heavens. We successfully tackled day three, although I will tell you all, the end of that day was the most tired I have been in a VERY long time.

Bring it on Day 3! - with Mary and Hannah
Down, down and more down...
At 3:45 a.m. on day four, we were awoken once more, sans tea this time, and were instructed to pack up and get ready to go - the idea being that we would arrive at the Sun Gate overlooking Machu Picchu as the sun was rising over the valley. Well needless to say we made it and these pictures can better explain the feeling (and the view) than I can...






An AMAZING 4 days and 3 nights in the Andes with two of my best friends and an amazing group to boot. So there you have it - with between 25 and 30 pounds on our backs (we are mighty women!) we traveled a little more than 26 miles through the Andes and it was by far one of the greatest adventures to date.

Safely back in Lima now - wishing I could turn back time but looking forward to a weekend in Huancavelica with the girls at the end of this month and then Broad Streeter's arrive --- and believe it or not, shortly thereafter I will be returning stateside.

As always, sending lots of love,
Elena

*Link to full album of photos at the top right of the page!*
*For our full itinerary you can visit : http://www.perutreks.com/inca_trail_04d_itinerary.html*

Monday, April 23, 2012

Amigos!

Good afternoon blog readers!

We are now 1 week away from May and 2 weeks away from the start of the Inca Trail! Hannah, Mary and myself will be taking off for Cusco on Saturday, May 5th and the trek to Machu Picchu will commence that Monday - bound to be an unforgettable adventure in the Andes!

I wanted to take a moment to pay tribute to some of the AMAZING people I have met this year - as the goodbyes have officially begun. While my ability to make/maintain Peruvian friends has been a bit lacking - I have had the pleasure of getting to know a great group of ex pats from all around the world.

First and foremost, my fellow YAV's - Kaley, Hannah, Mary, Shane and Sarah! An amazing group of committed and hard working young adults. We have been through the highs and lows of this year together and I could not have asked for a better support group.

Peru YAV's 2011-2012 :)
Jessica Penner works with Joining Hands via Partners for Just Trade (PJT to all you Presby fair trade nerds) - she has been a wonderful addition not only to the Red but to our growing group of friends too! Recently we said goodbye to two of my favorite Canadians - Justina Lee and Sheila Ball, here through the University of Waterloo's Int'l Development program. We also have our in house Aussie - Sally!

Rooftop potluck!

The leading ladies...

Our recent sand boarding trip was awesome!
Needless to say it has been a great year with them in my life and I look forward to international reunions (i.e. Canada most likely) that are to come!

Much love from Lima,
Elena

Friday, April 13, 2012

Holy Week Extravaganza!

Greetings to all!

My dad shared a thought with me recently about perhaps doing a series of blogs focusing on some of the prevalent issues and themes of Peru right now. That is to come!

However, I would like to first catch you all up on our most recent adventure to the mountain city of Ayacucho where we spent the majority of Holy Week. It is important to note that this city in Peru is well known for their Holy Week celebrations and prevalence of Catholic churches. It is a beautiful city to be sure, full of culture and history - while our week up there was wonderful, I would love to go back in a time where there are far fewer tourists to get a better feel for the city the other 350 days of the year.

Our days consisted of meeting time together, shared meals and lots of time in the Plaza Mayor. One of the main attractions - the "carpets" that covered the plaza streets preceding the processionals at night. They are made up of everything and anything ranging from sawdust, chalk, flower petals, leaves, etc. Absolutely gorgeous.


Carpet making materials...

The processionals were more or less a day by day recount of Jesus' last days - an encounter with Mary, his crucifixion and rebirth, etc. These were all elaborately carried out including live reenactments and innate float type statues carried through the streets by up to 300 men.



As beautiful as all of that was I must admit that my favorite part of the trip was the day we spent up in the surrounding community with Debbie and Harry's long time friends - Paco and Celia and their children Franco and Ani, in addition to neighbors and extended family. It was an amazing day sharing, laughing, learning and eating a ton! Reminded me a lot of those amazing days up in Santa Barbara in 04' and 06'.

Preparing our Pachamanca lunch - it is cooked underground!

The gang :)
Another unforgettable YAV retreat has come and gone.
We are now flying through April! Yowzers.

More photos can be found at the Holy Week in Ayacucho link - top right of this page.

As always sending lots of Lima,
Elena

Monday, March 26, 2012

4 months to the day...

Yes, you heard right. I will be back stateside 4 months from TODAY! (July 26th - for those of you reciting the months out loud, don't worry I do it too, it's like saying the alphabet out loud when you're looking up a word in the dictionary, totally natural) I know, I know - I can't believe it either! Time is flying, which around Christmas time, I didn't think was even remotely possible.

As I sit here listening to a varied assortment of James Taylor, Carole King, Counting Crows, Coldplay, you get the idea - and working on postcards I am overcome by this huge internal conflict of the heart!

On the one hand - not sure I have EVER been more excited to see my family and friends. Feels like an eternity since we were last together and yet I remember the morning my mom and dad dropped me off at the Columbus airport as if it were yesterday. Isn't it funny how the mind works? And processes the speed with which time passes?

Anyways, I was emailing with a fellow YAV recently about where we are with our work, our year, homesickness, journey, etc. and she commented that she was ready to move on as she missed the creature comforts of home and was ready for the next phase in her life journey. I agreed with her to a certain degree. Beyond just missing the company of close friends and family - there are some undeniable creature comforts that we are fine living without but miss nonetheless. And needless to say, I am waiting to hear back from OSU Masters of Social Work program with bated breath!

However, and this is a big however, I honest to goodness have come to really appreciate and love this city. Certainly the pollution and poverty are a drawback and yes, the traffic can be insufferable sometimes BUT the city has spirit! Never a dull moment. Or rather never a still moment. If I had to choose I would probably still pick the mountain (Huancavelica) over the city (Lima) life but once you are able to comfortably navigate the public transportation system here (which is no small feat, ask anyone) and feel content among the other 11 million Limeños - you're on your way to living it up here!

So yes - 4 months from today I will be landing in Columbus and literally running to see my family, but never will I forget my time in Lima, and this city will undoubtedly hold a special place in my heart forever. It is my goal not to squander these next months but remember how quickly they will pass and who knows when my next opportunity to return to Peru will be?! I know that my family will be there waiting no matter what :)

The gang at a recent roof top potluck dinner - amazing crew.


As always, sending lots of love from Lima.
Sean/Elena

P.S. GO BUCKEYESSS! Bring it on Jayhawks. We're ready, and this time we've got Sully.