It’s Belle again. A lot has occurred since my first blog post! After three long, long, long days of travel involving airplanes, taxis, buses, feet, etc. (lets just say there was a box of chickens being transported with us in one case) we finally reached Samne and I got to meet the Cisneros family, who would be hosting us for our time in Peru. They literally welcomed us with open arms and showed us the room that would be our home for the next four weeks. We then hustled to La Pitajaya to take part in a meeting with the community members to discuss what how the water system had performed in the last year and the plans for the upcoming weeks. During the meeting I met many of the community members I had heard about for the last two years and was happy to have a face to put with the name. The sense of respect and thankfulness the community had for our team and the work we had done was overwhelming at times, with each community beginning their speech with recognizing our efforts. The meeting was ended with introductions by all, and my first attempt at Spanish public speaking, to give you any idea of how that went you should know I hate public speaking in English, luckily I was able to get out that my name was Belle, I studied civil engineering at Princeton, had been part of EwB for two years, and “that is everything.” On the note of engineering, one of the most amazing aspects of this trip thus far for me has been the mud brick construction of some many of the houses. I am studying engineering and architecture so I find it amazing that even two-story houses can be constructed using simply mud and straw. The buildings must be very simple and have small openings for windows and doors, but I find the beauty of this style of architecture in its inherent faithfulness and openness about form and function. We then headed back to Samne for the evening and after a filling dinner I was able to fall asleep. (Side note: I happen to hate/be allergic to coffee, fish, and onions, which are perhaps the most beloved aspects of Peruvian food, but I am still enjoying all the food I can even if some people have called me crazy for not being able to eat onions.)
The next day, bright and far too early, we all piled into a truck and headed up to La Pitajaya. The early morning light highlighted the brightly colored houses that lined the steep hills and cars and trucks streamed along the road. The mountains were ever present, dominating the skyline. It is always during our morning rides that I have the strange sensations of both familiar and foreign at the same time. Growing up, I spent my summers in the mountains in rural Montana but in Peru cows and pine trees are replaced by donkeys and cacti. I have taken so many pictures to try to capture that early morning ride, but nothing seems to do it justice, perhaps it is just something that can’t be portrayed through a photograph but rather must be seen and experienced simply in the moment. The days have all been physically tiring but also extremely rewarding, and am looking forward to the rest of my time in Peru!
Sorry if this post was a bit all over the place, but I was trying to just capture some aspect of the whirlwind of this trip so far. Thanks for reading!
(Note to readers: apologies for the lack of photos on these blog posts. The internet in Otuzco is a tad slow and doesn't allow us to upload images! We will do better when we are next in Trujillo)