Hello all! It’s been a pretty crazy first week here in Peru. I can’t believe a week has already gone by; so many things have happened since the first day! This is my first blog post, and I never really wrote an introduction, but the most important things you should know about me are: 1) I’m the Peru team’s official copy editor (although I’m having quite a hard time convincing these guys that the Oxford comma isn’t a thing) 2) I’ve been charged with giving the team reality checks every once in a while. As I’ve said, every day seems to bring a new adventure, so there are quite a few things that I could potentially write about, but I think I’ll focus on one particularly fateful Friday, henceforth known as “The Day the Universe Did Not Want Chamsi and Andrés to Stop Walking.”.
The group started out the day with a trip to the source for La Pitajaya Alta, which proved to be quite the test of our physical abilities. Accompanied by Lucho (aka Luchito, aka the sweetest old man), we struggled all the way up a mountain to take a few flow measurements and then decided to separate; Pepito (Nihar), Amanda (Amanda, one of my true loves), Connie (Mike (Kasturi)) and Ken (Caden) would take altitude and GPS measurements along the water route, while Andrés and I (Rosita) would walk to the village to ask about tapstand placements and ultimately travel to Otuzco, a nearby town, to meet with a mason..
And so our struggles began when Andrés, distracted by a rather heated conversation, fell into the canal. Only a minor, rather amusing setback, followed by a terrific lunch overlooking the Andes. We were still good. Finally, we arrived to La Pitajaya, only to find that most of the residents were not home. It was okay, there were a few other houses that we could check out, only a little farther away. No: more than a little farther away. After having to detour a bull and a couple of donkeys (but donkeys are chill, so that was fine), we got to the first house, where I tried out my rusty Spanish and successfully made myself understood! There was another house on the agenda, a little higher up and no path to get there. And so we climbed. A lot. We were almost there! The only obstacle that we had to surpass was a dog. That barked. A lot. After screaming “Buenas!” for at least five minutes, with no answer from the house’s inhabitants, we chose to risk it and walk past the dog. Andrés didn’t handle that encounter too well, letting out a few high-pitched screams as the dog ran after us (Editor´s note: It was actually Chamsi who didn´t handle the encounter too well, not Andres). Who did we find less than ten meters away (i.e. more than close enough to hear our screams)? The main inhabitant of the house. Oh well. We survived this part of our journey, safe and sound, only a little tired..
It was four o’clock, so time to find a ride to Otuzco in order to meet with the mason at six. At this point, we’d been together for a solid six hours, so you can imagine that a lot of conversations were had, ranging from religion all the way to the social dynamics of the Street (so a pretty broad spectrum), and stories were shared. Nihar calls these “inside jokes” whenever we refer to them and seems to disapprove, but let’s be real, it’s only because he doesn’t understand them. Anyway, we waited for a bus to Otuzco for at least an hour before we accepted that we’d have to hitch a ride. Quite a few honks later, two men stopped for us. We were saved! They didn’t really say a word the entire time, and quite frankly drove pretty recklessly for a road that high up and with that many turns, but I guess what’s most important is that we finally arrived to Otuzco. We quickly found the Ingenería Sin Fronteras office, where we were greeted by Ana (an ISF volunteer and, according to the team, “mi hermana perdida”, or long-lost sister, even though I don’t see it) and Alan (the former mayor of Samne). We took advantage of Internet there, just enough to send a few Snapchats and an email, and awaited the mason. Ana left for an hour or so, during which time Alan brought out a cake to celebrate her “Santa Ana,” which was meant to be a surprise, but not really since she had “subtly” been hinting about this big day for over a week. He also treated us to some dancing to Bruno Mars as well as the Harlem Shake, which led us to decide that the team would make a Samne Harlem Shake video. Get excited. It’s happening. At 6:30, the mason arrived, which is early for Peru, but since Ana wasn’t here yet and Alan didn’t want to ruin the surprise, he sent him away, asking him to come back in a few minutes. He came back an hour later. Cool. But we finally met with him, discussed the system and got a quote. Success! It was time to go back home. We’d been away from it for so long, the word sounded weird coming out of our mouths..
We got into an incredibly crowded bus which dropped us off right next to Samne. After what seemed like the longest day, we had returned! Wrong. We had gotten too cocky and Andrés took a wrong turn at a fork. Well, it was technically the right turn, but I didn’t recognize the road, so we decided to turn back, and go the other way. Now we had actually erred. So we turned back yet again and went the other way. This resulted in three encounters with a set of angry-looking dogs. Why do people have so many dogs here? Why are they all so angry? So many questions. After an hour of wandering around Samne (it’s a pretty small town), we found our way back to our orange and black home(Editor´s note: The house is literally orange and black) and joyfully reunited with the rest of the team, exchanging our stories of the day. Then we passed out..
Anyway, this was definitely a lot longer than I expected it to be and I hope I haven’t bored you to tears. But mostly, I hope the team hasn’t “copy-edited” this and added back all the Oxford commas. Seriously, they’re not a thing anymore..
Note to all readers: Unfortunately for Rosita her team-mates who are publishing this post feel that Oxford commas are hip, cool, and indeed a thing.
Our truly terrific Project Managers, Andres and Nihar, at the Water Committee Meeting
Trenching 101! The trench itself Carrying pipes to the section of the path that has been trenched There were lots of pipes that needed to be carried...