“Our group will be traveling to the most remote villages”: Peru update

The plane tickets have been purchased. It’s a done deal. What, am I crazy? I’ve been having mega-second thoughts this week. But it’s over. Finito. I have to go now.

So, what’s the big deal, you ask?

Itinerary: Day one we attend a wedding of a former participant in the project. That’ll be interesting, I’m sure. The next day we head north and buy equipment in Huarmey. Then all four mini-groups split up. I am in group one, with the project director, a woman who has been on these trips before, and a history prof who has joined the project and who will be helping to create a documentary film about our trip. Our director, John, has scheduled two weeks filled with long trips up into the Andes mountains (most villages at about 12,000 feet), some of which have never been visited by North Americans. Cool, right?

Yes, but…

I’m a big ole fat chicken, it seems. No electricity (except for places where we worked with them previously to install solor panels — but that electricity is precious and only used for things like vaccine fridges and such). No running water, and certainly no clean water (except for places where we have helped install water systems). No way to get help in a hurry if there is a problem (except for in villages where the project has been able to help with installing emergency radios).

I can do without internet and t.v. Who cares, really, about that? But traveling during Peru’s rainy season into extremely high altitudes to work with villagers whose Quechuan language none of us in the group speaks, to places where there is no water, electricity, or emergency facilities beyond rudimentary medical posts? We will sleep where we can, sometimes inside a home (dirt floors, of course) and sometimes, perhaps, outside. We will eat what we can get through the hospitality of Peruvian partners (goodbye Weight Watchers, hello cuy??!) We will face disappointing setbacks that mean we must leave a village (that it took us hours to get to) without achieving our objective.

And yet…

Won’t it be wonderful? I mean, part of why I decided to participate is that I have always been someone to avoid risk-taking, always very cautious. I am trying to push myself out of what’s comfortable and into new spaces. The more I learn of my immigrant ancestors, the more I feel terribly spoiled and sheltered, completely unprepared to imagine in my writing what life was like for those folks crossing the sea and moving to a new land where they did not speak the language and where they would have to live by their wits and their sweat and their insistence on not failing. I can’t spend this sabbatical year homesteading a farm, and I already speak English. But I CAN go on this service trip to Peru and hopefully not only help out the project but also gain a clearer vision of what my ancestors might have felt like when they immigrated to America.

Odds are, I won’t get arrested for some crime I didn’t commit. Odds are, there won’t be some massive, bloddy uprising that we get caught in the middle of. Odds are, I won’t become violently ill and die because there’s no hospital nearby, thus leaving my son motherless.

More likely…Peru will be amazingly beautiful, the people will be welcoming and warm, I will be healthy and helpful, and I’ll decide to return to Peru in the future to continue our good work.

Right?

In any case, the tickets are bought. They are non-refundable. I am going to Peru, for real.

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One Response

  1. Thanks for information.
    many interesting things
    Celpjefscylc

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