Peru Calling

The Yanapay kids – Jenni, Clara, and Maria de Fatima across the top

One of the amusing modes of communication here is the human pay phone.  Women stand on the corners calling out “LAMADAS, LLAMADAS!” (CALLS, CALLS!)  One approaches them and uses their cell phone, paying a half sol per minute, about 20 cents – cheaper than the pay phones on the street.  So this week I was initiated into how to actually use them.  You must first tell them which service you want, Movistar or Claro, as calling from one provider to the other is extremely expensive.  Then they choose the appropriate phone, dial the number, hand you the phone, and time your call on a stopwatch.  So if you have your own cel phone here, and you need to call someone on the other network, it is actually cheaper, and not uncommon, to use the llamadas chicas instead of your own phone!

Llamadas chicas.  Typically they hang out on street corners and not on yellow VW’s.  Notice the long bright phone cords (and stopwatches and 2 phones each) to identify them as llamadas chicas.

Llamadas chicas – twirling her phone strap, notice a phone in each hand – one Claro, one Movistar

Every Friday at Yanapay, the kids are going to put on theatrical performances that they create during the week, revolving around the themes and goals of Yanapay: values, principles, love, non-violence, respect.  This week’s performances included the older kids performing the story of Yuri starting Yanapay – to the surprise of Yuri himself!

A lot of new volunteers are starting next week, and most of us are sorely lacking in Spanish fluency, so it is going to be an interesting challenge.  I’m going to be working with the older kids, in a building next to the original one, with Yuri thankfully acquired as I was leaving last year, because the little kids have simply overrun the original space.  In the past year, he also opened a large hostal where he now lives with the volunteers.

I have requested to work one-on-one with Clara, the deaf girl, and Yuri was thrilled with the idea.  I´m very concerned with what will happen to her as she gets older.  Her parents, unfortunately, won’t let her attend a special school because they need her help around the house.  So I’m going to be starting with sign language, which I will be learning as well!  I’ll probably start this next week when there are more volunteers, as this week I will be running the art room.

I got the full orientation to Yanapay this time, which was very helpful.  I learned a lot more about the kids lives and the general societal problems, which are deep and overwhelming, and more about Yuri´s philosophy and approach to attempting to change the kids lives and break the cycles and attitudes, etc.

Other activities of mine this week included a Peruvian dinner with the Spanish school, a Peruvian dinner with the Explorer’s club, and running around like crazy from one side of Cusco to the other and back several times a day in order to keep up with all my meetings, volunteering, and activites.

There are some new photos posted on Flickr.  Their color looks horrible on this computer, so I´m not sure if they are truly off or not.  I’ve discovered photo management is extremely time consuming, especially with the large files from the new camera.  I’ve been at it for 2.5 hours and still don’t have them up.  So I’m not sure how I’m going to do it.

I wrote in my essay how once outside of Cusco´s center, the buildings start to shed their facades to reaveal the earthen material beneath.  It seems that some are in even more critical condition.

Volver a Cusco

Coca leaves

I have safely arrived in Cusco, and have started to settle back into life here. I endured a self-inflicted 6 hour layover at the Lima airport, and after 11 departures and arrivals to that airport, I still don´t know who its namesake, Jorge Chavez, is. The scenery on the flight to Cusco was incredible, with snow-capped mountains poking through the clouds right below us.

My first day included a visit to the Spanish school to take care of the paperwork, plus a surprise test to measure my level. Even without much sleep, I think I did as well as I could. I shopped for some groceries and necessities, and discovered they were out of my favorite Quaker chocolate porridge. Sadly, the next day, even the little tag for the chocolate variety was gone. And, as I can´t seem to buy anything without having a return, I successfully returned a faulty deodorant stick whose little wheel just spun around fruitlessly.

Later the first night, the volunteer coordinator for the Pilcopata organization, Erica, came by to see me and we had dinner at the Cafe Yanapay, where I saw Yuri, the organizer of Aldea Yanapay. She seems to be doing a great job, and has the knowledge and experience to run the program.  All in all, a pretty productive day for not having any real sleep for 20 hours.

On Tuesday I returned to Aldea Yanapay.  I was early, and as I waited outside, a woman came by to check out the place.  It was virtually the same experience I had when I first visited, with me in the ´welcoming, experienced volunteer´role this time!  Hopefully I´ll see her back there.  Sadly, I discovered that nearly all the kids are new.  I´m not sure what happened to all the kids from last year…  Only Clara, the deaf girl, was there.  She recognized me immediately, and ran to give me a big hug.  I had printed out a huge photo of her and another girl playing jumprope, so she was thrilled when I gave her that.  Yuri renovated the building next door to the school for the older kids, which seems to work out well since there are so many (adorable) little ones.  My favorite little girl and her sister seem to have moved away :(

So I´ve already met a ton of people – the new volunteers, people at the school and at their weekly dinner, and I can´t wait to get back into it all!

Finger Puppets – perro, chanchito, penguino, mono, gato

Limited Hammock Accommodations

I just reserved a hammock, for September, on the support boat for

The Great River Amazon Raft Race 2008!

There are the luxury accommodations for viewing the race on the “Dawn on the Amazon III,” the half price accommodations on the “Dawn on the Amazon I,” and then there are the cramped, uncomfortable accommodations aboard the support boat, where I reserved a spot. This should be an incredible opportunity for photos and stories…plus a really cheap Amazon cruise!

Actual hammocks on the support boat of last year’s race. Photo by Niko Kyriakou.  His wonderful story of the race and additional photos (such as “Raft number 13 before the storm tore it apart on Friday”) are HERE

HERE is a nice blog entry about the race by Bill Grimes.

Radiant blues, yellows, reds, and greens

If you are in or near New York City, don’t miss this amazing exhibit on display at the Met until Sept. 1, 2008:

Radiance from the Rain Forest: Featherwork in Ancient Peru

featherwork ancient peru amazon inca

featherwork ancient peru amazon inca

ancient peru inca

featherwork ancient peru inca

featherwork ancient peru inca amazon

featherwork ancient peru amazon

See more of my photos from it HERE (sorry I didn’t correct the white balance of these snaps back when I took them).

The exhibit inspired me to get a bunch of colorful (non-Amazonian artificially dyed turkey) feathers to bring along to Peru for craft projects!

And don’t forget to check out my “Modest Request” and “Fruits of My Labor” pages above!