After a wonderful 3 day break which included a visit to Machu Picchu, we returned to Quishuarani for the second stage of the project. We completed the greenhouse and had the blessing ceremony. Then we split into teams to guild smaller greenhouses for individual families. This was also hard work and we were spread throughout the valley.
The blessing of the greenhouse:
Working on the “cold frames” – mini greenhouses for families:
The whole aim of the Round Square International Service Project in Peru 2012 was to construct a greenhouse for the Quishuarani community in order to improve their monotonous, carbohydrate rich diet, by providing a way of growing vegetables in the harsh high altitude climate. The local people of Quishuarani are known as the “Huayruros” in reference to their bright orange & red ponchos. The project aim included working together with the local people in the construction of the large greenhouse in the school grounds and then later assisting in building smaller “cold frames” for individual families. All the materials were purchased by Round Square.
It was hard work, especially the first day when all the rocks needed to be carted down the hill to the site. Walking back up the hill was a battle due to the altitude. However it was pretty cold so the work kept us warm and whenever we stopped for a break, we soon were reminded of the air temperature!
July 22-27th: First part of the Quishuarani Project…..
How do you cure a phobia of riding in a bus on windy mountain roads?
Well – you just simply do it over and over and get higher and higher on ever narrowing and steeper gravelly roads. Those of you who know me well will appreciate that this was a pretty tough aspect of the trip. I had not actually anticipated it and was it took me unawares. However the scenery was so incredibly breathtaking that after some intial annoying mini panic attacks, I soon settled into the experience and did my best to ignore the adrenaline cursing through my veins…..
Quishuarani is in the Lares area and is nestled in a valley at about 4200 metres above sea level. It is a place where time has stood still. The people speak Quechua and only the men speak some Spanish. Houses are made out of adobe (mud bricks), rocks and wood. People have sheep, llamas and alpacas and grow potatoes and corn. The weather was sunny and clear, but cold. At night the temperature dropped down between -5 to -10 degrees.
Please enjoy this slide show of our drive up the mountain to Quishuarani and our arrival and walk to the greenhouse built by Markham College in 2008. Mr Rafael Solomon, the project leader, was delighted to see the greenhouse still in good use. We were greeted by the ladies of the village selling their handicrafts. Children always came out to see us, some to stare, some to smile and some in hope of a game of football. Their beautiful faces belied their varying degrees of malnutrition and bellies full of parasites, as pointed out to us by Dr David, our accompanying physician from Cusco.
Please watch in full screen. Music: Tu Fotografía by Gian Marco……..
We were very fortunate to visit The Apulaya Art & Music Center in Calca, where we enjoyed workshops with Emerita and Valerio who were inspirational in their passion for Andean art and music.
Emerita is a talented artist and sculptor originally from Switzerland who specialises in pre-Incan and pre-Colombian art. Our session with her involved first drawing a bean that we selected from a dish. After completing our own drawing, Emerita introduced us to art pieces that centred on beans and lead us to the conclusion that we were only drawing the bean as it is in its current state and not seeing its potential. We were then encouraged to expand our drawings to include the “potential” of the bean. “Not only did the pre-Colombian artists “thematize” the physical appearance of a human, vegetable or divine being, but they also manifested it in its totality, with its full potential in which creation, fertility and development are fundamental” (Emerita). This was a unique insight into the meaning and interpretation of cosmo-vision in the Andean art and work Emerita shared with us.
Thursday July 19th we all flew to Cusco where we had a lunch and heard our first of many versions of the song “Pacha Mama” (Earth Mother).
After lunch we headed off in the bus and stopped off to learn about llamas……. (pronounced yamas!)
Day 1: Chorrillos
21 students and 5 teachers from 11 different countries and 18 different schools arrived in Lima on Tuesday July 17th. On the following morning we all headed off to the Chorrillos day care centre in Lima to paint the playground wall. It was a good activity to help us get to know each other, as well as provide a service to the centre.
Chincha is a large town about 200 km south of Lima in the Ica region. It was greatly affected by the 2007 earthquake and the devastation is still very much visible today. Many families are still living in the temporary US Aid shelters and the town is still littered with destroyed, half-standing buildings. I visited the Sunampe region, where students from Markham College of Lima have been building houses since soon after the earthquake. After the earthquake Markham College initially organised donations and collections of food and making survival packs, which were sent down to Chincha by the truckload.