Four hours of photo uploading later, here's a blog. It is a good thing, as I got all of my homework done while waiting!
Everything is still mindnumbingly spectacular. Things are very hard and there is much struggle and stress - but you know that's the kind of stuff I thrive on. So, everything is going swimmingly. I am reaching the point of being unable to convey experiences well in words. So, I will just mostly give pics, which also do not do these marvelous happenings even an ounce of justice.
First, last weekend's Father's Day feast:
There were a lot of potatoes, as always here.
There was a huge amount of maize being ground up. A huge amount.
I got recruited to this task. That's my neighbor friend Leonardo on the right. He helps me with my Spanish and even taught me some Quechua. He was my first non-family local friend and he's pretty great.
These are guinea pigs. Known here as Cuy. They taste like rabbit and this is a feast's worth.
Racks of lamb and other meat chunks, marinading in a huge tub.
The heads got cooked seperately. My mom loves to grub a cuy head and a chicken foot for dinner.
My mom, Mery.
This is the ground up maize. We put it in corn husks to make little cakes and breads. The larger tub is the sweet stuff, ground with anise and cinnamon and raw sugar. The little tub is salty and savory for breads with dinner. This is my mom and a couple aunts.
We had unidentifiable organs to snack on while we cooked.
My uncle preparing the planchamanca fire under the pile of rock; it heated up for hours.
My dad, after a couple of holiday beers. He's the nicest dude.
Me sharing a couple beers with dad and his brothers. You only drink one beer at a time, with one glass. You pass both bottle and glass around. When it's your turn, you fill up your glass, pass the bottle, drink the beer relatively quickly, spin it in your hands (like you're warming your hands), and then fling the remaining foam on the ground next to you and pass the glass. Except me, since I am a girl, the guy before me fills up the glass and gives it to me and passes the bottle to the guy on my other side. I do get to participate in the spinning and flinging however. It is considered extremely strange to drink beer right form the bottle in this country.
The potatoes disappeared and were replaced with these large pea-like-but-very-starchy things that we eat a lot. Peruvians eat everything they can find that is starchy. In large quantity.
Now to the planchamanca. Move the rocks, which are so hot that a 2x4 bursts into flames if you touch one with it. Pour the potatoes into the bottom of the pit and toss the pot of slightly fried cuys on top of those.
Drop some of the hots rocks back in. Toss in the large meats chunks, some random corn husks, and more hot rocks. And how about we just slap a whole chicken on top of that pot...
More hot rocks and then our hundreds of little corn husk cake packets.
Then the peas and a pile of inedible greens. Apparently these greens were the food of the cuys. Who presumably will no longer be needing them. Then some paper.
Then just bury it. ALL of the food is in this hole. There are about 25 family members here at this point.
One hour later...
My awesome dinner. I ate it all. Except the third potato. Seriously, Peru? Three potatoes?
Also it was my cousin's bday, so more cake later. The store bought cakes here are the best cakes I have ever had.
That was a good day. I promptly passed out after all that food. It was on then to another week of crazy classes all day long - four hours Spanish, four hours Small Business Development. Evening yoga and dance classes. Evening hikes. I don't have many pics of this, but I have some friends who do and I'll try to steal some. My friend Chris took a video of that ridiculous dance class that I need to steal from him. Here's a couple random pics from the week:
My original Spanish class - prolly also my best friends here. Chris, Cassandra, and Ashley. The classes have been shuffled slightly since then.
At La Taverna after class one day. Cassandra and mi amigo, Mario.
At the end of week two, the business program members got to head out camping. The youth team (whom I will from this point forth refer to as Puppies and Kitttens and Rainbows) was very jealous. Our trip was AMAZINGLY awesome. Start with a three hour, very harrowing, narrow, steep mountain bus ride. Up to about 11,000 feet. The altitude really threw us all for a loop.
The pics do not convey the awesomeness of this bus ride.
This is the town we were headed to, San Pedro de Castas.
My friend and fellow Oregonian, Royce, me, my fantastic language coach, Sarita, and my cohort Chris.
Everyone in this tiny mountain town was this cute. All the old ladies wear these hats and I can't wait to get to site and get my own.
Then we had a couple hour steep horse ride up to 13,000 feet, where we were camping at these great rock formations and ruins. Peruvian saddles are interestingly small, the stirrups crazy short - knees up to the horses back, and the ride was straight up and very, very rocky. It was less than comfortable but super fun and in that altitude the hike would have made us all sick. Plus, the town couldn't manage to come up with enough horses for the 23 of us, so three language instructors and Chris rode these itty-bitty burros with their feet practically dragging and no saddles and it kept me laughing the whole way up.
By the time we got up, it was dark and a few of us went on a hike. We found this rocky outcropping up high over a cliff where you could see forever. It was amazing. I, of course, forgot my camera. So. I set my alarm for 5am, when it was about 20 degrees out, and watched the moonset and sunrise. I hiked out to two different high point cliffside views that were so, so beautiful. But I forgot my camera then too. Two others were with me, so maybe I can steal photos from them...
Anyways. The next day, we met a Peruvian Hare Krishna hippy kid hiking around and he showed us where the ruins and rock formations were and some of us hiked with him for a few hours.
There was this little back country casita. Peruvians are so friggin' short.
But then my batteries died. So this will have to do for now.
After this we hiked back, had lunch, and got back on our horses. The ride down was rougher on the knees. I carried Biznieto's backpack on my front too, because his tiny little donkey couldn't handle it. When we went back to town, most everyone sat in the hotel watching the World Cup game. Some of tried and failed to go to the cheese factory (which was pretty much a shed with a cow) and me and Chris succeeded in going to a museum. There were the creepiest awesome mummies there that I have ever seen. And there were bones just laid out on a table. I poked a skull in the eye socket. Chris has fantastic pictures that I will try and steal some of. We then hiked up to a nice lookout above the town and subsequently almost missed our bus back down. The bus ride down was less cush than the not-very-cush bus ride up. But it was all fun and harrowing and we even stopped and I bought a ghettos little roadside cheeseburger. And din't even get sick from it.
Today, I have a ton of homework. It is pretty much done-ish now. I am going to try and go meet with the mayor and the local church father today with some buddies. We promised the local little kids that we would play a game of soccer with them today too. I also need to prepare a class I am teaching at the high school tomorrow with fellow musketeer Ryan. So busy. This blog is going to continue to sink in word count, but I will keep uploading pics.
Gonna go pick some aloe for this vicious, vicious sunburn.