Social Impact Design

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ayacucho Semana Santa 2012

Welcome to the city of Ayacucho. This is where I spent the 4 days of my "Holy Week" vacation. I spent 24 hours on a bus to get to this southern city of Perú, where I met up with about 25 other Peace Corps volunteers.
Ayacucho is located 2700 meters above sea level (about 1.7 miles high) and has a population of 140,000 people. There is a large percentage of the population that speaks Quechua, the main indigenous language of Perú and many who speak it have kept a strong hold on their pre-spanish customs and way of life.
These photos are taken from above the city on an outlook around dusk. The city is nestled between the mountains. The view was stunning.
Myself, Tasha, Jen, Chris, and Raquel. Eben is the photographer, and many of these photos are his. These are volunteers from my program (water and sanitation) from my group (Peru 18). These guys raised the fun factor of my trip by more than I can describe.
The queso fresco in one of the food markets. The cheese is soft, wet, and salty. It tasted amazing on the bread pictured below. Mmmm great breakfast.
This bread was baked in a stone oven and was still warm when we ate it. Each piece cost $0.07
This picture was taken on the way to the artisan market. There are a lot of people who weave tapestries, even in ancient ways (natural dies with fruits and vegetables).
Here are some examples of their handiwork. I have much more photos which I will upload soon.
Here is a photo of the plaza. It is surrounded by colonnades on all four sides which really helped during the rainy days. (there is a rainbow on the left of the church).
Here are some of the volunteers having a good time, so myself and the other David decided to follow suit.
Here are some alpacas, very soft. There were many blankets and scarves that were just as soft. I had a hard time not spending money in the artisan markets.
Every single day, we stopped at these ladies who were spinning an icecream called "Mayuchi", which is the quechua word for spinning (video). It is made of milk, sesame, coconut, cinnamon, and god knows what else.
It was so tasty, we often bought two at a time. I will miss this treat very much.
We also frequented the juice lady in the food market. We are drinking the Surtido which is a blend of papaya, bananas, carrots, beets, pineapple, vanilla and much much more. Yummm
This was painted on the outside of someones house in the barrio Santa Ana (near the artisan market where they weave tapestries)
We also visited some Wari ruins, which were built by a civilization that predated the Incas. It was nice to get out of the city and take in the scenery.
There were many cacti, that bear an edible fruit called Tuna. The day was beautiful, with much to see.
This obelisk was erected in Quinua to honor those who lost their lives fighting for Perú's independence. (video)
The views were stunning (Video) but hard to capture on film or video.
There were many murals made in the streets that eventually were trampled by the procession at night. (video1)
It was interesting seeing different peoples techniques. Many drew out the image with chalk first, then blended a thick colorful powder to bring the image to life. (video2) Others used flowers (video3) or stencils (video4). It was sad to see such artwork trampled, but some art is meant to be temporal I suppose.
Friday night there was a procession around the town square where people carried candles and sang mournful songs (video) about Jesus's death.
Casket of Jesus' body carried by 20 men.
The virgin Mary seated at the foot of the cross.
The next day, there was bull running! In total I believe there were 5 bulls, dispersed by about 5 minute intervals and led on a rope by a caballero.
They were of course taunted....
and often got very close to goring their bullies.

I initially was going to run in front of the bulls, but in the picture above, my reaction time was not very quick and my nerves got the better of me. This bull charged within 6 feet of me, and I nearly wet myself... I decided I did not want to risk it.
After the bull running people started building human towers (similar to Pamplona I have been told). Many people got to three levels high.
So of course we rose to the challenge and succeeded pretty effortlessly (for those on top)
And we did it again and again. We were very determined to make it to 4 levels, but after an hour of struggling, we decided to be happy with the 3 levels as well.
The tower team.
It was a very hot day, so luckily we had some help cooling off.
In addition to bull running, human towers, drinking and dancing, there were parades that also circled the town square. (video)
Needless to say, our group needed to recharge our batteries for the long night ahead.
The celebration started with fireworks at Midnight, marking the beginning of easter sunday.
Earlier that day, people had been gathering in the square to construct castillas, huge bamboo structures that were the skeleton of what can only be described as the most amazing display of pyrotechnics that I have ever witnessed in my life.
Pictures do little justice to these 10 to 15 minute fireworks show. There were about 20 towers surrounding the plaza which were lit off from 12am until 5am. I have uploaded many videos onto my youtube channel (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) .
We often let our false sense of security lead us directly under the flames, but it was the most fun I have had in a long time. In addition to the fireworks, we had many dance circles (video) where more experienced volunteers showed off their dance moves (video).
Finally, the moment we have all been waiting for, Jesus raising to heaven. This platform was build in the church, and Jesus mechanically elevated out of the tower (I was expecting some angelic singing). video

That sunday we returned to our hostel utterly exhausted, but very happy. The next two days were spent recovering by eating a lot of tasty icecream, shakes, puka picante, and other local dishes. There may have been a hefty amount of Soles dropped at the artisan markets, but I do not feel guilty because I am supporting their art, right?

I have posted a lot more photos onto my Picasa account for those who would like to see more. Thank you for reading, and hope to post again temprano.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I got to see all my friends from Training!

So much has happened, where to start? This month went by super fast and the next month will as well. I will be traveling to Ayacucho for Semana Santa, which is supposed to be one of the best places in the world to celebrate holy week. I am very excited. Expect the next blog to have many beautiful pictures of processions and food. I may just devote the entire blog to food.

As for the past week, I was in Trujillo for “EIST” (Early In-Service Training). This was the first time that I got to see all of my friends from Pre-Service Training. It was SO MUCH FUN seeing everyone again. It was like no time has passed, but really its been about 4 months since we all swore in.

I do not have too much time to blog about it right now, as I am about to catch a bus back home. But the photos kinda speak for themselves. Click here for the whole album

We built some dry latrines (there is a tube that takes the urine outside). There are two compartments for the feces. Once one compartment is full, you switch to the empty one, and let the feces sit for 6 months. After six months, you open up the compartment and can use the stuff for fertilizer. This is a nice method because the other types of latrines become obsolete once they fill up. Plus, free fertilizer that can be sold!

The cocinas mejoradas are pretty great things too. I’ve uploaded a diagram that pretty much explains how it works: the hot air heats up the pots, not open flame. This way, less wood is used, and the smoke leaves the house by a chimney. Plans here and here

Much of our training revolved around the importance of correct maintenance of the systems. It is imperative for volunteers to provide adequate training so that families understand how the stoves and latrines work. There have been many many cases where families take out bricks to make a bigger flame for the stove, or who have not kept the dry bathrooms dry (Ill let you use your imagination as to how this happens). These alterations and incorrect usage ruin the projects, which can be very frustrating for the volunteers and families involved.

Peace Corps has a great advantage over other development agencies because we are here for two years. We have the chance, and responsibility, to perform regular inspections with the families to make sure that they are using the new facilities correctly.

But it really is tough for people to change their habits. They have been cooking one way their entire life, so it takes time and effort to learn another method. One volunteer thought of a great way to motivate the mothers to use their brand new improved cook stoves: a cook-off! This way, any issues can be addressed as a group, and at the end of the day, there is a feast J

I hope you found this interesting. Next theme: Food