It’s been awhile. A few months about, since I’ve had the time and space to really sit down with myself and be. Here I am, two weeks into my life in a small town in the middle of Peru. I am a volunteer. I am a gringa. I am the only American here. I am working to learn to language and the customs of Peru poco a poco with the immense help of my amazing host family.
Palcamayo is an agricultural town that produces many vegetables for the capital city of Lima. Moving up or down the road in any direction from the center plaza, the land is full of chacras (plots of land used for harvesting). It’s a beautiful and tranquil site to see families seated in the fields, picking avas (important Peruvian lima bean like vegetable), with carneros (sheep) and children wandering about. Almost everyone who lives in this town works in the chacras. They wake early to begin work en la tierra, and return before dusk with burros backed with pasto (grass for cuy or carnero), or canastas (baskets) brimmed with espinaca (spinach, which is most profitable).
Palcamayo means running river in Quechua and is aptly named for the river runs through it. It is polluted at points, and full and gorgeous at others. It serves the farmers as a place to wash huge bags of carrots and the large canastas of espinaca before packing trucks full for Lima or other surrounding cities. The lush river makes the paisaje (landscape/view) verdant. Jagged mountains escape the chacras in formations unlike those of Northern California. Their immensity speaks about the movement of the earth on its grandest scale. And continuing the grandeur, some kilometers up from Palcamayo sits la Gruta Huagapo: the largest cave in the Americas.
I have much to explore here and two years time to do so. There are ruins of the Pumpush people, lagunas, y muchos pueblitos veining off from here. I have a lot of work to do as well. I will begin in January teaching English, Art, and Environment classes to the children of the two schools and one colegio (middle school/high school) here. I have the go ahead from one of the directors to start a mural project at the school with the children, as well as an organic garden on some of the school’s land. I hope to start a recycling buy, since the town lacks any formal recycling program. I also would like to begin a compost project at the colegio or better down at the organic garden. I hope the organic garden can inspire the farmers here, because all use fertilizers and insecticides. It’ll be a tough mountain to climb.
Aside from projects I am learning to really be on my own for seemingly the first time in my life. I have the space and time to complete tasks as I see fit, at least thus far. I feel so free to begin my own creative projects like painting my room, writing a book, making sculptures. And yet so inspired to learn and grow here with the community as well. I feel so supported and open to the change around me. This is my life, the beginning of my life, the rest of my life. It is truly amazing.