I´m sitting at the computer now, trying to write something for the blog I haven´t updated in forever, and I´m so close to leaving for Christmas vacations! Ah, and I have a fever. What is it with me and getting sick right before important trips and events? It´s happened various times now. But I have today, and then two days of travelling to get better. Hopefully that´ll be enough.
Remember that project I wrote about, with hand washing in schools and water / sanitation / hygiene habits with rural families? It finally came through. I´m stoked for it — I have work for the rest of my service, for the next 11 months — and at the same time, we have to deal with a 2-month delay in receiving project funding. That changes things a little bit. We´ve done what little work we could, asking teachers to observe their students and letting the families know about the project. And the rest will wait til January. Even though she keeps super busy, I´m glad my Nurse counterpart seems to be motivated about the project. And hey, it´s even better for us that she´s getting a Master´s in project management. Hopefully that means she´ll be even more involved and in the game, through all 9 months of this.
Well, here are some photos to update you with:
Two weeks ago, I got to walk along a non-functional water pipeline with an engineer and some handymen from our local government. That took us through the beautiful scenery you see above — all 12 kilometers of it! (Almost 8 miles.) We went over hillsides, down and up ravines, through a lot of overgrown vegetation, beside a rotten ladder, and along some cliff edges. At one of those crossings the Engineer looked back at me and said, “Well, if we fall, at least we´ll fall alive.” It might have been risky and exhausting at some points, but it was also amazing. I got to appreciate those hills in a new way.
Last night we celebrated my host sister´s 15th birthday party — that was great. The family all gathered in their living room to read a Bible verse, play some songs and say a prayer, and to give a toast to our señorita. In due time the family asked Daida, the 4 year-old, if she had anything to add to the prayer to God, Jesus, and Mary. She looked at us for a moment, trying to think, and finally rambled something like, “For Mary… because she forgot her purse.” (Daida just got her first Barbie purse about 2 weeks back.) Almost everyone burst out laughing, of course, which made Daida think they were laughing at her and go crying to her daddy´s arms. It was cute all the same.
We had our first meeting with the posse in Chachapoyas last Friday – I still can´t get over the fact that there are 16 of us. It was some good hang-out time, though I think it´ll be harder to get the whole group together than it was when there were just 6 of us. And we finally got some group pictures!
It´s starting to be Christmas time around Leymebamba, which means plenty of hot chocolate and Panetón, and manger scenes too. Those are called nacimientos. The bigger one is in our Health Center, and the smaller one´s at the community meeting place where I´ve done chess classes for the kiddos.
In the wake of vacations and not thinking about anything for a solid two weeks, I´ll leave you with a celebratory self portrait. The host siblings weren´t too fond of it… they can be weird sometimes.