Greetings blog readers! Sorry I’ve been slacking again…the kids at the orphanage plus my Spanish classes are keeping me extremely busy so my time in the Internet cafe has been limited. I’m back now and will try to drum up some blogworthy material here in the coming month..the blog is always a bit more of a challenge when I’m stationary somewhere and not traveling. Rest assured that I am always thinking of you…my faithful blog readers.
So after Lindsay headed back to the States I hopped on a plane going south to the southern Peruvian city of Arequipa. Way back when I was in Ecuador I attended Spanish classes with a girl from NYC who was planning to volunteer as a nurse in a clinic for a year in Arequipa. Originally I planned to just pop in and visit her over the week between Christmas and New Year’s as I originally planned to volunteer in an orphanage in the central highlands of Peru…further north in Huancayo. Arequipa is a known stop on the gringo trail as there is lots to do in and around the city…plus I didn’t really feel like backtracking up to Huancayo so instead I sought out a new volunteer project in Arequipa. And here I am.
The boys singing. From left:Jhonekerr, Jose, Carlos, Josep
The volunteer project I’m working in is coordinated by the newlywed couple of Jay (England) and Luis (Peru) and the current two projects are helping out in the orphanage as well as working with kids in a local, rural community. I’ve opted to stay in the shared apartment in the volunteer residence of the project but my room wasn’t available until the 27th so instead I went and spent a few days with Karen at her volunteer residence.
Karen is working with a very cool priest in a Catholic Mission program here in Arequipa that includes several projects…a clinic, nutrition and food program, social work and child sponsorship by foreigners. Father Alex was gracious enough to let me crash their very nicely appointed volunteer residence so I spent about 4 days there with Karen and the other two volunteers…Susan, a physician’s assistant from NYC and her husband Dennis.
As luck would have it, the Christmas party for the orphanage was being held on Christmas Eve and Jay and Luis invited me to attend and meet the kids. Karen opted to come with me and we spent a fun-filled afternoon with the 12 kids at the orphanage. They were so cute…they all got dressed up in their best dresses and their little suits waiting for us to arrive. I’ve included some pictures here but don’t worry…you’ll get to see lots more pictures of the kids and hear all of their stories in the coming weeks.
People who know me well will be surprised to hear that I spent my Christmas Eve at a Catholic Mass. While the service was long it was interesting and much more fun than the masses I’ve been to previously. Father Alex is quite the entertainer and Peruvians love to sing so he got out his guitar and played a few tunes for us. Another defining feature of Christmas in Peru is the prevalence of extremely elaborate (and in some circles we might say tacky) nativity scenes. I’ve included the enormous one in the church here…but in reality the nativity sets in people’s homes are just as big and include some rather interesting characters (eg. the nativity in my landlady’s house includes a rather graphic model of a sheep giving birth).
Christmas Day was fun and relaxing and included a lovely restaurant that Father Alex took us to for lunch followed by a homemade eggplant parmesan for supper and the obligatory viewing of “It’s a Wonderful Life”. And while it didn’t feel much like Christmas to me without the snow and tree…a good time was had by all here in the desert of Arequipa.
Jay and Luis
Jay and Stacey
Jonathan and Sol
Richard and Fiona
For New Year’s Eve I went out on the town with some of the other volunteers including Jay and Luis, the fun English couple of Fiona and Richard (who are wrapping up their two year around-the-world-trip), Jay’s sister Sol, volunteer Jonathan and Jay and Sol’s dad who has been visiting from the Canary Islands. Off we went to a local club for some drinks and dancing following by the obligatory New Year’s Day hangover and exhaustion. Again, a good time was had by all for the holidays here in Peru.
As promised I’ve included a bunch of the extra jungle pictures that I didn’t get a chance to include in Peru 5 and 6. They’re thumbnails so if you want to see them more closely just click on them…and if not, then just ignore them. Coming soon…a guided tour of Arequipa and you’ll all finally get to meet the kids at the orphanage…