Monday, August 24, 2009

And every one is waiting

Monday, 24 Agosto 2009

Don't get me wrong, we have a plan for distribution, but how can it be made better?

What are we going to do with all this stuff? Where do we send it? What is the distribution plan now that we have everything gathered? Oh, it's not gathered. But this message we are going to transmit. How is it organized. How is the information tailored. Designed and arranged. A website of photos, videos, text. There's a message embedded in it all, but how to format, present, and give that message to the people who matter. Do we have art on our hands. Can it be given

We have an idea of sending the kids movies to the NGOs that we worked with in the South, all organizations working on reconstruction. Maybe NGOs working on disaster relief elsewhere. We want to give them to government representatives in the Ica department. But how high up should this be spouted? Alan Garcia, here comes the Voces del Pueblo straight outta Caserio Manco Cápac, Señor de Luren, y Nueva Esperanza!

If you have distribution suggestions, would like hardcopies of their final videos, or general comments for the project.. you know, hit us up in the comments section.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Oops there goes gravity

Saturday, 22 Agosto 2009

Chocotejas and sweet manipackingmaking cardstaping surprises to doorssaying good bye to familyCHOCHE! and delicious home made chifarepackingtravel travel to Limameet choche's sister, chat, repacktaxi friend named Edwin to the airport, but first the last dinnerairportREPACKsit back, sleep, and go to Miami where the blog does not follow

8am and we are putting the extra bags on the bike rack, tying them with minimal string in engineering tradition. We slso divvy up the peanuts and chocolate goodies with some thank you cards to the families that have been so kind to put their thoughts, time, and money into hosting us. They have been of the utmost importance to whatever success has come from this project in this small farmland. Without them, we would have never been able to find our host family our set of dedicated kids. For this, we've become eternally grateful, but can only return these sweets as tokens of our affection.We attach them to the morning bread deliveries with pieces of duct tape while sipping our morning quaker in little mugs decorated with pictures of blue ribbons. Our last cups. We walk along in the early morning and the sun is just kissing the tops of the mountains. It sounds nice, but it was sort of like walking to the end of the earth and it was ripping us apart.

(music picks up slowly as pensive travelers board the tico to Ica, nodding off. Cuts to Ica and boarding the Soyuz bus. Two nodding off, Brooke remains pensively looking out the window. Two get off, and one continues on bus. music hits a climax. Brooke and Adam board mototaxi and head for Choche's house. Music dies off as we pull up to Choche's house.)

Choche's house is being added to with a front garage and overhang for hanging out in the heat of the upcoming summer while being protected from the certain rains while also being in reach of the outdoor oven for grilled goodness. Some people just seem to know how to design without thinking of design charts and selection criteria - hmmm maybe cuz its common f-ing sense?! But no, we must teach it in painful detail many times since we are MIT Course 1 and you need this to graduate from MIT. Ok, I'm done.

Choche's mom treats us to a great lunch of savory chicken and fat fried plantain that she knows we like oh-so-much. We also enjoy some manjar blanco with bread while catching up with the family and giving them gifts of tamales, chocotejas, and mani confitado. Somehow it is very satisfying that we made these all ourselves (helped anyways).

As we are packing up, Adam tries an experiment. He knows Choche will try and give us gifts of Pisco, and believes this is too generous of him. Before he can do anything, Adam asks to buy a bottle of Pisco to take home. Choche laughs and says "Puta, huevon, no cobro solo regalo." Adam insists. Ok, Choche nods in what could never be construed for agreement. "Compra una y yo les regalo dos otras botellas." Now we have to say yes since its a gift.

The results of the experiment were analyzed to be positive since we likely ended up paying for another bottle of Pisco that he likely would have not accepted had he invited us first. More research is needed, tho.

Choche says he cannot go to Lima to visit Frank with us. Frank calls. Choche is now going. Its hard to say no to friends, especially when your reason is you need to sell pencils for charity at noon the next day!

After offloading random items we find particularly useless, we're off to the bus again, picking up where we left off a few hours earlier. We simply traded Anthony for Choche. It was a tough decision but we think his powerful size and rebounding capability on the interior cannot be passed up, even if it means sacrificing the smooth stroke and clutch skills of the Bebeto of Italian basketball.

Frank is awaiting us at Choche's sister's place in Lima. She has a really nice house where she and her husband rent out rooms for international study abroad university students studying at La Pacifica or La Catolica. We meet two - Brandon and Ali. Brandon is from Colorado so Brooke tackles him. Ali is into beer commercials and checking out the nightlife of Peru so Choche and Frank bat their eyelashes his direction. Adam laughs by himself at the contrast he feels so heavy. Brooke and him haven't showered for (blank) days. Alcohol is far from his mind. Much less hookers. Several powers less hookers and alcohol whenever possible. Brooke, you feeling me?

But is satisfying to see Frank again and hang out with Choche. We don't cover much ground, tho, from a catching up perspective. Maybe its unimportant, and what needs to be said is societally accepted statements and short stories pertaining to said context.

After dropping off our homemade gifts from Ica, I can't help but think how much less valuable the gifts had become as we moved away from the community we made them. I had imagined the opposite when I was making them, but was clearly wrong. It seems to be more a function of the specificness of the gift, the specialness of the gift, and the manner in which it is given and received. It also struck me that although chocotejas are "native" to Ica, Lima residents may eat more than Manco Capac residents. Maybe not, that is a assumptious statement.

Taxi driver to the airport was great. He agreed to help us find some food nearby - a cheap menu. And we found some $1 meals of rice and chicken. And a belt.

The line at the airport was ridic. We got 75% through before they rushed our flight to the front and said "Good luck, you might not make it!"

But we did. Kinda barely due to an incredibly slow immigration lady in my line as well as the only cash restriction on the airport tax collection system.

And we flew, taking off at nearly 1am. A pasta dinner was served after take-off which was not expected. The food had little taste, but I savored the texture. And the butter. And then I scrapbooked for maybe the last time. I went slowly since I was watching Star Trek. For the first time.

The first time.

Friday, 21 Agosto 2009

After a day off from Ica, we clearly miss it and need to return. So Adam does. Operators’ orders were only one could come. So we brought two – Malu and Alison. Malu is amazing artistic, with pensive eyes that look like a samurai lady-warriors’ while making political decisions. She is 28 and listens regularly to the radio program we are going to. We know this because it sometime runs as we finish up our workout on the playground on the other side of her house. Alison is 17 and the daughter of Gloria. Punto y seguido. ‘Nuff said.
Al toque Roque.

We arrive early for the radio program since we have been there before to film. The radio program is broadcast from a tiny station on the third floor of a building. The chicas are nervous. Then, as expected, the program makes the girls decide which one is to be interviewed. Alison’s name is drawn out of the hat. She is the more fluid speaker, but also will provide less-informed content for the event compared to Malu’s in-depth understanding of what the workshops are all about.

The interview is short and sweet. We then head down to print out more advertisement flyers to post and to hand out as well as registration sheets for the event starting at 5:30pm tonight. Then we head over to the Mercado to pick up cebada and azucar and cups for the warm drink to be served during the late-night theater we are about to put on. Here the other two split for school and home to cook depending on the age. Adam stays to buy chocolate and manjar (dulce de leche) for chocotejas as well as a kilo of mani for mani confitado (roasted sweet peanuts). Then internet to check for responses to our email invitations. Then a couple reminder calls to people who had said they were thinking of going or in fact going. The following seems to be slightly stronger than Adam had expected.
Meanwhile back at the choza, Brooke buys DVDs off of a local resident and begins to burn the DVDs for the documentary. This process goes semi-smoothly until a freak accident causes the computer to drain its battery and suddenly crash. After a few tens of minutes of panic the computer decides to behave and everything gets finished up a little after Adam returns.

Set-up for the event starts at 3:30pm. This is also a few minutes after Anthony DiLiberto shows up. Anthony is a star hailing from the beginning of our blog, one or two days in. He was in fact our very first NGO interview! Anthony is a red-headed Spanish speaking machine from California and committed to being kind to everyone who crosses his path. Like helping us set up for starters.

Chairs and tables are moved immediately to set up an advertising station complete with a dry-erase marker board with a eye-catching design drawn by Brahayan, the youngest member of our workshop. APORTES, the NGO most currently active in this region, helps us out with the projector. Malu has speakers. Each of the students brought wood for the pot. The pot we used was a pot for the Community Cup of Milk program which provides government subsidized milk to kids. More than APORTES, Red Cross represeped with Ascension from Pisco. Henry reped PNUD Pisco, while later PNUD Ica as well as a regional director of PNUD who happened to be conducting an evaluation in person with the Peru PNUD operations. The Arquitectos de la Emergencia showed up in force after taking awhile to find the place. Proetica sent a rep as well, but it appears that Caritas did not show up – a big deal since the Caritas presence was very strong at some point and messages were designed for Caritas to hear. Their lack of attendance was as much a disgraceful showing of support for the community they once worked in. But those that did show up really impressed the participants in the workshop and vice-versa. My theory is because they were all the most quality NGO people we ran into. In addition there was at least one municipality rep; how long he stayed will forever be a mystery.

Juan helps set up a frame to stretch the cloth out onto the frame. His claim of holding a degree in Duct Tape Engineering has now been confirmed by inspection.

After delay problems with the speakers we switch DVD players and the audio comes out excellent. Once it finally got started around 6:30pm everyone was feeling worn out and ready to head back almost. But they hung out and for some it was a time to get to walk around their new surroundings. For others it was used to buy some sweets at the local tienda. Some were familiar with the region and had even done work there. They were interested in seeing how things have changed since then.

The show lasted about 1.5 hours and was a great success from the eyes of most. The only complaints were a couple community members were rumored to later think that the results of such a screening that involved critique of NGOs would lead to less aid received due to hurt feelings. This is precisely the attitude we coached out of the kids, so of course it is prevalent in the community. The four movies played beautifully in the following order:
1. Pamela and Yubi
2. Alison and Carlos
3. Malu and Cecilia
4. Brahayan and Elaine

People awed while Pamela and Cecilia’s video showed selectively black and white footage from a couple days after the earthquake. Everyone laughed when Carlos danced while describing his opinion of NGO intervention in the region. The audience was stunned by Malu’s editing skills at matching marches, political music, and political cartoons to introduce her movie. Every part of the event was done by the kids themselves as well. This resulted in a little conclusion at times as to who would say what when, but in the end they figured it all out and gave time at the end to encourage questions and discussions. Unfortunately only one NGO rep had the courage to take advantage of this unique opportunity to hear back from kids in such a setting, especially it being on the home turf.

Tonite we were not planning on sleeping since we still had to pack everything as well as make a large batch of sweet peanuts an chocotejas (which take awhile due to the shelling of the pecans). But all of the sudden, we´re soaking in the sounds and movements inside a cinder block home constructed by the very NGOs that we have been turning the critical eye. There are chairs lined with straight backs along the walls. The room is large enough to fit 15 people with enough space left over for a small dance floor in the middle. Yubi's smile seems tired, but she's the quinciñera girl so her eyes stayed peeled.

We were only tonite invited to invade this space tonight. She just finished her final project, previewed to an audience larger than any one expected, and we're just beginning at 10pm. The story is her friends wouldn't let her get away with not having a party. Quite possibly the most gratifying moment of our class pops out of nowhere as 6 of our students describe how they have become friends through this class. But they are not talking to us, it is amongst themselves. I hadn't expected this.

It's 1am now. We've downed carapulcra. We've sipped pisco. We're blowing out candles on a cake. It's all last minute planned, but the family scurries about, taking a taxi as far as the center (30 minutes one-way) to purchase a frosted cake. Someone has written her name on top of it with icing. I wonder how many other names they've frosted on cakes before in their lifetime. But this is especially for Yubi, and the lights go out. The camera rolls and zooms in our her lungs taking in the air and her face as she makes a wish before blowing out the candle. The room is hot from dancing even though the door is opened and the weather is biting.

Juan shows no signs of stopping though and by the time we leave at 1:30am, he is rearing to start in on Chocotejas and sugar coated peanuts. Antony gives me this look that says, you guys are crazy. Then he proceeds to say, you guys are crazy. You know, some people go on ridiculously jam packed tourist sprints in their last week of Peru. we apparently need a cooking frenzy before he leaves. Others need sleep. But FIRST, let's peel pecans. Now, let's just get this out of the way: pecan peeling is an art. You gotta know what you're doing to get that rough outer shell apart from the fleshy, sensational delicious insides. With fingernail. With other pecans. You crack open that thickness and slowly extract the outer coating to reveal the sculptured perfection within.It takes Antony about twenty tries. But then... the moment we had all been waiting for: a lovely peeled pecan with all the right parts accentuated and clean. The white chocolate boils quietly in the background.Then we double check the pecans. We count them. We split the manjar (Like caramel but better). We make sandwiches with two halves of each pecan with the sugar coating between them, hugging and filling every internal crack and curve of the wrinkly delicacy. Juan starts his mani mystery mix on the stove. We are blind and hardly notice until its too late. Forever it will remain unknown. (Except to Adam who was doing it with him. Sugar and water and cinnamon and let it cook. Then swirl it like you wanna twirl it.) "You have to have patience," Juan preaches as he cradles each and every pecan sandwich into the melted chocolate bowl, coating every side until ... sorry for the excessive details

It only takes till 4am to finish everything, leaving us with a couple hours to get packed. We pack prepared to ride our bikes to Ica and then bus them to Chincha in hopes of selling them there since they go for a bit more money. Then out of nowhere our other host brother, Raul, and his wife express interest and we end up knocking the price down to $27 for each bike and all the accessories included. Anthony is glad to see this deal go down as he was not overly excited about riding a bike after no sleep and only party.

Ok, so we will arbitrarily end this blog at 7am on Saturday morning, since sleepless nights mess with blog separation.

Thursday, 20 Agosto 2009

Today was the big tamales day. See Mami is a huge tamales maestra. She is widely known for her delicious tamales back in the day she had kids to help her around the house. She also proudly informs us that at a cost of 60 soles she was taught by a renowned chef with a name. Aparently she used to make upwards of 300 at a time toe distribute to nearby clusters of houses. It is no longer worth it she says. She used to make around 20 soles of profits but that has dissipated with the rise in costs of materials.

This is where being two people comes in handy. We decide on deciding into shifts to cover more ground. Mami and Juan are very set on helping us learn how to make tamales, so we don’t want to make them feel us even a tad ungrateful or stressed out). Adam takes the first shift, which involves prepping the banana leaves by first cutting the leaves down, burning them slightly to give them more flexibility, washing them, then dividing them into piles based on how torn the individual parts are. Each size has a role it can play in the grand scheme of tamaleing.

The corn is pealed (it came that way – factory done she says) and ground. Then it is cooked in meat juice from the roasted pork. The spices and flavor mix (aderezo) is then made. The ground corn is later put with the aderezo and we now have a solidified mass of corn dough with flavors hanging out inside. Stick some of the meat and olives in the dough and then close it all up in a large banana leaf wrapped with banana stalk strands and the tamale is ready to be cooked.

Yeh the process takes two days. Minimo. Back in the day she might make consecutive batches and end up repeating the process for weeks at a time if there was heavy demand for her tamales. Seems she really enjoyed doing that back in the day. She also liked eating the pork fat as she cooked and blames that for the high cholesterol that she now has according to the clinic.

All night long the tamales bubble. All night long the humans sleep. All night long the cat sleeps near the fire of the tamales. All night long, oso the dog, barely moves as he slowly dies. All night long the wood becomes flames which output smoke and splashes and bubbles and black soot on the pot bottom. Energy a la carbonara.

While one is working on tamales (Brooke for most of the day due to her savvy hand-eye coordination and lightning facial quirks) the other is out working with students to finish editing their videos. We work with all the different groups, spending time at the beginning of the morning to work with Malu – If you knew Malu you would know that anytime spent with her is worthwhile since she wants to learn. She is nearly done but has to go finish lunch for her family and also has to wash some clothes. Unfortunately her group is still missing a couple audio takes that the group wants to do together. This ends up happening later in the night, since we don’t have an urgent need for light.

Pamela and Yubi’s video is done and edited by Pamela on her own computer using WinDVD and Pinnacle.

Brahayan and Elaine’s video is finished up as well.

Alison and Carlos were already done.

Great! That means we are able to do our dry run today at 6:30 as everyone had agreed upon.

Oh yeh, the other goal of this day is to do THE FINAL AND ONLY RUN THROUGH of the final activity. It is a Thursday, usually the tough day for the students to make it, not to mention the working mom participant named Rocio, who arrives at 5pm and immediately has to feed her family and clean the house and watch after her grandkid Nicole.

5 students of the expected 8 show up. We had planned to celebrate with a pecan banana pie Brooke had made as well as some crackers and soda from the tienda. We simply watch the videos that we can, critique a very little bit. We announce the teams that were nominated for the aforementioned recognition as Most Artistic, Most interesting, Most informative, Best quality of picture.

After the rest leave, Malu is thirsty to finish her video and wants to spend all night working on it. Which Brooke kindly offers to help her in any way she can. Brooke heads to Malu’s humble abode, while Adam runs some errands including returning cameras and congratulating kids for completing their videos beyond our expectations (which weren’t very high to begin with.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Adam falls asleep writing the blog.

Wednesday, 19 Agosto 2009

Visiting NGOs and Municipal offices today to personally invite them is Adam’s charge for the day. This also involves posting flyers for the events in the appropriate ofices in order to increase the visibility of our event. The kids are of course doing great things, and we want to be sure and make a valiant effort to make good on the large number of contacts that we have of Reconstruction NGOs working in Ica.

First, we stop by the Tinguina municipality to advertise the event for the municipal workers there. Ayme, a sister of Gloria and Adrianna, works in the office there as an administrator. She helps us format our formal invite to the mayor, while also informing us that he never shows up personally to events that are not higher level meetings. He’ll send a rep, tho (hopefully…) MCLCP in Ica is also interested in these kinds of things so we go there after. The secretary is in but no one else. Same as last time. But the secretary is named Freddie and he’s very into our project. We post a couple flyers for the event in their office as well as describe our project in a bit of detail for him so that he can explain it to the others quite well without us having to worry that he’s not got it whole.

Then to CODEHICA. They are pretty interested as well and Charo, the head of the radio department, invites us to a live radio interview on the Voces por la Reconstruccion (Voices for the Reconstruction) program this upcoming Friday. Adam convinces them to allow us to bring a student with us as well. I’ve never spoken on a radio program before but I have a feeling that this opportunity will be great for any kid who is interested in learning. Pepe, from the video dept, says he will definitely come and a couple others from the office echo this commitment.

PNUD is next. Of course, Hernan and Rosario are not in yet. Again we do the “hang out with the secretary and post the room up as well”. Then we head to the Arquitectos de Emergencia, who said they would likely come, but this way we could get them to commit and then also we asked them about the possibility of buying 1 to 3 bicycles.

Brooke tears through the Mercado El Modelo on the western side of Ica, determined to prove to Mami that she can shop like a Peruviana. She feints left, then spins around a kid grasped to a mothers chest. Ducking under the bananas (5 por un sol) and sniffs out the correct spices needed for making delicious tamales. We are missing cumin, olives, pork, pepper, achiote, mani and some other things. In addition she has the handicap of Adam’s scribbled shopping list to guide her down her path to certain failure.

To the dismay of all her critics, Brooke ends up finding everything with time to spare, even managing to find quality chicha de jora for making celebratory fermented throat lubricant for the roof raising on their soon-to-be new place.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

We’ve planned a whole lot for our final event on Friday. Things are going really smoothly. We have about 6 confirmed NGO representatives coming, we are visiting the municipality of La Tinguiña tomorrow to invite them personally as well as some from Ica proper, the electronics are almost all sorted out, and we’ve even posted 10 signs all over the town in key locations. Four of our 10ish students have small flyers to pass out and it looks like we even have permission to use a local tienda to host the event. The kids agreed to each bring a piece of wood, a bucket of water, and some sugar so that we can make coffee for the attending audience.

Everything’s ready. Except for the kids’ movies. Uh oh.

So today we have dedicated most of our hours to helping to kids edit by commenting on their order, their aesthetic eyes as well as ways to make their movies really demonstrate their message. We’ve heard that Peruvians aren’t really open to critique, but they seem to be taking it well.

At 6:00 am, Señor Lopez is tearing down the fence to re-do it with fresh Cincha reeds.

At 7:00am, a cocoon is shed.

At 7:30am, tea is boiled and quaker is already on the table. Both go cold.

At 8:00am, we are half sleeping and half reviewing the raw footage that Pamela has to work with.

At 8:30am, we are pulling out our hair, but partially still inside the warmth of our beds.

At 8:55am, we are packing our breakfasts to go in plastic bottles and tapas.

We start early at 9am with Pamela who is doingher own video in her own house with her own editing program called Pinnacle. Her father sometimes takes pictures and photos at birthday parties which she then puts together for a digital scrap book. At some point she demonstrated one of her projects for us. She has to have a mountain of patience to stare at fifteen year olds in dresses throwing on smiles all day long for cameras during their party. I definitely could not do it.

Pamela and Yubi have put together something that they think encompasses their message. We notice that they have the takes they did during the scavenger hunt as well as some footage from a few days after the earthquake that her dad took. Their message is that there has been a lot of help from NGOs and partially from the government, but that more is needed. They set out to make contrasts between those who have received aid and those who have not. We suggest that since they have an ideal group (one with aid and one without out), they might be able to demonstrate this message better by doing a tour and explanation of their respective living situations. Pamela tells us that she doesn’t want to be another person asking for help because there is still needs everywhere in the South, but this sparks a new idea for everyone. Since they can get footage of their house, their community, and a bit of pictures to represent the Ica department, they will be able to demonstrate that the video that they’ve made is just a small part of a much, much larger picture. Their movie will be a just one case study of thousands in the affected departmento. Cool. We will meet back with you at 4pm to do that.

We wish her good luck with her movie and meet with Malú to ask about her speakers. Returning things to Ica will be a large pain in taxi or by bike so we are trying to avoid it all together. They work just fine. Check. Now just gotta ask the dueño.

Then we clean bicycles all day. Every inch so that we can sell them back to Peru. The water is dirty, the rags are retired, and our fingers ache from the sparkling goodness of our well-used transports. The mountains in the background, under the sun, seem extra sharp today. Like sharp cheddar.

At 4pm, we check in with Pamela again at Yubi’s house. Yubi gets ready to do her takes, but by the time she is on the edge of beginning to record in groups, her mother gives the stern orders to finish her essay. You can play tomorrow, little one. So mostly what gets done here is a recap of the morning for Yubi and even more planning. Hopefully the drafting and redrafting of this documentary of theirs will really show the work and time they’ve been putting in for their final showing.

Add in a trip to the store and more bike cleaning (basta, ¡ya están!) before our next meeting at 6:30 with Carlos and Alison. We pass by people flying kites.. okay, trying to fly kites, on our way over. It’s a beautiful sunset today.

Carlos and Alison aren’t there yet, but Brayahan stomps over with his camera as well as Elaine’s camera. He’s says, “I wanna make a movie.” Wow. So we wait for Alison, Carlos, and Adam to get there before we hike back to the house. He is a little bit shy with his stuff, more willing to just string videos together rather than plan things out or give the movie intention. We try to prod him along to stick with his original message (Hey community! Be united!) as well as to use his takes to his advantage since he has lots of different places during the second anniversary.

Alison and Carlos storm into the room, accompanied by Adam. It’s a little cramped, people are a little confused about what’s going on, Brooke’s tongue is stuck in her mouth, and computers are sucking up electricity like it’s no one’s business. There are three laptops going at once, and somehow we don’t get a single video finished. It’s okay though.

Dinner time! Delicious “send off soup seconds.” Basil, bean, carrot, meat soupy stuff accompanied by a new type of ahí as well as more beans and more rice from the kitchen of plenty. Ka-bing!

Afterwards, we play around with the kids’ videos, getting ready for our gran exposición on Friday. Cross your fingers and toes.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Today is the big day to finally transfer the difficult art of French toast to the people here who all know how to cook so much more really well without recipes for much more complex things. They must think so poorly of foreigners. Our work with NGOs is put on hold for the time being and we put ourselves in the mindset of thanking some people who have been so kind to us and get to know them better.

Wake up at 6am to start with the pie crusts and the French toast. We make a less-sugar, with apples, cinnamon and oatmeal drink to accompany our breakfast. Chopped fruit and then pear yogurt on top. Delic.

Brooke kills her first mammal today. With her bare hands. When she gets back home, Bonzi’s next. Watch out! (Joking, joking!)

Now its time to prepare cuy (guinea pig) for the lunch at the house. We now have 2 simultaneous lunch invites for amazingly delicious food, but we´ll make it happen. We each kill 1 guinea pig. Well, first you have to catch it crawling around the pen. The mom worries we won´t know how to snap a neck here and there. She is really into speedy cooking, and snapping animals´ necks - something she said her grandma beat into her. Then we tried our hand at snapping a neck. The rodents kick and squirm, then go limp. And they have little rat-like teeth in front. Every time it was “our” turn to kill a cuy, mom grabs the thing from our hands and says, “ no no no. not like that, like this!” At least 3 cuyes go to cuy heaven like this. In the midst, a chicken is killed as well. We’re not sure if the grandma confused it with a cuy or if today is just killing-animals-day.

The grandma jokes and plays with the dead guinea pigs. She makes them dance and tells us that they will haunt us in our dreams. We got some decent footage. Then she goes after the cat and dogs pretending they are next. We got a decent picture.

Then the guinea pigs´ hair must be pulled out. You dip them straight into a boiling pot of water while holding the critters by their hind legs. Your fingers burn trying to take the hair off, and before you know it, you’re basically wearing a sweater of cuy. Then the little guys are cut open and their insides are taken out. The teeth get broken off with the blunt side of the knife, and basically all parts are kept for frying minus the intestines. Then the meat is cut into three pieces – the head, and two sides. Each piece is smothered in garlic and some onion and aji-no-moto and salt and pepper and then fried in bastante oil.

The meat is served with rice and potatoes and they have also made a Minestra soup to go with it. Minestra is a type of bean here. And the soup is made with a Basil base and corn and carrots and potatoes and parsley and large amount of spices. It is green.

Round two of our cooking is the planned lunch in the house of some friends. We come by with enough for 25. We make it. Its exciting. Turns out they are making a huge pot of Carapulcra con su sopa seca, which is much more difficult and time consuming than anything we’ve made today for our families.

Somehow we end up spending 2 hours chatting after and during eating our first lunch which was French toast and its fixings as well as carapulcra and sopa seca – 2 servings each. Then off to our family to enjoy our first cuy meal. We didn’t have to try. The meat is a bit skinny but its delicious. The best part is it cooked very much as is, so you eat the skin off the nails and eat the brain, the eyes. At the dinner table, half of us get heads and everyone gets half a cuy, fingernails and all. Unlike chicken legs, the little meaty pieces still have a bit of hair on them that tickles a bit as you munch away.

Lunch is great, and we are stuffed – more than any other day in Peru. We enjoy an open-faced pie with an excellent base made by Brooke via a recipe they had in the house and bananas and strawberries. She also put together a peach and apple pie that must be good but was left untouched after lunch in the house of our friends. Hopefully they enjoy it.

From there we have a meeting with a couple students to help them edit their videos. They are into fooling around with music more than editing so we don´t push them too hard and they don´t get much done. We rescheduled for tomorrow morning so we hope to get it done then.

These girls, along with two other participants accompanied us to poster the three neighborhoods directly around us. 10 posters. And Brooke made some nice ads for the class that can be handed out. This takes another 2 hours.

How does anything get done around here?

Speaking of which, upon returning home our family demands we eat dinner with them – eating and eating all day long.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Monday, tomorrowish, we have set aside as the day we cook “American Food” for a handful of people we´ve gotten to know quite well during our time here. We figure this is a good opportunity to buy enough to cook for our family as well. French toast is the ironic choice of American food. We thought about adding crepes to the mix but threw that plan out when Juan went on a three minute explanation of how they make this great thing here and its made like a thin cake and they fry it then put fruits and sugar…

We also promised some fruit pies, and happen to really want to make some oatmeal cookies.

So the after breakfast hours were spent making the calculations for ingredients and creating a shopping list. Unfortunately we don´t know how to make pie crust so we had to look that up upon arrival in Ica. French toast is easy – Adam can do that. Pie crust is few ingredients, but cookies we have no real idea.

We run around for a couple hours in Ica and return with 1.5 kilos of strawberries, 25 bananas, 1 kilo of peaches, three 1 liter bottles of yogurt, .5 a kilo of limes, a lot of butter, 1.5 kilos of flour, molasses instead of syrup, a small pineapple, 2 kilos of apples.

That night we try our hand at cookie making. First ones taste like bread, then a bit like banana bread, then a sugar cookie and then we gave up – for a little while. Juan helped us out and he is a much more sophisticated eater than we are. He would tell us how badly we had made it, Brooke would try and guess how to change it to make it be more representative of a cookie, and Adam happily took advantage of the steady supply of cookies with unique tastes.

We got done late at night and bed.

15 Saturday August, 2009

For some reason, I can't get back to bed. Usually you just step outside to the bathroom, freeze while you're out in the wide open air (sheltered baño), and wipe your feet off at the door before crawling back into your appropriate heating “cacoon.” Don't get me wrong, this takes a lot of mental momentum to get the ball rolling from warm horizontal to cold vertical bodies. Because of the customs of downing a lot of hot-before-bed drinks, we are also accustomed to the urge to rise from a comfortable bed around 3 or 4 am. At first, the urge would beckon and our bodies would respond immediately. You are suddenly awake and have to contemplate the possibility of holding it until morning instead of making the intense weather shift now. But you ask your bladder who retorts with a little squeeze that makes you hop right out from between the covers. Now, our bodies know better than to bother us with something so unimportant, and we get to linger in the warmth uninterrupted until the morning.

But at 5:15, a shout comes through the hallway: “AGUA!” Which jolts us up and out. However, the normally intense water process of filling all the barrels around the house is calm this morning. It's here early so there's no rush to Juan isn't here so we don't have the skills or the knowledge to hook up the pump and pipes to the construction site downstream and into what appears to be a swimming pool. So Abuela just stands around with a hose, filling up haras that I didn't even know existed before today.

We jogged real quick. Some hills. Some flats. Some sprints. Right up until we had to be at the casita waiting for students to arrive with sleepy eyes. Originallly we had planned on Carlos, Pamela, Malu, Cecilia, and Elaine. Sin embargo Carlos was unable to get out of his job grading papers at the university, and Pamela had a mysterious presentation to take care of. So it ended up being just three students and us on our way in colectivo towards Ica. Elaine is 12, Cecilia is 14, and Malu is 26. A wide range of experience and perspective. They are psyched, brought their lunches to-go, and full of spunk. At the bus station, hurried hands push us towards our Flores flight into Pisco where the march will be this morning.

The march is about the lack of reconstruction in Pisco, the most affected town of the department. There's a large list of complaints.

“Para reforzar la seguridad ciudadana se cuentan 2.500 vehiculos nuevos, 5 mil computadoras, pero no hay comisaria en pisco, que hoy en el perú tiene 32 mil millones en reservas pero no hay plata para construir casas para los damnificados, que se han enregado mas de 560 mil titulos de propiedad, pero ninguno a los damnificados de pisco.” Are just a few of them. Basically, Peru's got money but none of it is going towards rebuilding Pisco. Or that what is being spent is being spent on the right things or in the right places.

The last time we were in Pisco, the highway into town from the Cruce was ripped up into pieces. Cars went on detour and bikes lucked out with a lovely little car-less ride to Pisco. We turn the corner and guess what? Partially paved, the 2nd anniversary of the earthquake looks like a picturesquely progressing roadway. But our microbus only brings us so far because the rest of the tiny streets that would typically lead us in have been stripped of their pavement to install what looks like water systems. Our students immediately whip out their cameras. Malu narrates to the Flip, “We're here today in Pisco to see the march for reconstruction. As you can see here, the roads have been ripped up and many houses have yet to be repaired.” Cecilia and Elaine stick close together, basically taking video of the same thing.

The Plaza de Armas is swarming with marchers who don't seem to be working together. Isolated groups fighting for different things with different messages are circling the center statue shouting things about government, gas companies in the national reserve, and education. We filmed for a mere 20 or 30 minutes before the entire thing was over. Spectators covered every surface of the plaza, seated comfortably watching serenely. Malu, Cecilia, and Elaine ended up making a great team as one asked questions and the others stationed themselves taking two different shots of the interviewed. Afterwards, we ate lunch outside the Ceas church where the first mass was taking place in their new bamboo church. Everyone brought different lunches ranging from french fries, rice, fish, noodles, chicken, adobo, sweet potatoes, and even pallares. Afterwards, we circled around the plaza looking for more shots of the destruction/reconstruction and doing interviews with people who already have houses. And then... we took a taxi to San Andres to check out the beach, buy some fresh fish, and smell around for fresh bread. Right out of the taxi, we realize that no one is selling fish. So we walk into the butcher's shop to figure out the deal. There's a transportation strike today. We already knew this though, and it was just between Pisco and Chincha so no big deal. However, this means our family will be missing out on fruits from the sea.

Instead the girls squeal on over to the beach to collect shells and get sand in their socks. A lot.

Back to the Plaza de Armas to check out the action before we wrap up this field trip. There's not much going on though, so we continue onwards to the Cruce to buy our Soyuz ticket. But... there's a strike. And as far as the eye can see, there are cars buses trucks double deckers taximotos and people backed up. But we promised to get them home by 4 and it's past 3.

Taxi for 20 soles each? It only cost us 4 to get here! Okay, how about 10? Ummm... 45 for all five of you. And then our salvation of a combi comes. A bus that typically runs between San Clemenete and Pisco decides to reroute and take advantage of the strike by now doing runs between Pisco and Ica. 8 soles a piece. Not bad.

By the time we get back to Manco Capac, everyone is exhausted. But we have optional class today for consultations on editing and planning their final videos. We chilled for an hour with the family to let them know we're still alive. Adam ate a huge piece of cinnamon stick. Brooke inhaled some rice like there was no tomorrow. And we chatted about how sometimes eating things out of a mug is a really nice portion and feeling.

Then back to the casita where there is a game of volleyball happening. We split up, staking out the house and sending someone off to check on Pamela's formatting job. In the end, Adam plays volleyball while Brooke scribbles along with some students to make posters for our final event. Then we hit up the keepers of La Capilla (church) to see if we can get our foot in the door to host our event there. It's well known. It's not affiliated with any NGO. It's on the Manco Capac side. Unlike the Casita which is small, built by Aportes, yet central. We're not entirely sure how to get both communities to come to the same place. We'll consult Yngrid, our Aportes friend who is an expert on the locale.

Somehow, we get home where Juan has been waiting to eat. We tuck in food while watching a part of Girl with a Pearl Earring. Next stop: figure out a plan to stay awake while blogging at 10:30pm

14 Friday August, 2009

-Get water from well. Take amazing video shots.

-Do laundry while husking corn.

-Eat lunch of corn, think about how darn late it got.

-Talk with Carlos about his movie. Download and get shown up by his mad computer science skills.

-Chat and chat with the Woman's Group

-And we learn about some up and coming projects in an organizational meeting held by the president of Manco Capac

-Somehow, we end up with an interview on Sunday with a woman who knows what's what about Cáritas which is perfect.

-Pensively decide not to go to the midnight demonstration in Pisco

-Pensively decide instead to work late and hit up the blankets early

13 Thursday August, 2009

It's almost midnight, and here we are again, thinking about making oatmeal cookies. We bought a massive amount of oatmeal for the family this morning for making quaker as well as a bag of flour yesterday to make vegetable tortillas. However, we both blink our eyes and let our contacts slide as we stare down our respective computers doing our respective jobs of typing the blog and naming footage.

We just came back from our consultation hours with our students in the Casita. Pamela (our editing expert) came to simply come. We would have worked more with her footage, however we are short on a MPEG-2 converter that needs to be purchased from Mac since it is apparently patented by someone who probably never thought the technology would be needed right here and right now in Peru with these kids. Twenty bucks? Twenty BUCKS?! Really, people, apple is running a scam here making my OS obsolete every few years and taking all of my programs with it. iMovie is awful. So awful. So is the em-pehg-two formatting of our camera. Damn that camera.

Cecilia and her partner are there, but Malú is playing a game of volleyball where the stakes are high. Cincuenta centimes to each of the winners. However, Malú and Ceci have taking more shots since we met yesterday which indicates more progress towards their completed video.

Brahayan and Elaine, our youngest two students, are still at a stand-still and are super busy with school. We suggest that maybe they should join other groups, make their movie about something else, or take the footage from Pisco that we are going to be recording this upcoming Saturday to use for their raw inputs. This is all done as Adam hangs out a window and Brooke squats on the ground surrounded by four pensive students. They decide that maybe they should talk with their parents one more time to see if they can get one of them to say yes if we cover their tickets to and from Pisco. In any case, their message is to tell their community that they should be more united. Maybe if they show what’s happening in the Caserio Manco Capác and Señor de Luren compared to Pisco’s march, they can show that some places have come together to make a statement.

Staring at them play volleyball…

Before this, we had been crawling around the neighborhood at a record slow speed trying to do surveys. Adam’s idea was to do random encuestas around the town to see how fast the news of our class has been spreading, especially given the last assignment which involved people running around with their video cameras recording all that they could about the reconstruction. Our results is that although a majority of our class is from Manco Capác, only ¼ of our sample knew about the class. Señor de Luren (of which we technically have 1.5 students – one student has a house in each. One with her grandparents and the other with her mother) has a sample of 3/7s people who know about the class. We have yet to pin point whether distance from the Casita correlates to knowing about the class.

Before we do our encuestas though, we encounter a group of women cooking a very large pot (think the size of a pot that could boil Brooke whole) of what appears to be hot chocolate. Which it is. And it smells good. Vaso de Leche is a partially government funded organization that tries to make sure that every night, every kid gets a good glass of milk in them. The people are gathered around the pot, chatting as some of them lean over to push more wood under the Goliath. Just down the way, a few houses next door, there is another group of people who are just taking advantage of what’s left of the sun.

My forearms hurt from typing so much at once.

Before surveys, we were so lucky to encounter some homemade Chaunfainita boiling in a pot as we arrived from La Tinguiña where we were messing around with our Mac to see if we could get it working to transform MPEG2s to AVI. Additionally we rode our bikes there to enjoy the daily dose of tanning, dust-in-the-eyes, and exercise. We happened upon a bike repair shop at which we asked about prices to re-sell our well-used steeds.

We are old people and start falling sleep while typing at only 10:40 pm. A rooster crows. He is confused and sounds almost as if he is inside the house. Mostly because he is. At least, there is a window that opens to the house that is shared with his cage.

Our alarm went off around 4:50 this morning. We planned on working out before helping with the water. Instead, Adam managed to bench Brooke’s weight. Well, actually she crawled up in a ball and he just benched her. Then abuelita called us out of bed and onto our feet and into duty to distribute water from here to there and there and there. Today, we prepared too much food for the amount of people that are actually home and want to eat. In fact, we made so much that we couldn’t finish it for lunch or dinner. This morning: sweet potatoes, rice, tortillas of vegetable, hot chocolate, and bread with guanabana jelly inside. Then off to visit a little old lady and Pamela. One to interview about the history of Manco Capac and the other to check on some different formatting possibilities.

12 Wednesday August, 2009

Today was a day of should-have-beens. Instead of blogging, let me list the ways the day should have been. Then you can decide if our normative, idealistic thinking is out of line.

  1. The water should have come today at 6:00 a.m. We were ready for it, even working out early so that we could be present for the fiasco. It wasn't here by 7. It wasn't here by 8. In fact, it never showed.
  2. Gabe should have had a bus ticket for Cusco for 1:00, but instead he is delayed a few hours.
  3. There should be some sort of written history or something existing on this place we're staying in, but there really isn't. We're finding this out slowly and painfully as we start to cross off all of our possible leads.
  4. We should be doing surveys so that we can have some sort of raw data of demographics within the NGO information realm when we return. Instead, we are invited to play soccer and volleyball.
  5. This blog should be longer, but we are running out of words in both languages to describe our experience.

The end.

11 Tuesday August, 2009

Today we are scheduled to visit every single one of our students. One-by-one. We have 8 active students. We have a 75% success rate of encountering our class. We just miss out on 2 people. One because it is too late and the other because he lives too far away. The entire process is very complicated because

A. People live in different neighborhoods

B. Have different schedules depending on what grade they're in (Some go to school in the morning, others in the afternoon, and others in the noche).

C. People are in different stages of their videos (and of their lives)

D. Depending on their age, they have very different thinking capacities for imagining how the final project will be and what steps are needed to move towards it.

E. We have to talk to them about several things. The editing process, our fieldtrip to Pisco on Saturday, fixing the final dates for our screening, and a class evaluation. Not only do they have to fill it out, they also need to respond to a camera with their answers for the evaluation.

In our first pass, Malu is busy. Come back at 3. Our second pass uncovers something incredible: an edited video that includes several (if not all of the) takes from our Connect4 scavenger hunt. Pamela has already completed her homework of having a draft put together. She has a twenty minute video that she and Yubi worked on for two hours to put together within two days of having shot the footage. Her turn over is amazing. Unfortunately, her plot seems rather random, her footage is still intact (as in, she left every take whole) without sacking the useless information within each take, and the entire thing is incredibly long for saying very little. Let's take a step back: second video of intent and message that she's ever done. Therefore, we are on a roll. With a little more planning and thought, her editing skills can be put to good use to throw together something quick for the final screening. We tell her that maybe her video can stand as a backbone for the other videos since she has the capacity to import several videos as well as stitch them together in a fairly timely fashion. This would be ideal seeing as we would like to consider it THEIR video rather than a collaboration between us and the students. We sort of leave a few questions for her to ask herself and Yubi: what do you want your message to be? Who is this message to? What point of view do you have that no one else in your community has? And after 2 hours, we leave. Side note: we also find out that it is going to be innnnnnncredibly difficult to change our flight tickets. Difficult like a couple thousand dollars difficult. Right. No.

Next comes Malu. We ask her to take a look at what takes she already has and to choose the shots that she thinks best relate to her message and audience. She picks up on our game quickly and SNAP! Lika flash of light, she is rearranging small index cards to set up a storyboard for her footage. She fills in some blanks and decides that she'll take this footage later. We say ALRIGHT! And that we'll pass the message onto her project partner etc etc. Her message? That there is a lot of work from the NGOs here, none from the government, and that the help has been a lot but not enough to really bring things back to par. She also wants to point out that in a lot of cases, there are people receiving aid who don't need it but are in favor of a government or friends with someone on the ladder. Points for Malu.

Then we hit up Brahayan (sounds like Bryan) to shoot the sand. His message is unclear. His grandmother talks to us a lot about witches who used to live here. His footage is apparently insufficient to create anything of significance, and he is out of ideas. Soooo we say that we'll talk to his project partner to check if she's got some things to say and get back to ,him.

Then we play duck duck goose with the rest of our students. Elaine isn't there. Cecilia is, but she has to get all dolled up before she can meet with Malu. We have ten minutes to bring her back before it gets dark. Go. The group talks. Elaine isn't there. We try to convince Cecilia's mom that the field trip will be a great lesson. Cecilia goes back home. Elaine is there, but now Bryan can't meet cause it's too late. And then there's Alison. But it's too dark and she has to think and Carlos and her can't meet until Friday any ways so then we decide that we should just head back home cause it's late and no one probably wants to talk to us anymore cause we're always on their cases. Or something like that.

Oh yeah, then we went to bed.

10 Monday August, 2009

This morning we wake up with three things on our mind: climbing high mountains, forging wide rivers, and trekking through low valleys. Okay, actually only climbing mountains and going into Ica to deal with more bureaucracy to slowly and painfully extract small snippets of information from the government and other institutions. Since Gabe is only going to be here for a few days, we decide to show him a good time by forcing him to climb a nearby mountain for a few hours while we peacefully slumber behind him in a cart that he struggles to hoist up the side of the steep slopes of the cerro. Simultaneously, we are also slashing through the city of Ica trashing all the offices we encounter.

The view from the mountain top still lurks in the back of our minds like an unforgettable smile of a friend. There is abundant amounts of fake gold glimmering on the surfaces of the sand dunes, collecting in the pockets between rocks where they are tucked away from the gusts of winds near the peak. Our backs have been blessed with sunshine and beautiful weather as we lift our knees más y más arriba. We are only accompanied by carrots, water, and a GPS we never bothered to turn on. On the way down, we notice the people working in the field like small mechanized dots of Braille trying to communicate a secret message to towards space. They move slowly to reorganize and make new shapes, sometimes.

Meanwhile in Ica, Adam meets with Cáritas reps who have a little bit of verbal info on Manco Cápac. It is made clear to them that we are only after information about the town that they have gathered but they just want to talk about how they have built many homes there and how the people were really forgotten until they came and rescued them. We got contact info for someone from their office who knows more about the background data, so hopefully we can get in touch with her. At the Regional Government office we successfully complete the next step towards obtaining any data that they have over that region, data that we assume is quite useless. They politely show us the information on a CD, taunting us, and go on to explain that it will take at least 4 visits in person, wearing pants, to get the information we need. This is the second. F public beauracracy.

PNUD was the other major stop. Contrary to what an email we had received from them had said, they have no info on this tiny place. The person who had sent the email was not around and was not answering her phone so it might be she knows something the others (and us) don´t.

Then batteries for the FlipCams. Only a few more since we don´t want to go overboard. Then water for the bloodstream. Then yogurt for the salad, pine and apple we are going to make for breakfast tomorrow. Some spinach. Lots of hot peppers and try and head back before lunchtime.

We reunite after some hours of this glorious intake of fresh air, across the dry garbage-filled river, and back into our home for lunch. Edwin, who only slept a mere 2.33 hours a previous night, was still in good spirits. Him and his daughter danced to the songs of Mariachis while abuelita served our plates. Recently we have no choice about the portions of the plates so they end up much larger than what we’re capable of eating. Today was a mystery mixture of something green with meat, corn, potatoes topped with a side of rice. Sudado, they call it. Some apple water and cinnamon water to add the finishing touches, and we’re all in food comas.

We have decided that since we have yet to encounter much written information about Caserio Macho Capác and Señor de Luren, we will go out and do our own survey to collect our invaluable information about the history of the town and how it came to be. We meet someone who claims that he has been here since the 1930s. He hardly looks like he could be 50. There were also recounts of the agrarian reform that happened about twenty years back, or in 1974 depending on who we choose to believe. From what we could determine from the surveys that we did today is the following; the land used to be untouched. Then there were large parcels of land that would place their farms and their homes. Here, they stayed until they were slowly put out of their work or lost portions of their farms by land-grabbers. During this time, a few families moved towards the Achirana river and became the first settlers of Manco Cápac. One of these first settlers was named De La Cruz. Then comes the reform. Then comes Viña Tacama. We ask about the education, try to get a feel for the general demographic, and listen to whatever else they want to talk about. Some mechanics tell us about how we can do a day of work like a typical campesino here. He says that he wouldn’t recommend it for women especially since you have to carry a bag of 120 kilograms up a ramp to harvest papas here.

After this, we return home to confirm all our findings, eat dinner, upload and organize interview footage, plan for the meetings we have set up for the students (we agreed to seek out each and every student to give them info during the week and hear from them since this is the first week of school and the kids are more busy than usual), and find our ways to bed.

9 Sunday August, 2009

Hola water. Hola sun. Hola sand in my shoe. Hola dogs in the streets. Hola people looking at three kids running with a pit bull. Hola dust in my eyes. Hola cramp in my belly. Hola beautiful mountain view. Hola legs.

Buenos Dias to the morning run.

Today’s class doesn’t start until 4pm, but we have a full schedule in front of us. You know, the usual metaphysical transformation from human beings into tubes. The typical wake up in the morning and grinding of toasted corn for the normal breakfast drink. The leaving of the family’s most valuable watch dog in an unfamiliar neighborhood with the chance of being totally and utterly destroyed by several other mangy, thick-haired mutts while we run back towards the house as he is entirely helpless to move without setting off a never-ending alarm of howls, barks, and growls unless he does it quickly enough that his four legs will carry him faster than any of the other 40 legs that are careening around his adrenaline filled body ready to attack. Somehow, we ended up in a new part of town with Pirata during our morning run. And somehow, we managed to leave Pirata behind with what-might-have-been-a-few-other-angry-looking dogs. But only sort of. So Adam said, don’t worry guys! I’ll go back and get him.

So then we ran back to the house where we eagerly awaited the arrival of Adam … without Pirata. That’s right folks, without Pirata. Emergency response! Sirens! Man the bikes! Stop cooking breakfast! We must recover our most prized pet! Long story short, he is very capable of taking care of himself and returned with a big smile to top off his cantering tip toes.

We try to help with breakfast, but abuelita has her stuff down pat. She takes pity on Gabe though and hands him a knife to spread jam on little sandwiches. She probably does this a lot with us in the kitchen. It must be painful to watch us peel potatoes so clumsily when she is deft enough with her agile fingers that man a knife to the skin of the vegetable without even looking at what’s she’s doing. When our mouths drop at her feat, she just laughs and asks what we’re so amazed by. Obviously, the entire time she is staring us in the eyes. So we head into the room to make a worksheet for today’s class.

After Adam returns from hours of toning his muscles to perfection, we take off for a thirty minute bike ride into La Tinguiña in order to use a computer connected to a printer, connected to a floor, connected to a sidewalk, connected to fresh air, connected to a tienda, connected to a copy machine which spits out 14 copies for us to bring back to the Caserio. Gabe checks up on getting his butt out and about to Macchu Picchu. Then we hit up the market to bring back nummies for the family. Pineapple and Bananas. We divine that while we are gone, Adam is probably chopping wood. And we get back, he totally had been chopping wood.

But upon our arrival, we encounter nothing but sheepish smiles of Adam, abuelita, and Edwin who are seated in a shady, quiet dining room. The table is filled with plates. Those plates are filled with absolutely nothing. Miss Peacock with the candlestick in the library! Ariana is in the corner sleeping soundly, and we try to mask the sounds of our bellies rumbling as we sneak past. Delicious wheat popped looking rice smoosh. And rice. And soup. But this wheat stuff seems like it might be quinoa, but it’s not. And there are spices. And our tongues need to be shoved back in our mouths before they stay out for good like your mother warned you would happen if you crossed your eyes and got hit on the back. But we always get our fill of food in this house. And for that, we are thankful.

Afterwards, we do surveys. It’s like a rite of passage for any of our visitors. If you wanna hang with us, you gotta pass the test of hitting up every house of the neighborhood we be livin in at the time. And listen to stories you might not understand. And possible be put to the task of holding a camera. Oh, so is life. But Gabe handles himself well, taking perfectly (obviously) framed shots along the way. Figures, him being an architecture major with a concentration in film. Someone’s gotta have the eye here. We meet the president of the Comedor. We talk to nice people. We find out that even if you live across the street from dozens of Aportes houses, there’s a high possibility that you don’t know their name. We find out that the word Broccoli is easier to pronounce that Brooke’s name. Someone gave Aportes a 20 outta 20 which indicates they’re outta this world. Oh, and we find another NGO. That was big. Well, it’s a church. El Shaddai, the evangelical one that Juan attends, has been the entry point for many of churches from the Untied States and many other countries. Juan also says (as we type) that on the fourth day, trucks showed up with blankets, jackets, and water. But the work happening now to build these anti-seismic brick models has been founded by these foreign churches as well as constructed with their help. Oh, and Pirata got into two more fights where he was out-numbered. But as expected, he remains unscathed and smugly victorious.

In class, we saw the results. Apparently, according to Adam’s theory, it doesn’t matter who you are. If you have a camera, it becomes your face. It is in the mind of the people. Where will this footage go. Why are people interested in my opinion. Who else is going to see what I say in this very moment. I think I need to choose my words very carefully and make sure not to step on the nails that are surely just around the corner. And this is how they came out. Personal opinion, the most interesting shots were from the prompt, “where is the place that most represents your town to you, why?” We got more varied responses for this one than the others. But there were many houses demonstrated to the camera as the icon of the word “reconstruction.” There were many thank yous to the NGOs. There were many many shots of the church in Manco Capác. We also talk about dates for our last class and screening, ask them to think about, and discuss going to Pisco for the earthquake’s anniversary. Any of us “professors” would have been sound asleep after two and half hours of this sort of fooling around if we had been students in our students’ shoes.

And they were cool with the assignment. In fact, they ran out into the streets immediately after receiving it to go ask people about their opinions about NGOs. They even seemed determined to make funny videos of each other dancing and singing about NGOs. A boring topic turned on its head by simple competition. But what we find out is that there are many people who will decline to be interviewed and many more with mouthfuls of positive, non-constructive things to say. In short, we might have been able to get better footage than they did simply because we knew what sorts of questions to ask from our previous practice. But people would decline to be interviewed because they thought we were with an NGO (and why wouldn’t they since we are teaching in a community center put up by an NGO?). Unfortunately, they seemed more interested in just checking off the squares as tasks to complete rather than thoughts to think in. Of course, there were the exceptions, but for the most part, the footage was endlessly familiar shots of people saying thank you or that the earthquake was “very very bad.” But nothing more of detail.

Delicious food as always for dinner and then back into bed for another few hours before the early morning calls us.

8 Saturuday August, 2009

“Apple Ops¨

Sprint workouts are shorter and more fun – but sand is slow. Pecks and triceps day put the cherry on top of the cake.

Our class today starts at 5pm. We have also committed to having office hours open to the students from 2 to 5pm., so we need to eat lunch before then – easier blogged than done. Lunch is a guiso of this new vegetable thing so no one wants to leave without fully enjoying that.

We make it over there though, and no one really shows up until 4pm – kinda what we expected. This gives us time to dedicate to brainstorming and discussing how our project in general is going and think about how we might shape our documentary. We spend an hour or so discussing how we see our trip playing in, our personal travel, into the documentary. Malu shows up at 4:15pm to show us her video showing a typical morning in her life. As we sit down to watch her shots and put them into a quick video, she sits down with a few sheets of paper and draws out a post-filming story board. We let her know this is totally not necessary, especially since storyboarding is meant to be a planning tool, but she sheds our advice, saying she likes to draw.


Speaking of cool, Malu´s shots are done incredibly well. She apologizes for not being able to film her dad, saying he broke a rib yesterday and is in the hospital. We´re pretty sure her video skills of placement of camera to film herself were put to good use, tho. In short, she caught us off-guard with how well done her shots were. She had a great shot of her sweeping, then the whole process of making a sopa a la minuta (soup) starting a wood fire (personal favorite), filling it with water, chopping up vegetables and then of course a bowl of the finished product.

Backtracking before lunch, Adam plays with bikes and tools, and Brooke spends the time printing off things for the class – we´ve made a Connect 4 game/worksheet for the kids in which they have to do at least 4 of the 16 filming options we made up for them. Each of these tasks had something to do with NGOs or reconstruction, etc. Basically this was our way of testing the waters to gauge their interest in this whole NGO evaluation thing using youth participatory video. Will they be cool with it? Will they like/enjoy it? Will the community be overwhelmed by it? Will they find out things we couldn´t have found ourselves? Will they learn new things about these topics that will pique their interest? Will they be interested in the topics or in the prizes more? (Yes we are giving them prizes – our assumption is we should ease them into the more boring/academic topic of interviewing using questions centered on NGOs).

Anyways, the kids take it in stride. They totally seem to be into it, we think, we guess, we hope. The three prizes we set up are for:

1. The most interesting/informative

2. The most artistic

3. The most different filming options completed

4. The most fun

We take input for what prizes the students would like and this was a list of some responses:

Chanfaina (soupy potatoes and meat and vegetable dish)


Chocalate cake with Pecans

Chocotejas (chocalatey pecans)

Sweet breads

We´ll see what we end up deciding – we told them we would decide by next Thursday.

While the kids run around interviewing and planning for how they will complete their connect 4, one of us chases behind different pairs and films them. And then there is the filming option of filming some other group doing their task. So, basically at any given time, there might be 3 or more cameras all filming in a circle.

Are we using the kids? Are we misusing the kids?

And suddenly Gabe showed up. He found his own way to our house and from there was led down to the schoolhouse. Chilling, he meets the kids as they return from there scavenger hunt. Then we sit down to critique their films on their “typical day in the life of..”. Gabe integrates in smoothly and begins offering critique right away. Meanwhile a couple teenage girls in the corner begin sneaking video of Gabe, giggling. When we ask them what they are doing they turn as red as Peruvian girls can get and claim to not be doing anything. Sure…

After class, we head home for dinner. Everyone has eaten already since we are coming back so late. We split up the food and chow down, settle Gabe in a bit, exchange life-altering accounts of daily life, organize footage, draw a bit, and blog.

Sunday, August 16, 2009