Monday, June 29, 2009

Mira! Señor Perro!

Sunday June 28
“My very first cock figh

The wedding raged on so late last night that no one could get good sleep. Por ejemplo, un hombre cantó muy tarde (casi 3 de la mañana) en la pasillo. So we slept really late, woke up to work more on organizing our contacts, and then slathered on some sunscreen to hit up Paracas. We've tried in the past to work on the weekends by doing encuestas through neighborhoods. However, the answers we usually get by knocking on doors are very short because they're not into being bothered by extranjeros on their weekends. We'll try again next weekend by just sitting in the Plaza and asking people who walk by.

The bike to Paracas is 21 km. Lindsay holds up just great in the ridiculous wind. I would say it was at points more than 30 mph with desert sands that basically made you bike with your eyes closed. Anyways, we ended up trying to tomar el sol, pero so much sand ended up on us that we had to wash it from our ears when we got home. We hung out on a wrecked ship on the beach mientras estabamos sacando fotos, ate a million egg sandwichs, and decided against going to the actual reserve at that point in time since we only had so much time and so much wind deterring us.

So we went home, rode our bikes soooo long without handlebars with the wind on our backs. And somehow, we ended up in San Andres in the middle of a crown ´round a couple of birds fighting, blades tied to their feet. It was ... crazy. Their feathers fluffed up around their necks, their beaks went at each other, and everyone looking on was glazed over in awe. After one fight, we decided we had seen it all and left. In the Pisco Plaza de Armas, we ate din din. There is a couple who works at this chicken sandwich cart who we like to hit up. They are really ridiculously in love. Like chicken sandwich making love. They spend all their time together (starting at 7 am) to prepare for their night selling chicken sandwiches. For 30 cents!! Oh geez, they're so good. Lindsay ate 4 ice cream cones today. That's like... one more than three. And she ate some chocolate cake. And popcorn. And churros. And bread. And smoothie. And carapulcra. Which is approximately 40 times more than she ate on her first day here.

Afterwards, we go to the opening for the fiesta in San Andres which is already in full swing by the time we arrive. Carnival-esque you might say. We don't stay long because we plan on waking up early tomorrow morning to hang out with Pisco Sin Fronteras

Saturday June 27, 2009

“This one will be Pamela Andercat. That one is Samuel L Catson. You're Princess. That one's Kitter Katter. Flounder. And you will be stinky butt.”

7am wake-up again – but this time we go back to bed because we've been NGO-ing nonstop. Then we realize we have to get our bikes at the Red Cross office at 8am so we hop out of the bed and into the streets with our dancing feets. We hit up a juice man for juice. We hit up the key man for keys. And then the bread guy for bread .And the cheese guy for cheese for grand sanwichs of avocado, cheese, bananas, and jam. Then we wash laundry for hours. And hours. And hours. Oh my god. But it's cool cause Lorena names the cats as you've read above.

We organize a bit more, standardizing our encuestas, interview questions, and other massive amounts of data. We figure, if we can get things under wrap before we head out into the big, scary world we can then be prepared for almost anything. We are basically incapable of moving out of bed from being up and working from our sometimes 12 + hour work days... so we listen to the loud, tacky music from the wedding outside our door in our hotel and party a little while we work on the lappy.

When we finally do taste fresh air, we bask for all its worth. Lindsay's incessant “helado” chant finally moved us from horizontal mattress-ridden to walking again. So we went out to the Plaza finally to grab some dinner of chicken feet soup during which we were rudely interrupted. A man on stilts, humping the air and being accompanied by a talented drummer, flew into the market to entertain us... and totally rip us off. We end up trying to give him a sole, but he only gives us 2 back from our 5. Lesson learned, again. Good job Lindsay for... not trying the feet. We expected much more from you, young lady. The soup also came with a little heart, mmmmm, our favorite. Actually, let's take that back. Liver is the best, hands down.

Anyways, then we headed out but got blind-sighted by donuts in syrup. A lady selling phone cards tried to convince Brooke to switch spots with her so she could go ho
me. After chatting about volunteers in the region, hostals, and Adam's excellent cooking skills, the phone-selling-lady also tried to recruit Adam as her chef. Then she threw some mandarins our way for being such funny people.

Somehow, we ended up sitting around the Plaza and watching people until the end of the night. When we got back, we turned and tossed as the wedding raged on late
late late. It was a good day to recover.

June 26, 2009
“Santa doesn't give anything to people who kill puppies.”

1:30am - We fell asleep uploading. Today our camera usage consumed the complete anion potential of both batteries, the internal memory and nearly all 16 extra GB of SD cards.

10pm – After arriving back in Pisco we enjoyed our nightcap of ice cream for Lorena, herbal tea for Brooke and another sandwich for Adam. Then we headed back to the room.

8 pm – We ate dinner in San Clemente before leaving – liver and potato
es with noodles in a sauce and soup. Topped by a chicken sandwich and some french fries, bananas, peanuts, and french fries. All for about $3.

4:30pm – The meeting has 2 agendas: outlet for community leader complaints and questions towards the mayor and his past 3 years of promises, and to elect 2 new public officials to serve as advisors to replace those that were voted out of office by the same committee a few months ago. The Q and A with the mayor went as smoothly as you might think and it was interesting to see the input of 2 NGOs – CEAS and Derechos Humanos (Human Rights). The leaders were chosen after a painstakingly democratic process of electing the people who were in charge of running the democratic election. It was all very....long, and very political, oh so pol
itical. Many good speeches though, and it was interesting to see how our first perceptions of the candidates correlated closely to the final outcome of the elections.

2:30pm – Red Cross drops us off at San Clemente, just outside of the site of the elections for new public advisors to the mayor. We eat lunch at a small restaurant nearby – Escaveche de Pollo – basically onions and chicken in a sauce over rice.

1:15pm – Red Cross treats us with a short detour to the nearby Laguna Morona – a.k.locally.a. “mermaid lake” since there apparently exist multiple reports of a female voice that calls out to males from the town by name.

Noon – Interview Karen from Peace Corps. She is from Michigan and has been stationed in Bernales for almost 6 months now. She had to go through the grueling training process for three months in Lima before being able to take station here for the next year and a half for a total of two years like with any other Peace Corps assignment. She basically gives us tips on how to administer encuestas in a way that elicits honest, useful answers. She also explains how she chooses, executes, and evaluates her projects.

9am – Arrive in Bernales, which is a district east of Pisco, not yet getting into the sierra mountains. This is the most dessertesque place that we have yet been. Breakfast finished off on the way. As soon as we get out we are greeted warmly by Nery, the Red Cross coordinator for the town of Bernales – another volunteer – who is also the director of the town's population. The town runs off the cotton industry which only brings in income for 3 months out of the year. The males in the town work from 4am to 5pm every day during cotton season as hired farm hands. After that, however, there is no work for them.

Nery explains that the Red Cross is really the only NGO that has brought aid to their town since immediate relief in the first few months after the earthquake. 110 homes are being built out of quincha, which is a building technology that uses walls made of woven sugarcane stalks covered with mud and a cement facade. The roof is supported by wooden beams and the floor is a thin layer of concrete. Basically, this technology has developed as an available, flexible, lightweight, inexpensive, but outwardly unnoticeable alternative to bricks.

The Red Cross is involved in many other community development projects in the area and is currently putting a lot of effort into organizing and equipping the community to use its own resources to rebuild and move forward.

8:20am – Leave with Red Cross. Jesus is the driver and he's real fun. Rita too, the Red Cross volunteer stationed in Bernales and left with the inglamorous task of showing us around. The truck we jump in is a white Land Rover with the Red Cross emblem plastered on the front and sides.

7:55am – Arrive at the Pisco office of the Red Cross Federation.

7:30am – Buy 8 breads, 3 bags of grapefruit and papaya juice, 1 bottle of Maca drink, 2 ham sandwiches, 1 egg sandwich, 1 small bottle of yogurt, and 1 middle-sized bottle of yogurt. The most we have spent on breakfast in awhile - $5. No time to eat though, so we stash it for the road.

6:45am – Wake-up

25 June Thursday El DIA DE PAZ
“Things are always pooping on my head. Let's just say poop is my middle name”

So today was full. Like we were full of food and the day was just bursting with NGO meetings. For instance, today we ate large smoothies, 16 pieces of bread, fish soup, raw fish, ham sandwiches, coffee, ice cream, diet cokes, soup, rice, and fried fish too. Oh and more ice cream. Oh yeah, and a chicken sandwich for Talsma to top the night off. And I quote, “I'm never really full until I eat that sandwich sandwich.”

The NGOs that we contacted today: Paz y Esparanza (peace and hope), Cuerpo de Paz (Peace Corps), ADRA (... we'll fill this in later ... ), Cruz Roja (Red Cross), and a few community members from San Clemente. Our first interview was at 11:30 am so we had a slow morning for Lauren to recuperate from her ridiculous travel here from outside of Philly. We went to San Andres for breakfast smoothies in bags. Bolsitas are for meals and drink para llevar- juice in a bag to go. It's amazing what you can put in there without compromising the integrity or presentation of the food. It's so much less wasteful than styrofoam, plastic, and paper cups from McDonalds. Although we'd probably have do an LCA to determine the validity of that statement to take into consideration the evaluation's scope. You know, gotta normalize those functional units and make sure to take into consideration recycling and remanufacturing and what not. But instinctively, it feels like it is more “green.” There's a whole lot of talk of sustainable projects here in Peru, but we've never seen a good definition of such a thing yet.

So we head out to meet with Jaime Mok. His office is just a stone's throw away from the Red Cross Peruvian branch. The office is shared between Paz y Esparanze (PE) and Acción Contra el Hambre (ACH, Action Against Hunger). This is the first indicator of the unique feature of PE- this NGO works very closely with other NGOS. So close, Jaime jokes, that they even share the same bathroom in the office. PE has worked with Red Cross to organize projects together, with PNUD to participate in “mesas de viviendas,” and ACH in ways we've already demonstrated. Mesas de Viviendas is essentially a way of saying that PNUD organized a weekly night where all people interested in working on or were already working on aiding the reconstruction of homes in Pisco can get together to compare and discuss projects in an open environment. Their coordination far outstrips what we've seen so far here. Just to demonstrate further... As we walked through the front of the office, we had to duck in front of a meeting happening in between PE and ACH to get upstairs to Jaime's office.

During the interview, we learn that PE is largely funded by evangelical institutions such as churches in the states, the tear fund in the UK, and the United States' branch of Peace and Hope. The funds in Independcia, the region that his branch works in, the funds are open to be spent towards mostly any project they decide is appropriate. This is a much different manner of funding than for American organizations like the Cruz Roja Americana who only donates to specific projects. In general this is to ensure that institutions are spending money on what donors deem worthwhile. Jaime explains that their work is in Independencia, as an attempt to make a focused effort to target an area that hasn't had much attention from NGOs. This matches up quite up a bit with what we've been discovering with our surveys of different regions. It seems as though some neighborhoods can list several NGOs in a split seconds whereas others will give blank stares to questions like, “what NGOs work in this region?” This is the other unique feature of this Pisco NGO.. Like ASPEm in Tambo de Mora, their work is very concentrated. In Jaime's opinion, this makes their work much more effective than NGOs trying to work in several regions at once.

Jaime's interview went very well, and he surprised us at the end by speaking nearly perfect English to his wife who entered the room right after we finished. We rode off to find ADRA's office afterwards only stopping a few times to force our non-fluent Spanish speakers to ask for directions and to eat this weird thing called an elephant ear which is actually fried dough covered in honey.

There was only one lone soul at the ADRA office who kindly explained that everyone else was out to lunch and about to set up for a meeting in San Andres. Remember all the “Participatory Budgeting” from San Clemente and Pisco where municipalities are collecting the community's opinion on budgeting? Yeah, well ADRA was running a meeting at 3pm with the municipalities to describe how to best utilize those opinions. So we decide to hit that up. After 3 sole ceviche, of course.

At the meeting, we decide that it's really just a review of 1.011 (project evaluation class from our department back home). We record a bit, eat some refreshments, and take a packet of their materials to review back at home. Unfortunately, we had to leave the meeting early to catch our 6:30 interview with the Director de Programa Agua y Saneamiento from Peace Corps. From the Plaza de Armas in Pisco, we scope out our next victim. Jorge Izaquirre is at the shoe shining stand, just waiting for us to put him under the light of our questions.

In the interview, we figure out that the Peace Corps is hardcore. The volunteers in Peru are subjected to a session of “getting used to food here” where they eat foods that are mixed with specific bacterias from Peru in Lima. That way if they get extremely sick, they can be treated where there is good medical care. He also tells us that he believes that the defining characteristic of the organization that helps it to have more impact is its bottom-up approach. There are a few other defining moments from the interview, but what we most remember is the several attempts to get recruited. If only we weren't 3rd year and off-to-grad-school students.

Anyways, a la sosie, we get one chicken sandwich and 4 scoops of ice cream to cap off our night. Then we go home to do the “clean the camel back in as many innovative, ingenius and stupid looking ways possible,” “upload so much footage it makes your head hurt because there is just way too much documenting occurring,” and “reading books with a little bit of spanish but mostly dirty words in order to 'learn more'” jobs.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pobre Chico

Wednesday, June 24 – Lindsey arrives!
"There's this bug that pokes a personal hole in the female and aprovechars of that hole."

Lindsey gave us a wake-up call at 4:45am. (Lindsey = Lauren Biscombe. MIT '09, and a fellow Course 1 stud) She was on a cab to the bus station. This left us with a mere 13.75 hours without being bothered by other MIT kids while being in Peru. She gave us the second wake-up call at 8:50am. First visual contact between Brooke and Lindsey was later but they didnt care to note the exact hour at which this momentous interaction occured.

Breakfast was a juice of apple, orange, banana, spinach and 12 little breads – 4 wheat, 4 sweet, and 4 french. Total: 9.20 soles ~ $3. From here we biked off to San Clemente which is about 30 mins away by bike. Lindsey kept with us all the way and pulled ahead on the hills. Josie are you reading this? We located the two NGO offices in town we were targeting for the day – ADRA and CEAS. Both happen to be the social outreach branch of churches – Adventist and Catholic respectively. After introducing Lindsey to tallerines (noodles with spagghetti-esqe sauce) and papas a la huacayina (potatoes and cheesy milk sauce) and caldo de gallina (chicken soup) we headed to our CEAS interview where they are playing with some cool bamboo building techniques. By the way, Adam had to eat all of Lindsey's food cuz she eats too slowly.

The CEAS interview goes well and afterwards we meet the french architects, who study in the Peruvian University of San Martin and are the technical advisors to the bamboo construction project. They were building a two-story house out of bamboo using innovative two-way floor designs. In addition, they showed off their bamboo dome and bamboo conference room, not to mention their bamboo watchtower that Brooke noted could be seen from far down the highway.

The focus of this NGO is on teaching construction skills to youth in the area and to work on small development projects that help families reconstruct. This was the first organization we found that really stressed how helpful the role of PNUD (UN branch) in coordinating between NGOs, municipalities, and the people. Interestingly enough, CEAS also collaborated with quite a few other NGOs on many projects. Another interesting part of CEAS is that it relies heavily upon local pastors and priests to obtain the needs from the people and to also communicate with the people throughout the project.

After the CEAS interview, we biked home – by a new way, and stopped to do surveys in the El Molino community. This community is full of earthquake refugees who relocated to uninhabited land and have slowly set up more and more permanent residence even though no one has land titles. They are working on this, though, and have organized themselves at least somewhat in order to petition for land titles. There is also rumors of the government forcing them off the land before the two-year anniversary of the earthquake, but that seems impossible given the size and permanence of the informal settlement. As expected, the people here have received little to no aid since the immediate relief after the earthquake and they are understandably bitter. There is also a lot of talk about corruption within the municipality directed towards them because they do not have land titles and therefore are diffecult to track when donations are made. Brooke does her first encuesta on her own and is now making complete and coherent sentences in spanish. 1 month of hard work and effort towards picking up the language is definately put on display. Lindsey refuses, claiming she needs to aclamate herself to the survey culture first.

During the surveys we met another NGO working in the region – COPRODELI. This organization had set up an after-school, and health care center in the middle of town. Unfortunately this establishment can only cater to around 30 children, so only a few within the community are able to benefit from it. We set up an interview with them on Monday. Also, they had recently met randomly with Pisco Sin Fronteras about teaching English to the kids, and it seems they have set up next Wednesday as their first meeting. Maybe we will show up to that as well.

Anyways, after it gets nearly dark, we hop back on our bikes and pedal the last bit to home - stopping only to get orange juice at the plaza central. After the daily chores of uploading and blogging we find that it is useful to have a third person around filming and manning some other equipment – gps, flipcam, handycam, still camera, smartpen and notebook.

Now we are about to head out to grab dinner before coming back home for the night to read a bit, laugh a bit, love a lot, and sleep a lot, Sir Lancelot. Potrotjot. Or not.

Tuesday, June 23 – CEAS, ADRA, and some really ticked off community members
"Would you rather drown or burn to death? How do you feel about arranged marriage? How many brothers do you really have? What if your dad came here right now and told you you had to marry x girl? How many sheep would you have to pay?"

Our first interview of the day is with CEAS at the new catholic church on Pisco Playa. However, our interviewee had forgotten about our appointment and instead invites us to a meeting he is attending later in the day that is being run by ADRA in San Clemente. We happily agree and head back to the hotel room to send Josie off on the Flores bus to Lima. As we write, he is on his plane, headed to another paradise. We've found that making appointments is nearly usually less useful as opposed to simply stopping by NGO offices. Just a little something we've learned from NGOs about Peruvians since we've been here: do it in person, call them twice, and make sure to send an e-mail if you're not certain they remember you.

So we hang with Josie a bit before he heads off, celebrating with one last four scoop sundae (less than a dollar) topped with chocolate sauce and a wafer. Immediately after he boards the bus, we book towards San Clemente for our 4pm meeting. His directions are vague: main street at a local place. Right, so we do that. And manage to get further down the dirt roads than Josie's bus does in thirty minutes when it passes us while we ask for directions. Pisco is situated on the beach, Las Americas heads directly away from the beach where it makes a T with the Pan Americana. At this T is the villa de Tupac Amaru where UNICA (ooh-knee-kuh) is snugly situated among the dusty calles. North of here, towards Ica, is the town of San Clemente and the road that heads up into the mountains towards the region of Humay (where our meeting with PNUD in Quitasol took place). It's about a 30 or 40 minute bike ride, up hill, but the sun is shining so everything is alright.

In San Clemente, you find a very well constucted Plaza de Armas (PS every city has a plaza de armas which is essentially the city square around which everything revolves). It has a concrete shell pond with a small bridge over it, several terraces connected by stairs, and well-lit surrounding areas. The people here seem much more well off than the people in Pisco Playa or El Molina. We look around, locate the municpal building, and then sneak up on an ADRA guy who is knocking on the front door. We ask him for directions to the CEAS meeting which he gives surprisngly quickly considering that we saw him arrive in a taxi not two minutes ago.

So we set off, peek in, and sit down inside the tavern which has plastic lawn chairs with pictures of beer on the back of them. The place probably can fit 60+ people. There are only 5 people there fifteen minutes before the meeting, but by 4:30, when they start there are almost 30. At 5:00, an hour after the scheduled opening, the room fills up with probably 50 upwards to capacity. So goes Peruvian time. The meeting opens with a municipal worker who welcomes the audience who consist of community leaders from San Clemente annd its annexos (surrounding villages).

Then the ADRA guy we saw in front of the municipal building stands up to start the meeting which was a surprise. Our interviewee was simply attending the meeting, not running it. Ooops for thinking CEAS was running it. Anyways, ADRA proceeds to talk about social, economic, institutional, and environmnetal development. They talk about the statements from last year's meeting, and begin to open up the floor to the people to comment on the vision for 2021 that was established in the last meeting (a year ago). This workshop is a partipatory program so the talking from the audience is plenty. In fact, so strong-willed and so opinionated that they begin to take over the meeting. Everyone comments on the fact that the municipality is supposed to be collecting their opinions but the municipal representatives left. This, according to the community, is typical behavior from their mayor. With a year left in office, the people are fed up with this treatment and are frustrated that the municipality has yet to authorize proposals for a comprehensive city reconstruction plan.
In any case, the people cause quite a ruckus to the point that ADRA gives up and asks for a vote. Who wants to stay? Who wants to go? And the majority rules. The meeting is let out. We gather tons and tons of feedback afterwards. We are invited back on Friday at 9am, 3pm, and 5pm to various meetings ranging from a one on one interview to another meeting with the same people run by themselves instead of the NGO leading the way. We are also invited to another meeting tomorrow at 3pm which will involve us talking to a woman who is very unsatisfied with the Red Cross. Everyone here is articulate and passionate. We wonder if it is a function of their income bracket. Could communities with more money have more time to participate in meetings like this, put time and effort into interacting with NGOs, and taking advantage of getting their opinions heard? I think there is a strong connection.

Anyways, we return home by bike after the discussion. On the ride home, we grab churros and bike oil. We eat one and use the other to clean up our chains in the Pisco Plaza de Armas. We grab orange juice, tea, and a chicken sandwich to tide us over until breakfast tomorrow. We run into Phol and Julie in the front of our hostal and chat with them for awhile about Pisco. The neighborhoods, the tourism, and about the NGOs in the region.

Now for some massive uploading, blogging, and transcribing data from our meeting. And then BED. Oh sweet, bed.

Monday, June 22 – Pisco Sin Fronteras!
"Where's the duct tape?"

So today is our last full day with Josie. And you know what he does? He wakes up at 6:20 in the morning to go on an all day tour of Paracas. Pfft. Meanwhile, we are racing over to San Andres to get our fill of orange fruits and vegetable juice: carrots, oranges, and papaya. It is delicious, but we are crestfallen to find out that the other significant Jose of our lives, Jose the Juice Man, will also be leaving us... for a week. But his prices and zest were the best of Peru, so we are sad to lose him. He advises us to visit his brother in the Pisco market, but I'm certain he will not be able to compare, charge us more than 2 soles per cup, and just not be the.. same.

After the (heart) breaking news has been dropped on us like a bomb from 10,000 feet high, we decide to drown our miseries by biking as fast our little legs can carry us towards our NGO of the day quien se llama "Pisco Sin Fronteras." This is the first largely English-speaking NGO so it should be a completely different experience. Their 8am meeting is held every morning besides Sunday in the back of the volunteer's home on Pisco Playa.

This morning, they are joined by several new faces, but no one is phased. Introducing new volunteers is simply part of the daily routine. Every one is merrily eating breakfast, with antique american rock music in the background, when we arrive. We say hello to the familiar faces from Saturday and while we sip on our orange wonderjuice, we wait for the director to start the meeting. He announces a few things, asks if any one else would like to announce anything, and then asks the new people to introduce themselves. People are from all over the world, including Australia, Columbia, Mexico and Boston.

People mostly hear about this place from friends or through the Internet. Beginner's are taken in with full arms, even if they are non-spanish speaking. In the evenings, there is exchanges of Spanish-English lessons so you're bound to learn quick while volunteering. Afterwards, Jeni takes the board. She is the project coordinator of six months who keeps track of all the sites. She looks a bit frazzled, but in a sort of satisfying smiley sort of sense. There are 5 jobs for today: concrete pouring, bamboo moving, medical center logistics, trench digging, and a UNICEF project. She says how many people are needed on each site, ensures that a Spanish-speaker is on each, and finds places for left-overs. The two directors also make sure that a few people volunteer to clean up breakfast and dinner dishes as well as the bathrooms. Morale here is high, and people are all of good cheer.

So then they finish eating breakfast while we interrogate a few people. We get addresses to all the sites, learn a bit more about Assessments, and start to discern who is best to talk to about our project for more information. Our plan of action is to skip one of the sites which is out of the way, start with the furthest job, and make our way back towards the beach throughout the day to end with the most volunteer-rich job of concrete pouring for some quality footage. Since there won't be any one doing Assessments today (basically, walking around neighborhoods asking if any one needs manual labor for their homes, filling in some forms about each household that is surveyed, and communicating these needs back to Harold for further assessment), we lose out on a chance to observe some project evaluation and selection processes which we have yet to witness.

In the truck, there are several blankets for the community of El Molina, a small makeshift town between the coast and the Pan-Americana. The people that live there are mostly made up from those who used to have homes situated right along the ocean. Homeless after the earthquake, the community migrated further inland to construct new homes in a dusty bowl right off Las Americas (the main road from the Pan Americana towards Pisco). Here, Pisco Sin Fronteras will be doing work on two sites: altering a makeshift structure for one of the community leaders here and doing some logistical work behind the medical building that PSF put in recently. The work here is visible, from the waterlines that were installed by the volunteers in January to the child care building. The communication between PSF and María (the community leader) is done on a twice a week basis, mostly over phone and in person. Both projects have been proposed by the communities themselves.

After seeing the initial interactions between María and the volunteers, largely consisting of her telling them where to move her house, she left to go negotiate with some Cuban doctors in Tupac Amaru. We followed her there to see a sort of miscommunication occur, resulting in a delay of the opening of El Molina's medcenter. So we grabbed our bikes and check out the large project closer to the coast off Las Americas. 15 homes in a small cluster being sponsored by a religious group. Unfortunately, the team had already finished so we weren't able to witness any action.

Then we set off to call fathers from the Locutorio, eat orange juice, and try new sweets from the market. The day passes a little slowly, so we decide to take a random sample of surveys from the people with homes on the beach. Largely, they are familiar with PSF and a few are friends with M.A.D. One mentions UNICEF, but for such an NGO-rich community, there is very little awareness anymore. Before dinner, we head out to conduct a more formalized interview with the director from PSF.

Harold is originally from Pisco, he's the cool one, remember? Anyways, he is very kind and takes us into their headquarters which also doubles as a home for volunteers. There are two houses where volunteers pay for their food and lodging at a much cheaper rate than any of the hospedajes in the area. We walk past a slew of volunteers attentively engaging in discussion, some waiting for the guitar to start up while others spit passionately in their conversations. Harold kindly invites us to his room, where we hold the interview.

Here, we learn much more about PSF. Two things. First, NGOs can work together to build off one another to evolve and morph into a more efficient entities with entirely new leadership, name, and mission statements. Second thing, an NGO can function entirley without funds yet still generate labor and useful products after establishing their presence. In any case, Harold has been a leading force for PSF. His work there has tied their vision together into a cohesive body of workers that hold true to their word. As duly noted with Cruz Roja, having the work of a local (i.e. Harold) can really keep an NGO or group of volunteers true to their course. In my opinion, one of the amazing parts of this NGO is the ability to host non-Spanish speaking volunteers and yet turn them into useful labor. Harold also talks about some of the NGO's less successful projects. The largest that PSF has taken on was coordinated to take place with another NGO called Espacio Expresion, but fell through due to frustrating conditions. Apparently miscommunications about whether the school-to-be would be private or public. He seemed rather bothered that such a promising project hadn't been followed to completion, but he also knew what made it unsuccessful. In any case, the entire interview proved a stark contrast to many of the NGOs we've worked with thus far.

Then we took the rest of the night off to mourn Josie's departure tomorrow by eating a lot of street food and sundaes. Bueno suerte con todos, Josie :( At least Lauren will show in about two days. Hooray for more company.

Sunday, June 21 – Happy Father's Day!
“Take it off.”
“No one is taking anything off, Josie.”
“Speak for yourself.”

Breakfast for the first time in Pisco market. It is not up to par. Maybe its a function of the teeming masses and the buzz of many bodies buying food in the morning. The prices were higher for heavy breakfast dishes of rice and chicken and saucy sauces. The juices were simply not Jose and unwilling to flex. Oh, and they lied about the prices.

Not having time to even finish our juices, we headed over to our 10am interview with Ascension Martinez, Head of the International Red Cross Federation's Earthquake Reconstruction Program in Peru. She is from Spain. She is from Australia. She has 3 degrees and is bien chevere. She has worked with numerous NGOs in Vietnam, Cambodia, the Andes, India, Afghanistan, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Australia, and maybe more but she lost me by then. The interview went well, but mostly because Brooke was running the show. Ms. Red Cross Chevere did much more than simply answer our questions and gave us a lot of useful information on the organization. She also took time out of her Sunday to show us the Red Cross office and the events they have coming up. We hope to check out some of their events, and by that I mean we will. She also is kind enough to confirm Brooke's suspicions that the Peruvian diet of sugar juice, potatoes, and rice is simply not enough. So there.

Basically the Red Cross does a lot more than people think – i.e. not just health. They get their hands dirty by building homes as well as hosting workshops on community risk realization and mitigation. The interview whipped up realizations that the success of an organization is largely a function of the people who are on the ground doing the work. These people, in turn, are largely a function of a principled culture and foundation upon which they are hired. Whatever that sentence means, ask Adam. Anyways, Red Cross seems to have this down when it comes to the Pisco office. The mix of outside help along with local Pisco volunteers is very successful here. Their volunteers have to go through an application process which includes some personal interviews with serious evaluation. She praised their work ethics, dedication and..

Happy Father's Day, Pop!

...communication skills.

During the interview, I got a great shot of an NGO worker opening and locking doors. Later, we had to go through and weed through all the footage since Adam's overexcitement and camera withdrawal caused a serious overclicking of the record button. It's cool though. Happens to the best of us, so Adam claims.

After the interview, we ran a few errands, recapped where we stood and planned our schedule a bit more for the upcoming week. We also tried to find an open international calling center but not of the cheap ones were open, so we will have to settle for calling Dads tomorrow. Sorry :(

To make up for it, we gladly fulfilled our promise to visit our former host in Chincha and wished our host father a Feliz Dia del Padre. We bought a cake before arriving. It was sort of dry. Josie was a wuss and made us eat the rest of his food. What a surprise. His stomach is like the size of a walnut. Our host mom made aji de gallina, which was excellent, and Brooke sniffed out the peanuts, which were a part of the excellency. Of course, we asked how it was made so we can try to disastrously duplicate the delicious dinery of this place. Did we ever mention food before on the blog? I thought not. After chatting with them and catching up, we headed over to a friend's place with Choche, our host, to meet some of his friends. There we met a group of people with diverse levels of cognizance.

We have to wake up real early tomorrow to hang out with the Pisco Sin Fronteras crowd so we had to leave around 9pm. We had a decent trip ahead of us including a colectivo (taxi on a route), a bus, and a micro-bus (taxi agragandado), but we kept our balance. And Adam proceeded to take more film as if this morning wasn't enough. Thanks.

And then there were none.

Saturday, June 20 – Happy Belated Bday Uncle Steve!
“Oh my gawd, thats awesome. Sneaky old ladies, I love them!”

Yo so today we like biked to a new hostel, because the one we were staying at was way outta Josie and Brooke's league. By that I mean it was $8 per night for three people. So now we are staying at a place that is under $3 per night per 3 chicos. And it would be less if you don't include the money the owner lady from the hostel refused to give us back because we stuck around past midday. Bitter is sweet.

Before moving, though, we stopped by two English-speaking, volunteer-rich NGOs. The first was Pisco Sin Fronteras. We immediately met Daniel, a Yale student who is volunteering there along with many others from around the world. Daniel's cool, and takes us over to meet Harold who runs the place. Harold is chill. Harold is from Pisco. Harold recommended our new hostel to us. Harold said life should be lived. Harold said we could come by and interview/tape up a storm on Monday. Harold, you're cool too.

Then we met up with MAD (Making A Difference) which was nearby. It is run by Dominick and Kate. They also seem cool and are willing to hang out with us later in the week. They tell us a little bit about their work and the structure of how they find their volunteers. Or well, how their volunteers find them. Both these NGOs seem to have been born from the same NGO at some point and are also related Burners without Borders somehow. But we'll find out more on interview day(s). Will they reveal their secrets? Will the truth be told? Will life be unveiled in mannerisms unforseen? Stay tuned to find out.

Remix. Breakfast in the market again. Jose, the juice guy, made us delicious juices of fruits and carrots – again. Life is good. All Joses are clearly not created equal. Josie thinks he is related to Jose cuz all Joses are related. We're not entirely convinced. Then we ate some carapulcra with spicy aji while sitting on the other side of the big penguin statue on the beach. Thankfully, we've hit the ground running since we've been here. We have interviews on every day this week, including two on Tuesday, up until Sunday. Saturday holds promise for another all-day Red Cross extravaganza. Unfortunately, we won't be seeing Jose much before he leaves for Mexico on Tuesday since he's visiting Paracas tomorrow. This means he has to get up at 6:20, an unprecedented wake up call.

We painted a bit at the end of the night to re/unwind. Josie has hidden talents that only show themselves when he is painting Adam. Too bad he is leaving otherwise we would start generating income from his paintings. And his fried plantains. And Brooke made a magic pineapple orbiting as a moon around another planet and some fresh, hot, pancakezzz. Adam painted in a picture from an earlier drawing session from the week as well as an abstract scene of people walking on multi-colored sidewalk/plank things on which he refused to comment. Artists are so complicated.

Somewhere on our Saturday night, we also checked out the Plaza de Armas, where Josie and Adam ate even more street food. Que deliciosa.

Sleepy time.

Friday, June 19, 2009

This is really interesting stuff, actually

quick note: we've changed around the blog so that the most recent day is at the top of each post so you can read backwards in time. if you want the entire story, start on the bottom and read up. Also, weve added pictures since the internet here is pretty quick and were more up to date now. disfrute.

19 June Friday
She sets down some spinach. He sets down a doughnut. “I got you something!” “What?! This crap? I get you sweets, and you give me that?”

This morning, we had scheduled an interview with PNUD's office to find out more about exactly what they do. The interview was with four people from the office who seemed to work very well as a team and believed in what they were doing and found their role in the rebuilding as rewarding as when they first began two years ago. It all goes really well, and we learn that PNUD plays a much more active role in Pisco than in Chincha. They seemed to have a clear understanding for why we are focusing our research on how communication is carried out between the communities and the organizations, since they exist to coordinate the actors on the ground and organize and inform the outside world of these events.. They are operating at a slightly higher level than the NGOs since they have a unique reputation as a branch of the UN, but this perspective is useful. In addition, as we learned yesterday in the meetings, PNUD in Pisco continues to play a very pivotal coordinating role between the communities, local government, national government, and NGOs – basically everryone.

Then we get bread and juice. What more is there to life? The lady doesn't blink twice when we ask her to add a handful of spinach to the mix. Grapefruit, papaya, banana, and spinach. MMMM. 3.5 soles worth more of bread and we're set for the afternoon. Afterwards, we call NGOs in the region all day to set up meetings for our upcoming week. We set up meetings with the following NGOs: Federación Cruz Roja, ADRA, CEAS, Peace Corps (not really NGO?), and CARITAS. In the meantime, we have to sort through backlogged footage. By some, I mean a lot. In any case, the day is filled. We peruse through Pisco on bikes a bit and then head to bed.

18 June Thursday
“How was your day?”
“Oh, cool. Where did you go? What did you do?”
“Absolutely nowhere. Absolutely nothing. That's why it was so amazing!”

Originally, we were supposed to conduct our PNUD meeting on Monday morning, but we were still in Chincha by the time Monday had rolled around. PNUD stands for Programa de las Naciones Unidas para Desarrollo (UN Program for Development). Since it took us all day yesterday to bike here (thanks sosie), we had no time to evaluate the situation in Pisco and pick out valuable NGO partners to work with. Instead we woke up early to make our scheduled meeting at 9am. We whip out our bikes and book it out the door after asking around for directions to the Casa de Oficiales. It's a good morning with the beach nearby and a strong breeze. We are in San Andres where the hostal is costing us 20 a night for the three of us in a fairly tiny room. There's hot water and free coffee in the morning, but it's still much more expensive than we would like.

After passing the market three times, turning around in circles, touching our toes, and turning our legs in more circles we arrive at the UN office. The houses here are all lined in a row and painted different colors. Henry Flores in dutifully waiting inside for us, having penciled us into his schedule which looks booked from where we take our seats, but he acts like he has all the time in the world though. We chat a little bit, ask for the names of the NGOs in the region, and ask about upcoming events. So upcoming, that he is running off to it after our meeting and invites us.

So we hop on our bikes and head back towards the hostal on the main road that kisses the ocean front. But first we hit up breakfast. There were definitely some slammed brakes involved as we neared a juice making stand next to a bakery. Fruit and bread for breakfast, what else could you ask for? Our smoothies consisted of carrots, grapefruit, oranges, and bananas. Even though the papaya was begging to be eaten, we vowed it would be blended up and swallowed tomorrow. 8 pans for a sole. We buy 16 pans. There's even wheat rolls. Mmm.

The meeting that PNUD is running has about 50+ attendees. They are representatives of different organizations in the area ranging from the red cross, certain workers unions, international federations, and many more. The title of the meeting is Cafe D.E.L. Which stands for Desarrollo Economicó Local. It takes place at an incredibly fancy restaurant with an entire wall of windows facing the sea. Everyone receives a name tag, a folder full informational packets, and a pen. It is remarkably well organized with a laptop, printer, 2 wireless microphones, and 2 planned meals with coffee. Lunch is supposed to be two courses.

The meeting is structured around three questions:

1. ¿Cómo se hace el Desarrollo Económico Local en Pisco con nuestros propios medios?
2. ¿Quién debe participar en el D.E.L. Y quién debe liderar el proceso?
3. ¿Qué compromises asumo yo para fortalecer el DEL en Pisco?

The moderator poses the question, the people break into groups, write down their ideas with big paper and thick markers, and then discuss it amongst themselves and the tables surrounding theirs. The introduction consists of clearly outlined objectives and desired outcomes as well as an overview of the upcoming schedule. The speakers are almost all engaging, and frequently ask for audience participation. We've started to record the time spent between lecturing, interacting, and audience activities. We expect this will help us compare the many meetings we have and will be attending.

Immediately afterwards, we hopped in a Combi headed for the region of Pisco called Huáncano. It is in the mountains on the same road that Tambo Colorado is on. We are headed for Quitasol for another PNUD led meeting with the people concerning risk assessment. There are three partners hosting the meeting, each hosting a different session within th meeting. We play soccer with the kids beforehand and get bit by mosquitoes.

The first part of the meeting is a lecture by an INGEMMET representative. INGEMMET is the national geotechnical and geological research and outreach branch. The lecture is basically Earth Hazards 101. We learn about landslides, earthquakes, mudslides, liquefaction, and a whole bunch of other things. The soil engineer discussed the situation in Tambo de Mora and Tantará, which caught our ears. It was very enriching to hear more about those environments. Don't blame me. Blame my vocabulary. Enriching is the best word I can imagine at this moment. The second lecture is done by two engineer reps from the National Ministry of Housing . The lecture focuses on providing facts for why the government cannot afford to cater to all the rural communities of Peru and therefore they must learn to limit risks on their own and also be content with travelling towards designated central locations to receive medical services and secondary level education The third portion is run by a group of university students from the Universidad Nacional de ICA (UNICA), specifically the Department for Fish and Food Engineering. It is a participatory discussion on being more cognizant of environmental concerns in the area.

Afterwards, we all hopped in a Combi back to Pisco. Tupc Amaru, to be exact. It's us and the university kids. Even the engineers at their school have to take English lessons, 6 hours a week. So Brooke and a pair of them banter back in forth. Brooke in Spanish and responses in English. Meanwhile, the rest of the boys talk engineering and AUTOCAD. Everyone hits it off, they invite us to see their school, and eat dinner together. We learn some funny Peruvian words, eat chicken and fries, and end the night by exchanging phone numbers. They were pretty sweet chicos and even offered to help us look for cheaper housing in the area during our two week stay instead of our mad expensive hospedaje. They invited us to return in early August to give a presentation on our research and MIT in general at their school.

By the way MIT costs approximately 165,000 Soles per year. Their university costs 130 Soles the first year and 40 soles the four years after. They also pay a grand total of 5 soles per week for 15 meals and pay 100 soles for living per month. This all comes to a total of 5,090 Soles for five years of education. MIT costs roughly 660,000 Soles. Their engineering undergrad education costs 0.7% of an MiT education.

At home, we have to upload a lot of backed up footage. It takes a long time so when we fall asleep, we hit the pillows hard. Real hard.

17 June Wednesday
“Are we going out or what? (touches himself) No, seriously, I need to know what to wear.”

We woke up and ate a breakfast of avocados, bread, poached eggs, and a fruit smoothie. After packing and saying goodbye to Sra. Miriam et all (and payed for the 10 days we had stayed with her), we shouldered our packs and headed out at 11:50am. The ride to Pisco is around 35 kilometers, but we are on mountain bikes and we have heavy packs full of electronics and underwear. 9 minutes later and we are in Chincha Baja. 28 minutes later and we are at the Panamericana highway. 1 hour later and we are cruising at a 10 mile an hour pace with only a few stops. Then we stopped for a light lunch of oranges and raisins and figs.

It turns out Josie was riding for the first time in his life. So towards the end we stopped a bit more frequently. In the end however we arrived at our final destination of San Andrés, which is a small town just south of Pisco. It is cheaper and less touristy, and will hoepfully serve as our base for operations for the next two weeks. The town is both more destroyed as well as more rebuilt. Both of these seem to be a function of more infrastructure in general.

We spent the next hour completing a thorough search of the hospedajes (hotels) in San Andrés. After comparing around 7 we found a place we could stay for 25 soles a night. Not bad since the first place we found was 125 a night, though we had to give up WiFi. Josie was ok with it though since we still landed hot water. Finding dinner was a little more difficult as the only thing that was available seemed to be deep fried chicken. We decided to settle for a reestaurant along the beach that was a little more expensive than we would like ($5 a meal) – but it was tasty.

Tomorrow we have a meeting with a UN Agency, Cruz Roja, and some new NGO called Making A Difference (MAD).

We are currently uploading video from the past couple days and Josie is enjoying cable TV: We are all into checking out our new playground, but hopefully, for the project´s sake, we are able to establish some quality contacts early on and get our feet on solid ground.

Good night.

16 June Tuesday
“Mexico is a valid country.”

This morning, we split up. One with Cruz Roja for a capacity building meeting and two for PNUD. First, we dropped by the school to pick up the flip cameras from our students. Some had made movies, others had not. After having previewed them, only one out of 6 seemed to be useful to include in the documentary. It seems many of the kids were confused about how to do the basics of using a video camera. Our next iteration will have to be more basic and less comprehensive. Then off to thee PNUD office to conduct our scheduled interview. Our appointment requested a call at 8 am to remind her of the meeting, which we dutifully fulfilled, albeit at 8Ñ30am. However when we arrived, all the office could tell us was that she wouldn't be returning until tomorrow. So we walked to Hotel Estancia del Sur where the rest of our group was already filming the Cruz Roja workshop.

The Cruz Roja meeeting consisted of representatives from each of the nearby towns. Sometimes two from a town with a total of 28 people (24 woman and 4 men). Each had an invitation sent to their homes because they are either community leaders of the presidents of their town's Cruz Roja chapter. Afterwards, they are supposed to reteach the class to their communities. Everyone gets really nice packets at the beginning of the two day workshop (8-6pm). They include two workbooks, a pencil, a pencil sharpener, and a pen. One of the workbooks is more of a textbook whereas the other is a workbook for writing in. They serve a small breakfast that gets passed out about 1.5 hours after we start that consists of two small sandwiches and a soda. They follow along in the workbook, filling out a matrix that helps to identify problems and pick out best solutions. Then they run a simulation of how they think they would react in the case of an emergency. They break into three groups and assign roles like grandma, mom, daughter with broken leg, and really really old grandpa. They assign different situations like “what to do when you're not at home,” “how to help old people out of the house when an earthquake happens,” and “in the case that your primary exit becomes blocked.” The entire thing is hilarious to watch as they run outside to the kids playground and call for help. After a really nice sit-down meal for lunch, we go walking to a nearby town to conduct a risk assessment for practicing when the representatives return to their towns.

We then returned to Lurin Chincha for our last workshop. Yesterday the people invited us back to chop on a typical Chinchan platter: carapulcra con sopa seca. It was delish. We recorded for a little more, and then stopped by our friend Choche´s house to say goodbye before leaving for Pisco. Choche´s mom was disappointed because she had expected us to stop by last Sunday but we had worked instead. Apparantely she had made ceviche and some delicious-sounding relleno with ham. She now begs us to come visit them this next weekend. Since Pisco is so close it is certainly possible, but we tell her we will have to let her know when we found out more.

From there house we head home. These late night NGO meetings are killing our travel budget. Since the meetings ake place at night, we can´t bike back, so we are forced to find the cheapest means of transportation we can, which is microbuses at best and taxis at worst. For instance today was especially expensive since we split up and were moving around from 7am to 8pm.
After arriving home we went for a quick run on the beach and hung out on the dock before heading home to plan for the trip to Pisco the next day.

Monday, June 15, 2009

How do you spell Calymba?

15 June Monday
“I'll follow you around, but I won't be your dog.”

This morning we were supposed to go with Miriam to a Cruz Roja meeting around 6:45 am. When we went outside with our tired, droopy eyes to the cold morning she decided to tell us to come tomorrow. Tomorrow will be better, she decided. So we went back to bed. After we properly woke up and ate breakfast, we headed to the school to talk with the director. School, however, had been cancelled. I don't know when the kids here ever learn anything. There's like 3 hours every day and no more. I mean, I probably would have liked that back in the day too, I guess.

Afterwards, we headed to Chincha to upload a massive amount of data at the ITDG office for a bit. It was a long haul. Then straight to Lurin Chincha for another adobe workshop to top off our day again. Short, sweet, simple. Good night!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Well, I want to play soccer..

14 June 2009
“When I sleep at night I want it to be sunny.”

Buying bread in the Tambo requires a wake-up before 10am. So, we made sure and woke up to buy bread and tamales before falling back asleep until 11am. It turns out that the rest of the city was still not awake either. Breakfast equaled plantains, poached eggs, a tamale, and a delicioso licuado (smoothie) de manzana, banana, and naranja made by Brooke. Josie didnt eat anything more than plantains, and Brooke pretentiously kept to her smoothie and eggs, so Adam was stuck eating the rest.

Josie did his wash by hand - probably for the first time in his life. Then we walked around the Tambo to find background shots for our documentary. We got some interesting takes and the weather was perfect. The clouds diffused the sunlight like a dream. Although the streets were particularly empty in the early afternoon and many tiendas were closed for the day, we ended up running into some well framed scenes. The restaurants were all full with people drinking outside and enjoying the breeze. The rocks on the beach were inhabited by a family having a picnic, and the dock was full of people casting their lines off the side. An annoying yet incredibly cute (but probably rabies filled as Josie claimed) dog followed us. All the boats on the beach we se vende (on sale), wooden and looking a little worn.

On the way home, we checked out a BBQ place that ASPEm had recommended and asked for three rice and chicken platters. She said to come back in an hour and a half. I wish restaurants in the States were like that. You order, come back and then sit down instead of being inundated with crappy restaurant music and endless sodas. Anyways, we went home to laugh at our footage and upload to our hard drive. Ate dinner. Blogged. Etc.

“How can you be writing so much?”

13 June 2009
“Encuestas, now? Really? What is wrong with you people?”
“I don't see color, I only see people.”

Saturday wake up time is later than usual – not because we planned it that way, but it seems college schedules have successfully programmed us to ignore all alarms before 10am. We have a breakfast of avocados, bread, and quaker. Brooke takes advantage of Sra. Miriam's (guest house owner) blender and adds bananas to the quaker. Meeting at 1:30pm with a Sr. Felipa, set up by our ASPEm friends. This is meant to provide a community member perspective on the housing project done by ASPEm. Giorgio, an Italian volunteer at ASPEm escorted us. At 2:30 we had the next interview with a Sr. Felipa – yes, father and son – we had been set up with a father a son. Surprisingly they were both very supportive of the ASPEm projects since they had received houses and had played leadership roles within the community during the process. The father was a fiscal manager and the son was selected as one of two community represpentatives on the committee selected for choosing which families were to receive the 80 quincha homes from ASPEm.

ASPEm was not involved in this final decision-making process at all for transparency reasons. After the meeting with the community members we cooked and ate a lunch of delicious cheese and spinach doused noodles with a potato, corn, carrot, and garlic stew. It turned out quite well, even though Josie refused to partake in the love-feast and Brooke only ate the noodles. Then Brooke cut Josie's hair. If possible, he has become even better-looking, an eye-magnet and distraction as we try and work within the community. But, he can't help it, so we aren't complaining. And Josie likes dogs that lick his legs.

From there we decided to do some night encuestas with people in Cruz Verde. Cruz Verde is “the other side of the railroad tracks”. Actually it is the other side of the river. It is part of Tambo de Mora, but has its own Afro-Peruvian culture and way of life that is quite seperated from the other side. There was a christian concert rocking the plaza de armas on the non-Cruz Verde side so we didn't wanna interrupt them. (That courtesy wasn't reciprocated as we tried to drown out the noise later that night at 11pm.) The encuestas at Cruz Verde produced no mind-blowing results, but this may be because we only talked to the people who were outside hanging out after dusk. Basically, they all agreed that their side had not received aid in proportion to the other side largely because their side was deemed uninhabitable by the soil experts that no one seems to have any information about. After Josie had his fill of flautas we settled in for the night.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Kick it

12 June 2009
“Oh, I'm not asleep yet. I only crack my toes when I'm awake.”

Woke up early to check the equipment with the school. The director isn't there, but we are told to come back at noon to teach instead of 11:30 because of a school-wide teacher meeting. Supposedly, this will work out much better. Quick breakfast. So fast we shove oranges and avocado sandwiches in our mouths as we bike to ASPEm to talk with Daniel. The interview goes over very well because he understands what our project is about. We talk for almost 2 hours as he shows us the community that ASPEm has built up.

ASPEm brought a comprehensive aid strategy to Tambo de Mora. 112 homes of quincha, infant and youth education, latrines, and psychological support are a few of their main projects. This is just one of their many programs that they have running here. They tried to keep a very transparent process of selection and made their selection criteria very clear. He sort of sighs because it's hard to tell one family that they are less affected than another family. ASPEm is an experienced, Italian organization that focuses on marginalized populations. The priority was given to people who had disabilities, a multitude of children, and single mothers. Meetings were held every week. One for ASPEm to talk amongst themselves and another for the community to bring their concerns to the NGO. They are the only earthquake relief organization that established an office in Tambo de Mora, and their door proudly boasts a sign that invites people in. If any one ever has questions or concerns, the office is incredibly well staffed and very helpful. There are only 4 desks inside the modest house with a small table in the front for meetings. Like cafe in Paris small.

The level of engagement by ASPEm definitely has improved their quality of service. They are very well known. He tells us that it is incredibly important to keep the NGO open, listening, and responsive since most Peruvians distrust any authority. It's basically a given characteristic of the relationship so ASPEm works very hard to build, gain, and keep trust. The community of people that they have built is sort of stunning. During the day, we've walked through here many times. There are always people working, music playing, and friendly hellos. In the evening, the people come out in the streets to gather and talk. ASPEm's homes consist of a small bathroom, kitchen, and sleeping room. He tells us that they've found it really important to provide at least the basic needs for a family within the home. Temporary shelters have no bathrooms and some of the newly provided homes from the government don't either. ASPEm has also built a center for bathrooms/washing. You bring clothes there or use them if your house doesn't have those amenities. Although they would be able to provide homes for more people if they downsized their services, they are happy to be providing at this level. The community is especially happy since ASPEm built more than the 80 originally promised homes.

The interview runs a long 2 hours because this guy just knows what we want to talk about. It's awesome, but we have to cut it short to run to the school for our second follow-up class. After deciding on meeting with Georgio tomorrow to do some community member interviews in the early morning, we streamline outta there towards the Collegio where we encounter a stream of school kids being let free for the weekend. Apparently misinformed, we have arrived 20 minutes past the end of school. Two of the kids in our class sort of kick some dirt up with the tips of their shoes and look a little sorry for us. We just decide to come back on Monday.

Back at the hospedaje, Brooke naps while the boys hit up the local restaurants for lunch. Then the beach. Then more cooking for more lunch. The family that runs the hostel doesn't know what guacamole is and politely declines. Then we head out to Lurín Chincha for another ASPEm meeting.

The ASPEm meeting is very participatory and focused on how to construct with adobe. The people take turns shovelling dirt, water, and straw back and forth. Josie points out that there must be a better way to do this. The meeting is especially interesting as the Professor, who works for ASPEm, gets his hands dirty alongside the people. It is clear that the pobladores (people) have a lot of respect for the Professor and are very respectful. Three members of the community basically run the logistics of the meeting, a strategy implemented for more than we have seen in any other meeting. After the meeting, we find out that these people are leaders of the community that have volunteered to help coordinate things.

Adobe done right takes days of treatment with certain soil and water mixtures added periodically. The pobladores are split up into groups to manage this coordination, a process which took quite a long time, but was done completely by them and they seemed to have fun.

After a cab ride back with ASPEm, during which we learned that the fish mills at Tambo de Mora are filled with workers imported from Pisco and Chincha, Josie ate his 18 flautas, Brooke slept, and Adam hung out with the hospedaje hosts. Turns out that the father was the Presidente of the Lurín Chincha Cooperativa, which apparently ran like clockwork back in the day. Wanna know how it came to be? Israeli agrarian training. For reals. Random town of 1000 people max if you include all the farms.

Bedtime. Tomorrow we have interviews with people who received homes from ASPEm as well as randomized surveys in the town. Josie plans on skipping for the beach.

11 June 2009
“Dame doce de esos (hand gesture) y una porción de papas fritas...Next time remind me to get 18.”

We had nothing in particular to wake up early for this morning. We cooked a large breakfast that consisted of the usual plantains with a twist of tamales. We also brewed some quaker- which is pronounced kwah-ker here. In Peru, you boil water with Canela and Clavo which is cinnamon and some other mystery spice. Then when the water starts boiling, you add quaker oats. Instead of having really thick stuff that you might eat with a spoon, it's more of a drink. So the ratio of water to oats is much different than you would expect. There is about 2 liters of water to every cup of oats. Then you boil boil boil. When the consistency is right, thick and aloe-lke, you simmer it for another ten minutes with a few tea bags of manzanilla and Voila, quaker! It definitely tops hot chocolate any time.
While everything was simmering on the stove and Jose, our chef, was looking over the plantains, we did laundry. The white shirt to other color shirt ratio is about 5:1. It took forever to get any of them clean, but at least you can tell when they are. Bright and shiny.

Breakfast is an ordeal here in the morning. We have so many fruits to choose from, so many foods to decide between, and so little time. It's a hard life. But after we downed it all (maybe “wolfed” is a better word?), we split ways. Jose hit up the internet cafe while we sat outside the school, calling NGOs in Pisco. We are trying to get their addresses before arriving. We are also making sure there isn't a complicated process for setting up interviews as there was with FORSUR. You have to call their communications office in Ica to okay an interview in the Chincha office. The office here consists of three people, and it's amazing to think even the smallest institutions have such bureaucracy. It's not surprising, considering FORSUR is a government organization. Anything said in the interview can be interpreted as an opinion on the Peruvian government. Maybe not that extreme, but that's essentially what they claimed.

The calling is ... slow. Splitting the work, one calls while the other compiles data from the surveys we've been conducting in between NGO meetings, interviews, and expeditions into the city. Essentially, we are trying to compare the communities perception of the local NGOs with what the NGOs think of themselves. The encuesta is rather short, only consisting of 5 questions: What is your name, what NGOs do you know of, which have you worked with directly, how many times have you worked with approximately, and how did you work with them? We also try to glean if the community member knows what the NGO's mission is and what communication methods they prefer most. Usually, this ends in a really long conversation.

For lunch, we cooked a potato and carrot soup with Ají in it. Ají Picante is this hot spice that basically accompanies anything and everything and should at every meal. Jose has disappeared so we scour the city for him and his Yosemite National Park hat.

We hop in a cab to Larán Bajo to attend the second ASPEm meeting there. Peruvian time is an hour late. This time it is an hour and a half late. By the time a critical mass has shown up., ASPEm has decided that the lack of community interest is an issue. They decided to cancel the remainder of the adobe construction workshop and draw up a draft of an agreement that says the community members present are still eligible for legal help concerning land titles as well as technical advice.

One of the major issues here is land titles. After the earthquake, each family received 6,000 soles to rebuild their homes. From what we've heard, the paperwork to receive the money was rather complicated and sometimes families would mysteriously only receive 4,000 or less. Another option is to give up the title to your land to a foundation called Techo Propio (my own roof). They keep the land, and you get to move into a little community that they've built. There are two of them in Chincha, but if you live in a small town off of Chincha, this gated community is far from your neighborhood and your old home. The other issue is soil. Most of it has been deemed uninhabitable, but we've already had this conversation. Between these two, there are a huge percentage of people who don't have a way of rebuilding. During our encuesta yesterday, a man explained this as he pointed to his tarp home.

So ASPEm's course would have been a month and a half long commitment to learning how to construct adobe homes. The course would also include some legal and emotional counseling. As the agreement circulated and people signed off, theories emerged. The demographic was rather old, and a few older women said that the young should be ashamed to deny such aid. The other theories were that the cold (it's winter here) had convinced people into bed early. 6-9 pm is rather late and by then, the weather is frigid. It's also possible that the long-term commitment scared people off. With incentives like legal help and starter kits for building homes, it surprises me that there was such low participation.

On the way home, Jose told scary stories about Chupacabras. Then we went to bed.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Its a dream about life and you´re the shining star

10 June Wednesday
“I will not be judged by your societal norms. I write in a diary. I'm not girly.”

This morning was like walking through a cloud. The mist was dense, and the sun was hiding. We sprinted on our bikes to the mayor's office for our scheduled nine o' clock meeting, but he wasn't there. Around 9:30, we were informed that he was returning from Lima but his closest advisor would start the interview for him. So we waltzed right on in and started. His advisor is quiet and sits behinds frameless glasses. Words slip out from his lips almost by accident like he doesn't mean to say anything at all. Then the mayor walks in, flinging the door wide open and smiling even wider. He has presence. He has finesse. And he has a whole lot to say in the short span of 30 minutes that he can spare for us. He talks about how the main road down the coast of Lima (the Pan-Americana) is going to be relocated through Tambo de Mora, what it means for the residence living in its new wake, and how the town intends to deal with it. He talks about how the municipality works with all the NGOs, especially ASPEm, on a regular basis. With some, they are in contact every day. And he says it all without missing a step, without being politically incorrect, and without saying something we don't want to hear.

He also mentions that there is one NGO that didn't go through their office: Cruz Roja Americana (the American Red Cross). They provided immediate temporary relief along with the churches in the region. They gave numerous shelters that still stand as homes today, marked with their logo. Three years is a long-lasting piece of aid. In my opinion, they did a fairly successful job of giving things that were needed even if it wasn't given to everyone. Further investigation to be done on their selection process.

The mayor ends his interview by reciting his full name and telling us that we can use it for whatever purpose we like.

Back to the hospedaje! We eye some avocados and other yummy breakfast items which we decide to buy. This is all in the hope that our hotel mistress will let us use her kitchen... pretty please with plantains and eggs on top? It's a yes, and we brew up a mean brunch. I'm talking Holy smokes, batman.

Next, more work. The mayor told us that the best way to collect information from the people here is to go door to door with our survey. This has been a pretty common method for the NGOs that we've talked with so we've decided to employ it. We start out at the corner with only an hour and a half before we have to go to Chincha. An hour and a half later, we're standing two houses from the corner. Somehow we need to get our survey to be more articulate and less inviting for people to ramble. We've gotten some incredible information from just dropping words like NGO, reconstruction, what, do, you, and think. But our survey is mainly for the purpose of comparing the views and perspectives of the people about NGOs with the NGOs themselves. If anyone has any thoughts on how to cut to the chase, please feel free to tell us. Anyways, we discover that the aid given to the street in question is only temporary aid. They receive nothing that could be long-lasting because the land that they live on is considered uninhabitable due to the up and coming Pan-Americana construction. The one woman we talked to happen to host meetings for Cruz Roja at her home so we received excellent information from the first person we talked to. The second was the exact opposite, having no experience with NGOs whatsoever.

So although we didn't accomplish what we set out to do, we ended up with something more than what we had before. Oh well. Chincha! So we grabbed Josie from his post-brunch siesta and headed into town to interview FORSUR (Fondo Organizado para la Reconstrucción del Sur de Peru). This is a satellite of the central governments Ministry for Land and Homes and it was set up to track the central government's funding flow into the rebuilding effort. We had to contact their communications department in the city of Ica prior to our arrival to guarantee permission for the interview. Fortunately, the director of the Chincha Office – Guillermo Esteban was very helpful and gave us all the information we asked for including a large excel matrix with all the data of the projects that FORSUR has underway.

After the interview we ate churros and bought four books at a cheap bookstore at the main square: Othello, Romeo and Juliet, Le Petit Prince, and Cesar Vallejo (a Peruvian poet). These are for Spanish practice after the work-daylight is switched off. Next stop was the market to get ingredients for the next few days. De repente, we were assaulted by a moving oven – the green kind. We smelled him before we met him – and as Josie put it “It was love at first scent.” We decided to buy 1 sol worth of bread – 8 warm delicious rolls. Then we bought another sol of a variety with Manjar (milky honey) inside. They were gone in one minute flat, so we got another 6 filled with cheese before finally deciding to move on to bigger and more healthy foods. Carrots, potatoes, corn on the cob, green onions, cheese, more bread, lime, platanos, tamales, and some goose eggs to be precise.

From there it was homeward bound. Oh and we bought a five dollar radio to listen to while we ride so that we can't hear the horns of the really large trucks as they blow by.

9 June Tuesday
“These kids are psycho.”

Beach run in the morning. Shoes were taken off to run in the sand and when we returned, one was missing. We found it a few hundred meters away – must have been carried away by a dog, yeh? It's time to do last-minute prep for the class we will be teaching at 1pm. We decide to type up the homework for the kids rather than depending upon their attention spans. The class (Videographic Journalism) is meant to be a prototype for how to incorporate youth video as a means of extracting stories from the community on the topic of post-disaster reconstruction.

The class goes passingly well considering our time was only 45 minutes. Our next iteration will try and cover much less information, as the kids didn't have time to finish. We handed out the FlipCams for the first time as well, giving each group of two 11th graders a FlipCam to share for doing their homework assignment. Hopefully we will see the cameras again. We will find out Friday this week, the final day of this 2 class trial.

Next, we head over to ASPEm, an NGO that has been working very closely with Tambo de Mora since the day after the quake. They build homes primarily. The meeting starts well, and we meet the director of the current project, Ricardo Fernandez. He invites us to check out their opening community workshop of a series on Adobe Mejorado (Improved Adobe Construction). It kicks off at a nearby town at 6pm later in the day.

For Lupper we stop by a Cevichería restaurant for some tasty seafood. Though very cheap by American standards, the food is a little pricy for our budget. Its a nice treat though, and Josie caps it off with a liter of Coke. Just after lupper, we meet a couple friends of our former host, Choche, who work for the youth branch of the Rotary Club in Peru. They pitch their plans for a campaign to help with the reconstruction. We have to cut our time with them short, though, in order to make the meeting in Larán Bajo on Adobe Mejorado.

The bike to Larán Bajo is great, and Josie is already riding like a pro. The striking feature of this small town is the once formidable church that is now in ruins. The temporary sanctuary of tarp walls doubles as the meeting place for the ASPEm workshop.

ASPEm has come prepared, hiring a Professor, a Construction Engineer, and a lawyer to help with the land titles. This way they are able to offer new building techniques to people who have up till now been denied new homes since they lack the official land title rights. The judge will help them in the registration process. The meeting goes well and it is an interesting contrast to other NGO meetings we´ve seen.

After catching a ride back on ASPEm´s pickup, we spent the rest of the night uploading videos and sleeping.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Camaron is spanish for SHRIMP

8 June Monday
Wake up! Wake up! It´s sunny. We can´t be late for our 8:30 am meeting with the mayor of Tambo de Mora. We arrive at 8:35am. Of course, no mayor – but there are already other people to see him. We wait awhile, then decide to visit the director of the school to see if we can´t schedule a time for our class. No director yet – but there are kids in the classrooms. Let´s try the mayor. Still no mayor – more people in line. So, we decided to track down ASPEm, an NGO that is one of the few that continues to maintain a presence in Tambo de Mora´s reconstruction. Giorgio, tall and amiable, answers the door, (Italian NGO) and offers us pizza. Not actually, instead he informs us that the more spanish-fluent bulk of the ASPEm team is arriving around 3pm. Cool.

Then, Josie (JOE - ZEE) calls. Josie (aka Jose Cano MIT ´09) is on his way to Chincha! Josie just graduated and will be joining us to help with the project and add another Spanish-speaking personality to our fun. Our fun. So now we have to go pick him up at the bus stop and buy him a bike. But not yet. Its only 11am. And everyone who is at work now takes a lunch break, which is interesting if you don´t arrive at work till after 11am...

Anyways, we decide to make our first self-made batch of quaker (quwah-kehr), the local name for a warm oatmeal drink, and eat a breakfast of 8 little breads, cheese, 2 bananas, and pecans. Including the quaker, the breakfast cost us around $1.

To make use of our trip to pick up Josie we decide to include stops at the school, the mayor´s, the newspaper shop, CARE, and FORSUR. First, the school. 5 minutes later we are certified 11th grade teachers with a class slot on Tuesday and on Friday for this week. Next, the mayor. 30 minutes later and we finally get to see him. He doesn´t mention standing us up this morning. Just a smile adorning a reassuring, yet political, face. He´s gone tomorrow. We reschedule for Wednesday morning at 9am. Likely story, but like we have a choice. Next stop is the newspaper shop. Our class is about Videographic Journalism – how to tell an informative story with video. The newspapers will serve as practice sources for their real assignment, which is to unveil a story from the community about reconstruction after the earthquake. 5 papers sound good. Look good. Ok.

Next and also least important stop is Josie. He has 2 bags. Both blue. He has a tent and a sleeping bag, though, so it seems he´s serious about this living with less thing. We take him to the bike shop and he gets a yellow and black bike. We buy starving Josie lunch. $5 meal – for all of us. Before leaving the big (23,000 people) we buy plantain, bread, bananas and cheese, affectionately known as ¨staples¨, at the market.

We stop by CARE, but they don´t love us. It seems NGOs, no organizations in general, don´t like us unless we have some relationship with the particular person we are talking to. Short story, no one answers at the office and even when a worker comes by they don´t know our CARE contact from Huancavelica so we get brushed off. Oh well, we´ll be back. FORSUR is even better. They are government, but so involved in the reconstruction (created to manage the reconstruction) and supposedly working really close with NGOs, etc, that we feel obligated to get as much info from them as possible. But no, we are informed that in order to meet with them we must have the interview approved by the communication branch in ICA. What they don´t know is that saying ¨no¨ to us makes us enjoy the ¨Ok, I give up. You win¨ all the more.

After returning, we head over to ASPEm and get to meet Rocio, Gina, and one other – all very nice people (kind of destroying our hypothesis that prior relationships are necessary). Within 10 minutes we are put on the phone with the director for the last two projects and schedule an appointment for Thursday 9am. We also set up a meeting with the director for the current project Tuesday at 2:30pm. This project involves 5 different distritos (municipalities).

Josie spends the afternoon fixing his new bike´s derailler tension rod. He may return it entirely tomorrow. Upon finishing, he rewards himself with 3 ice creams, 2 bags of chips, and a liter of coca-cola. After that our work for the day is done. Except for preparing for the class by making a sample of what we will ask the students to do. That will be done after dinner. Our goal is to not have chicken or french fries. Unfortunately our search produces nothing else substantial besides some rice to accompany the two staples. Josie is ok with it though – for now.

I hope tomorrow is sunny as well.

7 June Sunday
We tried to eat a small breakfast. The idea of a light meal just does not exist here. We ended up with an orange, two eggs, a platano, 3 rolls of bread, a cup of tea, and an avocado. EACH. This place is so ridiculous. The food blows me away every single day we're here. Our ride to Tambo de Mora is surprisingly easy despite our packs. Adam's backpack is huge. Mine is really tiny compared to his. But there's a rack on the back of my bike where we can fit extra stuff like blankets and smaller bags. Our bikes are holding up surprisingly well.

In Tambo de Mora, we scope out places to stay for the week. There's this elusive two story hotel that everyone keeps telling us about but we just can't find. One place doesn't have beds. The last one we look at (and we only look at two) is cheaper and seems much more homely. We end up with a small room whose floor space is 85% bed. There's hardly even a way to walk to the bathroom from the front door. But the sun outside is shining, the clotheslines are full, and the people are friendly about our week long stay. The streets outside are bubbling with kids. There are a couple of street food vendors too. We work on our curriculum more, firming up the details, and getting ready to propose our class to the school directors tomorrow.

6 June Saturday
Today we decide that it's time to move to Tambo de Mora in order to be closer to our work. We get all packed for tomorrow, think about our cirriculum for the school there, and tell our hosts. Instead of leaving today, we hang out a little bit with Choche and his family to show them our thanks. Intermittently, we work on the curriculum. Trying to teach takes a lot of planning. Thanks to all my teachers. What a chore. Geez. Anyways, we play some soccer, chat more with the fam, and finally turn in for our early start tomorrow.

5 June Friday
This morning with decided to go to Tambo de Mora to set up an appointment with the mayor. In the morning, we made platanos (again, oh sweet platanos) with some eggs. Yesterday, we made watermelon juice for our host family and picked up bread in the morning. The bakeries here are quality. It's really nice to wake up in the morning to buy bread that you know was made while you were still sleeping, all warm and fresh. We rode our bikes to Tambo de Mora from Sunampe through sand patches and piles of trash. The streets were almost entirely empty. The school looked abandoned. We rode through the town without encountering more than a handful of people. As we approached the municipal building, we heard a crowd. Then we realized that today was el Día de la Bandera (flag day). The schools all participated in a parade through their towns, marching proudly in really weird sweatsuits while the announcer kept shouting that this was the future of Peru. Right here, in front of our very eyes, passed the bright and shining days to come. This, he cried, is potential. This is our future! The mayor had told us to come at 10am to chat. At 9:45, he has just gone to mass. So we came back and here he was making a speech about the reconstruction that was going to take place soon in the main square. Apparently, he is a pretty busy guy. So we took him to the side after his speech and asked for an appointment on Monday at 9am. He agreed, so we sipped on some Inca Cola (bubble gum tasting soda that's the pride of Peru) and munched galletas on the side of the street as the future passed before our eyes. Again. As the teachers grouped together, we inch closer to their gossip circle. We interrupt to ask for a meeting with the director. They agree to meet with us this Monday morning.

ITDG was facilitating a meeting for the delegates of the El Carmen district at 3pm so we decided to attend the reunion to see exactly how it was done. The city was pretty far off the beaten path, and we rode for a good 40 minutes before we even got to see the town. Peruvian time is so off. The meeting started an hour after it was scheduled. So in the meantime, we surveyed the audience to see exactly how they had been invited. Most of the important people had been given paper invitations. These were the delegates of the region. Others ranged from word-of-mouth, overhearing it at a tienda, and just knowing through a flyer advertisement. The meeting was planned as an attempt to organize the priorities that the representatives presented to the mayor. This way they could decide on the common issues rather than fighting for money by region.

The meeting was much more quiet than ITDG had imagined it would be. Typically, there is a lot of fighting to get one opinion to sit higher than others. Sometimes there's pretty serious shouting. But this time, there is just passionate yelling that doesn't intend to cut others off but sometimes does by accident. Everyone spoke fairly articulately, sometimes meandering from the main point, but for the most part with focus and intent. The NGO is meant to act as a mediator, trying to help the representatives put their thoughts into a more organized matrix that can be easily communicated to others. The matrix includes “problem,” “organizations involved or capable of being involved,” “alternate options,” and “affected community.”This physical piece of paper is a good way for everyone to visualize and prioritize the community's needs.

The meeting involves a late dinner which helps to keep everyone in a good mood. ITDG is really good at hosting these things from what we've seen so far. It's going to be interesting to see how other NGOs conduct themselves.