SKIP Wrap up in Trujillo & Future Plans

Trip Start Oct 04, 2009
Trip End Nov 20, 2010

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Where I stayed
Ester Manya's

Flag of Peru  , La Libertad,
Friday, May 21, 2010

We can't believe it's already almost June!  Already eight months into our trip, half of which we spent here at SKIP...and my brother is flying into Lima next Thursday!  We decided it was time to use frequent flier miles to book our flights back to US soil from Columbia in late October, so the trip does now have a formal end.  The plan is to spend a month on the West Coast job-searching, wedding-celebrating, and house-sitting while some newlyweds honeymoon and make it back to Boston the weekend before Turkey Day.  Not missing that again.  So far, including all our flights & Spanish classes & our extravagant Machu Picchu hike, we have averaged $34 USD a day (roughly $1,000 monthly) throughout the trip, in case you are in the planning stages of your own trip.  Not too shabby :)

With the next EcoDev Coordinator here to take over in the coming week, we've begun telling the families that our time is winding down.  We worried about mentioning it too early as it's difficult on the families to have the volunteers continuously rotate.  However, the next EcoDev Coordinator had worked at SKIP before and really eased the transition as many of the families remember him and are already comfortable with him.  

We were really flattered by the kind words from the SKIP mothers and Peruvian volunteers about our efforts and progress here. Feeling like we still have more we'd like to accomplish with the new uniform sewing group, grant applications, and housing loan initiatives, we've decided to return to SKIP to work for a few weeks on our way North to Ecuador, so it will be more of a see-you-later than a goodbye anyway, much easier. 

In the past 4 months, we did both reach our volunteer hours goal of 600 Hours. We're planning to keep the fundraising open until July so please help me reach my goal & support us if you haven't had a chance.  As an update, we really pushed to introduce and explain our programs to more families and increased the # of families participating to 53%.  We gave out our 52nd loan of the year today and our goal is to begin offering S/. 500 microloans ($175 USD) by October 2010 (or earlier if I reach my fundraising goal!)

Regardless, the SKIP goodbye is not too far off, and we were excited to be invited to lunch and an 80th birthday party at SKIP family homes.

We didn't know what to expect or bring - so we foolishly tried to make chocolate cookies without all the ingredients, notably not enough chocolate.  Concerned that the cookies smelled a lot better than they tasted, we iced them with Manjar Blanco, the South American attempt at a peanut butter substitute, that tastes more like caramel.  Problem solved.  

We arrived punctually with fellow EcoDev teamer Jonas, so of course we were the first guests to arrive. The Peruvian sense of time is mostly just frustrating to those with a watch.  There were eight small cakes! and chairs set around the home's front room perimeter for the guests.  We'd met Ester's children and sister's family before - they were so easy to talk with in Spanish and very welcoming, but my favorite was most definitely the guest of honor, Grandma Luisa.  She suffers from Alzheimer's so I wasn't sure if she would remember me, but was delighted when she said she sorta did! ha, obviously not true.  Luckily, I knew I could win this woman over again as I knew her weaknesses: dancing and sugary sweets. 

Luisa gave an opening speech, about some man from a mountain that wasn't there, and God, and wanting to sing, which made zero sense, but everyone was videotaping it and getting a real kick out of it. I loved the family's attitude with her.  Then other family members gave speeches about her life and the children sang songs for Luisa.  Luisa could not be bothered to listen.  She would frequently speak over the deliverer to say "Vamos a cantar!" (let's sing!) Basically, Luisa, is more like a very cute, wrinkly child.   She loveeeed our cookies, hooray, although she was embarrassed for me that Andy had helped make them.  After everyone who came to the party had taken a photo with Luisa, the food, live music, singing, clapping, and dancing began and continued for hours upon hours.  She couldn't remember that it was her birthday, or that her grandson wasn't her son, but focused on what was important to her: singing and clapping, although she completely ignored the clapping pace of everyone else.    And, she never forgot to scold someone walking by that wasn't clapping by yelling "las palmas!!"  For an 80 year old, this lady could DANCE... and I was all to happy to be her partner, especially because everything I did made this lady smile this adorable, toothless grin that I just couldn't get enough of.  Before midnight, Ester's kids escorted us to a taxi to make sure we weren't bothered, and we told everyone we'd see them soon as Andy had promised them American Chili before we left as a bit of a thank you for including us.  It was certainly an unforgettable experience, as you can see from the videos.  

One last thing on our Trujillo to-do list was to climb the mountain we passed everyday on the way to work at SKIP, Cerro Cabras (translation: Goat Mountain, hmm?).  We had to squeeze it in before the afternoon business workshop on Managing Capital. Somehow we waited until an extremely rare, cloudy morning, and went anyway, convinced the fog would lift once the sun came out. No such luck.  Tim, the English Teaching Coordinator, ever the optimist, went on and on about how much better it was to hike what seemed like Mount Doom in the fog, "like you could fall into oblivion!"  It was pretty scary to look down.

I don't know the history of the SKIP neighborhood, but it's called Rio Seco, which means "dry river."  It's a sand dune area, minus this mountain, making it tiring to trudge through, but excellent for soft landings for locals practicing flips & break-dancing.  I never really gave it much thought, but the mountain was surrounded by a sunken moat of condensed sand and there were seashells all over the mountain face.  I was convinced all the snails would be dead as there isn't water in sight anymore, but one unlucky snail got ripped off the cliff rock and poked with a stick and he was very much moist and moving.  Whoops.  The fog did slowly clear on our descent in time for Andy and I, with the creative credits going to Tim, to form a heart with our interlocking arms.  How had we not thought of this before you must be wondering.  So much lost time.

The peak empties into a really undeveloped section of shacks, which made me weary about bringing my camera, as children would duck inside the house to tell everyone that gringos were walking by.........and then all come outside and shout "Hello!" We certainly attract a lot of unwanted attention and I find it a bit unnerving.  I won't miss that feeling...

With our last week in the volunteer house, we've been photographing everything and feeling oddly nostalgic.  Fowl Feast Friday.  Charity Pub Quiz.  The Going Away "Anything but Clothes" Party.  Even the yogurt aisle at the supermarket.  The only thing we want to leave behind and forget are our abdominal parasites.     

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Tracy on

Linds your picture of the party almost made me tear up!! I miss all the mamas!! Looks like your not having that much fun since I left though:) Miss you guys! (Clearly Abuela Louisa needs to know about the Chicken Parmasean that you made......)

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