I'll Always Remember.....and Lessons I Learned

Trip Start Jul 31, 2010
Trip End Aug 26, 2010

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

This was a trip like no other, I have yet to visit a country as diverse in people, but more so in its spectacular sights of nature.   The trip had its highs and lows and its ebbs and flows, the very happy moments and the feelings of sadness and helplessness, the feeling of complete freedom and the feeling of absolute confinement, a nice balance between volunteering to help others and viewing grand sights to help myself …all existing juxtaposed to help appreciate the other.

I'll always remember and lessons learned (in no special order).

I’ll always remember:

1- ..... the 2 or 3 special friends I meet each trip among the volunteers…in this case it was Patty and Max, but especially Cynthia…yes, she was invaluable helping me out with my Spanish and hearing,  but she truly was/is a special friend whose conversation and laughs I enjoyed sharing immensely.

2- ......how sad I was to know that CCS house in Ayacucho was closing…Marisol, Rudy and Alejandro are now really a part of my circle of friends and I wonder and hope that Alejandro will find work somewhere....and just the loss to the programs they supply volunteers for is especially sad. 

3- ..... the feeling within the prison…entering, getting arm stamp after arm stamp, having these huge locks opened by a prison guard only to hear the clank of that door being slammed closed & locked before the next door is opened.  Then knowing that every person I passed that was not in uniform was a prisoner in this maximum security prison…these were 'boys next door' types too.

4- .....the  sadness I felt for particularly the children and women who couldn’t leave each day as I could…can only imagine how hopeless these people’s plight must feel knowing they have 20 more years here.  Loss of freedom is a feeling that must be so powerful

5- ....liittle Fernando and his pent up anger and ability to just shut down when he doesn’t get his way or is embarrassed.  This kid also has a very kind and helpful side, but has nearly no chance without adult support and guidance….and he isn’t the only one.

6- .... the little community that exists among the women and women guards in prison and the downright acceptance of their situation that makes their life inside seemingly workable.

7-....playing "Honey I Love You, Give Me A Smile" with the women and only able to get one out of four to smile even employing my best Kenardo Montlebaum.  Playing Ken Disay (Simon Says) and having the women love it…  watching the last two big butted women try to sit on a tiny stool in Musical Chairs…and watching the two Sumo-sized women fall to the ground during the tug of war.   All these women just seemed to be having such a blast.

8-.... sadly, bringing the prison kids back to their mothers our last day and seeing Cynthia overwhelmed and in tears…the women touched her so, even after she questioned the value of what she was doing…but to the women, she was a breathe of new fresh air... to Cynthia they became 'close’ in a different sort of way and she felt so sad that with CCS closing, they and the kids would be abandoned.  I felt the loss too but believe even more loss was felt by her.

9-..... the street kids who live such a demanding life, seemingly with little bitching and how street smart and saavy they were…oh, and smacking their hands raw and having the same done to mine.

10-....sandboarding in Ica and marveling at how moon-like the terrain seemed…flying over the Nazca Lines…truly mind boggling.  Especially nice to catch up with Pancho after not seeing him in 4 years and also appreciating what a caring person this man is.

11-.....the absolute enormity of the Andes and how vast the views were…like none I have ever seen before…  being absolutely blown away by Colca Canyon…as different and as beautiful as any landscape I have seen.

12-....but again, it was the people I so enjoyed…particularly the tour guides who all spoke just enough English for me and with whom I enjoyed the light banter…there was Karla, and Pancho, and Manu, and Juie and Juan Carlos… I just so enjoyed my quality time with them and consider them not just acquaintances, but friends.

13-.....and a real highlight was the simple gesture of the nine year old girl from the Isle of Taquile on Lake Titicaca, who came from nowhere to give me back change…that was just so special and so powerful.

14-....ahhh…and the pedicure of course.

15-....the amazement of how broken our own advanced government must be where this primitive society on Taquile Island has solar power panels installed on every home, while we can’t get it together to push clean energy….it amazes.

Lessons I’ve learned or have had reconfirmed…

1- That tho my hearing has limited much person to person interaction, there are many other means of creating relationship with other people, whether I know their language, or can even hear them, a connecting relationship is very possible if my intention is high.

2- And about intention…I truly don’t believe it was just a coincidence that the little girl sought me out to return one of the quarters…on some level, she knew it had an impact on me, she knew it didn’t feel right to her, and having a good heart and seeming to see the shortcomings in always thinking ‘me, me, me’ first, she did what felt right to her....but I truly believe that my own feeling of disappointment was conveyed to her by means other than facial.

3- Matching the pace and slowing down the pace…  I wrote about how powerful this was/is to me, but coming out of Ayacucho I felt frazzled…Colca Canyon was the perfect remedy for me to transition… as peaceful, tranquil, serene and solitary a place as I have ever experienced…it took me a day or two there to slow down my own pace to match the pace of Colca Canyon…it was then that I believe I felt its true power and mystique. 

4- I have again learned or had a small taste of the power of sharing myself to others less fortunate….yeah, I do it because I love it for myself... but I get real pleasure being the dopey guy who does tricks and hopefully puts a smile on the people/kids whose path crosses mine, even if for just a few days.

5- Peru is a country like no other…pure magic...and the free gliding flight of the condor following the gorge that is Colca Canyon... well it just captured how I felt much of this trip.

I hope you enjoyed this journal as much as I enjoyed writing it.
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cleo2471 on

Ken - what an excellent summary of your experience!! I just loved reading your reflections of the trip - it brought back memories of Ayacucho for me. Thank you, thank you for introducing me to Ayacucho. It was truly a pleasure meeting you. Where is your next trip? I'll look forward to following you around the world via this blog. Have a safe trip home!

Vinny on

Ken, what a wonderful summary of your trip. Hearing you relive the moments, your exceitement was really captured in those words. It really shows that no matter how worldly we are, Nature and the Human Spirit can always leave us with a feeling of awe. So glad you enjoyed your trip and was able to do your thing for others once again. God bless and welcome home !

Julie on

Wow! What a great, thought-provoking summary of your trip, Ken! I so enjoyed your blog. Thanks so much for sharing. I do have one suggestion: you might want to include that one massage you had on your memorable list. It sounded like it was something else! Glad you have returned safely. I look forward to chatting with you soon:)

Ed Werz on

I enjoyed following your journal/blog day to day and found myself sharing with you your wonderful experience. Yiu are a great writer and if you wanted could have a new career in travel journalism. The sights and sounds you captured
and especaily the emotions you expressed made this the best blog ever even though all the others have been terrific. I admire your heart, courage and hamanioty and am happy you are my friend. Safe travels home....

Amy on

Just to repeat what everyone else has said: thank you again for sharing your experiences, I feel fortunate to have you as a friend.

splunk on

Thank you to everyone for your kind comments...I so enjoyed writing this journal and the feelings that this trip stoked were easy to tap into...it was that inspiring. To my former partner Ed....your comments are especially meaningful to me, and tho no longer partners, will will always be close friends.

cynthia on

a little late to the comment column, but i want to also thank you, ken, for the enhanced experience that both you & patty brought to max & i in ayacucho. we did have fun, didn't we?! and we barely noticed the young ones, did we? always sitting last in the dining hall and chatting; always having conversations of breadth and substance; always up for a beer and a revelation; ever amazed at the serenity or the senselessness around us. and i want to particularly thank you for insisting upon the ica trip; 7 miles over the andes in a double-decker bus was a pretty high barrier for me to get over, but it was worth it ... i still can't get my head around being in the middle of a saharan-like desert and sleeping in a real-life oasis ... did anyone get a picture of that?! completely wild. we'll stay in touch, ken ... and after costa rica next summer, maybe we'll rendevous somewhere else in the great, wide, wonderful world! namaste!

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