Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Visiting a Sponsor Child - Part Two

Hello again!

Sorry it has taken me so long to update my blog. If you remember a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was going to visit my dad's cousin's sponsor child in Visiting a Sponsor Child - Part One. Here is part 2 of that story, detailing how my day went visiting Jackeline.

I met Soledad, the Compassion trips coordinator at my house at 9:30 am sharp (I love it when things start on time!). We took two taxis (for a little over an hour total) to San Juan de Lurigancho, a district in Lima, where Jackeline lives. We had a great trip: she answered all of the questions that I had, gave me information about the family I was about to visit, and chatted about different things in Lima. A great start to the day.

Our first stop was at the local Compassion office. Here we met the Director, Marisol, and the Manager, Ilda, and they explained how the office works and what they do. Here are a few pictures to describe the location.

Kids learn about life skills: physical (to determine when they are sick with diseases such as Tuberculosis or Diarrhea), socio - emocional (to talk things through instead of to fight), spiritual (not to have fear, God is with you), cognitive (I am smart, I can do it). The examples in each category change each day, and they have a discussion with the Compassion staff about it to gain awareness and self-esteem.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Visiting a Sponsor Child - Part One

Good morning!

Several weeks ago, my Dad's cousin went for dinner at our house in Ottawa, and they ended up talking about the fact that I am in Peru, about the type of work that I am doing, etc. My Dad's cousin (Rod) told my Dad that he was actually sponsoring a child through Compassion Canada, and that she lives on the outskirts of Lima. In the days following that supper meeting, emails were exchanged, and the topic of visiting the sponsor child came up. I offered to go meet her (much to Rod's delight), thus starting a 2-month process to get everything organized and put into place.

At the beginning of March, I had a business trip to Cajamarca with one of my colleagues as a part of the pilot project and implementation of the National Pollutant Release Inventory in Peru. On our flight to Cajamarca, the topic of sponsor children came up - without me even mentioning the fact that I might be visiting one too, that our family used to sponsor a child in Bolivia, and that I know of many others who also send money abroad on a monthly basis. He brought up the case of a few organizations that work in Peru, go into certain communities, snap pictures of children, and then post them on the web for all to see in the hopes of receiving more donations. But then, where does most of the money go? Printing costs, administration, visits, phone calls, mailing documents, etc..... and perhaps very little of it actually reaches the child and the family that the funds are directed to. Some organizations are better than others he said (and some flat out don't deliver what they promise), but it is still not a very effective way to reach out to others in his opinion.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A hectic Monday morning

8:30 AM on Monday morning, March 19th: I walked into work this morning after being absent for a few days due to sickness and crossed my area's director on my way in: "Check your email Sheila, we'd like you to attend a conference this week, international ministers are coming in, and you could help us with translation." OK, sure. She had to run, so I just walked into the office (and to a warm welcome back from my colleagues), and set off figuring out what I had missed.

Not 15 minutes later, but Jaime, the director of international cooperation (and the person who accepted me to come work for the Minister of Environment) came to find me to let me know that he wanted to talk to me. Right away. I followed him into a meeting with another woman and got more information - essentially, the Organización del Tratado de Cooperación Amazónica (Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization) is having a meeting this week in Lima. The Ministers of Environment from Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela are coming together for meetings for the next two days (March 20th and 21st). And I've been recruited to help out with some of the translation - mostly helping to liaise with the representatives from Guyana and Suriname, who don't speak Spanish - and help out with some of the logistics. Bonus: I get to attend the entire conference/meeting. WOW! Another wonderful experience has landed on my lap.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Promoting Sustainable Housing and Buildings for Climate Change Mitigation in Peru


On February 16-17, 2012, I attended the Canada-Peru Workshop on Sustainable Housing/Buildings for Climate Change Mitigation, as part of my internship. This joint initiative between the Canadian and Peruvian Ministries of Environment brought together specialists from Canada, the United States, Mexico, Peru, Chile, and Germany. The first day of the conference consisted of a workshop for 60 participants in the building, governmental and financial sectors in Peru to discuss case studies in Canada and Mexico, technological advances in sustainable building technologies, and financing for such projects, among other things. Day 2 brought together a small nucleus of scientists and specialists to formulate the platform for the Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action Strategy (NAMA). As an intern at the Ministry of Environment, I led break-out groups in the afternoon on the first day, and participated in discussions on the second day.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My first month working at the Ministry of Environment

Hello again!

Well, as promised, here is part 2 of the long overdue on what I've been up since the New Year. Yesterday I wrote about my Christmas holidays, surprises upon returning to Huacho, and the move to Lima. Now I'll describe a little bit more about apartment hunting, the job, and my day to day life in Lima.

So I left you off at the end of my first day of work: thoroughly enjoying the colleagues that I am work, quite a few assignments to do, and by 9pm a place to stay for the night at a friend of a friend's place. Busy day, to say the least. A little bit about where I was staying - I had my own room (with ensuite bathroom, lucky me!) in Paola's apartment (she's a friend of Juan's, my old boss/counterpart from EMAPA Huacho). Paola lives with her husband, their 8-year old son, and a girl who helps them around the house. It was a really nice apartment, lots of windows, my room was spacious enough... but no internet (or not yet, at least - they said they would be getting a connection within the next 2 weeks). I was about a 20-30 bus ride away from work, which for Lima standards is really close. And finally happy to have a place to put my things done for more than one night - living out of a suitcase is not the most enjoyable. So since they were letting me stay rent-free at their apartment for two weeks out of the goodness of their hearts, I tried to be quiet and not disturb their daily activities too much by being there. I was at work all day every day anyways.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

An update on life - about time!

Hello, hello!

I guess it's about time I update everyone with what has been going on recently in my life - first of all, sincere apologies for the delay (I've been busy). I kind of had a feeling this might happen (I definitely let my blog slide by the end of my time in France when I lived there 2 years ago), but not really by choice... anyways, since today is February 29th, I'm gaining an extra day, right? (Just kidding.) But seriously, things are finally calm enough for me to take the time to sit down and write a little update about my life, so here goes! (I've also update my itinerary page in case you are interested in following my travels over the past few months.)

Last time I really wrote to you was in December - how long ago 2011 now seems. We had a wonderful last week of work before the holidays, not accomplishing very much 'work' work but instead decorating the office, throwing a Christmas party for all of the employees' children, and having a Secret Santa party between a group of 20 colleagues. I finally got into the Christmas spirit even though it was well over 25 degrees each day, and had a wonderful time - I remember leaving for my vacation thinking that I never wanted to leave Peru, and was looking forward to returning to work on January 5th.

Monday, February 20, 2012

What exactly is international development?

Four weeks ago I began a new field placement with the Ministry of Environment of Peru in Lima. Transitioning from work at the water utility in small-town Huacho to living in the financial district of Lima has been quite a drastic change, and has led me to wonder: what exactly is international development, and am I still doing it?

Discussing this topic with other international volunteers has led to quite a few interesting responses. Some people definitely think that doing ‘field work’ involves not working in an office, but the reality is that you spend most of your time in front of a computer or at meetings, just as you would back home. An American volunteer that I recently met told me that she had left her office day job in Ohio in the hopes of finding an alternative abroad (and also strengthen her Spanish), only to find herself working 40 hours a week at a desk in Lima (yet still enjoying herself).

Meanwhile, most of the international volunteers and interns that I have spoken with are experiencing the life of working for an NGO: funding difficulties, changes in mandates, employees leaving unexpectedly, shortage of supplies, and questionable governance. They are mostly working directly with the community and really contributing to development activities from the ground up.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Reflections on Christmas and Development

On Saturday, December 16th, 2011, I was invited to attend a chocoletada – an event where you drink a warm milk chocolate drink and eat panetón, a take-off of the Italian fruit bread panettone that is very popular in Peru for Christmas. But this chocoletada was not like any other – it was a way to earn votes. The next municipal elections are not until 2014, but one of my ex-colleagues at EMAPA Huacho is already trying to win as many votes as he can in order to become the next mayor of Santa María, a district next to Huacho. And one of the ways he wanted to achieve this was by organizing a free chocoletada in one of the poorest neighbourhoods in town.

His friends were asked to come along and help make the event run smoothly. There was music and a kid’s show, followed by the distribution of hot chocolate and panetón. While everyone was busy enjoying their treat, the candidate mayor made speeches and brought up people from the community to talk. But instead of talking about the holiday season, the talk was about how the community still has no water or waste water and thus uses communal latrines, and how if he is elected, he will change this. There were testimonies from elders in the community talking about difficulties and struggles that they face. It just goes to show that no matter what event you are attending, politics always seems to be brought into the mix here.

Monday, December 19, 2011


Hello everyone,

I am writing to you today with a frustrating story. My USB is dead. Essentially... when I went to Tarapoto last month someone passed me some documents, and I guess their computer was infected because it acted weirdly on my computer. I thought I had lost all of my files... but turns out that they just became invisible, and a few weeks later we were able to locate them (after I had replaced the few that were missing). Now last week I tried opening a document that I had on my USB, but it said that it was corrupted, so I went home, uploaded a newer version, and it worked fine.

Today when I got to work I couldn't open a single file, I couldn't delete a single file, and a coworker tried his best to save the files but nothing could be done. We tried for hours to format the USB but it wouldn't work, I don't know why. Then I went home for lunch and plugged it in, and I was able to recuperate some of the files on my laptop, and then all of a sudden my computer couldn't see the USB anymore. Like it disappeared. The red light won't turn on, and now it won't work on my computer or on another computer at work, either. So it is dead. I would have liked to format it but... if my computer can't see it then that is pretty impossible.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Another busy day at work - hectic but oh so fun :)

Hello everyone! :)

I hope December is off to a good start for all of you! As I mentioned in last blogpost things at work have picked up quite a bit - and by that, I mean A LOT. So here it is: another 'day in the life of Sheila' as an intern at EMAPA Huacho.

Juan and I have known for a few weeks now that we would have a meeting this morning at 11am at the municipality (like city hall) with citizens groups to discuss bringing water and sewer systems to their area (slums in the southern part of town). Last week we were busy getting all of the required calculations done and documents completed to determine where to build a new well, how deep it would need to be, the minimum flow required, how big of a reservoir we would need to build, and how many homes we could provide service too (also included are a project hospital, school and market). Yesterday afternoon I met with the head of the slum to go over the current and projected population numbers and so that he could give me a better idea as to where each slum is located exactly and what its boundaries are. From there I had to go back into the documents we created last week and update the figures - only to realize that we had significantly underestimated the number of inhabitants, upping the budget from 6.8 million soles to 8.9 million soles (or roughly $2.6 CAD to $3.4 CAD). Woops. At least it's a good thing we doubled checked before presenting it to the municipality.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Making powerful decisions

Hello everyone,

I'd like to share with you what I've been doing at work for the past few days, because it's been quite eventful. And soon I promise to update you on my trip to Tarapoto (just need to find the time).

Two weeks ago (before I went to Tarapoto) we had a meeting at the municipality with a citizen's group from the south (where the urban expansion is) because they want water and waste water connections. We decided that we would visit them this week (on Tuesday) and have a follow-up meeting at the municipality next Tuesday (Dec. 6th). Our visit went well on Tuesday, and we told them that we would put together a preliminary budget so that when we are at the municipality we can talk about financing and who will cover what costs. So we started working on that (Juan and I). Well, Wednesday at 11am we got a call from the general manager of EMAPA saying that he wanted the information by 8am on Thursday so that he could look it over and start looking for financing from his end. Less than 24 hours! Ouf, so we kicked things into high gear. But then on Wednesday afternoon there was an emergency in the construction side: they are digging trenches to put in the plumbing for water and waste water somewhere in Huacho, and one of the electrical poles was not properly installed so it fell over and was leaning against a house. Luckily no one was injured and the electrical wires didn't break, but it could have been much more serious. So Juan spent most of Wednesday afternoon there (and I needed to talk to him to move on with my work) and he only got back at 5pm.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My busy month of November

Hello everyone,

I'll take a few minutes to update you on my life - a bit behind schedule, but that's okay (better late than never, right?). The beginning of November was pretty quiet in my life (although quite hectic everywhere around me - see my last blogpost to find out why). But once the first weekend passed, the rhythm of things picked up quite a bit.

On Tuesday, November 8th, I successfully completed my first solo trip in Peru: nothing big, but I went to Lima alone. I was let out of work a bit earlier in the afternoon so that I could catch my bus and get to Lima before the sun went down. The trip went very smoothly: I arrived in Lima shortly after 6pm and then took the bus straight away to Miraflores (the safest, cleanest, nicest part of Lima). When I got off the coach bus I was excited to be travelling alone again; I had forgotten the rush of how it feels. I mean, I carefully researched exactly where to go so I wouldn't look lost and would be efficient with my time, but it was nice to be independent and self sufficient. SUCH A GREAT FEELING. And I felt much safer this time in Lima. Probably because I know from where to where I was going and now I am familiar with the area, so it is not as scary. Also, my Spanish is much better than when I first got here (I kept thinking back at how much time had passed since the first time I did the trip from Lima to Huacho).

Saturday, November 19, 2011

November is a month for changes

Hello everyone,

Sorry I haven't written in a while - I mean, really updated you on things. Friends have asked me for updates and guess that it has just been 'life as usual' here, so not much to update on. Or at least, nothing really concrete. But all month many things have been changing, so as I am sitting in the Lima Airport waiting for my flight to Tarapoto, I guess I'll update you on some things.

The first thing is a work. Most employees at EMAPA Huacho don't have very long or permanent contracts - they are often 1 or 3 months in duration (sometimes longer), but this means that at certain times of the year there is a high turnover or a loss in productivity while new contracts get drawn up and signed. So, at the beginning of the month, this is what happened. The 31st of October was a Monday, and then the 1st of November was a national holiday, so the beginning of the week was pretty slow (and relaxing too, we went to the movies on our day off!). But then the rest of the week was chaotic as people moved offices, or departments, or came back to EMAPA to try to negotiate their contracts, or ask for an extension.... Juan Candia, who I am working with, received quite a nice promotion: he moved from being the head of the project planning section to the manager of the entire engineering department responsible for project planning, execution, and follow-up (and the person who used to be in that role took his old role). With this new position came a new office for him, so we are no longer working side by side in the office. And rumours spread pretty quickly around the company, so by lunch I had been approached by quite a few people saying that I would no longer be working with him and that I would now be working with the new head of my section - WRONG. They all jumped to this conclusion without even knowing that Juan and I had already talked about it, and that I would continue to support him and work with all of the different departments: still completing environmental assessments for the project planning team (as well as a few other documents that they require), but now I am also focusing on the project management for the entire department, quite a big task!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Happy 137th birthday Huacho!

Hello everyone!

So today, November 10th, it is the 137th anniversary of the city of Huacho. For the past week there have been parades, music and dancing shows, a huge bingo in the central square (that lasted 8 hours - we did not last that long though), culinary festivals, and even bull fighting! And to highlight the week's festivities today there was a 'desfile', where many companies and organizations paraded down the central street (28 de Julio) and in front of the mayor and other important people from the city.

Here are a few clips from the event:

If you pay close attention you'll notice me holding the front of the banner (and slightly struggling because it was quite windy that day).

All in all, it was a fabulous day: we got out of work in the morning to go attend the desfile with many other people from the company, and then we all went for lunch together (there must have been at least 40 of us present). In the afternoon, a bunch of us went to play soccer (we usually do every Wednesday after work, but this Thursday was a special exception!). To top it all off it was warm and sunny, so you couldn't ask for a better day.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

A day in the field: Trip to Santa Rosa

Hello everyone!

I hope this post finds you all well as October is winding down to an end! I'd like to share with you what I learned, saw, experienced, and felt yesterday when I travelled to Santa Rosa with the EMAPA crew. It was a really eye-opening trip, and definitely one of the highlights of my time here so far in Peru. You know when you just have a day that really stands out and makes you think? That's how I felt yesterday. It was a great way to celebrate the 7-week mark of my time here (as of today, I have been here for 50 days already! Times flies!).

This is someone's house.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Trip to Trujillo

Hello again, and happy Friday! I hope you are all having a wonderful week.

Last weekend I went on a wonderful trip to Trujillo with Itxel and Carlos, and I have promised to write about it to tell you all about my time up north, so here goes!

All week Itxel and I knew that we wanted to go away for the weekend somewhere. Lima perhaps? Huaraz, to go hiking in the Andes? Well, the opportunity to go to Trujillo with Carlos (one of the people that we work with at EMAPA Huacho) was presented, and we decided to jump on the opportunity. Carlos is originally from Trujillo (he has only been living in Huacho since February 2011) and he often goes home on weekends, so he invited us to go with him. His family offered to let us stay at their house so that we would feel safer, too. What a nice offer.

So on Friday after work Itxel and I went home to finish packing up our things and have a bite to eat before leaving. Carlos came to meet us around 7:45pm and we took a taxi to Huaura, a neighbouring city. From here, essentially you take a seat on a bench near the side of the road, and wait for a bus to pass by. The only road from Lima going up north is the Pan Americana Norte (Pan American highway), and it passes through both Huacho and Huaura. Busses travelling on the road will stop in Huaura if they have extra seats though. So each time a bus would pass by, we would ask the driver where they were going... and then, if they had seats for the three of us... and then, we negotiated a price (you also have the option to buy your tickets ahead of time with some travel agents). Carlos had explained to us that sometimes you find a bus right away, and sometimes it takes hours... or you might have 4 busses pass you by before one with available seats stops. What a gamble.

Monday, October 17, 2011

My work at EMAPA Huacho

So, what am I actually doing for my field placement? As most of you may know, I am currently completing an 8-month field placement in Huacho, Peru. But what else?

I am working for a local water utility, EPS EMAPA Huacho S.A., focusing on user education and on environmental assessments (EA). I am studying the feasibility of the construction of three new water purification plants, which includes writing the terms of reference, compiling baseline data and completing studies of the physical, biological, social, cultural, and economic impacts of the project. I am working directly with the head sanitation engineer to complete the three EAs required (since EMAPA is going to build three waste water treatment plants in different areas of the region), while bringing a different perspective to the analysis of the situation. As we are in a low-lying coastal area that is prone to earthquakes (there was a magnitude 4.1 earthquake here my first week, but I didn't feel it), the potential waste water treatment plants need to be able to resist to certain natural disasters. We are also analyzing the risk of toxic matter leeching into aquifers in the case of a failure with the structure. The proximity of the waste water treatment plants to human dwellings is also of concern (legislation states that it must be at least 500 m away from the closest houses, but in one city the plant may be built as near as 100-150 m away from the closest properties for lack of other land). Planting a ring of trees around the facilities has been planned to help reduce the unpleasant odours that will be released during the water treatment process. Furthermore, we are planning preventative measures to reduce the risk of mosquitoes and other insects from breeding near the treatment plants. Throughout our analysis, we must keep into consideration cost, local knowledge (for when maintenance issues arise) and general needs of the population.

Friday, October 7, 2011

My best day in Perú so far

Hello everyone, and happy Friday!

This week I would like to share with you what I did on Monday and Tuesday. On Monday afternoon I got to visit Barranca (about 40km north of here). They have just finished building a brand new waste water purification plant, and the EMAPA Huacho staff (mostly engineers and important people within the company) were invited to go for a private tour of the facility. To my surprise, this construction isn't like your typical water purification plant: it is actually a pilot project in Peru, filtering the sewage by growing lentils.

The first (of many) pools of lentils that the waste water gets cycled through

Monday, September 26, 2011

First weekend getaway: Churín

Hello again!

I hope you all had a great weekend, enjoying the last of September 2011! Ever since I met Itxel, we have been talking about travelling and experiencing the different sights that Peru has to offer during out time here in Huacho. Our first stop: a weekend trip to the mountain town of Churín, roughly 2.5 hours away by bus (only 61km past Sayán, but this part of the journey takes 1.5 hours as it is on an unpaved road = A LOT of dust to inhale!).

Churín is a quaint little town of 2,000 inhabitants, with an elevation of 2,080 metres. We lucked out because we happened to travel there during the same weekend as their biggest festival, celebrating their patron saint. Itxel and I arrived in the early afternoon to a bright blue sunny sky and warm springtime temperatures. There was a parade going on with marching bands, and tons of people in the streets. A nice couple that we met on the bus (the bus was actually a minivan) helped us find the hotel that my guide book recommended - turns out it was a new hotel, and the best one in the city! We checked in (for only $12 USD/night each) and then set off to explore the town.

Our hotel in Churín: Las Amazonas

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday update!

Until today I did not feel like I had accomplished much since I have mostly been sitting around and waiting for paperwork to get processed, but since yesterday I am now officially a member of the 'proyectos y obras' (projects and works) department and today is my first day with them. I was FINALLY given work (yay for working with an organized engineer! - Juan Candia).

This morning first thing we went to a slum, essentially it's a place just south of the city where there is currently urban expansion, it has no running water/sewage, and it is built pretty much on a big sand dune (but tough enough to be mountain-like). Good thing there isn't a lot of rain, because I think that it would all erode. Not sure how long these houses will last. Anyways, the engineers needed to analyse the site because they're putting in water and sanitation services. Unfortunately I didn't know before going that we were going there so I was in my business shoes, but that's okay. There were TONS of mosquitoes (but they don't look like the ones at home) - they would fly in the wind and then cling to your clothes. We had to de-mosquito ourselves before leaving because it was ridiculous. Kind of happy I didn't have to stay there too long (or at least next time I go I will dress differently). But I had a great morning. After coming back to the office, I read through the  federal standards for all water sanitation procedures. I also read through an environmental assessment for a project and was providing feedback (I read the entire 24-page document and submitted quite a bit of feedback/things to improve this morning). This afternoon I will keep going over my environmental assessment recommendations with the engineer. We'll see how much I actually accomplish and what gets put into practice, but I am learning. And reading and speaking lots of Spanish :) I barely have to think anymore (even though I still make word/verb errors). But it's getting much more fluid I think (biased opinion perhaps?).

I'll try to post more later, but until then, I'm wishing you a wonderful Friday afternoon and a great weekend!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A day in the field: Trip to various locations around Huacho

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011, Itxel and I got the privilege to go on another field trip with the sanitation engineer Juan Candia Cuno. This time, we got to visit different regions of Huacho (the city where we are living) - but not the touristy version.

Our first stop was the port. This is a pretty busy area (and not very safe), as there are many commercial and local fishers. Since we were there in the afternoon, we got to see some of the local fisherman pulling their boats out of the water.

Typical afternoon at the port in Huacho

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Somos 100% Peruanas

How I became initiated to Peruvian culture this weekend:

1) I ate the national dish - cuy (aka guinea pig) - for the first time.

Cuy dish
To tell you the truth, it wasn't bad (I had actually been mentally preparing myself for this for quite a few months). The meat was okay, but kind of chewy and rubbery. Peruvians eat the skin of the guinea pig, but I found it much too elasticy (it was impossible to chew through!). So I can proudly say I survived my first time of eating this national dish. Will I eat it again? Most probably, since I will be living here for 8 months. Every day? Most definitely not.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A day in the field: Trip to Sayán and Végueta

Friday, September 16th, 2011, Itxel and I headed to visit two other districts in the Huaura province, Sáyan and Végueta. They both receive water treatment services from EMAPA Huacho. Sayán is roughly a 45-minute drive inland and into the mountains, while Végueta is right on the coast, about 20 minutes north of Huacho. We spent the day visiting the two sites with an engineer from EMAPA Huacho, Juan Candia. He wanted to show us the potential locations for new waste water treatment plants in both of these locations.

From everything that I have learned so far in Huacho, this is how their water system works:
1) Pump water from the ground.
2) Inject water with chlorine gas to help clean it.
3) Pump water up to a water tower on a hill/elevated area, to insure water pressure throughout the town.
4) Water drains down into subscriber's homes/businesses using the flow of gravity (only Sayán has continuous service 24 hours/day).
5) Waste water drains by means of gravity to a central location.
6) Untreated waste water gets dumped into river (in the case of Sayán) or ocean (in the case of Végueta and Huacho).

Waste water from Sayán going straight into the River Huaura

Friday, September 16, 2011

MISTURA: The Power of Food

So I realize I didn't blog much about what I did last weekend in Lima, but this video pretty much sums up my afternoon with Justina and Peter: MISTURA


Thursday, September 15, 2011

My address in Huacho!

In case you would like to send me any mail (I would only recommend letters and postcards though, since I don't think they have a mailbox so I think everything just sits outside the front door until we come home to get it):

Sheila Ball
Urbanización Las Flores
Manzana C - Lote 1

cell phone: 51 993 824 378 (you also need to dial 011 before it to call internationally - and 51 is the country code for Peru)

I can receive calls and texts for free so I would love to hear from you!


First official day of work in Huacho (and everything that's happened up until now)

Well hello again!

I hope you are all having a great first (or second) week of classes for those of you who are in school, and that everyone in the northern hemisphere is enjoying the arrival of fall. I for one cannot wait for spring to come - only 6 more days! - because that will mean sun and the arrival of warmth here in Huacho! I can't complain though, it is around 15-20 degrees every day, but it gets chilly at night, and as it is humid and there is no heating, there is no escaping the cold! Let me fill you in on what has happened since the last time that I wrote to you! (It feels like an eternity has passed, even though it's only been 3 days!)

Alright well Tuesday was a day full of ups and downs - I think that until now I had told myself to be strong and to carry on and not to worry too much, but Tuesday morning I woke up feeling a bit lonely and isolated. As you may have read, Monday was such a busy day and I met so many people, but I was starting to feel that I could not let my personality shine through fully and that I was much quieter than my normal self.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My first day in Huacho

*Note: I wrote this last night but did not have access to internet, hence why I am posting it now.

My first day in Huacho – oh my goodness, I am so tired, all I want to do it to go to bed. But so much has happened today that I want to try to document as much as I can to share it with you all. As soon as I am done, I am calling it a night (and I will post this in my blog tomorrow or the day after that when I have internet access).

Well, let’s start with this morning. I was in Lima. Feels so far away now. I had originally been told I was going to be picked up sometime after 8am to go to the bus station to come to Huacho. So I set my alarm for 7am, thinking that would be enough time for breakfast and such (I packed the night before). Well, at 6:35am there is a BANG BANG BANG on my door. The owner of the hotel wakes me up and tells me that someone from WUSC called, and that I will be picked up at 7:30am instead. I should get up quickly! Well, I decide to lie in bed for another 10 minutes (obviously unable to fall asleep after such a brutal awakening) and then get up. Get ready, eat breakfast (same as usual: fruit smoothie, bread, jam, and tea), brush my teeth, take one last look around the room to make sure that I haven’t forgotten anything, and then I’m out the door. 7:35am. 7:45. 8:00. 8:10. Finally around 8:15, Isabel (a WUSC employee) shows up. Good morning Sheila! How are you? Good – but I have been awake and sitting in the hotel reception area for a while! She doesn’t understand who called the hotel or why , it was not her nor the driver (Julio). Must have been Michel (the WUSC director). Oh well. Early start.

Friday, September 9, 2011

First impressions....

  • Public transit is confusing! Best to be very assertive.
  • Everything is pretty clean (but there is quite a lot of pollution, mostly due to cars).
  • Ads on TV look like ads on Canadian TV, with different people and language, but you always know what they're selling.
  • Food is good and FRESH. Not too different and not too pricey.
  • Spanish is easy enough to understand, but I need to work on mine (mostly verb conjugation and vocabulary).
  • All WUSC Peru staff are super helpful and friendly (I can even speak to some of them in French!).
WUSC Lima staff with INDEV volunteers at lunch on September 9th, 2011. From left to right: Julio, Peter, Juany, Sheila, Justina, Michel's wife, Deua, Michel, Andrea, Michel's wife's co-worker (partially hidden), and Isabel.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Day 1 in Peru

Hello everyone!

Well, here I am, safely arrived in Peru. After a 30 minute plane delay in Ottawa, and then a 1.5 hour plane delay in Toronto (we were waiting for a part that our plane had to take to a plane in Peru - in the meanwhile our A/C failed and the entertainment system wasn't working, but at least they gave us each a glass of water), we arrived safely in Lima, Peru. I actually lucked out on the flight - there was barely anyone on it, so I took up a row of three benches in the middle of the plane and managed to get a solid 4 hours of sleep last night. Solid.

We finally pulled into Lima around 2:30 am local time (aka 3:30 am in Ottawa/Waterloo) and we were greeted by Julio (the driver from WUSC), Isabella (a WUSC staff member) and another driver from the hotel where I am staying these first few nights. Checked-in at our hotel around 3:15 am and finally got to bed at 4.

My room in Lima (the middle bed is mine). I also have a private bathroom.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

woo hooooo! Free internet in Toronto :)

A quick hello from Toronto Pearson International Airport! Arrived here safely (although my flight in from Ottawa was 15 minutes late and we had turbulence almost the entire trip). Started watching Pirates of the Caribbean 4 in the plane (I'll finish the rest of the movie on my way to Lima in a bit).

So FINALLY when we arrived at the airport in Ottawa I started to get really excited for my trip! FINALLY. Took long enough, eh? But it was nice, didn't have to wait too too long before boarding the flight either. Said goodbye to family and friends, and for once didn't cry. It's such a nice feeling, leaving with a big smile on my face, knowing that I'll see them all again before I know it, and leaving full of hope for a wonderful stay in Peru.

Thanks to everyone who has been so supportive throughout this entire process. I love you all and I will see you all again soon. I'm coming home with my bachelor's degree!

Have a wonderful 8 months while I'm gone!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My bags are packed, I'm ready to go...

Well, here we are! The night before my departure. Quite honestly... it hasn't hit me yet that I'm leaving. I've had such a busy summer (mostly living out of a suitcase) that it just feels like I'm packing to go on another trip, or to go back to Waterloo. Not that I'm travelling to South America for my first time. Here's a quick run-down of the busy summer I've had:

-From May until July 25th I was in Waterloo, Ontario, completing my last semester of courses before leaving for my field placement.
-From July 25th until August 9th I was at home in Ottawa (this included trips to the cottage and a week-long visit from family who lives in Switzerland).
-From August 9th until September 4th I was away: first in Montreal, then in Europe for 3.5 weeks, then in eastern Quebec for a family reunion.
-From September 4th (at night) until September 7th (midday): at home, in Ottawa.

And then... I will be in Peru. Luckily I got most of my packing done before leaving for Europe so I just had to come home, empty my backpack, fill it back up with stuff for Peru, and get a few last-minute details sorted out (like print the email explaining who is picking us up at the airport in Lima).

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fact #81: 20 days until the start of my field placement

Fact #81: Machu Picchu was built at the behest of Pachacuti ("He Who Shakes the Earth"), the ruler of the Incan Empire, between two peaks -- Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu.