Saturday, July 18, 2009

Laramarca: The People

Laramarca is a small village, small enough where everything pretty much knows everything about everyone. With that said, our arrival was fairly well known after spending a couple of days in the school. As I noted in my earlier entry we were known as the gringos to many and professores to the children. The reason I was so excited about coming back to peru this year was large in part to the experiences I had with the people of Peru in my previous trip here. Being in such a small place afforded us the opportunity to get to know the towns people on an intimate level. At first you could see that the people did not really know what to make of us but as with most relationships you could slowly see signs of them opening up to us and making us feel welcome. We were never without the stares that come from seeing something so foreign but it was typically offered up with a greeting of some sort such as "Buenos Dias" which helped easy the transitioning process for us.

I will honestly say that the people of Laramarca as little resources as they may have had were very generous and humble in their interactions with us. They may not have had much but what they did have they appreciated and openly shared with us. An example of this was when one family from the village invited nearly the entire village to their home for a meal. And when I say meal I mean a three course feast complete with dessert. The food by the way really grew on me quickly. A vast portion of it made with some combination of the following: potatoes, rice, noodles, platanos, and eggs. On a side note: I haven't been able to get a workout in in about a month and it is killing me. All of these carbs are keeping me well fueled however.

I can't talk about the people of the village without talking about the kids. We spent nearly 15 days working in the town's elementary school with kids ages 6 to 12. The kids absolutely loved that we were there which was often reinforced with a mobbing embrace or some other sign of appreciation and affection. It has been a while since I worked with kids but I quickly remembered how much of a joy it is to do so. The kids of the Peruvian sierra are incredibly cute and have a sort of energy and self sufficiency that makes them fun to be around. They typically referred to us as "Professor" and were never shy to ask us any questions about where we were from or how to say any number of words in english. As with the adults even the kids took a couple of days to open up to us. But after this phase ended, they constantly asked us to be a part of any activity they were partaking in at that moment. One sad thing about the kids that just tore me up was the fact that because they are in such an extreme climate with temperatures dropping into the low 30's at night and then rising into the 70's/80's during the day due to the unobstructed intensity of the sun, the kids hands and cheeks were dry and scabbed. The first graders literally had the hands of an 80 year old person. They were burned from the sun and dry and cracked from the freezing temperatures that came at dark all year round. Their cheeks as well were dry and burned from these opposing temperatures. It is so sad because these kids despite their state have so much energy and joy for life. I want to do anything I can to help them.

By the end of our trip it was certainly difficult to leave the people of Laramarca because of how many good memories they had given us. I would love to go back and visit the little village some day and see how the children especially have progressed. We shall see.

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