Peru, Peru querido. As intrigued as I was with Peruvian culture before this trip, I knew that being here- living here, interacting here, clowning here would be beyond all things that I read about it . Although world work is my passion, my engine, I have to admit this was my first experience as a clown. There is a range from newbies like me to professional clowns here. Hours of research on Peru and The Belen Project could never really engulf the magic that happens here; yes, magic! What is magic anyway? Lets look at the big picture. Magic isn’t just disappearing objects and card tricks. Magic is a feeling that ,if unleashed ,makes one believe that the moment is surreal. This is the kind of thing that happens when individuals who care so deeply about “being the change they wish to see in the world ” (Ghandi, that’s all you!) feel. As Enactus members, our primary mission was to conduct needs assessments of the communities, to carry out projects, and after that we would clown with the group.Everyone on this trip believes we can aid the people of Belen– increasing their quality of life, giving them unconditional love, creating change, and stepping outside our own barriers mental and emotional barriers, to make someone feel special- Iike they matter because they do. They are gold.
I apologize for the delayed blog ( Nelly and Belkis, don’t kill me. I love you guys!) but jet lag slapped me in the face last night. We have been going and going and last night I desired nothing more than my little, bunk bed at The House Project hostel and a shower.
The House Project is where we are staying while in Lima. It is an adorable, little hostel in Miraflores, a county of Lima. The rooms were not too small but packed w 2 sets of bunk beds and a full bed where Rebecca slept. The patio is the common area. There are 4
hammocks hanging from palm trees, bean bags, and a table to play chess or drink coffee. I think the place is adorable and the staff reminded us we could ask them for any type of assistance. There are tons of local hostels for travelers in Peru…. Natasha, I see a backpacking trip in our near future!!!!!!
Next ,was orientation for our entire group– 110 eclectic, sweet, unique, off the walls energetic people. To say the least, it was 4 hours of information about the origin of The Belen Project, Belen as a region, workshops, tips, and dancing. We were split up into “families”. Each family has a mom or a dad who leads family discussions and looks out for us.. Each family is about 8- 10 people who meet every day, at the same time, at a common place to talk about the days events, thoughts, expectations, special moments experienced that day,curiosity, etc. My “momma” is Cara, an awesome girl from Brooklyn, NY who works for an app company but who’s passion is clowning all over the world but her heart is here in Belen, Peru.
Anyways, after we all introduced ourselves to live beat boxing, we danced to wrap up the meeting. My partner was a girl from Mexico who I had met earlier in the day. This is her second time on the trip. She is sweet, humble , and full of energy. I will remember her and her tips on engaging the people of Belen as a humanitarian clown.
We found this packed, sandwich joint called La Lucha on our way back to the hostel. The line was insane but the staff was so efficient! We found a tiny table right outside the mobs of people and ate a delicious, Peruvian style sandwich. My new favorite thing( condiment) is a typical Peruvian sauce called aji amarillo, I put it on everything! Also,we drank a authentic Peruvian drink called Chicha Morada. It is a plum colored drink made from purple corn. It may sound different but it is refreshing and packed with Vitamin C. Ah, Peruvian food is scrumptious!
Later that night, we slept at The House Project for the last night. We were to be ready at 4 am to take a flight to Iquitos where we will be staying for the duration of the trip. The Peruvian Air Force offers to fly us from Lima to Iquitos. It was the loudest plane ride I have ever been on!! Imagine 110 clowns on a plane, cheering and being clowns. They are so good at what they do.
All of the Air Force soldiers looked at us as if we were crazy when we landed on their base. 110 clowns stepping off a plane in the middle of a military base, we must of looked insane.
We landed in Iquitos and the weather difference was a 360 degree change. We went from chilly winds in Lima to scorching,hot sun rays in Iquitos. Walking out of the Iquitos airport was awesome. It is in the Amazonian, jungle region of Peru. The streets were lined with palm trees, venders filled the streets, moto taxis ( dirt bikes converted into taxis) dominated the roads– I noticed there are no cars here. Everyone walks or takes a moto taxi which is usually around 3 soles ( Peruvian currency) which is a little less than a dollar. Iquitos reminded me of a city in Honduras called Comayagua where my family lives. On our way to our hotel, I shed a couple tears because I felt like I was back in Honduras on my way to see my sweet grandma but that wasn’t the case. Next year Ill be there grandma, I promise!
We unloaded everything from the bus into the hotel lobby. El Doral will be our new home for the rest of the trip. It’s not the best hotel on the block but it’s suffice.
Next on our agenda is meeting with Lucia Ruiz who is our partner in Belen/ Iquitos, our support, our caretaker, our guide, our mediator. She has to be one of the sweetest woman I have ever met. She is so heavily involved in her community and in Belen. Lucia works with several initiative groups trying to bring positive change to Belen. She is truly an inspiration and a role model for me.
So far Peru has been a whirlwind of new experiences. We are working with unmarked territory as Enactus. This is our first time working here so we are adjusting to the culture and assessing the needs of the people here. We are building relationships and partnerships with the people in order establish a trustworthy relationship for future projects in Peru.
We miss the rest of our Enactus family in Virginia. All of our dedicated, fearless teammates, our college who supports us 100%,our community as a whole, we are thinking of you!
I am playing catch up with my blogging so that sums Monday and Tuesday. Pictures are coming! Internt connection is slow so it may take me a little. Until next time, friends.
God is love.