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The simple life of Cuzco


Farah Hazim
06/ 12/13
Cuzco 



The shiny multiple stars and the moon is what grapped my attention in this district at night. The look of the stars was just amazing, I have never seen the stars as close as this time ever in my life before. I also enjoyed looking at the mountain with the iced peak. The simplicity of the life here in this district is what I like the most. Everything is so simple even their houses. The house here is made up of clay and bricks, grass roof, wood doors, and animals in the yard. 
My group and I visited the milk factory here, which was quite simple, there was only one man working, but I am not sure if he was the only one that works there, or there were multiple of them. He explained to us how he buys the milk and makes the cheese out of it. He told us that his production of milk and cheese increased a lot after he sold his cows which were a very good kind of cows and used the money to open us his small business. He also told us that he learned how to make the cheese from the Ccaijo program which helps the people now how to do work, so they can start their own business. 

We also visited a farm and we met the farmer and his wife. The farmer was so happy because Ccaijo helped him a lot in knowing how to breed his cows and how to treat them right. He was so happy because he got the money for himself and his family. The sad side of this great happy family is the farmer cut his finger while he was working in the farm and he went to the hospital and got medicine for one day only. Dr. Davis looked at the farmer’s finger and gave him a medicine and asked him to keep on cleaning his hand and his finger and he should be fine after he takes the medicine. 

My group and I had the chance to visit one of the community group work that belongs to Ccaijo here in this district and we had a presentation there too. We were amazed by educational programs they have there. We met the instructor who was teaching the people how to use the internet and Microsoft words and all of its programs and that was in one of the rooms in that community. We also saw the room that was specialized for woman to learn how to do textile. Another example of the help that CCaijo offers was the bakery shop which was amazing. My group and I were not able to resist the smell of the pan and the cookies they were making there. We bought 60 pans for 10 soles. The pans were amazing, I am on a strict carbs diet, but I could not resist them and ate a half pan or even more. 

We also spent the night at one of the peasant houses, The house I slept in was nice, and the family seemed so welcoming and happy for our visit They played music when we first got in and I enjoyed listening to it. 

Finally, my experience is amazing so far, I love the nature of this country and the simplicity of some of tis regions. I am glad I had the chance to visit Peru and meet its people and enjoy its nature. 

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A Lost City

Posted on Wednesday, June 19, 2013



If I heard “Macchu Pichu” five days ago, the first thought that would come into my mind was “oh, the lost city that looks like a maze made of stone.” As a group, we traveled about 12 hours for the trip to Macchu Pichu. I was not too sure what it would be like, despite my preconceptions. After our first 6 hours of travel, we hiked about ten minutes up a winding stone path and I was rewarded with the most breathtaking site I have ever seen in person. To me, Macchu Pichu looked like I was watching a movie on a huge screen and its beauty was not real. I was definitely wrong. Besides its beauty, Macchu Pichu holds serious history between its stones.

The Lost City known as Machu Picchu 

This is known as Machu Picchu to tourists, but to indigenous people, the city that this mystery is located in in called Machu Picchu. According to Valentine, our tour guide, the highest mountain in this picture is called “Young Mountain” and the mountain directly behind me in this picture is called “Old Mountain.” This region is known as “The Lost Incan City.” According to Valentine, this area is not composed of Incan “ruins”; it is a city.

According to Valentine, no current historians truly understand the purpose for this city. Many people believe that this city was used as a safe sanctuary for the Inca elite. Valentine explained that there were originally only 8 entrances to this site built in a valley surrounded by Andes Mountains. This area is also known as the beginning of the jungle.   Interestingly, archeologists have only found 5 trails into the city. Three of these paths are currently used by tourists. The remaining two paths lead to different cities and require nearly a week of travel. Also according to historians, these paths were small and hidden for defense purposes. For instance, there was a lookout point for this city and if there was an intruder, it would be easy to stop because Incans would be able to see them early.
The Sacred Rock

This rock is known as the “sacred rock.” Our tour guide asked us to pick the most sacred animal in Peru, and that was what this natural rock represented. The animal is guinea pig! In the valley of Macchu Pichu, the Incans worshiped this natural rock
formation as guinea pig.
Baby Llama

This area has become extremely tourist-centered. As you can see in the picture above, there were animals that were people-friendly. This is a baby llama that hangs out and walks around with people. Additionally, there are tours going on constantly. One frustrating thing about our tour was that I could hardly take pictures or see things because there was another tour group (or two) looking at the same thing. At the bottom of the city of Machu Picchu, venders sell post cards, authentic Peruvain goods, and food. Although this lost city is crowded by tourists, it does benefit the country from a monetary viewpoint. According to the travel website Peru: Empire of Hidden Treasures, Macchu Picchu is “the most important and beautiful legacy of the ancient Peruvian, is part of the Historic Sanctuary of the same name, which is also one of the few places in the Americas placed on both the World Cultural and Natural Heritage Lists by UNESCO.” This area attracts many tourists each year, creating revenue for the country of Peru. I definitely recommend visiting this amazing site of the lost city, and explore the magic behind the stones. 



Lauren

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Toilet paper: the unknown precious commodity


Ethnocentrism: a word we as a nation rarely think about until forced to. Ethnocentrism embodies an attitude that glorifies one’s own society. According to Ken Barger, ethnocentrism can be defined as “making false assumptions about others’ ways based on our own limited experiences”… “we don’t understand that we don’t understand.”

Before we left for Peru, we met as a group several times to talk about any concerns or questions regarding our stay throughout the first two weeks of June. Some questions regarded the campecinos that we would be staying in.

Will they have blankets?

Yes

Will they have beds?

Yes

Will they have a toilet?

Yes

Will it be warm?

Yes

After about three hours, our concerns were diminished. From my perspective, concerns grew like wildfire the millisecond that we pulled up to our future housing. From the highway, we could not see any nearby housing. Gabby, Claudia, Kristin, and I were instructed to follow the pathway up to the house. We traveled downhill slightly and crossed a bridge over a river. We continued up a seriously steep, single-file line path of rocks, crouched under trees, and over tree stumps. After a roughly seven minute hike, we arrived at our destination. A little red door led to a dirt-floor patio. At the middle of the patio was a multi-purpose sink with four doors facing towards the sink. One door led to our four bed bedroom. The day went on and we returned to sleep. The first sign of ethnocentrism: assuming that because the family had a “toilet” they had toilet paper to accompany. Not every family had a traditional toilet that we, as Americans, pictured in our minds. Some families had holes in the grounds for their bathroom. Additionally, we assumed that toilet paper would naturally accompany an outhouse, hole, or toilet but quickly learned to carry a roll with us wherever we went. We did not ask the people if they used toilet paper, or what they used to clean themselves. The two foregoing examples show that we clearly did not know what we did not know; we were in the light of ethnocentrism.
This is an extremely nice building as personally compared to other buildings seen in this area. It was common to have adobe bricks, without adobe to insulate the bricks. It also was common to have dirt floors and outhouses. These are all assumptions based on experiences and houses seen throughout the tour of the area. 


After the first night, breakfast the next morning was spent under blankets. The night before was so cold that we were still stunned from the temperature and the fact that these rooms were “heated” and “warm” rooms. Needless to say, the majority of us were ill-prepared for the near-freezing night under three wool blankets. The interesting thing about this experience is two-fold. i) We were given the opportunity to experience the life many people lead in the campecinos of Peru. ii) We fell guilty to ethnocentrism again: we assumed there would be a heated room, just as we heat our homes in the winters of Omaha, and a warm bed to sleep well. The second night’s sleep was better, although we were guilty of ethnocentrism as a whole group.

This is the second night of rest in our home, which was pegged as the "warmest house" of all the Ccaijo projects, according to Juan Carlos. This was a great experience. This is a picture of me in a small sleeping bag on my bed. 
To reiterate, ethnocentrism is an assumption by people who “do not know what they do not know.” I feel guilty to the concept of ethnocentrism several times, even before the trip began. For instance, why didn’t any student ask “Do they have toilet paper?” It is because we had no honest realization of the standards in Peru: we did not know what we did not know.

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Our Caritas Felices Experience

Posted on Saturday, June 15, 2013

Some tough and determined people have grown a day care center in San Juan de Miraflores, Lima, from nothing over the last few years. Pictures tell the story of UNO, and Caritas Felices day care parents and staff,  working together toward a common goal, getting a great deal done in record time.



Organizing a crew of UNO students, Caritas Felices (Happy Faces) Day Care parents, and volunteers from Lima, is no easy task. Dr. Claudia Garcia, Biani Martinez Loyme, and Esther Orve worked out the plan for what needed to be done and how. We were all surprised how much work we got done--50 gallons of paint applied inside and outside in two half-days. 
In the day care's fifth year connected with UNO, it was time to re-paint the sign.

Children entertained themselves admirably while the day care staff and parents were painting and all of their books and toys were stacked in the centers of classrooms.


Besides painting, the day care center needed stronger support beams in one classroom so a tin roof can be replaced with a shingled one. Jared Kolaak and David Grothen improvised, with input from two helpers.

There's no good way to get a lot of work done without getting paint on your hands. In two 1/2 day sessions, 10 students and 2 professors primed and painted inside and outside walls of the entire day care center at the Caritas Felices day care in Lima.

50 gallons of paint, three trips to the hardware store, some measuring, sawing, nailing...it was time for gift exchange and pictures. Our new Peruvian friends gave us scarves and hats; we gave the children UNO teddy bears.

Proud and happy of the work we all did, showing off our new hats and scarves, the the thank you gifts from our new friends at the day care center. Some of the children are also holding the UNO teddy bears that we gave them.  







Posted on Saturday, June 8, 2013

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Work of CCAIJO.


We've arrived in Cusco, Peru and have been staying with and learning about CCAIJO. CCAIJO is a Jesuit group committed to helping communities of what we would call in English peasants. We have visited three CCAIJO houses in the districts of Andahuaylillas, Occongate, and Ccatca.

On Wednesday we visited the house of CCAIJO in Ocongate. Juan Carlos, our guide gave us a tour of the facilities. The work they were doing was simply amazing. We toured the classrooms where free sewing machine and computer classes were given to women and children of nearby communities. They also ran a bakery where bread and pastries were made and distributed to local stores to help feed the people (we bought some and it is delicious).

The thing that struck me the most was the nursery for pine trees. Each tree was hand planted and grown until old enough to be moved to the hillsides. We drove around the hillsides meeting people of the community and saw the result of the CCAIJO's tree planting. CCAIJO has planted so far 20 million trees. I wish I could post the pictures I took because it is amazing. The trees were covering hillsides all over.

Now my point, back when we visited Ate in Lima, we met the mayor of Ate who gave a discussion of how the local government is helping their people. One major point was that the government was planting trees along the mountains in Ate to secure the soil and beautify the city. There is one major difference, we saw trees planted on one half of one mountain. Here in Cusco the trees cover the hillsides.

We have met the people who work at each of the houses of CCAIJO. The house in Andahuaylillas had only three people working. The house in Ccatca has four people. From what we have seen so far, the work of  CCAIJO has accomplished much more than the government in Ate. The differences are appalling.

CCAIJO works by engaging the people in the community. People know when the planting season is and visit CCAIJO to get trees. One man we visited singlehandedly planted near 1400 trees himself to re-forest his land.

Additionally they teach nutrition classes for free and physically visit homes of the community to help build improved houses. They taught people how to build improved kitchens complete with stoves and ovens that vent smoke outside and even ecological refrigerators. When they build these they have the homeowner with them. This way if it breaks they can fix it themselves and can also help neighbors build their own.

One thing I have to make clear is that the community people fund their own projects. CCAIJO simply facilitates them. In my opinion this is what government should be like; Less bureaucracy and move work done. We visited a large rain water reservoir outside one village yesterday. The people of the village pay for the water and the profits go back to maintaining the reservoir. A committee of villages, elected by vote every two years, is in charge of the maintenance and money. CCAIJO helped facilitate this project. If government worked more like CCAIJO, maybe we would see improvements occurring more quickly and a better community.

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Wishing I knew what I didn't know


Ethnocentrism: a word we as a nation rarely think about until forced to. Ethnocentrism embodies an attitude that glorifies one’s own society. According to Ken Barger, ethnocentrism can be defined as “making false assumptions about others’ ways based on our own limited experiences”… “we don’t understand that we don’t understand.”

Before we left for Peru, we met as a group several times to talk about any concerns or questions regarding our stay throughout the first two weeks of June. Some questions regarded the campesinos that we would be staying in.

Will they have blankets?

Yes

Will they have beds?

Yes

Will they have a toilet?

Yes

Will it be warm?

Yes

After about three hours, our concerns were diminished. From my perspective, concerns grew like wildfire the millisecond that we pulled up to our future housing. From the highway, we could not see any nearby housing. Gabby, Claudia, Kristin, and I were instructed to follow the pathway up to the house. We traveled downhill slightly and crossed a bridge over a river. We continued up a seriously steep, single-file line path of rocks, crouched under trees, and over tree stumps. After a roughly seven minute hike, we arrived at our destination. A little red door led to a dirt-floor patio. At the middle of the patio was a multi-purpose sink with four doors facing towards the sink. One door led to our four bed bedroom. The day went on and we returned to sleep. The first sign of ethnocentrism: assuming that because the family had a “toilet” they had toilet paper to accompany. Not every family had a traditional toilet that we, as Americans, pictured in our minds. Some families had holes in the grounds for their bathroom. Additionally, we assumed that toilet paper would naturally accompany an outhouse, hole, or toilet but quickly learned to carry a roll with us wherever we went. The two foregoing examples show that we clearly did not know what we did not know; we were in the light of ethnocentrism.
This is me preparing for my first night at the campecinos. I had several blankets and this sleeping bag and was still frozen the next morning! Quite a slap in the face from the noun ethnocentrism.

After the first night, breakfast the next morning was spent under blankets. The night before was so cold that we were still stunned from the temperature and the fact that these rooms were “heated” and “warm” rooms. Needless to say, the majority of us were ill-prepared for the near-freezing night under three wool blankets. The interesting thing about this experience is two-fold. i) We were given the opportunity to experience the life many people lead in the campesinos of Peru. ii) We fell guilty to ethnocentrism again: we assumed there would be a heated room, just as we heat our homes in the winters of Omaha, and a warm bed to sleep well. The second night’s sleep was better, although we were guilty of ethnocentrism as a whole group.

This is a cheese plant by a Peruvian that lives in something similar to the campecinos we stayed at. This plant is one of the nicest buildings in the region, with adobe walls that are painted, a front door, and a floor not made of dirt.  

To reiterate, ethnocentrism is an assumption by people who “do not know what they do not know.” I feel guilty to the concept of ethnocentrism several times, even before the trip began. For instance, why didn’t any student ask “Do they have toilet paper?” It is because we had no honest realization of the standards in Peru: we did not know what we did not know.
Best,
Lauren

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Posted on Sunday, June 9, 2013

Class,
I hope you are enjoying your visit to the Imperial City of Cuzco!
I woke up early to review your postings and I was pleasantly surprised. You are doing great at seeking a sober way of reconciling all the stimuli that hit you and your own personal assumptions. It pleases me to see that some of you spent time interacting with the real people, asking them questions, and the way you have transferred their answers into the blog being careful not to reinforce stereotypes. I know this is not easy to do and I commend you for the effort!
As a way of clarification,
- From 1980-1990 Latin America experienced a great depression also known as "The Lost Decade." It was the result of a large foreign debt and the raise of interests of this debt by Ronald Reagan administration. Country borrowed money at 4.5% and in the 1980s this interest rate was increased to 21%. Whomever carries credit cards should imagine the impact of changing interest rates on your personal budget. Well, countries found themselves devoting up to fifty percent of the GNPs in paying the debt. Long story, so little time to explain.
- Peru had its own version of Lost Decade. As it were not enough, we had economic depression along with an insurgency led by two well organized guerrilla groups Shinning Path (Full name: In the Shinning Path of J.C. Mariategui) and MRTA, both were extreme Left wing militarized movement.
War and Depression is not a good combination. Among man things the country lost most of its professional class due to immigration. Those who remained, saw their lives trashed by lack of work or violence. The countryside was emptied because most migrated to Lima. Another long story with so little time to explain. The country infrastructure was severely damaged by Shinning Path. Most electrical towers were blown apart... The irony was that the country was in debt in order to complete the electrification of the territory, while Shining Path was blowing these towers in order to create terror.
Basically, what you are seeing is a country that desperately is trying to re-build itself after the Lost Decade.
On the issue of police force. The ratio is 1 policeman for 1500 people in Lima. Nor enough for a city of over 8 million people. Police presence varies depending on the District. In Miraflores, for example, between policemen and Municipal security personel, the ratio approximates that of the USA, 1 policeman/securite per 350 people. Alas, social inequality again!
The police display that you saw during your visit of Lima had a very important reason: This week  President Humala denied Presidential Pardon to ex-President Alberto Fujimori serving jail time for human rights abuses. Their followers threaten with demonstrations in support of Fujimori.
That's it. Continue enjoying your stay in Peru!!!

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Dance speaks no language

8 June 2013
The Incas are a vital part of Peruvian history. So far, we have been to three separate museums that highly revere the Incas. Their history is vast and detailed, and is extremely important for understanding the way Peru is today. I have personally observed (several times) one piece of the Incan history that has not died: dance.
Dance was used for celebration. It was also used for expression among the peoples in Peru. The dances had begun in the 1900s and brought to town by artisans and craftsmen from the countryside. Different groups of people danced different dances and more dance styles were being created throughout the times of celebration and times spent together as a community. Although women could participate in dancing, most dances were performed solely by men. Dances were used to express community among urban barrios and also used to divide among rivalries and express tensions. For instance, Dr. Kolak told us the story about a war between the Spanish and the Incas. The Spanish arrived at the front steps of the Incan power house. When the Spanish arrived on their horses, they declared war on the Incas. As a response, the Incan nobles began a fabulous dance meant to intimidate the Spanish and their horses away from war. The opposite occurred and the Incas fell to the Spanish in that war. In 1920, the dances began to die as a result of trade guilds. Trade guilds prevented an “organizational base for the performance of the dances” (Wilson, 2006). Between the 20s and 30s, Inca history slowly disappeared in response to while rule. The white rule limited urban popular culture and replaced this with new cultural activities with “hybrid identities under formation” (Wilson, 2006).
At El Museo Larco, there are statues of Incan emperors with traditional jewelery. Variations in hats, earrings, nose rings, and necklaces told others their status in the empire and where they originated from.

Throughout my short week in Lima, I have experienced three different instances that show the Peruvian tradition of dance is still alive and well. On Wednesday night, we had the opportunity to attend  Brisas del Titicaca, which is a tourist attraction showing the cultural dances founded at Titicaca. Here, performers dressed in exuberant garb and flashed their arms and legs around to a beautiful beat. They acted out certain events that included the King, commoners, and a joker, as explained by Wilson (Indians and Mestizos). The following day, we attended El Museo Rafael Larco Herrera, which had an expansive collection of Incan artifacts. One section was dedicated to the jewelry of dance. Earrings, necklaces, and nose rings were worn to explicitly state what region you were from and your position in the Empire. Friday night, we attended Del Carajo and enjoyed a more modernized form of dance for ourselves. The most important things about all of these experiences are as follows: i) history will always be, ii) history helps us explain the way we are or how something functions in today’s society, and iii) dance speaks no language. Regardless of when something occurred, we may still have the opportunity to study history and see it throughout the culture today. Although we did not live throughout the time of the Incas, we can still see their effect on Peruvian history today. Lastly, despite the language barrier, we were all able to understand the dance and its meaning in conjunction with Peruvian and Incan history. We were even able to dance with locals and enjoy ourselves dancing in a modernized way. Dance speaks no language.

Dancers perform Waka Waka at Barisas del Titicaca
"Dance is the hidden language of the soul."
-Martha Graham


Buenas Noches Mundo,
Lauren

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As we are getting ready to leave Lima and move on to Cusco, I am analyzing observations I have made here in Lima that I have not seen elsewhere.  I have traveled to many U.S. cities, but there are certain observations in Lima that I have not experienced in any city in the United States.  The first example that comes to mind is the abundance of law enforcement here in Lima.  I was surprised to see so many police officers on the streets and surrounding downtown.  From my own personal perspective this makes me question the safety of the city.  I asked one of the guides we were with about the amount of police everywhere and they told me that it was mostly for show to make people feel safe.  However, I found it did the opposite for me.  The presence of the police made me think that the city was so unsafe they needed officers on every street.  This thought then led me back to acknowledging my ethnocentrism and realizing this interpretation came from my own experience and culture. 
                Another aspect I found intriguing was the presence of graffiti on almost every building I saw.  In the United States graffiti is illegal and is very much frowned upon.  It was a surprise for me to see how much graffiti was all over the city.  From my own perspective this was unacceptable and indicated an area of crime and poverty.  Unfortunately I did not think to ask about this phenomenon, but it would have been very interesting to hear an answer.  I am trying to see this from a different perspective and am questioning my assumption that graffiti is “wrong”.  In reality my ethnocentrism is limiting my view of it and it is likely that I am completely wrong about how graffiti is perceived here.  However, I still think it is interesting to note.
                An additional observation in Lima was the amount of street vending present in the city.  To me this seems like a very unreliable source of income and I would not want to choose it as a job.  However, it seems to be fairly common here and I am not sure of the reason why.  I have considered that it is in fact a reliable income here because the city is so busy with so many people.  On the other hand, poverty is common, so do people really spend money at street vendors?  I wish I was able to see the situation from the locals perspective better, so that I could understand the how and why.  However, even though I do not always know the answers to my questions and observations I feel as if I am still getting a lot out of this experience.  I am learning to think twice about things and really try to come up with alternative reasons other than my initial assumptions.  The downside to this is that I often leave the topic more confused than when I started it.  I wish I had all the answers. 
Example of Graffiti

Law Enforcement downtown.

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The Magic Nature of Lima


Farah Hazim

June 8th, 2013 



walking down Mira Flores and enjoying the ocean view is my favorite thing to do in Lima, Peru. I enjoy the magic nature every time I am out by the ocean or the mountain. Aside from the nature, I am learning a lot everyday at UARM University. I have learned about the history, geography, social and political conflicts in Peru. social and political conflicts lecture was my favorite. I was introduced to the social conflicts that the indigenous is facing for years now from the mining industry that is going on by river. The indigenous think that the mining industry is damaging their secret river, and they want to protect it by reducing or even eliminating the mining by the river.

I also enjoyed visiting the museums and learning more about the history of Peru. Museo Larco is one of the museums I visited here in Lima. I learned about the civilization and the history difference of both North and South coasts of Peru. I loved seeing the similarity and the differences between both  of the coasts. My favorite statue was for the mummy of the south coast which was buried and rapped with fabrics and in standing position. The interesting part is they took an X rays at the museum couple rays ago to make sure  that the mummy has a dead body inside it. I have posted the picture of the mummy of the south and the picture of the x- rays that was done years ago. The mummy of the north coast looked different than the south one. It was buried in the mud and covered with different layers of sand. I also learned that people in the north and the south coast use cold and silver for their customs and it used to be more shiny, well suited in the north than in the south coast. 

Another interesting part is the  people from the north used to think the sea is the secret place while the mountain was the secret place for people in the south. I also enjoyed looking at the textile of the north and south coasts of Peru. My visit to the museum was useful and beautiful. I learned about the history of Peru and about the different civilizations they had have.
My group and I visited the Day-care the UNO opened for the people live in San Juan Mira Flores. We helped them painting the classrooms, and I also played soccer with the kids. It was an wonderful experience, and I will be willing to repeat it again. I also enjoyed learning Spanish from the kids at the day-care.

National Museum, is one of the amazing museums that I visited here in Lima, Peru. It has too many sites to visit. The shining Path floor was my favorite, I got to know more about the history of Peru at the period of the shinning path. I felt sad for the people who were living the period of the shinning path, and I am glad it is over.

Overall my experience in Lima Peru was amazing. I loved the city and I was amazed by its magic nature. I would love to visit Lima again If I got the chance to do so, and I am going to learn Spanish, so I can communicate more with its people. 

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This experience in Peru has been loaded with novel experiences and has been eye-opening for me.  In particular my experience in Ate was something I will remember for the rest of my life.  Ate, while enjoyable, was also a bit of a confusing experience for me.  I saw and heard a lot that I did not necessarily understand and was surrounded by many stimuli.  Our class discussion concerning ethnocentrism helped me during the Ate experience to question my assumptions and think twice about the things I was seeing and hearing.  I must admit it was hard for me to step back from my own culture and try to see their culture with unbiased eyes.  It is a habit to see something and think you know what is going on and why, but many times that is not the case.  For example, there were a lot of kittens and dogs running freely around Ate, and I tended to assume they were strays.  If they were in the United States they would likely be abandoned animals, so that was my natural assumption.  However, they may not be and it isn’t fair for me to assume they are strays when I do not truly know what is going on.  Another assumption I made was that the people living in Ate would not be very happy people because of the poverty they live in.  In America I think it’s common to see that poorer individuals are often stressed and unhappy with their circumstances.  However, my observations contradicted this assumption.  Many of the locals in Ate that I interacted with were very enthusiastic when communicating with me and had big smiles on their face.  The children especially seemed extremely excited to play with us and interact with us.  It was hard for me to imagine myself that happy if I were living in those circumstances.  Money and poverty is a stressful struggle and I am not sure I would cope with it as well as they seemed to.  However, I also am trying to keep in mind that that is my view of it and probably not how they view it.  My suspicion is that they view their lives much differently than I do, and probably have different values and measures on quality of life.  I wish I could have asked them more about this but with my lack of Spanish, I could not think of an effective way to express this train of thought.  My experience in Ate was irreplaceable and I am thankful that I got to have that opportunity.  The people were so friendly and genuine, and were fun to talk to and interact with.  I also enjoyed the food they prepared for us and was very impressed with the way they cooked it.  I spent a good part of the time watching them prepare it and asking questions about how they did it, and what was in it.  The locals answered my questions enthusiastically and seemed to really enjoy my curiosity about this special dish they prepared for us.  This experience in Ate has improved my ability to step back and try to analyze circumstances from a different perspective, which I think will help me throughout this trip and life in general. 

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Lima: more questions


Our visit to Lima has left me with many questions. These last days, the group has helped a group of mothers paint the daycare Caritas Felices in the San Juan de Miraflores district in Lima. I spoke with Estel, a mother at the daycare, while I brushed and she held the paint. Her family is from Cusco, which she describes as where the Incans lived. She says the Incans are there, but they are not there. They are there in their descendants. People are a mixture, una mezcla. In Cusco, many speak Quechua, so she was teaching me some words for our trip there next week. I asked her if the kids at the daycare were learning it. She said no, because it is not necessary. What does it mean when a parent does not teach their child their parent's language?  What separates us more:  ethnicity, class, or language?

Jahnet's family is from the Amazon. She is the only one in her family in Lima now. It is very important for her to learn English she tells me. This is one reason she is trying to visit the United States for 6 months. From what I can tell, I do not believe there are a great many people from the Amazon in Lima, at least not those that have lived in the jungle. She tells me she met a man who was very excited to meet her because he had never met a lady from the Amazon. Jeanette enjoys Lima, but she tells me living under a roof is sometimes like a prison, un carcel, for her after living in the jungle, sleeping under the stars, and riding horses. Why are Jahnet and Estel in Lima, far from their families? One reason is for a job. Estel works at the daycare while Jahnet studies tourism and works somewhere where she must respond to emails in English.   Another reason might be because they were displaced due to governmental forces or otherwise. Why don't they move back? That is difficult question, and I believe in general, people don't want to. Perhaps they have come to enjoy and revere their new modern life. Maybe having a TV and plumbing is seen as progress, even if you are living on a soft cliff where there are earthquakes.  Also, sometimes "where you came from" is poorly defined. Maybe my grandmother was born in the Andes, but I have always lived in the city. Maybe my  grandmother lived in Cusco, and my grandfather's parents were from China and the Andes. These are Limans.

Lima is a mixture of cultures. This makes me think of a conversation with two very talkative girls we met in Ate, Maria and Nikola, 8 and 9 years old. We dusted off a ledge of a boulder and sat looking at the stars, pretending we were queens. Nikola said she was queen of Peru, and Maria is the princess. They asked each other what I should be queen of. They knew I was from the USA, but Maria asked me if I was from Argentina and Nikola asked if I had Chinese in me as they pulled at their eyes and inspected mine. This may seem like an insensitive question, but from this conversation, it can be seen that the kids question where we are from and understand that the answer can be more complex than where you live.

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Lima: deception and nature


One of the themes of the trip for me has been how the truth can be hidden. Maybe it is better to say truths, because there is not one, encompassing truth.  Some examples include the following. One, on top of a hill, un cerro, in Lima, there is a cross. This hill was (or is) an apu, a sacred place for the pre-Spainiard Peruvians. Did they so quickly convert to Catholicism? Probably not. More likely, when the Spanish came, they had to adapt their images and adopt Catholic ones in order to continue their beliefs without persecution. In the Mueseum Larco, we saw an Incan artist's portrayal of an angel alongside pottery depicting men with the wings of an owl. This syncretism of culture and faith is abundant. Another example includes the merging of Jesus Christ and the Lord of Earthquakes in an important Catholic festival here celebrated around Easter. Two, there is a precedent of lies for politicians. For example, our lecture from Dr. Carlena Ilizarbe at UARM included details of politicians such as President Garcia who promised the people one thing, but when elected did another. The group experienced this deception firsthand  when we visited the office of the Mayor of Ate. Ate is one of the disadvantaged areas in Lima. One of their problems is the amount of trash that is not properly disposed of.
This problem is compounded by the quantity of homes there. There are many people living here because the city grew rapidly, and there is not enough room on safer lands to accommodate everyone. One of the leaders there claimed to jog every morning and pick up trash to set an example for the community. I don't buy it, but as one of our group members pointed out to me, maybe the lie is not as important as the fact the community needs an example. Even if he doesn't really jog and pick up trash every morning, if stories are told that he is doing this, maybe that is more important.
Another theme of this trip for me includes the preciousness of nature. This is apparent in Lima. We have seen plenty of trash on our stay here, both in the water and on the land. The problem is complex. Why all of this trash? One reason might be that the city grew very rapidly. Another might be that the people who came here have different customs. How do you convince someone of the importance of taking care of the environment? As the group is discussed, this is not as easy as it might seem. This problem of conserving nature will probably deepen after our trip in Cusco where issues also include mining. According to our lecture from Dr. Carlena Ilizarbe at UARM, the state forces extraction, and the culture resists this. This leads to conflicts. The pattern appears to be that conflicts are only discussed after violence. 50% of all conflicts involve mining. In Cusco, I expect we will learn more about this.

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My interpretation of the history of Peru


Today we went to the Museo Larco in Lima. Learning about Incan history in the United States we were always taught that the Incan kings were considered  Gods. The Larco Museum has a collection of Incan headdresses and body ornaments. Seeing these relics on the mannequins at the museum were breathtaking; to see a person wearing amazing shinning gold ornaments from head to toe. I do not disbelieve they were god-like. I wish I could post my pictures from my camera ( unfortunately I forgot the correct connection).

One thing that struck me was the old musical instruments. One in particular was a large block of a wood with several holes in the top carved to several lengths. Again I wish I could post a picture because it looked almost identical to the flutes played last night at the Brisas del Titicaca show, a Peruvian traditional dance show.

The museum also contained large clay pots/vats. I did not catch the traditional name due to lack of time; the guide from the museum as well as ourselves were on a tight schedule. However, we were explained that the Incan people would brew and share chicha (essentially beer) in them. I wonder if the cultural traditions are the reasons we see such a difference in social behavior. One thing I have noticed since I have been here is that the people are closer to their loved ones than in the United States, or at least it appears so in public. For example, while we were in Chinatown, a portion of downtown Lima, we had about a half hour of free time that I spent resting on a bench. While watching the people passing by I notice that almost 70-80% of the people were wither linking arms or holding hands of their loved ones. Perhaps the sharing of the chicha back in Incan times instilled a culture of people who not only share but are close to one another and build communities together.

Continuing with this notions the amazing experience we had a daycare we visited today. Many mothers who live in the district San Juan de Miraflores came together and built a daycare their hands to house their children. From what I have heard, the mothers largely build this daycare from their own money, and donations from UNO coordinated by Dr. Celle, and no help from the local government.

I thought today was great being able to connect the long ago history with more present history present history. Also making connections with the differences between behaviors of other cultures that stem from their ancestors.

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Tourism? Says Who?


Preparing to write and reflect on today's visit to Peru's National Museum (Museo de la Nacion), I of course Googled first to verify the spelling. Discovering no museum website, I did learn I am not the first person to wonder why the museum is such a large building, with concrete walls, with so little information visible in the elevators or elsewhere about what can be seen and where, and no signs with directions to the bathrooms. The gift shop was closed and locked. Much of the lighting was turned off. Dark, empty corridors led to empty rooms. The sole women's bathroom we could find had a toilet seat in one stall, paper in the other, but not both in both. A resident of Peru wrote a review on TripAdvisor: 

"This museum use to be really good and complete, now it is only the remains of a great museum, great example of a still poor country that do not allocate resources to preserve this cultural pillar."

I don't know the full history--another TripAdvisor/Lima resident wrote that the former Fishing Ministry, a concrete block from the Velasco era, was converted to a museum, is not suited for exhibits, though it is more modern than (the commenter's words) "Soviet-era monoliths."

As a setting for an exhibit about the Shining Path years, this cold, concrete monolith is perfect. The walls and small rooms are situated in ways that make you slightly uneasy that you will disappear and never be seen again. The entire budget seems to have been spent on enlarging photographs, which seems appropriate--tell the story and don't wait until a cushiony budget for color and three-dimensional display space becomes available.  And given the horror of the stories to be told, a carpeted gallery would hardly seem right. I don't know for sure that these choices about spareness were intentional or simply a byproduct of limited dollars, but it doesn't really matter. The captions are in Spanish and English, which extends the reach of this story to Americans and millions of others. I read about the Shining Path and surrounding events before leaving Omaha for Peru; having visited the museum I am clearer on some topics and more confused on others. This will require (and motivate) further reading.

Speaking with a classmate on the bus while returning to the hotel, we marveled that a country could ever recover from being so torn apart.  The war was only a short time ago, within the lifetime of most of the people on this trip.  Is the recovery actually incomplete, but simply not visible to those of us who don't know what we're looking at?  How "recovered" was North America from its Civil War within 30 years? Europe after the world wars? More subjects for further reading. 

On the first floor of the museum, I spent a joyful 45 minutes viewing contemporary art, trying my best to memorize everything I was seeing. My memory of an artist's name is not what I wanted it to be (my backpack and notebook weren't accessible at the time). Juana Vendana? I don't recall the name of the style of artwork that combined colonial Christian and South American pagan iconography. An exhibit was shown several months ago at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha. Juana ?'s room-sized sculpture seemed to be saying something important about the price of forcing one culture on another--the characters in her birth-of-Christ scene have out-of-proportion necks and are stretched out of shape in general. The three wise men bring what appear to be the traditional gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. There are also three smaller people (or children, or just smaller because their meant to appear farther away)--one empty handed, one carrying yarn, and one carrying firewood. Peruvian artists also reinterpret the traditional "altar" art form to incorporate recent civil war history. One altar/sculpture had angels and other protective beings overlooking an agricultural village, with miniature uniformed soldiers in control of a bloody scene at the base of the altar. One artist showed multiple sculptures of angels' faces, in traditional designs, but the angels are crying. 

The art exhibit, and the war exhibit, represent the quality of story-telling that the citizens of Peru deserve for their national museum, or at least what I would want in mine. I have to wonder....was insufficient money allocated? Or was sufficient budgeted, but someone made off with part of it? 

Visiting the museum also got me thinking about Peru promoting tourism for its jobs and other economic benefits. Does a shell of a national museum say what the country wants to say to its visitors? I'm reminded of scenes I see in the central United States, in states also promoting tourism as the future, healthy, post-agricultural economy. I've also asked myself as I drive across Kansas: Do landfills, abandoned freight trucks and wrecked demolition derby relics on Main Street say what Kansans really want to say about their state and people? In both places, tourism requires investment in infrastructure. Both need new money injected into the economy to fund necessary infrastructure. But if we can't supply your visitors with clean bathrooms and scenes that are worth the cost of visiting them, they won't come. And we won't have our tourist economy.

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