Cajamarca, Peru. El Principio.

 I haven't taken the time to gather my thoughts of what to say, what would be of most use to you to read, or actually anything, now that I come to think of it. haha.

This is my 3rd week in Peru- specifically in Cajamarca.

I'm here as a Country Coordinator for HELP International, a non-profit organization and my co-coordinator Grey and I are getting health, business, English etc. projects together for our volunteers that are coming mid-May.

I found out about this position from Travis (whose amazing blog is here, may I add. Become really cool with him. It's worth it.).

It all happened so fast. I was supposed to leave in a matter of about 3 weeks. So I literally dropped, quit everything I had going on so comfortably- literally didn't even think twice.

My life had completely changed. But if you remember my last post, this is what I had been preaching about all along.

If you know what keeps your blood running through you and your heart beating, why would you question it ? If it keeps you breathing, do it.


So I started in Lima. Definitely a trip. And now we're in Cajamarca. So let's talk about it.


The Place.

Cajamarca is surrounded by mountains that have homes going up to the very top, so at night, the mountains are lit up all around us. Cars aren't very common here- crowded buses, moto taxis (mini taxis that fit about 3 people- adorable) and taxis are the main forms of transportation. It's crowded here, so there's a lot of pollution. There is a lot of history about Catholicism- Grey and I have been in 3 or 4 cathedrals by now and they're all SO big. Also tons of dogs in the streets looking for food. I die for them, so since I can't feed them all I name them.

And also if anybody wants to send a 50-lb bag of dog food down here that would be #prime.

The Food.

Papas Fritas (french fries) EVERYWHERE. Potatoes, rice and chicken are everywhere. We have found a burger place that is incredible, and also a pizza place that has changed our lives. You would think I'm kidding. I'm not. Frozen lemonade is also our favorite here, and there's also a drink made out of purple corn called Chicha Morada that we love. I couldn't even begin to explain it. So I guess it may not even sound that good huh.

Also, cuy is a HUGE favorite and delicacy here. And by "cuy" I mean guinea pig. They raise them here on the food grown and they become massive- bigger than any guinea pig I have ever seen in my life, and then they. fry them. and we tried it. Not bad, really.


The Work.

So far, we have been organizing and teaching English classes, visiting events where children are fed a meal a day (usually their only meal that day) and also where children are trying to be taken out of child labor (which is an incredible issue here), and also organizing workshops and campaigns to do health screenings followed by health education campaigns based on the screening results. We are also working with a home run by some Catholic nuns who take in special needs children- they're in need of speech therapy, wood-cutting, and other things. We're still working on project creation, but that's what we've seen so far, among other things :) Basically we're super excited. The people are great and so willing to accept help where they need it.

My Partner.

His name is Grey and he is incredible.


The People.

My favorite part.

So. Incredible. I love children, and we've been able to work with a lot of them, but also with people of all different ages. It's no secret here that Cajamarca is a pretty impoverished place, especially in development. The people here work hard. And I mean hard. Food is grown and sold here by the people daily. People are very humble and traditional here. The women all wear skirts and long braids, and rather than showing courtesy through smiles and words, I have noticed that they use their actions. Teenagers on the bus get up and offer their seat if an elderly person or someone with a child gets onto the bus. If someone is carrying a huge sack of rice onto the bus, the "cobrador" (usually a teenager who takes our money for the bus ride) gets it for them so they can find a seat comfortably. It is definitely a community where there is no status- not really any type of "class" where people put themselves above one another. Everyone is just trying to get by.


I think I've covered what I've been experiencing so far. It's been really hard, I won't lie. Incredibly hard, for personal reasons mostly. There is something about being stripped of everything you're used to that will teach you about your most vulnerable self. But it's nothing anyone can't conquer. God is good and patient, and every day still amazes me.

Ask me any questions you may have... about going abroad, about how to keep mosquitoes away, about  how many papas fritas can fit onto one plate or in one stomach. Anything- I got you.

Life is good. Enjoy it everyone :)

Post by Country Coordinator Lia Michele Batchkoff