2 weeks, 33 meals, a birthday and a death

The two weeks that have passed since our grand inauguration have felt to be mere days. Two weeks, 33 meals, 3 volleyball games, 2 English classes, one art class, one visit to the medical post, a birthday and a death.

Our second week was marked by nearly all of these events. Apart from homework and volleyball, it was our first week of supplementary English and art classes which have quickly proven to be a success. Lisandro is amazing with the girls, the girls themselves relish his English class, and I can proudly profess that thanks to Lisandro, they well know the colors in English. Similarly, I too have learned the colors in Quechua. An educational reciprocity! Art classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays are being led by our first official volunteer, a carefree woman reigning from South Africa. So far we have touched on the subject of shading, yet out Thursday class was cancelled due to daylong power outage across the regions of Urubamba and Ollanta.

Wednesday marked an especially eventful day for myself as I was invited to one of the mother’s 40th birthday festivities. Right after school, Katy and I took off for her hometown in Camicancha. Our suffocating combi ride was spent listening mindlessly to the Huayno blasting on the radio, and our subsequent hike up to her home was dominated by my practicing how to say “happy birthday. I invite you to a beer and oranges” in Quechua. At our arrival, my dictation of the phrase was adequate, yet not without faults in pronunciation. Katy and I stayed for two hours of caldo eating, chicha drinking and huayno dancing. Everyone at the celebration was eager to hear about Katy’s progress in the program and insistent that she was a bright girl who could advance greatly despite her previous and inferior schooling.

And of course, with the upsides in life comes the down. On Tuesday evening, our house mother, Graciela’s mother in law passed away. Graciela was unable to work with us throughout the rest of the week, and will subsequently be leaving the position. Her mother in law passed away in Lima, and the family decided to bring her body back to her hometown of Ollantaytambo. On Friday, the coffin arrived, a procession ensued and then a daylong wake. The six girls and I went to the wake to pay our respects that very evening. It was a somber affair, but necessary for us to be in attendance.
I suppose one can never plan for such things in life. No matter how much of a perfectionist one may be, one needs to submit to the utter chaos of existence. And so, our search for a house mother starts anew, and next week I’ll be living alone with our six lovely ladies.

-Bianca