A Vacation

A week ago I left the albergue for a stint in Chile. A vacation of sorts, but mostly a visa run exalted as vacation. The six girls were left in the care of Shiva, and I continually attempted to suppress the urges to worry and to instead relax on the beaches of Arica. An impossible endeavor. I missed the six girls terribly, and incessantly thought of what a joy it would be to bring them to the beach and have them experience the vastness of the ocean for the first time.

My arrival six days later into Ollantaytambo and to the dormitory was marked by a slew of suspiciously stoic faces and a banner commemorating my return. I experienced a certain shock upon seeing the girls. While it had been a mere week, they seemed older, taller, and I grasped a trace of what it must feel like to be a mother.

During my absence, Alex and Gabe had arrived in Ollanta, along with Aki Kaneda, an acquaintance of Alex’s from his hometown in New Jersey. For the first time, we have a majority of the board down in Peru, and it couldn’t have come at a better moment. What with Lisandro living and working in Urubamba and spending all his free time in Ollanta, and with my acting as a surrogate mother of six, there were so many to dos that were being perpetually jettisoned and postponed. Now with Gabe and Alex’s support I trust that we’ll be able to catch up on a slew of said necessities.

Mr. Aki Kaneda, or Mr. “Aji” as the girls dubbed him, had traveled both to acquaint himself with the project and with Peru at large. Last Thursday night, he invited the 6 girls, board members and families to a Pachamanca, a tradition meal of varied meats and potatoes cooked beneath a heap of stones and earth. It was a delightful meal with a rich and smoky flavor that was appreciated by all in attendance. To show their gratitude, the girls amassed an impromptu choir and sang songs in English, Spanish and Quechua. The gesture was welcomed and applauded, and the fact that the all the songs seemed to touch on the more mature subjects of love and deception went untranslated and as such, unnoticed.

This week, the dormitory is seemingly back to normal, and then some. Exams are encroaching and the next few weeks will be spent laboring over textbooks and revising notebooks. Perhaps it couldn’t be worse timing as this very Saturday also marks the commencement of a week long festival in Ollanta in commemoration of el Señor de Choquekillka. It’ll be nice to see how we manage to juggle bull runs and fireworks with cramming for math and physics.

-Bianca