Kat's Tales

“Clay lies still, but blood’s a rover / Breath’s aware that will not keep. / Up, lad: when the journey’s over there’ll be time enough to sleep.” – A. E. Housman


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12. augusto. 2011 - Los ultimos son los mas dulces.

Posted by katstales on August 12, 2011 at 8:50 PM Comments comments (0)

So, here it is. The last Peruvian blog... for now!

I promise I will update once I get home, a sort of free for all everything that needs to be said that hasn't but not tonight.

I am sitting at our newly repaired desk top waiting for my three favorite boys (Miguel, Jason and Roberto) to come to the house to say our final goodbyes. To be fair, we have been saying our goodbyes, our ''I love you''s and ''forget me nots'' all week long. Tonight is the ultimate goodbye. I've got half an hour before my taxi arrives to drive me into the airport for my midnight flight. I've written all my adios cards and had a couple good cries.

Speaking of good cries, my darling friend David the Grand Chess Master made me cry my eyes out (and the sweetest beautiful girl Mariel just gave me a hug; more crying). He wrote a beautiful note about my being a fantastic someday mother. Kennedy (my darling Oh! Kennedy) pinky-promised not to forget me and told me that he will miss. 

Jeez. Peru has been the most amazing trip ever. I adore the people, the place, the students.

Okay!! People are arriving and taxi is here. I love you all and catch you stateside.

2. augusto. 2011 - Marchin' to Marcahuasi.

Posted by katstales on August 2, 2011 at 8:01 PM Comments comments (0)

Hey, guess who didn’t die on her way up Marachuasi?

To be fair, I had never puked so many times on a hike. Between being ill and the altitude, I was a vomming machine; the skills one acquires in Peru! Sarah, Lauren, Jason, Roberto, Miguel and I all met up on Wednesday at seven to get on a combi to Chosica. Once there we chilled in another bus for about two hours before it was full enough to drive the next two and a half hours to Marcahuasi. Let me tell you; the drive was so incredibly beautiful. Without doubt, this was the most of Peru I have yet to see and it has certainly inspired me to return. Don’t get me wrong, I want to come back to Huaycan anyhow, but now I truly want to experience Peru. Anyhow, the ride past Chosica was incredible. Much of it reminded me of New Mexico; the enormous dusty mountains and windy roads over green valleys reminded me so much of home. Once there we hired two burros (bwahahah!) to carry up our stuff. Now, I cannot lie, sickness, thin air and a month of bread and cookies were not kind on my climb but darn it all if I didn’t do it and have fun doing it! I climbed most the way on my own, hiking a little and then enjoying the view. The land below looked like a patchwork quilt with all different sorts of green. I loved it! The hike took me three hours (which is only an hour more than estimated arrival) and Miguel and Roberto and I all arrived at the same time. What can I say? I’m built for stamina, not speed.


Once up, we all napped on the huge volcanic rocks that had been warmed all day by the sun. We did a little bit of exploring but the sun was going down and it was far too cold to do much. Speaking of cold, oh my gosh! It got down to about 0 degrees C and we had the worst time trying to get our fire started. Thankfully we got it roaring right after nightfall and roasted hot dogs. We played “Never have I ever”, drank Pisco and Sprite, and introduced the boys to … ready for this? S’mores. Yep, we busted out the good ol’ Hershey’s chocolate and marshmallows and introduced our three favorite Peruvians to s’mores. We were trying to explain what s’mores were when Roberto asked, “como en las peliculas americanas? (Like in the American movies?) Yes! Exactly! I cannot tell you how much they loved the idea of being camping and eating s’mores; it was such an experience for them. We roasted marshmallows and made s’mores until we were all cold, sugar high and tired. Perfect night.


We curled up in our tent, each under at least five layers of clothing, a sleeping bag and a blanket and yet still shivered most of the night. As soon as the sun started to peak up at six, I decided to take my chances outside. I crawled out and watched the sun come up over the most amazing rock formations ever. Marcahuasi is a large grouping of volcanic rocks that have been eroded by wind into figures that bear a striking resemblance to faces, birds, animals etc and many feel holds mystic properties. The sunrise over these huge rocks and cliffs was astounding; the shadows made the faces change and made shapes I hadn’t seen before pop out at me like they had been there the whole time. It was potentially the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen. I clambered back down to camp and curled myself on another rock near our tents. It was clearly warmer in the early morning air than in our ice-caked tents. So, there I was, curled up covered in head to toe on a huge flat rock when I think I hear someone talking in my dream.


“Que pasa aqui? /What’s going on here?”

“Piensas es bien?/ Do you think he is okay?”

“No se; tocalo, tocalo”… This is my favorite part. “I don’t know; touch it, touch it.”

At about this point I realized I was not dreaming but that there were two men talking about something… That something is probably me. I heard one of them crash away through the brush and the second voice called out, “Amigo, que pasa? Necesitas ayuda? Amigo?” With surprising reflexes for someone who was half asleep and half hung over (from altitude, not the pisco, okay thanks.) I whisked off my hood and hat to reveal the worst bed head ever. The voice belonged to a nice Peruvian guy about my age who was incredibly shocked to see an exhausted gringa staring blearily at him and not some fellow Peruvian. He sat down and we had a pleasant conversation which consisted mostly of me saying, “si, si, mmhmm” and while he told me about the power, force and energy of the mountains. Thankfully, he said his goodbyes and I slept the next two hours on my rock undisturbed.


Once we were all up, we played a lazy game of Uno, packed up camp and headed down. I was feeling less than well so I chose to go back the way we had come because I knew the way and it was not difficult. (The others ended up having the hardest time coming back down.) I beat them down by about two hours which I spent sleeping on the street. Yes, dear friends, I slept on the street in Peru; literally huddled on my backpack in the dust, with a bit of vom on my shoes. (Thank you marshmallows) Seriously, I had such an amazing time!!


If you're interested in seeing the fotos (only about half; working on getting the other half) here is the link.

02. augusto. 2011 - Diver-City, Diver-sion!

Posted by katstales on August 2, 2011 at 7:56 PM Comments comments (0)

Sorry for the huge delay in postings; I will be splitting up the last week or so into individual posts, so keep yo heads up!


Diver-City, Diver-sion; Diver-City, Diver-sion!


Gosh, there were not kidding! DiverCity was splendid! Imagine a tiny, tiny world where children can be adults, add some expensive foods and candy and you have DiverCity. Every large brand name company in Peru donated child scaled shops etc. For example, one of the favorite with all the children was the fire station. The children got to climb upstairs for orientation/Job Training and mid way through the alarm rings and the kids get to slide down the firehouse pole! Oh my gosh, that was amazing!! Once they slide down, they are down, the get in to gear (really!), jump into a tiny fire truck (really!) and. drive. the. streets! Once they have driven to the other side of the complex, there is a house that is on fire (almost really!) and got to use a hose/water to put out the fire. Every kid did the fire station, some did it two or three times.


Besides the fire station, there was a Wong grocery store, a university, the El Comercio newspaper, a salon, a gym, a Coke-A-Cola factory, an Angel cereal factory, a news television and radio station et cetera. There was even a plane. Yep, a child sized LAN Airline plane just hangin out out the second floor. Wow. The whole complex includes something close to eighty different activities for the children and the second floor was mostly dedicated to the parents tranquility; there was a room with massage chairs, a room where the adults could be cooked for, a computer/internet lab, a cable tv room which was playing soccer. When parents weren't relaxing upstairs, they were wandering the streets after their children, cameras perpetually at ready, and constantly getting in the way of each other's fotos.


The students had an absolute blast and honestly so did I. Basically, I walked in circles for five hours and watch children play at being adults. Occasionally as I passed students would run up and say "Miss, miss; Estuve bombero!" or "Katty, Katty; estuve medica!", then give a passing hug to my waste and run off to the next station.


We all had a blast but I was more than ready to go home and to my bed. Gosh! We spent something like seven hours with the group of twenty children and were drained. But how wonderful is it that after the semester, twenty children missed no more than two classes!? The kids who didn’t get to go were all very jealous and now want to go to class everyday so they can go to! Excellent, excellent day.


There are some fantastic fotos here towards the bottom of the album if you are interested.

24.julio.2011 - !¿ Where are the sleeps?!

Posted by katstales on July 25, 2011 at 12:47 AM Comments comments (0)

Whew! DiverCity was magical!!

You can check out some fotos here at the bottom of the page. There are fotos of both the older student's and younger student's field trips. I will be sure to post all sorts of fun details here tomorrow.

Now I climb my bunk and crash out. 

24.julio.2011 - Can there be sleeps now?

Posted by katstales on July 24, 2011 at 12:50 PM Comments comments (0)


I am straight up exhausted but I don't feel like I can let up; there is so much I want to do!



Unfortunately, I got ridiculously ill on Wednesday and missed out on Sarah's birthday, Ellie's last day and volunteering in Lima. I did nothing but sleep, watch True Blood, and drink copious amounts of hot tea. Let me just toss this out there though... For those of you who feel bunk beds are a great space saver, a fun childhood experience, so charming and cute yada, yada, yada; let me inform you that when your child has to throw up a three in the morning, you don't want them in a top bunk. Trust me on this one.


Luckily, I was well enough to go into Lima on Thursday with Jessie where I got to meet Lindsey, a spunky young German teacher with an incredibly thick Midwestern accent. We spent the day in the general Plaza de Armas area check out tons of museums. We visited the Basilica Cathedral of Lima which I found incredibly impressive. The enormity of the basilica was overwhelming and the delicacy of little thing was just astounding. I wish I could convey the wealth of the Basilica; the ornate jewelry and finery of the churches first patrons was displayed everywhere. Evidently, ''Sunday best'' had a much higher standard in the 1500 and 1600s; cases full of silver hair pins, gold threaded Bible covers, and gems of every color.  Life-sized marble statues and twenty foot high wood cabinets line the halls and wings of the cathedral. The wood working was by far my favorite part. The cabinets date from the mid-1500´s and it is just astound the quality of the work. Everything is so seamless and graceful. I plan on returning to Lima in this coming week to see much more, including the Museum of the Inquisition.


Friday was my last day of class for my favorite 232 class... the kids were so excited for the party and had a blast! Every kid got a certificate of completion, three pens, a pencil, an eraser and a box of crayons. We played Bingo until everyone won; I don't know why kids go so crazy for Bingo but they adore it. Every time they had a word they would shout '¡Yo lo tengo!'' or ''¡Ya, miss!'' and they all make the same high pitched whine when their card hasn't got the word; precious! Kennedy got a pencil bag as a prize for having the highest score on the final exam and Nayeli got a huge coloring story of the Three Little Pigs for never missing a day of class. We all had a great time but by far my favorite moment was when Kennedy asked me, ''Miss, no te vas, sí? (You´re not leaving, right?) Thankfully I still have a while longer and Lara is starting me with the same group next semester.


Yesterday, Saturday, we took our young adult students who had never missed a class to Circus Shindu in central Lima. We had four volunteers and eleven great students including two of my good friends. We hired a personal combi and had a fun, though cramped, ride there and back. The circus was great! There was even cotton candy (which is also called algodon here; literally cotton!), candied apples, popcorn, etc. It was so much fun to see some of our students treating themselves to blue cotton candy… Anyhow, the performance was a little campy, but very fun; the traveling company did everything from dancing in the air to jumping through rotating hoops to spinning plates. Afterwards, we treated all the students to Pizza Hut, which was quite an experience. Let me tell you something about culture shock. Culture shock is when you have trouble adjusting to a new culture that differs radically from your own… OR, it is when you walk into something that is branded as American and don’t recognize a single thing. Aside from the name, not much is similar between American Pizza Huts and Peruvian Pizza Huts. The building was an elegant two story affair with nice lighting and round, snuggly booths that were occupied by couples on dates while well dressed servers delivered beautiful and delicious pizza pies. A very far cry from the ‘Huts stateside…

Today is the second half of our field trips; now we take our young students to DiverCity. DiverCity is a child-scaled city where kids begin with a set amount of ''DC-Bucks'' and can either spend it or get a job. Kids have to pay bills and take pets to the vet and generally learn about responsibility. The coolest part is that while adults are allowed into the park, they cannot enter the individual ‘stations’ with the kids. So, if your kids wants to become a firefighter, he or she has to do it his or her self; no help from mom or pops. Very cool if you ask me… Lara has commented that in a way DiverCity promotes consumerism and materialism. The kids ‘win’ the experience by earning money and then spending it on things as opposed to having the opportunity to experience or do something (climbing a rock wall, riding a carousel etc.) Still, I think this is going to be a great outing for the kids and they are all very, very excited.


More on DiverCity tomorrow!!


19. julio 2011 - All work and no play makes for a great day.

Posted by katstales on July 19, 2011 at 7:21 PM Comments comments (0)

All work and no play makes for a great day. (Cause my work is play!!)

This past week has been exam week and I am having a blast. (This probably has a lot to do with me making the exam instead of taking the exam.) The kids are hilariously afraid of the ´´examenitos´´, even though there really is no gravity to them. The girls reach their tiny arms up to my waste and pull me down to their level: ´´Please Miss, noooo´´ while the boys run in circles with their trombos (spinning tops) and shout like the heavens are falling. Hilarious. Here are a few things I have learned about giving exams to small children:

1. Children are pumpkin eaters. Kids cheat; get over it. 

2. Man up, buttercup: You are the sherriff in this town so put on your big-girl chaps and go to town. If you say, ´No talking´ no student is ever going to believe you; you´ve got no gravitas. However, if you say ´No talking or I will not give out stickers,´ man alive, you won´t hear a peep outta them. You have to lay down the law and your word is law. Likewise, you have to live up to your word cause the kids will let you know if you´re not. If Luis catches Jhim cheating, no stars for Jhim. My little deputies know how to do business, yo!

3. Por ejemplo: Always use examples. Even if you diligently write and read the instructions twice in English and Spanish, half the children are sharpening thier pencils, the other half are staring out the windows and Thalia needs to go to the bathroom . Considering they won´t read it themselves, put an example at the beginning of every section and do it together. Kids catch on and really like group work because they each get the chance to shine. 

4. Matching is not your friend. Don´t allow kids to draw lines! The students who use pencil will erase and smudge the paper into a black hole of grafite while the students using pens will draw, crossout and redraw lines three times each. Save yourself the worry and give them a word bank to write out the word. 

But I will say, after all of this, all the kids did especially well. Our semester is drawing to a close and the next week is our vacation week, as well as the Peruvian national holiday, so I won´t have classes. I am going to miss them but I really look forward to introducing the new volunteers to teaching and the different kids. My favorite zone* has their last class on Monday so I am bringing prizes, games, gifts, certificates of completion, cookies and soda to class. I cannot wait and you can bet I am going to figure out how to post pictures here so you can see the celebration.

Tomorrow begins our weekend and we are going to an ´´old folks daycare´´ to volunteer for the day; not my word choice by the way. The next post will be dedicated to El Salvador, Chosica and night life. (The play parts of Peru.) If you are feeling a bit bored and want to check out a blog that includes world travel and chess, I highly recommend my friend and Australian grand Chess master champ David Smerdon´s blog which can be found here. I like his words and he refers to me as ´´a tall, alternative, means-business voluntaria from New Mexico´´;so, you know, I really like his words. Not really sure what alternative means though...

¡Besitos a todos! -k

*I cannot believe I am using the word Favorite with children but I´ve gone and fallen madly for all the children in my 232 class... love, love, love them. 

18. julio 2011 - Blast, blast, blast!!!

Posted by katstales on July 18, 2011 at 8:43 PM Comments comments (0)

So, I just spent an hour typing an awesome blog only to accidently unplug the computer, lost it all and shocked the holy ghost out of myself... I am grumpy.

Tomorrow after my afternoon classes I am going to rewrite it all... Now I am off to make guacamole.

There are more photos  here if you are interested. News tomorrow.

14. julio. 2011 - las fotos

Posted by katstales on July 14, 2011 at 12:18 PM Comments comments (0)

I'm off to Chosica to mail some letters and hopefully not to get lost on the combi system (again).

While I'm away, check some photos here with more coming soon!

13. julio. 2011 - Paltas: s/1.20/kilo = Avacados: $0.44 US/ 2.24 pounds.

Posted by katstales on July 13, 2011 at 1:45 PM Comments comments (1)

Oh my god guacamole and beer. That is really all I need.

Huaycan is getting ready to celebrate it's 26th Anniversary which can mean only one thing: cue races!

Yea dude! Cue races are happening! Cue, for those of you who are not familiar with the more delicate food stuffs of Latin America, are better known to Americans as guinea pigs and they are quite the treat on a spit. I am considering trying a Peruvian cue later on; you know, purely scientific reasons. Ecuadorian cue versus Peruvian cue...

But actually I bring it up to point out that this town that I am living in is incredibly young. The whole zone is only three years older than me but it has accomplished so much more than I have!

I feel really excited to be here in such a young city. The higher I go in the zones, the more I feel like I am seeing what Silver City may have roughly been like. Obvio, minus the electricity and such, but to see the progression and development is amazing. There is an incredibly strong sense of community here which I greatly admire (again, much like Silver). Siempre, when you pass your neighbor, you say hello and spend a few moments with them, even if you are absolutely dying to run to the bathroom which you know is scant feet behind the next door. Not that I speak from experience or anything... 

As much as I love Huaycan, and I do love it very much, I know there are very unhealthy aspects too. So, for anyone who thought I may have been snobby in the last post, I am not completely oblivious to the issues here. One particularly sweet child has an abusive father, many women are abused, and there are no outlets for them. This really inspires me to work with an NGO for a longer period of time, conduct the research, establish the connections and try to make an impact in the lives of those who need it. For women, and men, there is little to no talk of STDs, safe sexual practices, consensual sex , ect. There are also huge wastes of natural resources, there is practically no practice of recycling, animals are never neutered and so there is a vast and unhealthy population. While these are not glamourous, they are truthful and need to be addressed. These are the sorts of management issues I would like to become involved in. 

So this is one of millions of young cities and like a young child the best way to get 'em is get 'em while they are young. This weekend, I am doing research on NGO's and other global development positions/educational tracks that I could be involved in and will be watching copious cue races.

Hopefully, with guacamole and beer.

Postscript: After a skype with a friend, I realized I would like to toss out a thank you to those of you who do read this. I greatly appreciate your time and love you all very much.

10. julio. 2011 -

Posted by katstales on July 10, 2011 at 10:06 AM Comments comments (0)

Hola amigos!

On Wednesday, which is my Saturday, we went down into Miraflores, Lima, which was incredible. I am really torn about how I feel...

On the one hand, Miraflores is an awful lot like Austin, TX. Yep, keepin it weird. There are huge twenty-four hour "Whole Foods"-esque markets and giant three level gyms that over look classy apartments that have a simple (and mildly snotty) elegance. I wish I could lie and say this was not appealing, but it really is. The whole of Miraflores looks over the Pacific Ocean and across the bay you can see the brand new The Christ of the Pacific. There is so much money that it is overwhelming... I think Miraflores is pretty to look at, but I feel more at home in Hauycan. I feel like the atmosphere is more inviting and, frankly, I feel cleaner in Hauycan. I know that sounds odd, but the combination of cool air conditioning and shiny surfaces made my skin crawl. A little bit of dirt never killed anyone... (Just a quick side note: I stayed in Lima a little later and managed to make it home completely a-okay!)


Just some quick news about the house before I run off to morning classes:
LLI currently has three (3!) boys now! This is evidently a record. In addition to the loverly Chris, we now have David and Valentin. Dave is our chess, mathematics and sports instructor and he is incredibly hilarious. He is absurdly animated and the kids love him. Valentin is our new volunteer from France and is just the most charming doll.
Now, causation or correlation, I dont know, but we do seem to be running a little low on foods... hmmm.


Chau amigos! -k