Archive for February 2009

Long overdue, but I’m home!

February 8, 2009

After a crazy month in Peru followed by one of the busiest weeks back at MIT, I am going to finally sit down and sum up my experience in Peru.

All in all, the trip was wonderful and amazing, and I wouldn’t trade it  for anything.  The beauty of the country and the people there was absolutely breathtaking, and our work there was worthwhile and we finished everything!  One of the things that struck me the most was how excited and interested all of the people we worked with were about technology, and about the possibilities of improvement that it brought.  When we were in Amparaes, as soon as we had finished building our pedal-power blender/grinder and demonstrated its use, men from the town were asking us if you could do something similar to create electricity or do some other function that they were looking for.  Tio Hibo at the Westfalia orphanage was fascinated with how motors work, and how you can use that to make a windmill or other things.    However, the part of my trip that I will remember the most, and that I appreciated the most while there, was the genuine openness, hospitality, and selflessness that all of the people there exhibited.  I have never had more accomodating and wonderful hosts, especially like those in Amparaes.  These four people who had never heard of vegetarianism prior to our arrival suddenly started cooking everything vegetarian for all of us for the entire week we were there and never once complained about it.  When we walked around the town, people we had never met welcomed us into their homes, showed us different things that we asked about, and we literally had to insist many times that they not show us some thing that we were questioning them about that would require them to use up the last of their corn or firewood.  I miss eating dinner like a family every night in Amparaes, and chatting away in Spanish to the priest and hearing all these fascinating factoids and stories about the Incas and Amparaes, and hearing from him about the town.

Since I’ve been back, it’s been pretty hard readjusting to life here in the US.  You would think that after living 19 years here, being gone for one month wouldn’t change that much, but even after a day of being back, I realized how much of a change there was.  I feel incredibly antsy all the time, and unproductive, and desicions and activities that used to mean a whole lot to meet at first seemed so insignificant to the projects and ideas that we had been working on for the past month.  Classes have helped me settle that feeling a little, since now I actually have something I need to be doing, but I finally realized the other day on the Cambridgeside Shuttle what this deeper feeling of unsettledness was.  Everything here is so easy.  I can just hop on a free shuttle and go to the mall if I want, and while on this bus, I don’t have to guard my bag and make sure no one snags something.  I can carry my computer around with me, listen to my ipod in plain sight and not have to worry.  I can brush my teeth with the sink water, and fill up my water bottle there too.  I can shower in warm water whenever I want to, without having to work the electrical system to avoid being electrocuted while in the shower.  I don’t have to struggle every time I want to communicate with people, but I can just speak freely.  And while all of those things seem like inconveniences, I miss the inconvenience, the challenge of daily living.  I miss speaking a different language all the time, a beautiful language at that.  But most of all, I miss the genuineness of my time in Peru, both in my actions and what we were doing, and in my interactions with people there.  Everything here seems so much more fake and less meaningful compared to the people I had the priviledge of interacting with while in Peru.  And while I know on some levels I need to forget about that and move forward with my time at MIT before I miss some of my short time here, I also know that I will never forget the feeling of genuity I always felt in Peru.