Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Peru on film, Part 1

Oh, Peru! What can I say? Here are the basics: I went for 9 days to the northern part of Peru, Yarinacocha region, near the equator, to visit my friend Lucy, who was working with the nonprofit Alianza Arkana on sustainable projects in indigenous communities in the jungle. (Here's my little video, with home-made singing, of the trip.)

I flew from JFK to Fort Lauderdale to Lima to Pucallpa. I spent half the time at the Alianza's house, which reminded me in many ways of my old co-op, a ramshackle, screened-in, dark-wood building (compost, compost toilet, spidery shower, holes in the floorboards so you could see straight through to the ground below, a puppy, a cat, and several very thoughtful volunteers from all over the world).

I spent the other half of the time in an indigenous community deep in the jungle. The whole time, I was practically out of my mind with heat, humidity, and mosquitos. It was even hard to read in those conditions (and my clothes/watercolors took days to dry). And so, like everyone I met, I turned to conversation. Lucy and I would sit around for hours and talk about love, art, plants, medicine, and spirituality. Many travelers come to this part of Peru to learn about Shipibo religion and plant lore, and I met many people who were dieting, or eating a very strictly limited diet (no sugar! no salt!!) and focusing on a single jungle plant to gain knowledge of its unique powers. So there was always lots to talk about, and conversations got deep very quickly. I cried more in Peru than I have in three years of New York.

Looking back (my trip was in August), I'm so grateful for those hours and hours of lying on a hammock, swatting mosquitos, and talking, so far from the internet and my helter-skelter New York life. I am also so grateful for all the wildlife I got to see...falcons, hummingbirds, yellow songbirds, monkeys, butterflies of every description. I got very far away from my comfort zone of cold places (I picked Norway for my yearlong travel project for a reason), and I reaped the benefits of that discomfort, as always happens in the end.

I have a lot of photos. For this first group, here are some from the indigenous community where Lucy lived and taught. It's called Santa Clara and only about 50 people live there--at least a third of them children.

Lucy at the door to her hut <3


  1. I love this. I'm glad you got out of your cold comfort zone! I'll be doing the same soon.

    1. Thanks, Ryan! I hope you have a great trip :)