Thursday, November 24, 2011

Where has November gone!

Well, I am a terrible blogger, because I haven´t written for almost a month! I have been very busy. I entered my University´s talent night under the category of modern dance, with a lyrical number. I arrived at the theatre at 4:00, whereupon I watched all the bands, poetry, soloists and duets until ELEVEN THIRTY IN THE NIGHT when it finally came to be my turn. Yes, that´s right, 7.5 hours of talents before the modern dance category began. I would like to end that after my category, they sticill had all the traditional dances to do, meaning the even went until 1 AM!!! It was the MOST ridiculous thing, I have no idea why they didn´t make some cuts beforehand. Also, each career had they own fans, who came with balloons and noisemakers to cheer on their respective talents. I have no idea why they allowed several acts from each facultly in every category, ideally they would have chosen one so that the night finished at a respectable time. Anyway, Administration won the whole night since they are the biggest facultly and participated the most. As the only representative of Pyschology in the whole night, I was quite impressed at the number of people who stayed to watch me perform. When I was on stage, it was weird because I couldn´t see the audience at all, it was black, and then they used smoke, so I was literally blinded and forgot everything and had to improvise. Even with that, I won 2nd place in modern dance. I was happy with that because all the other routines were groups of 7 or more with girls wearing very short skirts and bras, involving very little dance, but still some of them were good because of the sheer numbers of participants. The winner had 20 dancers and they had some cute ideas too.
Today there is a strike in the Cajamarca, if it were in a 1st world country I´m sure it would make international television but since nobody cares about Peru, nobody knows. Yanacocha is the 2nd largest gold mine in the world. Today all the surrounding villages, farmers, and their supporters in Cajamarca are gathering in the main square to protest the contamination of fresh water due to the mine. They say the strike will be indefinite. Today, all universities, schools, shopping malls and markets are closed. I´m not sure if that portrays the gravity of the situation to you. For them to close the open air market, a sprawling area of over priced plastics and really expensive fruits (that reminds me, yesteray we went to the market to buy fruit, 3 kilos of apples, 1 kilo of grapes and 2 kilos of oranges cost us 30 soles, that is like $10, ridiculously high but they say there isn´t any fruit right now). Yesterday when we arrived at the market it started to rain. I was wearing flip flops. Imagine a 2 inch deep brown river which sweeps up all the garbage floating down all the streets and in the middle part where people walk. Now imagine you have BARE FEET. Sexy right! Well, this area is totally shut down. Guess what? ICPNA STILL HAS CLASSES. I will see how the situation unfolds, because if there aren´t any taxis or it is dangerous in the center part of the town I won´t be able to arrive. I told my students to play it by ear too, if the situation turns violent I told them I love and I´d prefer them to skip class. I also said the institution is open, but if it is dangerous us teachers aren´t coming and we will contact you. But we musn´t get ahead of ourselves. Rumours abound in these situation and it is best to wait and see. Don´t worry, I live in a suburban part of the city, where the protest won´t come to because strategically it makes no sense. They say that by 5pm the drama will be over, but I am not so sure. In any case, I will play it by ear. They called on the president of Peru to come here, but I am not sure that he will. There have brought 2000 policemen up from Lima. Right now, everything is peaceful and normal where I live, and there are cars passing by on the highway just as normal. César has gone to work too, he says there will be more work today since other people aren´t working. I will keep you updated, but don´t worry about me, I am far from the center of the protest, and the protestants say it will be passive (although the 2000 policemen suggest otherwise, and may even provoke violence, as the policemen are HATED by people here, they are often the biggest thugs). I kind of want to go the central part of town to see what happens, but I promised César I would stay here, and I promised my parents I wouldn´t take unnecessary risks. So I will watch my facebook page for updates instead! Ahhh it´s so frustrating, the politics of the situation are so interesting...
I LIED. The strike, or a part of it, well I think just a part because there were probably only 800 people, just walked past my house. Totally pacific, they are playing the anthem of Cajamarca and have banners etc., but the policmen aren´t even there with them, they are all smily and waving and totally peaceful. I asked my friend and he says the police are at the mines and in the main square where the demonstatrations are taking place and this is just some people heading to the main demonstration. Waoooo I want to see the main part! But I am here, so relax! Here is a picture from the newspaper of one of the central streets, usualy bustling at this time, totally dead in preparation for the demonstration.
Well, in university I am doing well, they say I´d have first place in my class if I was taking all the courses, which I am not because I have to work.
Well, I have been part of various social projects in Cajamarca, we have been to 3 different public schools, very poor ones, and given the children workshops on self esteem, respect, teamwork etc., we have also given them pens and treats etc. It has been really interesting, because the other day I was walking and a girl selling popcorn on the street says, Hola, Gemma, how are you? I recognised her but I couldn´t remember from which school, and she was so chatty and even remembered my name and was so excited about us coming back to hang out with them. At the school my group chose, most the the kids are streetworkers, as in they are the ones who are trying to sell you things, or wanting to sing for you or shine your shoes etc. It is a privilege to be able to work with them and get to know them. The photo is of children in another school called Ingenuo, where they aren´t quite so poor because they have uniform. I should say, that all public and private schools have uniform. CEGECOM doesn´t have uniform because it is not a state school, nor private. It is 100% free and run by volunteers, for extremely poor children. The level of education is low, and they do a lot of singing, it is quite religious, however they have their classes too.
Wow, I just saw a police helicopter pass in the sky (well obviously haha).
I think it is great that people are defending the environment, but I also think that they aren´t really considering the impact of mine closure. Cajamarca SERIOUSLY depends on the mine and if it leaves, the wealthy population leaves too, the schools have less students, the shops have less consumers, basically the economy nosedives because everybody is connected in some way to the mine. Most of my students are the children of people connected to the mine, and if it closes there won´t be money for English classes. I do agree that they need to negogiate a way to protect the environment and keep the mine going too.
I made grape cake the other day. Yes, I smushed up grapes and took out the pips and cooked them, I recommend it, they were yummmyyy!
Yesterday we went around the university giving out bracelets and information about ending violence against women for Nov.25th. That was cool.
I broke a window at ICPNA. Seriously, I don´t even know how it happened, I didn´t even use that much force, I mean I don´t exactly have a lot of force!
Well, I shall keep you updated. I think I shall make perogies! Take care my dears!

1 comment:

  1. I heard about the Gold mine issue in Peru and meant to follow up on it more, but haven't. At the WUSC Forum (AGA), I attending a really interesting session on mining in developing countries. What is happening in Peru right now is exactly the type of situation that the panelists were discussing. Stay safe...strikes in developing countries are not like they are here in Canada. Public service employees were on strike when I was in Botswana. Ours at BU is finally over, but when Abraham and Mubarak heard there was a strike, they were worried they were going to get shot. Yikes! Kind of forgot how different our world is.