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Comprising Spagus (derived from Asparagus), or Cam. Previously rural banker and farmer that has decided to ditch his tie and gumboots in exchange for a backpack and shaved head. Partnered with Shroom (derived from Mushroom), or Cat. Formally a country/city/country girl that has left behind the world of policy consulting and has ditched her high heels for some comfortable (yet stylish) footwear to support a wee bit of globetrotting through 2010 and 2011. We hope you enjoy following the travels of SpaguShroom through Europe, North America and South America!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pisco, PERU - Week 5

Our week has flown by yet again. With full days of work in the sun (temperatures now in the early 30s) we often crash fairly early to rise again around 6am and then do it all again.
We continued to make progress at Victor’s - although the house itself is complete we worked on the shower, toilet and laundry. The concrete floor of the shower and toilet was laid on Monday along with concrete tiles for the laundry area. The next day we were pleased to see it had dried well and that the shower drains perfectly! We then laid bricks around the base of the shower and toilet area. It looks fantastic and it was nice to sit back for the day and leave the experts to it - having two boys with previous brick-laying experience do the job.

Cam visited the doctor again during the week, he is still on the antibiotics and will return next week for blood tests but he is feeling much better. On Wednesday he returned to work and resumed his role as project manager. I was more than happy to step down, as the plumbing needed to be completed and the walls and roof constructed. At the end of the week we felt relieved to leave Victor’s with a completed toilet, shower and laundry area (very few people own washing machines but Pilar uses this to generate income for the family). We had a couple of issues but we muddled through and got there in the end. We were rewarded with an incredible sense of satisfaction as the family gathered in excitement to see their working toilet and shower - a basic amenity that we take for granted which will now change their daily lives. We were also able to deliver the good news from management that the family would be receiving a new fence for their property. They are concerned that the toilet and other fixtures may be stolen as their current fence is barely functional. We have a tight budget but the remainder will come from a few of us chipping in to complete the fence next week, our last task before we move on from PSF.

On Friday we worked at the Ludoteca- a child care facility which PSF has received a grant to run. It was passport day - where volunteers present information about their country to the kids and they have their ‘passports’ stamped. We therefore did Kiwi day with a fellow NZ volunteer. This involved telling the kids about NZ, ‘stamping’ their passports (with a red and blue crayon), playing rugby and making poi which naturally turned into weapons. It was a fun but slightly exhausting day.

I have also become involved in a public health project for PSF. Similar in nature to the work I do at home, I have been researching the sexual education and health services available in Pisco. PSF is looking at obtaining funding to assist in sexual education (and eventually wider public health) services. During the week I spoke with the Red Cross, an HIV Counsellor and the local obstetrician. Pisco is a very poor city and a symptom of this is a high rate of teenage pregnancy (11% of 14 year olds have children), high levels of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. With a macho society and a high religious population, there are more barriers than usual facing this project. I hope to continue to remain involved once I leave PSF.
We have grown very close with Victor’s family and on Friday evening Cam & I were invited to celebrate Martin’s 13th birthday. We shared dinner and cake with the family and gave Martin a present- a tool belt (builder’s apron) with a new hammer. It was just delightful to see his excitement and to spend time relaxing with the family. They are patient with our pigeon Spanish but we managed to muddle through conversation and had many laughs along the way. We feel incredibly privileged to have this experience, it is something we will treasure forever and is certainly a high point of our trip.

The weekend was spent relaxing, purchasing materials for our upcoming week at work and planning the remainder of our trip. We intend to leave PSF and continue our travels at the end of the coming week. It will be difficult to leave as we have had such a wonderful time but the gringo trail awaits!

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