09 April 2009

Esa Kata

This is how I am known throughout the Callejon de Huaylas, and Peru for that matter....regardless of age, gender, or village/town/city association. It literally means, 'that Kate', but is probably more accurately translated as, 'that crazy Kate' and is followed by a chuckle. And it does not matter what I am doing, I could be dancing like a fool; cursing out the national airline, bank...or really any national entity; using the latest slang; or showing off my (sad) Quechua skills.

Semana Santa, or the week leading up to Easter, was absolutely wild. It is celebrated most dramatically in the sierra, Huaraz espsecially I am told. While I cannot really compare it to other sites, it certainly lived up to its reputation. On Good Friday the entire main street of Huaraz was decorated using colored sand and flower petals to create HUGE images of Jesus, crosses and various other saints. I was blown away by the detail and sheer size of these 'carpets' but amused by those that were sponsored by the national phone company or bank, whose logos were almost as big as the Savior himself.

Lately, I think for the change of season, I have been receiving quite a few nocturnal visitors, and not the fun kind. This last week I was eye to eye with several huge spiders (I am told they are not poisonous...), the mice that have been leaving droppings all over my room, including inside my bed and all throughout my clothes (yeah...), and my all time favorite, several very very large slugs, I am talking four or five inches long and thiiiick. Nasty! Not quite sure what to do about all my new friends...except pray they don't want to be in my bed the same time I am I suppose.

In other news, since I am staying here through May of next year (to even out the academic year...although I might be tempted to stay longer because that will be the beginning of the gorgeous season here in the mountains) I have decided to take an apartment here in Huaraz. This way, I can continue research in Copa and other sites but have a solid, permanent space for an office so that I can begin organizing and writing! Anyone who knows me understands how excited I am to have a space of my own once again. And you know it will be buried in plants! The site is great because they are newly built apartments above a new restaurant that a friend here is opening, which means that when I am up in the field or away in Lima or the states, someone is there keeping an eye out...I also get to poach his wireless internet and his cable which certainly sweetens the deal. This is all still somewhat theoretical, but I am keeping my fingers crossed I can get into the apartment around the end of the month....happy birthday to me!

01 April 2009

B-52s and Village People

Oh yeah, they are alive and well and coming to Lima. Boo yaa!

I find myself at the end of another month here in Peru, the last weeks of which I have spent in the grand city of Lima. But not only in Lima, the neighborhood of Los Olivos, which is an up-and-coming neighborhood (at least parts of it) on the outskirts of the city where lots of folks from Huaraz and other highland provinces land. Still though a far cry from the lush, gentrified oceanfront communities of Miraflores and Barranco where I usually stay while in Lima. And I must admit I was purdy darn scared a few nights ago when I arrived well past curfew, without my cell (second one lost in as many weeks) and no way to get into where I was staying without waking up the whole apartment building! Finally the guard, after calming his dogs which were on the point of attack (there was not a rock in sight) and admonishing me for wandering around after hours, talked some sense into me saying, just ring the bell and ask their forgiveness because you cannot stay out here! I have since embraced living in Los Olivos as it gives me a broader view of the city (via the two hour bus rides) and has a nice neighborhood feeling...at least until dark.

I was in Lima for two weeks full of conferences on water, climate change and indigenous communities and have been bouncing between various different conferences on any given combination of the three themes, with none of them saying much of anything interesting. I did enjoy watching the environment minister speak (Peru has just created an environment ministry this year), but otherwise like any other conference, it was mostly useful in terms of networking. I met another environmental anthropologist who has worked in Ancash as well as Peruvian doctoral students (a rare find) working in hydrology and climate. As one can imagine, apart from economics the social sciences were not represented, but hopefully I can change in the coming months.

In other news, I will be extending my stay in Peru through February or March of next year at least. A large comparative NSF project is picking up Copa as one of their three sites which gives me a few months of funding outside of my Fulbright-Hays to continue research that will benefit both my dissertation and my CV. I will be coming back for two short trips in the fall however, one to celebrate the wedding of D. and A. in September, and then again to present at the first Millennium Conference of the Ecological Society of America and as part of a double panel at the American Anthropological Association meeting in Philadelphia (get ready L.!!) in November, just in time to catch my favorite season.