6:30AM wake up, 7AM yoga, 8AM breakfast & 9AM start. I never thought nomadism would come filled with routine.
Simu & I have been on the road for about three months now, which marks a good time to send an update to loved ones. Yes. That’s you! And since you’re loved, allow me to remind you that staying hydrated keeps your skin supple & your joints lubricated. You’re welcome. Grab yourself a delicious tea-or-water-or-something & let’s get on with this update already!
We’ve been nestled in the Andean mountains for about a month now working with Teresa, a kind-souled teacher who is building a kindergarten for the local community. Her dream is to fund it through her ecolodge (so that schooling can be donation based & accessible to locals). She often reminds me that she painstakingly accomplished this “without a man”. She’s not the most sexist per-say, but she does think men are better than women at construction work. Maybe I shouldn’t question her since a school has been built in just a month and a half. She is open about how difficult the last 10 years have been in this journey of developing Pedregal, her imagined symbiotic project between tourism and education.
This place is hard to describe, so here are some visuals for you. I’ll still try, though. Think early morning wake up calls from singing birds, hummingbirds constantly playing & suckling about, flowers around every corner the eye can see, mountains surrounding your field of vision. Delicious veggies & fruits picked from the garden. But also, think picking new beds for the permaculture garden, cooking for large groups of volunteers, brooming a few times a day, managing bookings, getting rid of clutter. Getting accustomed with plot twists & planning on the go. Getting the loose bellies and not knowing how to fix it. Being chased by innumerous dogs in the Peruvian mountainside (but only bitten by one!).
When we got here they had laid out the first three layers of adobe to the foundation of the school (we had a knee-length structure). Five weeks later, the roof is up and we’re just missing a door and window panes. And a playground. And paths & security fencing for the kids. But those are details. The construction of the structure of the school was quick-to-build and inspiring. The workers who did all of the heavy lifting are from Cancha Cancha, an untouched indigenous village only accessible through a quad-heavy four-hour-trek up and into the Andean mountains. Me and Simit spent a day exploring the area, and wondered how they do that commute on foot everyday. No wonder their bodies are in prime condition for what-seems-like effortless building.
How do we spend our days? Simu helps with drawings & construction planning. I help with organization & list-making. I’ve learned that one of the things that I’m somewhat-good-at is helping manage a project with a lot of moving pieces. Most of my volunteer work entails organizing spaces, getting rid of clutter & staffing other volunteers to projects. On our third week here, Teresa asked if she could take some time off and left Simu & I responsible for the project. It’s been both terrifying and fulfilling to feel that we can travel slow, get to know a community & take the time to make a contribution.
We meet a lot of travelers along the way who are exploring all the corners of Latin America while taking the most fabulous pictures & having the most enlightening experiences. That isn’t our style for now. We are focusing on a few places & projects. We are trying to figure out whether nomadism allows us to contribute to humanitarian projects in a meaningful way. And discover delicious new fruits & veggies on our plates. Some of Peru’s highlights have been granadilla (a sweet passion fruit), tumbo (a more floral passionfruit), choclo (the fleshy corn that grows in abundance over here) & lucuma (a milky and thick sweet-potato-like fruit).
I had to choose an experience to highlight in this update to you, and Pedregal felt right. Before our time here we had two other projects. The first was in the Bolivian mountains (Samaipata) where we were volunteering at a permaculture & ecolodge project; I was learning about gardening & Simu was helping them with expansion drawings. The second one was in Cusco where we were exploring the city & helping with drawings for a local community center (where they are planning on doing supplementary education for kids & professional training for adults). Cusco was missing nature & was overcrowded with tourists. The ecolodge in Bolivia wasn’t directly serving the community so the work felt a little empty. We move about, we learn more about the work we wanna do, and then we find our Pedregal.
We also took a roadtrip with an old friend from Japan, Chantal. Got to hit up some local ruins, do some hikes & get up-to-date on our giggles. We have another gathering planned with two fools from Harlem who are joining us here in Peru. Wanna come visit? We’d love to adventure with you.
Onward we go! How have you been feeling recently? What’s been on your mind?
If you wanna check out pictures on a more recurrent basis, you’re in luck! Simu & I inaugurated an instagram. You can find the latest at www.instagram.com/jadumoves.
With so much love,