My Experiences: A Recap

I left the USA midday on May 25, 2015, arriving in Peru just after 1 am local time. A short flight from Lima to Cuzco and a 2 hour car ride later, I arrived in Ollantaytambo, population 1800. For the first few days I struggled through awkward Spanish conversations and became acquainted (in English) with my fellow interns at Awamaki. In my first week or two I was able to do very little in the way of formal research or asking questions, but in a way that was for the best. Not focusing on my project allowed me to better understand the context of the town I was staying in in better detail. I learned that Ollantaytambo itself was a local center of economic activity and that as you venture further and further away Spanish gives way to Quechua and paved roads give way to gravel paths. As you head into the mountains, Spanish-style clothes with their muted colors slowly give way to brightly-colored ponchos, skirts, and llicllias. And with each increase in altitude the relatively wealthy families of the valley with their tv sets and indoor plumbing transform into farming families with thatched roofs and unreliable—or sometimes nonexistent—electrical connections.

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Progress! …And More Delays

In the days since my last blog post we have come far with our analysis. Reaching new findings can be difficult, especially since running statistical analysis is not a straightforward process here. As I’ve said in the past, Peru is about being ready for surprises and creative solutions. The largest hurdle for performing statistical analysis here is being able to access software since the licensing fees are extortionate, especially for a nonprofit. So on this occasion I used skills from my computer science minor to get around this hurdle. Because the process is a little boring and technical, I’ll leave it at this: I found a way to upload my excel files to my W&M account and then access a W&M desktop through the web to use Stata. Basically that’s the main reason I maintain that the Internet is a form of witchcraft.

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Nothing Goes As Planned–And That’s Good

Peru is a country of surprises. Yesterday I woke up to find that my host mother had spent the night before baking me an orange cake. When I strolled into the kitchen she offered me the whole cake and a mugful of hot chocolate. Then she pushed a candle into the top of the cake and lit it. Admittedly, it was my 21st birthday, and this was certainly not the most unexpected thing that had happened in the kitchen. The night before the solstice I came home at 9 pm to be dragged into the kitchen and urged to participate in a session with a clairvoyant. He happened to be both a family friend and a ghost hunter whose name was the Spanish equivalent of Julius Caesar. Fortunately, I now know that I’m going to grow up to be a brilliant, successful man. What a comfort.

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