Rain, rain, go away…

It’s still rainy season here in Perú, that wonderful time of year where anytime from Late November to late April some amount of rain falls upon the Sierra. Why is it called rainy season, you may ask? Well, essentially the entire annual allotment of precipitation falls across 5-6 months and at no other point during the year (at least here in Ancash). During a typical rainy season, one can expect rain almost every single day, usually starting in the early-to-late afternoon, and continuing for several hours into the evening. Intensity can vary, but I want to be clear; it is very common for it to rain EVERY SINGLE DAY! For all intents and purposes, this year’s rainy season hasn’t been too bad (it only rained fiercely in March/April), but it has been long (still going strong right now).

However, Perú’s climate has been greatly affected by climate change, and the once consistent rains have now become more scattered; sometimes the rains don’t show up until January, sometimes the rains stay until May (like now), and sometimes the rains don’t come at all. This inconsistency creates many challenges for the local people, especially here in the Sierra, who are dependent on the rains for many aspects of their livelihoods. You see, the start of the rainy season coincides with the end of the school year, meaning that students have several months off in before classes start again in March. In rural areas, this allows for the students to help their families prepare and plant the family plots, taking advantage of the free rainfall. Since many rural families here in Ancash are dependent on agricultural production for food and for income, a consistent rainy season is necessary for the family wellbeing. To illustrate, two years ago many parts of Ancash received little to no rain which resulted in the loss of an entire growing season and consequently many economic and water crises for many rural communities and families. So you see, the cycle of life here in Ancash, revolves around the rains.

The rainy season is vitally important to everyone’s livelihood here in the Sierra, but it can represent a challenging time for our Peace Corps Volunteers. Since classes are out for the summer months and most Volunteers work with schools, we tend to have lots of free time but little other work. And for us Volunteers, our work is essential to our wellbeing. We have a phrase here in Peace Corps Perú, “Un Voluntario felíz es un Voluntario que tiene trabajo” (a happy Volunteer is one with work). Additionally, rainy season can make travel challenging or even dangerous, meaning one may be stuck in their regions for extended periods of time, isolated from other Volunteers, or unable to enjoy a vacation while the workload is low.  Landslides (huaycos) aren’t uncommon during the rainy season and in fact, during this past March, we had a large landslide take out part of the highway connecting Huaraz to Lima. And last year, during the El Niño Phenomenon, all coastal PCVs had to be evacuated due to heavy flooding, and those of us in Ancash were “trapped” because the highway to Lima had been washed out.

But, I think the most challenging aspect of the rainy season is just the rains themselves. A consistently rainy atmosphere can just depress the mood, especially since the rains are often non-stop, day after day. For some Volunteers, it can be days or weeks before they see a small glimmer of blue sky amongst the ocean of grey rain clouds. Try to imagine. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the rain, but I prefer my precipitation spread out in doses throughout the year.

Since I know a rainy season in Perú can’t really be understood until it is experienced first hand, I thought I should share two videos I took of the rains here in Huaraz from the last few months. To be clear, both videos were taken as the rains were waning, and not during the height of their intensity. The first is from my apartment, and the second is one I took walking home from work when the streets turned into literal creeks.

 

The aftermath of walking home in the heavy rain:

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Hope you enjoyed experiencing the rain here in Ancash.

Until next time,

MGB

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Location, Location, Location

While there are many things I enjoy about living independently in Huaráz, I think my favorite is my new view. My apartment comes with a lovely terrace area that gives an unparalleled view of the city of Huaráz and the surrounding mountains. I enjoy many a morning and evening watching the sun rise and set along the glistening peaks of Huascarán National Park. Enjoy some photos of my day-to-day view!

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Until next time,

MGB

2 years in Perú

Today, May 7th, 2017, marks 2 years since officially landing on Peruvian soil (I think our plane touched down at like 10-11pm). While I haven’t officially reached 2 years in my site of Caraz, Áncash (gotta wait until July 25th, 2017), to commemorate this occasion enjoy some of my favorite photos of scenery that I have taken in my beautiful department of Áncash.

Enjoy the photos!

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Mount Huascarán as seen from Huaráz
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The valley visible from the cliffside behind my house
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The soccer stadium where my municipal department’s office is located
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The Cordillera Blanca as seen from Huata (Cordillera Negra)
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One of many beautiful sunsets I have seen from my house
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A panorama of Cuncash, Santa Cruz.
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Río Santa- for once not looking as contaminated as it actually is
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More sunsets from my backyard
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The entrance to the Quebrada Llaca (Llaca Ravine) outside of Huaráz
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Inside the Quebrada Llaca
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Laguna Llaca (Llaca lake) – the lake is formed from glacial melt and rainfall
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A dry field behind my house- reminds me of the savannah
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My host-siblings with a fiery sky in the background
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Laguna Parón (Lake Parón) – this lake provides most of the water to my town
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Snow capped mountains on the way to Punta Olímpica (Olympic Point), where you can cross the Cordillera Blanca to the “dark side”
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Yuracmarca, Áncash. My host-mom’s home turf, this region is only 1.5 hours north of me, but is basically a desert.
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A panorama of Yuracmarca, Áncash
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Laguna Querococha on the way to the ruins of Chavín de Huantar
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The archeological site, Chavín de Huantar
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Colorful, natural springs inside Parque Nacional Huascarán (Huascaran National Park) on the way to the Pastoruri Glacier
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At the Pastoruri Glacier, looking at other travelers
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The Pastoruri Glacier- once famous for its skiing, it is famous for its melting due to climate change
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Laguna Llanganuco- the reddish trees are called Queñuales
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A waterfall on the way to Laguna 69
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What we thought was Laguna 69; the real laguna 69 is way up there below the snow
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The real Laguna 69 – the water wasn’t too cold
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Laguna Parón once more. The mountain in the back is called Pirámide (Pyramid)
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Wilkacocha – a lake near Huaráz on the Cordillera Negra
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Caraz – my home for the last 2 years
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Another beautiful sunset from a site near Huaráz
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Mount Huascarán as seen from the town square of Mancos
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The Callejón de Huaylas as seen from a hike up to Huascarán
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Sunset during a hike up to the base of Mount Huascarán
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Sunset in the other direction
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First glimpse of Mount Huascarán in the morning. We eventually reached the “snow” line
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A contemplative selfie on the way back down the mountain
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Quebrada Quilcayhuanca
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Fellow Volunteer Kevin hiking in Quebrada Quilcayhuanca
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Laguna Tullpacocha at the conclusion of our hike into the Quebrada Quilcayhuanca
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Some cool clouds as seen from my backyard
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Laguna Churup- one of the most beautiful lakes I have visited
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The Campiña de Yanahuara – the place I’ve called home for the last 2 years
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From an excursion with three of my former students
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An abandoned church in the hills near my house
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A beautiful, moony night at my house
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The start of a sunset during the rainy season
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Fresh snow on the mountain after a heavy rainfall elsewhere
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One last sunset
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Mount Huascarán once more
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The municipal soccer stadium & Mount Huandoy, the famous snow-capped peak of Caraz

I live in a very beautiful region of the world and I am extremely grateful for the wonderful experiences I have enjoyed during my Peace Corps service. Here’s to one more year!

Until next time,

MGB