Hey y'all! Part eight of my blog here!! As ever I'm having a great time here in Pisco, I've been kept really busy for the past few days, so much so I've been unable to write a blog since Monday!!
On Tuesday there was a national Peruvian bank-holiday, celebrating San Pedro, the Patron saint of Fishing I think, so we had the day off. I however volunteered to help out with the parade in the nearby town of San Andres, where we had been helping a group of local divers to build the fisherman's centre. We headed down there at about 10 o'clock, where we were greeted by the fishermen at the centre. We spent the first half hour or so preparing our "float" which was basically a tuk-tuk decorated with a marine-themed design. We then headed down towards the town centre to prepare for the parade. We had brought a banner with "Pisco sin Fronteras" painted on it and also balloons and stickers to give to the kids in the parade. After a while of standing around we finally started the procession. I was overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people who had come out to the parade, then totally underwhelmed when the parade ended after about 100 metres!!
We spent the rest of the day at the fisherman's centre organising a family fun day, with face-painting, balloon animals and arts and crafts. I spent the day helping kids make turtles out of paper plates and cardboard, which was fun, but also a bit of a nightmare when half a dozen kids each wanted to make one. At the end of the day the centre held a raffle. I bought a few tickets but none won, however Mack (the guy who was doing the balloon animals) won a rice boiler, which he then traded for a coffee machine for the house. After getting back and getting some food I went to bed feeling exhausted.
Can You Dig It?
On Wednesday, after a mental four-day weekend I headed back to Maria's house to finish work digging the foundations. We had almost finished by this point, with only a few corner bits and a quarter of a trench left to dig. After a good morning's work and with no sign of Maria to cook us lunch, we headed back to a restaurant in the town centre for lunch. After a good meal we headed back to put the finishing touches on the trenches. The two girls I was working with had to go quite early as they were leaving later in the day, so I finished off dotting the i's and crossing the t's on my own. Later on we had our weekly football game against the tour guides. This time we had Harold, one of the tour guides, who is also the founder of PSF. He scored a hat trick, which put gave us a 4-2 lead at one point, put after two blatent penalties were brushed aside as not being a part of "Peruvian rules" we ended up losing 5-4, extending our losing streak to somewhere in the region of 4 months!!
With the Thursday morning meeting being in Spanish, and me feeling pretty confident in my Spanish speaking ability, I volunteered to lead the meeting. This was pretty fun, although I'm sure I managed to mess a few things up! After collecting our tools we headed off back to Maria's house to start making metal columns to support the brickwork. However when Danny (one of the many new volunteers) and I got to the house the maestro had not turned up, meaning we could not work on the columns. After an hour of doing odd-jobs, cleaning up the trenches, we headed back to the house, where we were assigned to another project. Before lunch I was put on the pallette breaking team, who were tasked with breaking up wooden pallettes into smaller planks that could be used on the modular homes. I wasn't really enjoying this job so I was relieved when Frederick asked me to help making dinner after lunch. This entailed chopping up and peeling vegetables for our meat and vegetable pies. After a hot day of work in the kitchen we got two of our pies out on time, however mainly due to out poor quality ovens the other two were delayed another hour. At this point I sneaked off to eat dinner and chat by the fire. Thursday night was Seth's birthday, who was also leaving the next day, so after getting him a cake and eating it we went out to a nearby bar for a few drinks before heading back for bed.
After being assured that the maestro would be there and that the maestro had already made two columns I was extremely unimpressed to find that on Friday morning firstly the maestro was not there and secondly he hadn't made any columns. After waiting around for an hour listening to the Brasil-Holland game on the radio, the maestro finally arrived, so we started work on the columns. This involved cutting long strips of metal into 80cm lengths, then bending them into squares and attaching them to big, long, metal poles with wire. This was a fairly complicated task and I didn't really feel like a project leader since my workmate Anton had already made columns before and knew what he was doing! After a hard day and a late finish we finally got the six columns completed and headed home. After dinner there was a "Talent Night" where people were encouraged to showcase their talents. After a bunch of fairly dissapointing acts such a botched improv routine, a harmonica solo and a rendition of the French national anthem, I got up and did my Elvis Prestley impersonation with the backing of fellow Yorker Ben on guitar. I rocked. After a few more acts Alice started an auction of charity clothing. The first few womens t-shirts and hoodies all went really cheap, but when the mens large hoodie came up a fierce bidding war between Ed and Ido arose, leading to Ido paying a staggering 400 soles (about £100) for the hoodie. All in all they raised over a thousand soles for PSF. Afterwards we headed over to the old school house hostel to watch some people do fire-poi (basically swinging around on-fire tennis balls) on the roof. After about a half hour long show and an hour or so chatting on the roof we headed into town for a few drinks and dancing at the Afro-cafe, before heading back to bed.
Pour, Pour Tom!!
Saturday was the day of the long-awaited concrete pour at Maria's house, where we were supposed to spent the morning filling the trenches we had dug with concrete. I had however somewhat mis-judged the situation somewhat and failed to take into account a) the water cutting out in all of Pisco for an hour and b) the cement mixer running out of petrol just as we were about to pour the last of the cement!! This meant that instead of finishing at 12.30 we were there until 5 o'clock. We had some beers with Maria and the maestro afterwards before heading back. This also meant that I missed the big cricket game that was planned for 3 o'clock. Gutted! A few others from the Maria's house project and I headed into town a bit later to get some food from a restaurant before heading back over to the school house for the "80s/90s/cross dressing party" which was a roaring success. I didn't dress up though since I was tired and didn't have any clean clothes, let alone fancy dress!! After a few hours of the party we all headed back to the Pisco Sour Bar (actually called Copa Cobana apparrently) then headed back to the Afro-cafe, which was absolutely crammed with it being "dia del amigo" (day of the friend) which is apparently a big thing! After an hour or two of sweaty, cramped dancing on the dance floor I headed home exhausted.
Crackers in Paracas
On Sunday morning I signed up to go to Paracas and to go on a boat trip around the Ballestas Islands, which are often described as the poor-mans Galapagos. Harold was our guide and we were taken on a boat to go and see the Candelabra, a giant candle stick carved into the side of a sand dune, as well as the wildlife and beautiful landscape of the Islands. We managed to see penguins, pelicans, sealions and thousands of birds. I was completely gutted that my camera had stopped working as there were some really good sights. After the tour we wandered around the market for a while before heading back. With the frustration from earlier still burning I set about fixing my camera. A load of sand had gotten into it in Huacachina, so after a quick brush down it was fine!
That brings me to now! Got to dash as were having a bbq and some form of 4th July celebrations for the Americans! Ciao for now!!