Dance Theater of Harlem was the first black classical ballet company. Its founder, Arthur Mitchell, wanted to challenge ballet companies on their own ground and show that black dancers could dance the same ballets equally well. Concerto Barocco was one of George Balanchine’s major ballets and a great test for the company, some of whom had only been dancing for five years. It was the ballet chosen to open the company’s first season in London in 1974. Audiences were amazed that a company only five years old could master the cool serenity of Balanchine’s style. As Mitchell said, London was important for his company because it was one of the major centers of classical dance.
How do you celebrate a five year olds birthday? In style petite… In style. First Mad Max ( cause she loves real fucking badass movies), gifts ( got her an XboxOne… So she doesn’t ask me to lend her games), grandma giving her $200 bucks, a party and a bbq. Damn I wish I was five again… These kids nowadays are lucky as hell.
It’s a week late but Happy Mother’s Day! Dia de la madre is a
really big deal here. Last week, between Friday and Monday of last week, every
single primary and secondary school in Urubamba did some kind of Mother’s Day
performance – the majority of them involving singing, reciting poetry and
dancing. On Friday, those of us who teach English at 711 (elementary school),
were going to check out their performance but we got there what turned out to
be an hour and a half early so we decided not to stay and wait. There’s a
preschool right next to 711 and some kids’ cute outfits happened to catch our
attention and we ended up crashing the preschoolers’ performance for about
thirty minutes. Our being there was ridiculous enough already but things took a
turn to be even more interesting when a group of five year olds performed the Oppa
Gangnum Style dance – think little girls in toddler preppy and boys in suits
and sunglasses. Personally, I preferred the more traditional dances.
That night, we had a Mexican food vs. Asian food dinner
competition. We were fixated upon having set judges and making it a real
contest but it mainly just ended up being double the amount of already enormous
portions of food that we usually make when we cook together for dinner. I’m not
complaining though – between cong you bin, bao zi, sesame chicken, enchiladas,
guacamole and chips and churros, it was quite the intercontinental spread.
As I mentioned before, Mother’s Day festivities
continued going strong into Monday. I spent Saturday morning at my sister
Mariana’s school helping out with their performance. The dads were in charge of
organizing everything and not to be sexist - this is actually what happened – none
of them knew how to wrap presents so I ended up sitting at a desk and wrapping 26
presents while four dads stood in front of me and passed me tape and otherwise
tried to figure out what I was doing there. Then I went out to sit with Naomi
and my host mom to watch Mariana dance. That’s her, second from the right
holding her skirt out!
When actual Mother’s Day came around, I got up
in the morning to make banana and chocolate chip pancakes for my host family.
Between the members of our group, I think we inundated several Urubamba
families with carbohydrates that day as expressions of love for our host moms.
Micah and Esther took their moms out to breakfast, Mikaela made a cake, Andie
made a strawberry short cake and I made stacks on stacks…of pancakes. The
breakfast with my host family was a lovely time; my older host sister came in
from Cuzco and the grandparents were in town too so we all got to sit down
together. It kind of made me sad to think about how few times I’d be with the
whole family again before leaving.
My last Mother’s Day even was on Monday – the
performances done by the kids of my house’s preschool. It was a lot more of the
same thing (watching dances and recitations, serving cake, etc.) except Naomi
and I took advantage of the opportunity to have a selfie session while she was
in her cute outfit.
Our last few weeks in Peru have been full of doing
the things we’ve talked about doing this whole year but never got around to and
finishing up projects. I’ve been helping Matt out with his vermiculture project
and on Wednesday, we celebrated the completion of it on our part in Calca at
the farm of another NGO called Andean Alliance. The brief version of the
project is 1. Red wiggler worms eat poop faster than it composts on its own so
we’re setting up worm beds in several locations 2. This process turns the poop
into pellets aka humus 3. The humus can be put in a barrel with an aerator to
create an organic fertilizer, fungicide and pesticide that is applied with a
backpack style sprayer. The manure turning into humus takes several months so
the project is being passed along to Andean Alliance since they specialize in
sustainable agriculture and won’t be leaving anytime soon. In the meantime, we’ve
been setting up everything we can before we leave. What this has meant for us is
a number of trips to Calca to plan with Andean Alliance, buy supplies, clear
the space on their farm and construct the beds and finally, this past
Wednesday, put in the worms. I’d say my contribution to the project that I’m
most proud of is suggesting we make the little kid dessert dirt n worms to
celebrate putting in the worms. Between a number of stores and the gas station
that carries a lot of imported snacks, we managed to find all the ingredients for
the dessert. I went so far as to add vanilla crackers to make the walls and divider
of the worm bed to make it more like the real thing. Apparently Oreos, pudding
and gummy worms are a beacon to ex-pats and foreigners because we had some
unexpected extras from the NGO show up to celebrate with us. We were later
informed our dirt n worms was the talk of the NGO for the rest of the week.
A jewelry making class has been on our to-do
list for quite a while now and we finally got the lesson in on Thursday this
week. The owners of a jewelry store came in to our office with silver and a
little soldering tool and we all got to make our own rings. They pretty much
set everything up for us so all we had to do was line up the pieces and solder
them together and trim them down with some heavy scissors.
. The hardest part was picking which finger we were going to wear
it on for sizing. I kept thinking of the Lord of the Rings the whole time –
especially when we were done and saw them all together…it was basically the
Fellowship of the Rings only in Peru.
Another to-do list completion of the week was Esther and Micah’s
fake birthday. Everyone else has had their birthday during our time in Peru but
they have summer birthdays so we made plans at the beginning to include a special
celebration for them too. Allow me here to insert some serious props to Andie,
James and Mikaela. There’s a pilgrimage every year to the top of a mountain
where a saint is said to have seen Jesus aka el Senor de Torrechayoc. It’s an
eight hour hike up and done overnight. So on Friday night while Esther, Matt,
Micah and I went out to dinner and played Settlers of Catan, those three were
heading out for the top of a mountain. They can tell you more about it but the
gist of it is that they hiked until some absurd hour of the morning, slept for
a few hours, then hiked two more hours – all of it through a light layer of
snow - and attended a mass at the top with unknown number of people who make it
up (probably in the thousands) before walking back down. So the greetings upon
arrival at Micah’s house weren’t of the usual “Hi, how are you?” type but more
like, “Wow, you look terrible” followed by a recounting of the whole ordeal. But
we still had a good time having dinner, singing Happy Birthday over tres leches
cake and then going out to karaoke although the night ended very early for
And that brings me to today. We officially have
two weeks left in Peru and only one week left in Urubamba, what has become our
home town, with our host families. I’m feeling a mix of excited, scared and sad
over leaving. But it currently still doesn’t seem real yet that it’s happening.