The Day before:
After years of planning and about of year waiting in anticipation for the biggest adventure I have ever gone on the day has come...or should I say the day before has come. My name is Julia and I am a scientist for about 45 hours a week, plus or minus a few hours, and a Public Health graduate student at New Mexico State University. Needless to say my life is a little bit hectic, but helping keep my sanity is my partner, my love, Ron, and we have three fuzzy babies, which I happen to like more then some humans I have met along my life course. My life is full with great friends and a very close family, to include two amazing sisters with the best kids I know (and I'm not just saying that because I am the aunt) and of course their personable husbands, and I must mention my fantastic parents as they have been a huge support system and influential in pursing the impossible (which I always thought this trip fell under), but there has always been something in me that just yearned for an adventure into the unknown. Maybe it was the years spent as a child staring into history books that my mom was reading while she was in college or it could have been the pages read during my time learning to be an Anthropologist and a Public Health advocate or even the years I spent in the culinary world learning about recipes developed from places all over the globe; whatever it is in me that is inspired to discover what is happening in other places throughout the world, it is strong and has left my curiosity peaked for years.
So, here I am a day before my flight to Urubamba, Peru....I am ecstatic, yes, but I am also nervous as can be, an emotion I wasn't expecting. Leaving my family, my home...not so easy, but the six weeks ahead of me is an opportunity I look forward to. I have had a bit of a packing debacle and I swear I am not a diva, but unless a llama is prepared to carry my things around Peru, I definitely expect to have a hell of a time carrying my belongings. No high heels, no satin, but lots of toilet paper, socks, underwear and immodium...just a few of the essentials. So, yes my ridiculously full two back packs are making me nervous on top of my lack of decent Spanish and of course the summer upper respiratory infection I have been enjoying today. On the other hand, I hope that my language skills improve, my toiletries once unpacked will help lighten my load and well this cold will go away and once I arrive I hope to be...well as cliche as it sounds...inspired. Culture, food and very different perspectives others have always intrigue me and make for amazing learning opportunities and often stay with me much longer then Michael Kors purses or Chanel wallets.
On top of immersing in the day to day lives of those in the Sacred Valley, I really hope that our public health work will make a difference, which is the primary reason I am setting off to South America. And I hope that this difference we are trying to make isn't a temporary just while we're present in the town difference, but something that is lasting and can allow for the rich Peruvian lives to be enhanced with good health and well clean drinking water...something we often forget when we stick our glass under the facet in our homes. The program I'll be working with states that the work they do focuses on educating the community on the strategies they are implementing, so that the rural communities can build skills and learn valuable information about sanitation and hygiene that can reduce and limit preventable diseases that cause a huge disparity in morbidity and mortality in rural Peru. The key to this program is that the community is involved and thus allows the work to hopefully be sustainable, so I embark on this adventure tomorrow to learn from those who are doing and learn from those living in the rural communities of Peru.
Oh I almost forgot, I will be trying the foods that the locals eat and have always had a try everything at least once attitude (something I probably got from working in a commercial kitchen for so long), so if you thought to ask if I will try guinea pig the answer is yes, along with any other interesting food staples that come my way, whether it be in Cusco, Urubamaba or Machu Picchu, I plan on trying and seeing as many things as possible.
Did I mention that I am really excited....
5/30/2013 Albuquerque, NM