On my way back to Llama after a week-long Thanksgiving vacation, I stared out the window of the bus in search of rain. The rainy season that marks the beginning of the planting season for Llaminians should have begun over a month and a half ago. Yes, even all the way out here in the “middle-of-nowhere” Peru, we are seeing the effects of climate change.
Llaminians have always started planting on their farms the last weeks of October when the rainy season typically starts. Not this year. In mid-November we are still experiencing day after day of 90-degree heat with almost no rain.
The lack of rain means lack of water: lack of water for drinking, to wash dishes and clothes, and to bathe. What once for me was a quick run down the stairs to fill up my teapot (to boil drinking water), or to wash a few dishes, has turned into a drawn-out process where I often find myself staring at the sink spout yelling at it to do its job and give me some water. There is enough water for these necessities; however, the water goes in and out and comes out very slowly.
Bathing and washing clothes have presented more difficulties. While I am essentially a community health promoter that encourages regular bathing in the interests of hygiene, I promote a much more frequent bathing schedule than the one I have grown accustomed to for myself. I have become quite the expert at minimizing the time I spend in a shower that delivers ice-cold water year-round. Well, except for recently when there is no water, like now. Because the shower head (which often falls to the ground and creates a sprinkler-like scene in my host family’s mud-walled bathroom) is high up on the wall, the volume and pressure of the water has recently been too low to make it up and out of the shower head.
The implications of this for me? Finding myself covered in soap in the shower without water to rinse off. Why? I devised a system where I jump under the shower for a minute, turn the water off, put soap on, and turn the water back on to rinse off. I have yet to learn my lesson that sometimes there is enough water for a minute or two, giving the illusion that there is enough water for an entire shower. Hence getting stuck covered with soap.
“]Apart from my showering adventures, I am keeping busy with other things: planting eight gardens (with the eight groups of moms that participate in the healthy homes project), teaching sex-education and basic health classes in the primary and secondary schools, continuing to lead exercise classes in the small town hall, and starting up a weekly movie night in town.
I have also been kept busy with a constant knocking on my door at all hours for homework help with, take a wild guess, English. Have I mentioned I HATE teaching English (mostly because the students daily proclaim their deep desires to learn English and then refuse to devote sufficient time to studying or practicing). My favorite is when I open my door at 6 a.m. to find not a student but the mother of a student asking me for homework help for their child. Number one, they just took an hour off of my regular 12 hours of sleep, and number two where is your child? … Probably still sleeping.