Close your eyes and picture a town nestled into a mountainside almost 10,000 ft. above sea level. The air is fresh and the sun warms your skin during the day. The town is quaint, with an adobe church and a park full of bright flowers in the center. Everywhere you turn all you see is 100 shades of green laid out across the mountains like a patchwork quilt.
A woman is layered in colorful clothing and a traditional Cajamarcquina hat. There is a baby swaddled in a hand-woven blanket strapped to her back and she is feverishly spinning dyed yarn as she walks. A man strolls by, followed by two burros carrying fresh potatoes to the market. Life is tranquilo; the hustle and bustle of modern technology is nowhere to be found.
Now open your eyes and take a look at these pictures! Welcome to San Miguel, Cajamarca, Peru.
This is the site of a current business volunteer, Brad, who was kind enough to share his site with us for a week. Our task was to host a workshop at the local institute about starting a business and walk our students through the steps of creating a business plan.
We were divided into pairs and had a class of about 20 students. With only three hours of class time (really 2.5 because everything starts late in Peru) and three days, we had our work cut out. All of the classes were in Spanish and so were the business plans! On the 3rd day our groups had to present their plans to the “Banco de Paz” in order to receive their loans, and on the 4th day they had to make and sell their products.
I never dreamed that just 2 months after graduating college I would be teaching a college business class… in Spanish… in Peru! That’s the best part about Peace Corps, we are all doing things we never in a million years thought possible.
I was lucky enough to get to help make maiz amora with one of my groups. It is essentially purple corn jello with cinnamon and apples… sounds/ looks gross, but it’s DELICIOUS! The group needed help with the recipe from my language teacher so I tagged along to take pictures of course. We prepared the treat at my student’s house and the stove was a fire pit in the backyard. It was eye opening to see how families in small Sierra towns live. At the same time it was beautiful to experience the love of a family who has next to nothing, but everything they could ever need.
All of our groups sold out and made a good little profit! There was a raffle, fruit salad, papaya smoothie, cheese with honey (Cajamarca is the capital of diary products), chicaron and SO much more.
The week ended with an award ceremony and certificates for students who came to at least 3 out of 4 days. Certificates are a big deal in Peru! Most people hang them on their walls and scan copies to include with resumes when applying for jobs. I like to think most of the students were there because they wanted to learn, but the truth is that the certificate was probably more enticing. Haha, I don’t take it personally… whatever works!
Of course on our last day in town everyone needed a picture with the “Norte Americanos” so like mini celebrities we posed for camera after camera. After 100 normal smiling pictures my cheeks were getting tired, so we changed it up a little bit and struck some different poses. Enjoy!