Contumaza: Chapter One

Welcome to Contumaza, Cajamarca, Peru Peace Corps Volunteer Site change
New faces, new mountains, new normal. I have now been in my new site for a little over a month and it has been a whole lot of “new”. I can’t believe I only have 10 months of service left, and yet it is just finally beginning!

I was received with open arms and within the first week found work, friends, and a purpose… all of which I’ve been missing for the past year. I haven’t woken up later than 7am since I’ve been here, and I’ve only watched half a season of “The Mindy Project.” Basically in Peace Corps speak, I’M BUSY!!!

Shortly after my arrival I was summoned to the municipality and given a desk! My desk is in the Area de Desarrollo Económico (Economic Development) and my co-workers are some the greatest Contumacinos in town. This area of the municipality is in charge of tourism, small business development, environmental projects, artisan/farmer associations, and agricultural development… Essentially everything related to the economy of Contumazá.
Peace Corps Peru desk in the Municipality Conutmaza Cajamarca Economic Development Volunteer

Peace Corps Peru desk in the Municipality Conutmaza Cajamarca Economic Development Volunteer

Peace Corps Peru desk in the Municipality Conutmaza Cajamarca Economic Development Volunteer

One of the wonderful things about being a year into service is that I have mastered the art of Peruvian brown-nosing and I know how to “play the game”. So with a new desk and a reignited motivation, I spent my first week introducing myself to EVERYONE!

I walked into 2 different high schools and left with 4 three month Youth Entrepreneurship Workshops. (Tuesday/ Wednesday/ Thursday for the next three months… check!) Visited everyone in the municipality and scored 8 meetings with different community groups to talk about community banks. Met with the Women’s Center to start doing personal finance workshops. Ate dinner at a restaurant and walked out with a business consulting gig!

Talked to the Special Ed school and left with plans to start a music hour. Went to the Elementary schools and now have two pen pal programs started and 2 days a week of reading time in the school library!

Calendar of Peace Corps Peru Economic Development work October 2015

Haha… after putting all of this on a calendar I decided to stop meeting people for fear that I would never sleep/eat/have a free second ever again. You wouldn’t believe it but there are still a list of people to meet and project ideas to discuss!

Unfortunately like all good things, they come to a halt when the town fiesta rolls around. Of course with my luck that just happened to be the 18th-25th of September… two weeks after my arrival. Now don’t get me wrong I am a certified professional at Peruvian Town Fiestas after living in my old town for a year of non-stop partying, but you know kinda gets old.

Town fiesta in a nutshell…
-Marinera Competition (Typical dance in the North of Peru) 
Marinera competition in Contumaza, Cajamarca, Peru concurso de marinera

Marinera competition in Contumaza, Cajamarca, Peru concurso de marinera

Marinera competition in Contumaza, Cajamarca, Peru concurso de marinera

Marinera competition in Contumaza, Cajamarca, Peru concurso de marinera

-Soccer games
Soccer in Peru Futbol en Contumaza Cajamarca Fiesta San Mateo

Peace Corps Peru Volunteer watching football at town fiesta

-Dancing in the plaza
Universidad de Cajamarca baile Fiesta San Mateo dancing in Peru

-Mass followed by procession with San Mateo
Fiesta Sane Mateo procession en Contumaza, Cajamarca, Peru Peace Corps
Fiesta Sane Mateo procession en Contumaza, Cajamarca, Peru Peace Corps

-Alfombras (Giant street art made from colored saw dust)
Alfombra de la Municipalidad de Contumaza, Cajamarca, Peru Fiesta San Mateo

-Castillos (Huge structures of fireworks and spinning fire)
Castillo Fiesta San Mateo Contumaza, Cajamarca, Peru Peace Corps

-More dancing and bands playing in the plaza
La banda Fiesta San Mateo Contumazá, Cajamarca, Peru Peace Corps

& Repeat all of the above for a week.

Now it’s back to la chamba (work) until next year’s fiesta. I complain, but really the fiesta was a great time to do a little networking and form personal relationships with my co-workers at the municipality and other people here in town. I will also admit that I actually can see that the time spent forming those relationships has already helped me in my work! Play the game…

Before I go, here is a photo of my favorite time of day in Contumaza! No matter where you are in town the sunsets are always breathtaking. (One of the perks of being built into the side of a mountain.)
Sunset in Andes Mountains of Peru Peace Corps Contumaza, Cajamarca