Just when I was starting to settle into a routine here, the weather decided to shake things up a bit. Last weekend started out pretty normal, and ended up a complete fiasco. On Friday we went for a five-hour hike to Pumamarca, a complex of Incan Ruins on top of a nearby mountain in the shape of a puma (pictures forthcoming!). It was a pretty standard hike except for the fact that since it’s been so rainy this month, part of the trail was completely washed out and we basically had to walk in a stream for half an hour, and cross over some other rivers of questionable safety.
Then on Saturday a few of us went to Cusco to hang out, explore the city, buy a few things you can’t get in Ollanta (ie, most things you need in daily life), and go dancing. We had a great time dancing at the discoteca and then at a salsa bar, and then made our way back to Ollanta on Sunday morning. But just in that 24-hour period of our absence, a lot of things happened – heavy rains caused massive flooding of the Patacancha river upstream of Ollanta, devasting a few Quechua communities, some houses along the river here in town, and completely knocking out our power and running water. The river probably rose at least ten feet, bringing a surge of mud and rocks and water into town. A huge portion of the street and riverwalk were completely washed out (some parts very close to my house on Av Ferrocarril), and I heard that our water pipes were completely filled with mud and had to be replaced (aka: we have had no water for five days). It’s been nuts. There has been flooding all over the place, apparently Arequipa is basically one giant river now – but it’s hard to find information, everything here pretty much travels by word of mouth, so there’s been a lot of confusion this week. They brought in trucks of water from Cusco for people to cook with, but no one can shower, so we’ve all just been stewing in our filth waiting for the water to come back on. A few parts of the city got water back this morning, but most are still without. Yesterday I couldn’t take it anymore so Lindsey and I went to Cusco in search of a shower (I hadn’t showered since right after our hike on Friday), and luckily found a hostal that would let us shower for five soles. It was glorrrrious. Then Laura, Awamaki’s programs coordinator, asked us to pick up some rice and cooking oil so that we can carry it up to Patacancha, which got way more damage than Ollanta. Sorry, let me clarify: she asked us to pick up 200 KILOS of rice and additional cooking oil. That’s a lot of freaking rice. Luckily Rob, another Awamaki staff member, was there and helped us out, so we ended up coming back to town with about 350 pounds worth of rice, sugar, oil, and other supplies, after a very scary, heavy car ride.
We’re planning on bringing up the supplies to Patacancha pretty soon, and also helping out with the recovery effort, but everything is still in planning stages right now. I still don’t have water at my house, but the shower in Cusco will hold me over for a few more days. On a side note I found an adorable starving puppy in the street on Monday and took her back to the office with me, but my host dad informed me that she does in fact have a home and I cannot steal her, so I had to set her free. But if she finds me again I’m totally taking her back to the States with me. I already named her Laqha, which means darkness in Quechua, because she is a tiny black ball of cuteness. (pics of her coming soon too!)