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  • Writer's picturepereirateresa .

Catch Up

How is it December already?


I won’t actually attempt to catch up on summarizing the entirety of my time here in Peru, but I can say that it’s been truly gratifying. It has been a time of creativity, of further inspiration, of traveling, of learning– and learning to take breaks. It has been a time of connecting with people. I got lucky with the friends I made here, both the ones from Peru and the US. I'm looking forward to maintaining those connections and fostering some future overlap. Though I miss my family, it's been nice to talk to them almost daily on video- it's part of our routine. It has also been a time to reconnect with old friends, including some creative collaborations.


It’s been a busy year– I did what I set out to do. As part of my Fulbright research, I planned to capture as much footage as I can. I was able to film in various lomas here in Lima and have gotten to know people from different communities. I have interviewed lomeros/lomeras (leaders, neighbors, families, kids) and educators- seriously some of the most committed people I’ve met, and I’m even more inspired to make sure their stories are heard. I’m so grateful that they’ve welcomed me- even into their homes with my family (when my sisters came to visit). I’ve loved this exchange and have appreciated the personal and cultural connections. This year, we’ve got La Niña, when the ocean surface temps are colder than normal, so the lomas weren’t green as expected- I’ll need to return next June for the beginning of what will hopefully be a greener season. Regardless, it has been quite a journey of sorts. Learning about the landscape, the communities, the challenges, the opportunities. Things are complex, and everything takes time and money.


In the same vein, I’ve discovered elements about myself – with capabilities, my thresholds. It has been awhile since I’ve focused on shooting this much video. Plus running my own sound, which requires another set of skills. Even simply ensuring that I’ve pressed all the “record” buttons isn’t actually simple in action. Especially during the interviews when I’m focusing on asking the questions/translations. It’s a juggling act. As complicated as it sounds, it has been liberating to do it all– just to go for it. To be as present as I can, and capture the moments that present themselves- both seemingly big and small. It’s very physical, especially with all the actual trekking up the lomas while lugging gear. Mental and emotional, too- these are large issues in an even larger context, and sometimes I get lost in the grandness of it all, but reel myself back to the goal and tell myself: capture what you can, keep going, listen to the stories, then tell it. I’ve gained some muscles and callouses- literally and figuratively– in good, productive ways.


I’ve begun to edit pieces of the doc to test varying versions of the story arc. I’m working with a lot of material. Of course, it’s never quite enough nor do I have all perfect material. But there are gems in those bins– and piecing the parts together is an exciting process (tedious, too). Culling through footage. Noting the usable and highly usable ones. Linking the themes. Crafting the story. I love the desk time when balanced with field time. I’m looking forward to the post-production phase when I return to the US- and of course, securing funds to finish the film. 2023’s already looking busy. I’ll be coming out with a website/social media for the film soon-ish.


Apart from working on the doc, I’ve enjoyed traveling the country- the coast, the Andes, the jungle. I hiked the Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu in October with my boyfriend. We were out there for 6 days, covering almost 50 miles with lots of elevation gain and descent. Definitely pushed the limits of our bodies. We went without a “guide” so we carried our own gear (tents, sleeping bags, water). I have to mention how hard this was on our knees, which took weeks to recover- but so many moments revealed scenery that are permanently engrained in my mind. It was surreal to be in the pampas one hour next to horses and streams, then in a few hours be at elevation 4600 meters above sea level surrounded by nevados and glacial till, then a few hours later be 1700 meters lower in the ceja de selva, the cloud forest, where bromeliads inhabit the trees and the ferns are taller than me. I fulfilled a dream of picking coffee berries and roasting them and drinking it. You better believe it was as good as I had imagined. A cool thing about living here– when buying coffee, the options for origins are within Peru (of course) so it’s been great to try varieties from different regions.


When my friend Ingrid came to visit, we went to Ayacucho, another Andean city. We walked around in a psychogeographic way- with little expectation but heightened senses. Then to a smaller town an hour away called Quinua, an agricultural town (hence the name) known also for its ceramics. We strolled around in the afternoon through sunset, just in time to witness the fire-orange skies turn pink, like the color of a traditional dish from that region called puca picante– meat with thick sauce made of beets, chili and peanuts. Such a pretty color and, of course, delicious. When my sisters and my sister’s bf came to visit, we went to Lomas de Lachay, which is a national reserve north of Lima – but quite difficult to get to. That was the only lomas I’ve visited this year that was actually green. It was truly in the middle of the desert and what a sight to see. The approach was a special experience, as the transition from browns to greens was striking.


Back in June, while my friend Lauren was visiting, there was a World Cup qualifier game between Peru and Australia– it was on a Monday afternoon, practically a holiday because everyone was watching, cheering, decked in red and white. Lima was alive, the country felt unified. However, Peru lost. The next day, as we walked the malecon to Chorillos, the city felt eerily empty. The loss was palpable and the skies were even grayer than usual. I’ve witnessed the streets devoid of activity a few times while here, with different contexts, including a lockdown. This week, I was unsure if there would be something similar or the opposite– the former Vice President became the new President as the (ex) President was impeached. Perhaps my perspective is limited to where I live, but from what I see, it’s been business as usual- people going about their days doing what they do.


I did start an instagram account (unfashionably late, I know) where I’ve been posting images somewhat regularly. I’m still thinking about the fresh jugo de uva (grape juice) that I had up north in Amazonas. Like actual fresh grape juice that I’ve never had in my life and is life changing.


In lieu of updates I never wrote, I've included a set of random photos from the year. And I’d like to share a poem from a few months ago- a sort of snapshot of some afternoons in Barranco during the winter. Though now it’s turned summer. Now, the sun comes out in the afternoon, the ceiba out my window has leaves again, the jacaranda just beyond it is laced with the most soothing purple. Bird sounds at all hours.



Walking Westward

I take a break sometimes

and go on a

pilgrimage to sunset

A dash of carelessness

Steps almost aimless

but, of course,

following the glow

of the sun

towards the sea

Dodging dog shit on concrete

Daydreaming about plants

plans

dinner

What tasks I left at my desk

A chaotic silence

One by one forgetting

line items on list

Instead

tracing score joints

of the sidewalk

with my eyes

and there


They’ve been waiting,

in this wild dream I’ve joined this

almost-evening:

Plumbagos, like powder-bluish stars

entangling the deep magentas,

corals, purples of bougainvilleas,

embracing the tall euphorbias

attempting to be stoic but are,

in reality, more

gracefully confident

next to brugmansias, related

to the poisonous daturas whose

flowers will betray minds but are

picture-perfect with

mantequilla-covered bells

dangling like jewels

for the passersby,

speedy bikers, dogwalkers

at this hour, magic hour,

any hour

says hello to me

and


Nods

It sees me alone

Perhaps, in its wise ways

sees me content

watching the sunset

and knows I’ve been

Here

many times

Sees my arms swinging wide

A pep in my step

like a child out of school

owning the night when

I could do anything,

I thought

How great

the simple things I do

to know this is

what it feels when

I could

Do anything

Go anywhere

and be


At the mouth

of the hazy horizon

I gaze into what’s visible of

San Lorenzo Island

A chunk of fog hides most

of its body

revealing the peak

as if to say

I’m here and

You are

Here

We are surrounded by lovers

meeting loved ones and others

Perhaps strangers

meeting strangers

The youthful ones louder and the

older ones shier

The trees and the cacti

witnessing the day’s transition into

night and my warm breath moving

through the winter air

quietly




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4 Comments


plant good seeeds
plant good seeeds
Dec 27, 2022

Such colorful joy you share! To experience and to share experience is a generous gift. Thank you for living with care and purity from your being through the land, spirit and people.

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Lucinka T.
Lucinka T.
Dec 20, 2022

When one talks about living vicariously through another's experience, this post comes to mind, so far to experience, yet so close to heart from your details and story telling technique which is light and full of chances for future such experiences.

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Saned Azaña
Saned Azaña
Dec 18, 2022

¡¡IMPRESIONANTE!!

Hola, Teresa :) Estoy muy agradecida contigo porque has sacado lo mejor de mi país y contentísima porque has disfrutado tu tiempo aquí a pesar de nuestra conflictiva y frágil democracia peruana pero resiliente. Te deseo muchos éxitos y bendiciones en tu vida.

Te mando un fuertísimo abrazo. ;)

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Jennifer Palmer
Jennifer Palmer
Dec 11, 2022

Just amazing, Teresa! Such an experience is life transforming, as you reveal. You've entered experiences that have made you bigger. All the people, all the land, all the beauty and the ugly, the hardships, all the experiences are now a part of that Big Expanded You. I love your poem. Love your photos. Love your writing. Love what you are and will be contributing to the world. And I love you, my dear. Congrats on all that you have accomplished!

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