A Day in the Life of the Peruvian Ethnographer | Post #1

My program in Peru was more than a little unusual. It combined field school with language school with actual ethnographic work, which means that it is hard to describe to someone doing a more traditional internship. To introduce it, and talk a little bit about my first experiences in Peru, I’m going to post some photos that walk you through a day in the life of the Peruvian ethnographer.

First, I arrived at the ranch. Built entirely from scratch by our hostess, a Peruvian woman named Pocha, the ranch runs entirely on solar and wind energy. Those parabolas you see are actually solar stoves, which we used to fry farm-fresh eggs and boil tea. In the mornings, before breakfast, I wake at 6:30am and wander around the ranch and the pastures, taking in the view of the mountains that surround us. I’m trying to work off the effects of altitude, which render me breathless whenever I walk up an incline for too long.

Each morning, we help to drive the cows up from their pasture, under the watchful eye of the dog Shumaq, a word that means “beautiful” in the Andean indigenous language, Quechua. These cows provide all of the dairy that we eat on the ranch, and they are a vital part of local life in the communities that we are working with.

This is the kitchen/main area of the ranch, where I practice my Spanish and work on my homework. In addition, I help the Center for Social Wellbeing, the civic association that hosts me, to prepare for their field work and research. I design lessons for schoolchildren, help brainstorm ideas for community workshops about gender roles and domestic violence, and discuss Andean farming, discrimination, and urban flight.

When we go into the community of Shilla to help them prepare for an important religious festival, and to learn more about the culture there, we spot Huazcaran, the tallest tropical ice peaks in the Americas. The legend of Huazcaran is that she was once a beautiful woman, spurned by the man she loved, and, after a series of revenges, she became this mountain.

These are two of my friends from Peru. They have just started a tour guide company and I helped them with their marketing strategy and social media campaign.

During one weekend excursion, we traveled to this beautiful glacial lake. The cliffs are so high you can’t look at them without being blinded by the sun, and the water is bluer than the Mediterranean.


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