It’s been more than a week since we arrived in Arequipa and it feels like we’ve achieved a huge amount during that time. We’ve immersed ourselves in the business of the NGO, interviewing the staff and their customers to understand where we need to focus our attentions to make the biggest impact. We are working 100% in Spanish and therefore have to rely on a translator to help us through the conversations (nope – ‘Spanish for Beginners’ didn’t quite get me to required level in time!). I’m surprised how exhausting this way of working can be but at the same time it’s very rewarding when you can get your point across.
A big bonus from this – my Spanish is developing really quickly! However I never thought that I’d learn so many Spanish words that relate to textiles… (reminder – our project is to help an NGO to develop its textile business)
To understand more about the project we’re supporting, my colleague Ashley wrote a great blog summarising who the NGO are and what they do.
Work at the NGO is regularly interrupted by the dogs. My favourite – ‘Polly’ the sausage dog
Now lets talk volcanoes – I have to comment again about how amazing the backdrop is to this city. Everywhere you go the volcanoes Chachani and El Misti loom in the background. Their size and height is spectacular and awe-inspiring. I’m super excited about the challenge of climbing one of them…if not also a little nervous. After much discussion, I’ve agreed with my colleague Craig that we’ll focus our attentions on El Misti. We’ve arranged for a guide to lead us to the summit this coming weekend so look out for the blog of how successful our attempt was next week!
In preparation we decided to head out on a training hike at altitude last weekend around the foot of El Misti. We took a car to a village one hour from Arequipa call Chiguata and proceeded to hike for three hours at an altitude of 3,200m. So far so good – no problems with the altitude and I learned how to chew Cocoa leaves whilst walking!
The imposing backdrop of El Misti Altitude sending the team a bit crazy
Final point to cover off – “stomach problems”. I’m not going to go into too much detail here and will leave it up to your imagination. Suffice to say that something, potentially the extra hot pepper I had one night or maybe excess amount of Chica Morada I’ve been drinking, disagreed with my internal operations leaving me with a couple of days of what can only be described as ‘extreme discomfort’ combined with fear (of being too far from a bathroom).