Posts about peru
Cusco Quechua is spoken by more than a million people in Peru. Literacy rates among Cusco Quechua speakers — particularly women — are extremely low, which has a negative effect on many women’s self-esteem. ATEK is a Quechua organization that, among many other things, trains Quechua teachers to run literacy classes in remote villages. Here’s a taste of what those classes are like:
Translators working on the project have moved with their families to the FAIENAP headquarters near Pucallpa, Peru. The adjustment has been and continues to be very difficult for them, they told me when I visited on Tuesday.
In the villages where they are from, they grow, hunt, and catch virtually all of the food that they eat. They have gardens to work and rivers in which to bathe. But in town, they have to buy all their food, which is extremely strange and difficult to do. One man described showers as “dungeons” compared with the rivers he’s used to at home.
Too, the people come from totally different languages and cultures. After dinner, a woman might take leftover food to share with her neighbor from a different people group. “Take that away, I have enough myself!” the neighbor would say. Both women ended up with hurt feelings because neither understood the other’s cultural point of view.
But they haven’t given up. They’ve stuck with it, learning to love each other and continuing the translation process. How many of us would’ve done the same? They’re really amazing people.
CSS Photo Shuffler designed by Carl Camera.
Last week, my colleague Abe Koop and I visited a small Quechua village called Llihuari (say yee-WAH-ree) in the Huánuco Department of Peru.
Several million Quechua people live in Peru, primarily in the Andes Mountains. Their languages are related to that of the great Inca Empire, which controlled a huge territory in South America prior to Spanish contact and conquest. Here, a Pillco (Huallaga) Quechua woman invites us into her kitchen to have lunch.
The meal consisted of greens and boiled potatoes. The Andean peoples first domesticated potatoes thousands of years ago, and the tubers remain a dietary staple. They also domesticated the guinea pig or cuy (say COO-ee) and allow the little animals to roam free in the kitchen — until a birthday or some other special occasion calls for a special treat of, yes, guinea pig!
As, Abe and I munched on our boiled potatoes, skin and all, I noticed the boy beside me peeling the skin off of his potatoes. I assumed that he was just being a kid, but I was wrong. A few minutes later, somebody told us that only pigs eat potato skins. Augh! Everybody (ourselves included) had a good laugh at the “gringos”….
I got back to Lima this evening after an all-day bus ride from Huánuco, Peru. I might have time to post a few pictures tomorrow, but I’m not sure — we’re leaving again around noon.
Since leaving Dallas on Feb. 18, I haven’t been in one place longer than about four days at a time. Here’s a map giving a rough idea of my travels so far:
View Larger Map
Yesterday, we visited CILTA — Curso Internacional de Lingüística, Traducción y Alfabetización (International Course in Linguistics, Translation, and Literacy) — at the University of Ricardo Palma in Lima, Peru.
This year, 10 students from Peru, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, Costa Rica, and other Latin American countries are taking the course to equip themselves for language work and community development among minority peoples in their home countries or overseas. Approximately 60 CILTA graduates are scattered around the world today working as field linguists, teachers, literacy specialists, etc.
We had fun visiting with the students after class. Most of them are my age or a little older, and they were very kind in encouraging me to use my lousy Spanish. It’s embarrassing and frustrating that I can’t speak or understand well, but that’s a topic for another post!