Back drops that look like they’ve been painted, long limbed cactuses adding a splash of green to the grey but stunning desert and lefts that leave you with leg burns and jelly arms by the time you’ve caught a wave and paddled back out the back. What a mystical, beautiful and interesting country.
My trip was short lived, only a quick 10 days but I think the only time we sat down was for meals and to sleep. With how much we got done and how many amazing new people we were lucky enough to meet, I felt as though we were there for at least a month.
Our first stop was to Huanchacho, Trujillo. It’s a beautiful small coastal town, with a long left hand point break, which was peaky and playful.
The first day we were there I ran a cooking class for a few mothers of the children from Milagros, a volunteer educational center created to give the kids the opportunity to learn English in a fun way and to give them a better chance in the future. A project which Choclo is supporting this year.
It was a huge challenge for me as the women did not speak any Enlgish and my Spanish vocabulary extends as far as Ohla (hello) and Amigos (friend… I think). Luckily I had a Spanish translator, but it was hard to know how much information was lost or gained within the translation.
My aim was basically to get them to incorporate more vegetables into their own and their beautiful children’s diet… I cooked vegetarian “hamburgers”, which was basically sweet potato and quinoa burgers coated in sesame seeds with a mango and avocado side salad and a lettuce leaf “bun”. I also wanted to create awareness as to how blessed and lucky they are to have such amazing super foods readily available to them in their country of which Australia, America and I’m sure other countries are having to import. So I made a chia pudding and boosted it with super foods including coconut and coconut water, yacon syrup and maca powder.
The mothers were really interactive with me, asking questions, tasting the food and having a laugh every now and again… although I had no idea what they were laughing about I persisted to smile and laugh as if I were completely in the know. I felt as though I gave them a sense of the possibility of cooking with fruit and vegetables and showed that it doesn’t have to be boring and unsatisfying. One mother made a comment that she “can’t even taste the vegetables” and “it smells like meat”… so I’m going to take them as subtle but definite compliments J.
Next on the agenda was my trip to visit the beautiful Jaime Wilfredo Munoz Diaz. If you have not yet heard of Jaime he is a 16 year old boy, living in Peru with cystic fibrosis. His Mum noticed he had breathing problems as a bub and took him to get checked. He was then diagnosed falsely with asthma and dust allergies and his condition continued to get worse with the medicine having no success in relieving his symptoms. In the end of 2012, after many painful tests and visits from the doctor he was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. Cystic Fibrosis is a autosomal recessive genetic disorder that affects most critically the lungs but also the pancreas, liver and intestine. Difficulty breathing is the most serious symptom, which results from frequent lung infections being treated with antibiotics and other medications.
Jaime is a 16 year old in the body of a 7 year old. He is tiny, his organs are not as evolved as they should be and he is extremely thin and weak. He is now connected to an oxygen tank 24/7 of which is costing him 100 soles a day (about $50) and half of his heart has stopped working.
The Choclo Project have been supporting Jaime for a while now and I was told whilst visiting that if it wasn’t for their generous and continuous support, Jaime may not be alive today.
I was so excited to meet him and was blown away with his beautiful, cheeky, and loving energy. We both couldn’t speak one another’s language but he still managed to consistently make me smile. He is an extremely artistic and talented boy. Jaime showed me his art journal and I was blown away with the vibrance and creativity of each of his pieces. As he was such a talented perfectionist I was slightly intimidated but I did a couple of drawings with him and gave him some new journals and Posca pens to encourage his creative outlet. I left feeling really frustrated that such a beautiful, young and incredible boy can be so restricted in his way of living and can be suffering to an extent of which no one would understand. I please encourage anyone to follow this link http://www.gofundme.com/3xzxhc and donate any amount to help give Jaime a better and easier chance at life. And if anything… just a little more time to live his creative and talented dreams.
After visiting Jaime, we went just down the road to visit the school Milagros. Another part of the trip that completely blew my mind… such a simple yet effective and amazing system and set up. Run completely by volunteers… the school was created by the inspiring Coco Rim Amad (Jaime’s main supporter) who moved from Sweden, leaving behind her job as a lawyer and setting up this incredible school for all the local children after she was dissatisfied with what she had seen of the school systems when she first arrived in the area.
The school day started with meditation. We all sat down outside, instructed to put our hand over our eyes and listen to the music played to us. There was a lot of energy buzzing in the little ones but when asked what noises they heard in the music they all gave at least one answer and immediately seemed more focused and relaxed. What an incredible way to begin the school day… if only we had these sort of systems in our local schools. The beautiful kids then ran off to their allocated classes and it was then time for me to very reluctantly leave and catch my plane to the next part of my Peruvian adventure.
After our inspiring and eye opening time in Huanchacho, I left feeling so blessed and happy that I had the opportunity to meet the kids, Jaime, Coco, the other volunteers, share my knowledge on nutrition, surf some incredible waves and to have done a trip that wasn’t purely for my own experience but to give and enjoy something completely different.