Sunday morning, I was picked up from the airport by a man named Karol. It's a good thing he had a sign with my name on it, or else I probably would have wandered around indefinitely searching for the (nonexistent) middle-aged white woman the name Carol brings to mind.
I flew in to Tarapoto from Lima, where I'd been since I'd arrived in Peru on the 20th. Once in Tarapoto, it's a good two-hour drive to Moyobamba, and if you're lucky enough you too can experience the joy of the curving windows-down ride through the ever more verdant landscape, mountains and the kind of trees with broad waxy leaves that you know are accustomed to rain, and if you're lucky enough to be me you experience all of this on very little sleep while squished in the back of a small car with two strangers. Fortunately you get the window seat. Even more fortunately the man beside you sleeps most of the time, which means when you're going around the curves (there are many) his limp unconscious body becomes a heavy cushion, pinioning you to the door.
For those of you who don't know (no shame - I too was among your ranks, not long ago) Moyobamba is in the selva, or jungle, section of Peru. It's towards the north, and is home to about a million species of orchids, potatoes, and bugs of all varieties. The mosquitoes are noxious, but the butterflies are massive and incredible. It has an abundance of birds, and, like everywhere else in Peru that I've been, an abundance of stray dogs. It has street food like maduro con queso or mani (roasted plaintain with cheese or peanut butter - 10/10 would recommend). Everyone rides motorcycles, nobody wears helmets, and if you don't ride a motorcycle you either ride a mototaxi or you use your God-given legs for their designed purpose - you walk. Yesterday I saw an entire family (mom, child brandishing toy, dad) wending their way, helmet-less, through the city on a red motorcycle. Mototaxis are like the front half of a motorcycle attached to a bench on two wheels with an awning over it. They flood the streets, and are always on call. Unlike actual taxis in the US, which in my experience tend to disappear as soon as you need one. Very few people drive cars.
Moyobamba is also home to a large deaf (sordo) population - which is odd to me. Deafness is not a thing I'm used to. Unfortunately, nobody has been willing to fund research on why deafness is so common here, so if you, dear reader, feel so led to investigate a question that strongly impacts people's lives, a good place to start is in Moyobamba. As Moyobamba is rather general, I'd dare to further suggest that you begin with the Paz y Esperanza office in Moyobamba. Not only is Paz just generally super cool, a large part of their work here is running a school that teaches sign language to deaf children, and holding classes at the office itself to teach sign language to the parents of said children. There are several deaf people on staff, which means that meetings can get a little crazy. While one person is speaking in Spanish another is translating everything they say to sign language, so that the deaf staff members can understand, and of course there are the people who sit in a corner and whisper to each other, and there are also the ones who sit in a corner and sign to each other, and all the while I sit in a corner frantically trying to translate everything into English in my mind. I can do okay with one-to-one type of conversations, but groups, meetings, are another level of difficulty entirely.
Like in Carapongo, I'm here to be a photographer - which means lots of taking pictures. Of, everything. This I anticipated, was even prepared for, before I left for Peru. This week, however, I have discovered that being a foreign photographer means not only taking photos, but teaching other humans how to take photos as well. This I was not at all prepared for. This would be excellent in English - I could talk about photography for hours. However, in Spanish, my vocabulary is significantly reduced. Nevertheless, I survived teaching a (very basic) lesson on composition to the staff of the office this afternoon, and as a bonus I even think my subjects learned something, so fingers crossed for tomorrow.
If you have reached the end, dear reader, and actually read all of the above, I thank and respect you.
If you have skimmed the above, I understand you and will forgive you at some point.
If you have entirely skipped from the title to the end, all I have to say is - do things well or don't do them at all. That goes for reading your Bible and for cussing. (sorry mom)