I just spent the last week living and volunteering at Villa Carmen, a nature reserve in the Amazonian region of Peru. It is about an 8-hour ride from the city of Cusco, depending on the weather, and a rather treacherous ride (which you can read more about here). However, it was a beautiful escape from the city and well worth the trip.
I was not really sure what to expect of my time here, but like much of my trip around South America it was a great learning experience. It made me realize the new art forms I have learned so far, and I can now add a new one to my list: landscaping. A big project here is sustainable agriculture, and I was able to help build their garden, which is based on the Mandala design. If I understood correctly, everything is in circles and energy is drawn from the circular structure. There are sections of garden on the ground in an arced design where corn and beans will grown, structures built out of the locally-growing bamboo to hold plants, and several ponds. Part of my work incuded building a small island out of rocks to put in the duck pond, and the focal point of the garden. From there, I helped to lay down the paths that connect sections of the garden and laid down rocks.
I also got to try my hand at sawing, making bamboo structures to lay on the ground to contain certain sections of the the garden. And of course I got to plant lots of things. I also unsuccessfully put together part of a roof using bamboo and wire. Wrapping the wire around the bamboo reminded me of wire-wrapping beads, except with really big pliers and much thicker, rusty wire. It makes me want to go home and create a fanstic garden and make use of local natural resources. Of course, I have a teeny tiny yard and last time I checked there was no bamboo in Cambridge, but I will find a way to make it work!
When I have not been working I have spent my time both reading, and also working on my jewelry. After missing my jewelry supplies, they finally arrived with my sister last month in Argentina, but so much time was spent with her and then my in-laws, and then I was moving around like crazy (for example). But despite the hard work at Villa Carmen, it was also a much calmer, relaxing lifestyle with ample time to chill. I am somewhat limited in what I can do jewelry-wise, as I only have jump rings and pliers to work with, but it ust makes me look forward even more to what I will be able to do when I return home in less than 6 weeks!
Now it’s time to set off on another adventure and learn and new art form: traditional Andean weaving.
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