Samantha Balaban – Cusco – the early days

Balaban - Peru - cold

Trying to stay warm in Cusco, Peru

Hey everyone! After an arduous journey (not really, but it did take 26 hours) I have arrived in Cusco with all 90 pounds of my luggage. It is cold here so I brought a lot of sweaters. And then I walked up one whole flight of stairs and couldn’t breathe. It appears I am susceptible to altitude sickness.

Anyway, I got here on May 15 and started working as the Associate Project Director for Amigos de las Americas with my Project Director Sierra and my Senior Project Supervisor Claudia. We started working immediately to prepare for the arrival of our six Project Supervisors and more than 40 volunteers. I’m planning on using the volunteers’ experiences living in rural communities as a part of my comparative research on turismo vivencial, or cultural tourism, in Peru.

Since I arrived, I’ve been attending lots of meetings with important contacts from the Ministry of Health, Plan International and the Centro de Capacitación para el Desarrollo (CECADE) and Quechua-speaking students from Universidad San Antonio Abad del Cusco. 

Balaban - Peru - campo

Visiting rural communities in Ccorca

I’ve also gotten to travel to a lot of the rural communities in the regions surrounding the city of Cusco. So far I’ve traveled along scary mountain passes (you know they’re scary because of all the white crosses on the side of the road) to Yaurisque, Lamay and Ccorca. In Ccorca I visited eight different communities and spoke about our project at community asambleas, big community meetings held in Quechua once a month to make important community decisions. I even got to practice some of my Quechua! I introduced myself and then explained that I couldn’t speak Quechua very well. And then I saw a bunch of llamas so that was exciting!

I’ve been getting some good ideas for people to interview about turismo vivencial in Cusco. For example, we met a French man the other day who had some very interesting ideas about how to impose his culture on others via cultural tourism. Like, colonialism?

So far Cusco is very beautiful and very cold, as you can see from my pictures.

Posted by Samantha Balaban – MA Candidate at CLACS/Global Journalism at NYU

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