Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Feliz Navidad and other reasons to celebrate!

I celebrated Christmas with Elena and her family, and the tradition in Peru is to stay up on Christmas Eve past midnight into the wee hours of Christmas morning.  We ate a scrumptious dinner of rice and roast turkey that was loaded with spices, boiled vegetables and a Peruvian wine that smelled like incense!  It was incredible and so much fun, especially watching Felipe count down the hours to midnight when he would be allowed to light his fireworks.  Now Felipe is the elder of the hijos, and must take on more responsibility (more than most 14 year olds that I know!) but tonight he was "dramatic" and "not calm" (his words), wiggling in his chair with a huge grin frozen onto his face; his grandmother programmed her cell phone to count down the hours to midnight and Felipe told me that he was "dying"!  I asked him about the presents under the tree, did he have to wait until midnight to open those?  "HUUH!!" he exclaimed, the presents weren't primero, lighting the fireworks was his only concern and he had to focus all of his energy into keeping from exploding.
A mass stampede toward the door signaled that midnight had finally arrived and we all trooped outside to watch Felipe and Sebastian set up the volcanoes, bottle rockets, wands, and other personal pyrotechnics on a cinder block in the middle of the avenue.  All around we could here the whistles and pops of other merry makers throughout the neighborhood, and in the sky we could see the starbursts from the professional fireworks that were being launched from the downtown area.

Despite many of the grim observations and photos that I have taken of the marine mammals that have perished at the hands of humans during my two week stay in San Bartolo, the staff and volunteers at ORCA Peru are so committed to their dedication to preserve the oceans that they always exude a warmth, happiness, and optimism that gives the visitor a feeling of hope.  For them, there is no giving up, only going forward and upward.  The reward of knowing that their voices are heard each time a sea lion that is rehabilitated and released is a sign that their hard work is making a difference.

I would like to add that the ORCA Peru board of directors will be inviting middle and high school students in Sitka in the next year to participate in a trans media project titled "Sentinels of the Sea".  This project will be a video animation using marine mammals as imagery with a theme of protecting our oceans, and students will be able to create their own version online within the project boundaries.

Members of ORCA Peru will be attending the 19th annual Marine Mammal Conference in Miami Florida in November of 2011, and it my hope that they will spread their enthusiasm for preserving marine mammals along the Peruvian coast among conference goers.  Good luck to you ORCA Peru!

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