Three and a half days ago, a child was killed.

That child was 15 years old and a student of our community.

That child was my student.

I was home last Sunday when I received the news from a coworker. The one, single emotion I felt when I received the call and for the rest of that day was surprise--that is, surprise at my numbness.

And then I went to school. I saw my coworkers--my co-teachers, his other teachers. We gathered in the classroom for our morning meeting. Something inside of me broke. Reality hit me like a truck. I couldn't stop crying. I couldn't help but look to my coworkers for an appropriate way to react to this situation. I found comfort in seeing no one holding back and nearly everyone crying. I didn't need anyone to "be strong" for me in that moment; their tears gave me permission to let go, too.

I can't choose one thing that hurts most:

losing Sergio

seeing his picture on the altar/memorial students and staff had set up

watching his closest friends, boys, girls, and young men alike break down, holding each other through sobs

seeing his two sisters, also students at our school, his little brother, and his father

the injustice of a life with so much potential extinguished in the blink of an eye

wanting to be a voice of comfort or of reason to students when they search for answers in death, violence, and murder--but having none

fear for my other students' lives

sadness for students' fear, either newfound or renewed, of walking their own streets

the lack of uproar in the community at large; the normalcy of a fatal drive by shooting in Oakland


= = =

You will be missed, Sergio. I'm thankful to have known you. I will do my best to take care of your sisters and brother.

= = =

Please consider helping Sergio's family by donating. Anything helps and is deeply appreciated. http://www.gofundme.com/xf2hxqmc 


Huaraz, Lake 69, and Lake Churup

From Lima, Brian and I took an overnight bus with Cruz del Sur to Huaraz. The seats were comfy (we chose the VIP floor, which included fully reclining seats, a pillow and a blanket, a media console, and a sketchy looking pre-packaged meal of a ham and cheese sandwich that we did not eat) and with the twists and turns and bumps of the bus ride, I slept like a damn baby.

Brian did not fare so well. He was going on day 5 or so of his stomach virus and, well, here's what we did on day 1 in Huaraz:

We stayed at the Morales Guesthouse in Huaraz. Though it was a bit pricier than we had gotten so used to spending ($7-10 per night on average!), it was nice to escape noisy party hostels, to not have to make our own breakfast, and to have our beds made every morning :)

Added bonus for having real, brewed coffee rather than the usual instant coffee that Peruvians seem to love so much.
Annie, one of the workers at Morales Guesthouse, recommended a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant for fried cuy (guinea pig). The waitress at the restaurant seemed utterly shocked that Brian and I each only wanted a quarter of a cuy each (rather than a whole). Here it is, served on a bed of some four or five whole potatoes. 

Little girl at the restaurant trying to talk to Brian and I. Brian handed her his iPhone so that she could try translating what she wanted to say.
Huaraz is a tiny, tiny town and far different from the colonial cities of Lima and Cusco. After visiting the villages surrounding Huaraz, though, we were surprised to find how comparably large and bustling Huaraz actually way :)

Celebrations for Peru's independence day started early here.

Once Brian was back in tip-top shape (sort of), we set off for our first hike around the Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Negro. Lake Churup!

We climbed straight up the side of this waterfall!

After an evening of rest back at the guesthouse, we woke up early the next morning to join a group tour to Lake 69.

On our last day, Brian and I decided to check out some nearby ruins and take a peek at the villages and little homes of Andean life.

Overall, the Cordillera Blanca area was of the most beautiful sights in all of Peru. I was surprised that so few travelers who I met had made Huaraz one of their destinations. If you're in Peru and you have an extra two or three days--hop on a bus and go to Huaraz!