Ben and Gabe are living and working in the district of El Carmen in the Chincha province. The province of Chincha is about three hours south of Lima in the department of Ica. It is located in the valley created as the foothills of the Andes begin to descend into the Pacific Ocean. It is known for its agriculture, especially its vineyards and wineries, and as the heart of Afro-Peruvian culture in Perú. Gabe is working at the
Centro Cultural Amador Ballumbrosio, an organization working to promote Afro-Andean music and the cultural life of El Carmen. Ben is working at Centro de Salud El Carmen, a public health post.
Ben is living with mom Maribel, one of the 15 children of the famous Ballumbrosio family. Maribel is a world-class dancer and also an equally world-class cook.
Life isn’t complete without a pen full of ducks!
Maribel and Ben demonstrate the way to walk in El Carmen—right down the middle of the street.
Maribel promises that the sun will come out later–and it does!
Pamela, one of the nurses at the Centro de Salud El Carmen, leads medical campaigns around the region, and Ben has been able to accompany her.
Ben poses outside the place he spends the most time–the clinic’s laboratory.
Ben works closely with lab technician Lucho.
Ben sends a urine sample into the spectroscopy instrument.
The laboratory offers many services, including tests for anemia and various infections, as well as blood analysis for levels of glucose, triglycerides and cholesterol.
Ben poses outside the Centro de Salud El Carmen.
Gabe and host mom Sylvie relax in front of the maracuyá and grenadilla-laden gazebo.
The Ballumbrosio dog “Fuerte” looks lovingly at the resident volunteer.
Sylvie and Gabe stand in front of the Centro Cultural Amador Ballumbrosio, named for local musical legend Amador Ballumbrosio, who was also Sylvie’s father-in-law and Maribel’s father. The Center promotes Afro-Peruvian culture by presenting musical performances, hosting foreign visitors, and giving workshops in many areas ranging from environmental care to cajon-playing to sex education.
The Cultural Center boasts two giant cajon-shaped towers, which house a recording studio, a CD collection of world music, and a library of donated books free for the community to use.
Gabe shows a “molle” or Peruvian pepper tree. Along with tending trees, Gabe’s diverse volunteer activities include digitizing CDs, transcribing poems, helping with cultural center workshops, and teaching English in the neighboring town of Viña Vieja.
Gabe’s latest project—securing two trash cans that had been continually knocked over by neighborhood dogs!
The center keeps getting new additions–like this multi-colored rock walkway.
Sylvie, Willy and Gabe relax in the center’s kitchen and bar area, a busy place during concert times.
Art abounds in El Carmen; here is one of a number of murals you can find around town.
Gabe and Ben may have been the first Perú SSTers to try a certain iconic dish of El Carmen. What was it? This storefront will give you a hint.
Ben and Gabe relax in the center of El Carmen’s plaza.
The most significant building in all of El Carmen is the town’s Catholic church. Its glorious exterior has been enhanced by a brand new paint job.
Willy, Gabe and Ben enjoy a lunch of carapulcra, sopa seca and cebada at Jesusa, a local restaurant.