Going bananas; a little experience starting the ISP

While perhaps I haven’t been the best at posting regularly, that will certainly change! Here’s some background information: SIT Abroad has a policy to include a course called “ISP,” or the Independent Study Project of the semester. The ISP follows introductory coursework meant to prepare the students for a topic of their choice, mine being sociolinguistics in a migrant community to Cuzco. About a week ago, we finished up with the majority of our coursework (13 credit hours worth) after two and a half months of study; from there, we turned in our project proposals, were each given a check to live off of for a month in a community of our general choosing, and were sent off to start researching!

This is, of course, assuming your proposal was accepted. Mine was not immediately; and as an incentive to revise it quickly and get going, I was not given my check until I was given the green light, or as we colloquially say here, luz verde.

Therefore! I figured it only appropriate to include as my food for this post, a picture of a humble banana peel.

The humble banana peel, taken on a bus back to Q'eros in San Miguel
The humble banana peel

Why? you may ask. How could this possibly be appropriate?

Well, my friend, let me enlighten you. When you’re in a fix; when you don’t have much money and must navigate a developing country in the tropics without becoming sick from street food, the banana is by all means your best bet. First of all, plenty of carbs. Second, the peel, which is a convenient guard against any and all invading sicknesses. Third, I got three of these things for 15 US cents. Now that’s a deal!

That all being said, no, I wasn’t quite left in the dark until I turned in my assignment. The school was actually quite friendly and lent me a small sum to get by for a couple days in case I needed it, and beyond that, I could have easily withdrawn some cash, although generally I like to keep my spending, outside of budgeted spending perhaps, to a strict minimum.

As to my site for the ISP, I am staying in the barrio or neighborhood of San Miguel with migrants from a community that calls itself Q’eros: these are Quechua-speaking people who were isolated in a region called Paucartambo until the 1950’s, and have been since known as continuing to carry the torch of relatively pure Inca traditions. In the past week, San Miguel has held two celebrations; one for the anniversary barrio itself, and the other a local Catholic holiday in Cuzco called Qoyllorit’i, in honor of the Santísima Cruz and the Señor de Qoyllorit’i. If you want to read more about this latter one, wikipedia does have a page 😉

To end this post, here’s just a couple pictures of the community, its view of Cuzco, and the celebrations that have been held.

La Santísima Cruz
La Santísima Cruz
A banner for Qoyllorit'i
A banner for Qoyllorit’i
Bailes por el aniversario de San Miguel
Bailes por el aniversario de San Miguel
La vista de Cuzco desde San Miguel
La vista de Cuzco desde San Miguel






Hope all is well—and assuming you’re currently north of the equator, have an awesome summer!

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