Susannah Arnhart

weave the world

Susannah Arnhart

Hey You all! Welcome to my blog! I am living and travelling in South America, primarily in Perú.

Having won an Adventure Learning Grant from Fairhaven College (thanks so much!), I am now enjoying international travel for the first time. My project focuses on 1. learning languages, 2. connecting with local fiber artists and artisans (weavers, embroiderers, etc.), and 3. learning from them about how art plays into their economic lives.

And, being an ¨interdisciplinary type¨, there is also plenty of room for making friends, exploring ecosystems, learning about plants, dancing, cooking, conversing, projects in public and women´s health (my field of study), and all textures of humanity.

Being a foreigner away from home for a minimum of 10 months, and with no intention of blatant tourism, I meet excellent people and only suffer homesickness occasionally.

I welcome you to read on, and espcecially to comment, but be advised: this blog deals very rarely in topics of classical interest to tourists, and offers more of a glimpse into my experiences here and my integrations.

Fairy hugs!!

South America » Peru » Loreto » Iquitos June 21st 2011

Last I left off; I was in a boat to Iquitos. Having traveled the Ucayali up to its confluence with the Marañon, the river became the Amazon. This immense, brown stretch of water, witnessed from the middle of the river, was beyond impressive. Concepts of water scarcity and salinification in the world don´t necessarily compute here. I stood in awe of the river, amazed and how many waters from so many places meet and mingle here. And that it is flowing, constantly replenishing, rising and falling; it lives. As usual with long boat rides, the last day is something of a guessing game. Those who know the voyage well were at an advantage, but no one knew for sure when exactly we would arrive. Folks made bets as to the hour we touch shore, shared their ... read more

South America » Brazil » Amazonas » Tabatinga February 2nd 2011

Thank goodness we arrived at the tri-frontera in the daytime, otherwise I´m not sure how I would´ve navigated the river and its coasts shared by three nations. First we stopped at a seemingly random shore to unload the cattle. Those poor cows. It was a hellish journey for them, unable to move in their little pens, getting rained on, and without shade for three days in the fierce jungle sun. One by one, they were persuaded to once again walk the plank, and their spirits seemed cheered by the fresh grazing to be had on land. The boat stopped and let most of the passengers off in Santa Rosa, Peru. The crew would continue upriver another day into Colombia, and then return. I made plans to catch them on their way back to Iquitos, and hopped ... read more

South America » Colombia » Leticia » Rio Yavari, Amazon January 25th 2011

In Iquitos I was a little past the midpoint to the tri-frontier. From Pucallpa, where I´d been living with my host family for a couple of months, I hoped to reach Leticia, Colombia in order to renew my Peruvian visa. Every inch of the journey was passed in boat, firstly along the Ucayali River which later becomes the Amazonas. From Iquitos I would travel the Amazon through Loreto. With forty percent of the country´s area, it is Peru´s largest department. Loreto ends with the tiny town of Santa Rosa, which along with the Leticia and Tabatinga, Brazil create the triple-border. I asked a motocarrista to take me to the port where boats left for Leticia, to scope out the scene. The boats were smaller than those going between Pucallpa and Iquitos, at two or three decks ... read more

South America » Peru » Loreto » Iquitos January 19th 2011

Accompaning pictures are near the bottom of this page On the 19th of January I celebrated a landmark. I have been travelling for six months, I have been outside of my home country for six months, and I have been living in places where my mother-tongue is not spoken for six months. These and more are all firsts for me, and I have been in Peru for the majority of them. On the flip side of things, this means that my six-month Peruvian visa is nearly spent. As exiting and re-entering with a new tourist visa is fairly tranquil, I really just had to choose a border and visit for a day or two. My priorities were to not take an airplane, to be in an interesting ecosystem, to have a non-stressful journey, and (hopefully) ... read more

South America » Peru » Ucayali January 12th 2011

I just would like to share my insights into the second language I have been learning. My first to learn was Spanish. When I came to Ecuador and later Peru, I had never taken a Spanish class and I was functioning on the basics that a few kind friends had taught me. Six months later, I am far from fluent, but manage well in conversations with grammar, vocabulary, and pronounciation. I have still slip-ups with reflextive verbs sometimes, with very formal speech, or figuring out this or that conjugation. And no one speaker of Spanish will have the same accent or style of speaking, so I am always picking up on stuff. I have to give myself a pat on the back that the once-dreaded compound tenses have even started to flow out naturally, and I´ve ... read more

South America January 4th 2011

Living with a Shipibo family of artesans, practicing Shipibo language, learning to embroider, and generally participating in daily life around the house is has become my daily life, thank the sweet universe. In the spirit of connecting with the greater Shipibo community and and pursuing some other areas of interest I have been volunteering with Proyecto Ainbo in and around Pucallpa. ¨Ainbo¨ means ¨woman¨in Shipibo. Its goals are centered around providing information, testing, and support around various women´s and reproductive health issues in local indigenous communities. Well, this is the gist of things because I´ve never received an official rundown of things. Ainbo is a joint project between the Federation of Native Communities of Peru, the Peruvian Ministry of Health, and Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (a university in Lima). I would like to give a very ... read more

South America » Peru » Huánuco » Huánuco December 25th 2010

(Here are photos! ) Or not, Tingo Maria! That seemed to be the general sentiment in Tingo Maria, which made for an interesting holiday adventure for this non-drinker. I travelled to Tingo Maria with my host-sister Gina. Her brother Linder had the opportunity to work in construction for friends in Tingo Maria, and he left about a week after I started living with the family. Now that it was the holiday season, and he was off by himself in distant lands, the family nominated a delegation to visit Linder and bring him home. This would be Gina, the 16-year-old, and I. I had just returned to Yarina from Lima, and the next day Gina and I sought transportation to the ceja (also known as cloud forest, alta-selva, or the beautful margin between jungle and mountain). We ... read more

South America December 18th 2010

Check out some photos while you read here Miguel, my peruvian best friend, had invited me to come visit Lima, and it fell in such perfect timing that I decided to go. About a week before Christmas, with my projects halted in the national buzz of holiday travel, I said good-bye to my host family in Yarina for a few days and hopped on the day-long bus ride from la selva to la costa. My logic was this: having had lived in Peru for about 5 months at this time, and having spent less than a total of 24 hours in this largest city and capitol of the country, I felt it was time to give Lima a fair trial. More importantly, I had the option to travel with a dynamic buddy and authentic Limeño (Miguel ... read more

South America November 30th 2010

Well, after reflecting, it is just plain obnoxious to upload my pictures to more than one place in the internet. No offense, TravelBlog, but you are way slower than Facebook. If y´all were in internet cafes here and getting rolling on your project, you too would understand. Here are links to my albums, in chronological order: Quito: First Days Stained Glass Glory Old-Town Quito Vippasana in Ecuador: Cloud Forest, Ecuador The Peruvian coas... read more

South America » Peru » Ucayali » Pucallpa November 13th 2010

So, what is a lady to do after a mind-blowing month immersed in jungle life? I have been asking myself this same question now that I am back in this wacky city of Pucallpa. Here is an update on my life over the past few days. I have been: -Processing the whole experience way off in the woods (and missing everyone from the camp) -Having classes in Shipibo! This has been delightful as I am learning from a friend. It´s lovely when the universe hooks people up for different transmitions. I am teaching Francisco English, and he is teaching me his first language. Of course, it´s very informal (I´m sure you have caught on by now that this is my mode-of-opperation), and poco-a-poco, but I now know the basics of this beautiful language. Gramatically simple but ... read more

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