When the weather gets funky I think about Peru, my homeland, the place that has my heart, and I can look everyone in the eye (yes, Benjamin Bratt is Peruvian, but he has German, New Zealand, and English in that mix too that make him so tall). I was lucky enough through the help of some pretty incredibly people in my life to go and do my field work up in the Andes, the Ancash Region.
I was gone for the entire month of August, the cold season over there (the Equator likes to flip things). Being separated from my family for a month was very difficult… being separated from my friends was really difficult. I remember calling my friend a couple of times at the beginning of my trip just to hear his voice, to tell him that I loved and missed him. I was lonely… the nights were black and cold, and the moon was my only beacon. I would climb back up the mountain were I was staying and stare at the massive snow covered mountains that shone by the moonlight thinking “No one else that I love can see this… I wish I could share it with someone…” I will admit this, I thought a lot of my dog. I thought about how incredibly happy he would be roaming the mountains and hills, chasing every living thing until they chased him back.
We were a small group of anthropologist; graduate and undergraduate students. We took long hikes through the region and experienced a new culture, and I immersed my self in it. Anthropologically I had decided to become one with them, kinda like Mead; Participatory Action Research was more like it. I participated, and it was pretty easy for me aesthetically, I looked like them (my white, blonde blue eyed counter parts had it a bit harder). I wanted to interview everyone, I wanted to know their story, I wanted to understand their views of beauty, happiness, and the Westernization of their culture. During these long trips there was one problem… I had difficulty finding a spot to pee.
I have never been camping. I love nature, and I have never had the opportunity to brave it out in the wild. With that said the only time I have had to alleviate myself outside the confines of a toilet was when I was young, drunk and lost… so we would ‘pop-a-squat’ yeah, I’ll admit it. Seriously though, I was a teenager so I think I did it more so that the cops that were at the bar wouldn’t ask questions so we did it out in an alley… no judging, Miami girls do it, it’s sad but true. Well, like I said that was years ago, and now I was 28 years old peeing outside without anything that has a rim was utterly stressful! These mountain ranges don’t have trees (maybe a little tiny one, or a brush), so all I had was massive stones… and grass/dirt. I couldn’t pee. I couldn’t pee to save my life or run a home pregnancy test.
So what is city girl to do? I did the only thing I could do. I appointed a one of the girls to be my ‘Pee Whisperer’. Allison was sweet, and from Oregon. Nature was in her blood. She saved my bladder from exploding during our long hikes.
Me– “Allison, I need to pee”
Allison– “Ok… Look! There’s a good rock, let’s go!”
A couple seconds later, we were squatting and and she would begin her magic
Allison-” Think of the water running through the river and down the waterfall…”
I was peeing, there was a calm about it…
Me– “keep going, I have a little more, don’t stop.”
The pee would just flow out of us, well, mostly me actually.
My other fellow anthropologists would laugh, but honestly I couldn’t pee out there alone, without someone peeing with me and talking about some form of water source.
I miss those days. I miss the mountains, and I miss my people. I miss only eating organic vegetarian cuisine. When I came back, I told Landon (my dog) he’d be proud… I marked some pretty awesome territories up there, by some pretty massive rocks.