Friday, September 2, 2011

Proyecto Chakana: From Mexico to Argentina

Happiness is a shared toothbrush holder.

Last month I had the great luck to host three travelers from a group called “Proyecto Chakana” – two Argentinians and a Spanish gal who are slowing working their way down from Mexico to Argentina, documenting culture, ecology, and issues of social and environmental justice along the route in photo, blog, radio, and video.

For those who don't know, the chakana is the "Incan Cross" - which is an iteration of the 4 cardinal points which were and are a central spiritual symbol for many indigenous groups throughout the Americas. With their journey the Proyecto Chakana folks hope to explore these cultural similarities, document shared threats to ecological and cultural preservation, and especially give voice to popular movements that have had the courage to organize themselves in hope of a better and more just future.

Something I really admire about these guys is that they travel with a purpose, but also with the openness to see where the journey takes them, to extend themselves, to look into little corners and not just run on by briskly checking off guide book highlights. (If it’s any indication, they stayed in Mexico for a year and a half!) What you learn as a PCV is that there’s a lot to be learned at the edges – in the places where you wouldn’t have thought or known to look while planning on the couch at home.

On the personal end, taking care of a house solo and working 50 hours a week can get old, so it was awesome to have such conscientious visitors around. They cooked, cleaned, and brought an excellent music library, great conversation, and quite a few movies. Aside from nightly dinners, they kept me plenty occupied: hiking, playing cards, chatting, introducing them to locals. And they made me a sweet macrame bracelet and hair braid. Score! (Did I mention they are super creative and sell macrame ?)

I’m glad to have my bottom floor back, but I’ll never forget their time here. If you'd like to know more, you can check out their videos and keep in touch with their journey here:!

(And also do check out the websites of two neat couples they introduced me to who are on similar Mexico – South America missions: “Permacyclists” -a Belgian/US combo with the goal of documenting environmental solutions - and “Viajero Sustentable” an Argentinian/Mexican pair with the goal of making a directory of sustainable tourism sites. Cool folks!)

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