Thursday, July 30, 2009

Site Assignment

Drum roll please..... She is going to Ica!!!!
Yup, you heard it here, I will be living in a small town in the province of Chincha, in the district of Ica Peru for the next two years. What a relief it was to finally see where I will be focusing all my hard work for the foreseeable future. I found out that my town was devastated by the earthquake that struck Peru in 2007, and the community is still recovering. So the town is "not that pretty" as I was told by the volunteer who visited my site the day before. But I don't mind that one bit!
I will be the first volunteer in the province of Chincha since before 2002 (maybe the first ever?). And for this I am EXCITED. I also found out that the house I will be living in is (unusually) large and nice for the area. The same volunteer also told me that I would "love my house". For this I am RELIEVED. However, I am trying to bajar (lower) my expectations until site visit.
I will be going to Chincha for 5 days on Monday! I cannot wait. Although I am a little afraid because I don't know how prepared they are for me. Will I be sitting around twiddling my fingers for 5 days, or will someone take me under their wing and show me whats happening in Chincha? As we like to say in Peace Corps "vamos a ver..." (we'll see...)
The only other info I have for now is that I might be working with a group of artisans, a secondary school, and some sort of small agribusiness project. Rather than pretend like I know what any of that entails I will save the details for another blog, when I actually know what to say.
As for other news, I have been battling a series of cough, runny nose, and a massive cold sore on my mouth for the past week and a half. Lets just say I have seen better days... Thankfully the other trainees were able to look past my rough appearance and still treat me like I was not a freak. Only a few jokes were told (to my face at least). The faces you get from people when they feel sorry for you are pretty hilarious. What is even more entertaining are the looks I get from the locals because every time I cough they get a look of utter fear on their faces. What is going through their mind? Oh let me tell you, "That gringa is about to give me the gripe!!!" Or in plain english, "that American girl is about to give me H1N1!!!". For some reason Peruvians are convinced that all of us gringos are contaminated with H1N1 and we are bringing it into their country. Crazy thoughts.
I am still recovering, but feeling (and looking) much better. They say that the sicker you are during training the better. This is because your body acclimates itself to the new germs and by the time I go to site I will be like a rock! Or so I hope. Hey that reminds me, if anyone wants to send a care package, multivitamins are on the top of the list for me, because apparently Peace Corps Peru doesn't supply them to the volunteers. Ahhemmm.....
Anyways, everything else is going well. I have a few more blogs I am working on right now, hopefully will post them in the coming week. Sorry no pics this time. If there are any topics you would like to know more about please let me know. Sometimes I think I overlook things that people back home would be interested in knowing about. Hope all is well back in the states. Tell America I said Hola!!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I just got back from a week of Field Based Training (FBT). The point of FBT is to put trainees in the site of a current volunteer to see what life is like out in the field. During FBT I had the opportunity to teach a class of 33 tech school students about the basics on running a small business. At the end of the three days of class, the students had the opportunity to run their own business simulation by taking out a loan from the “Peace Corps Bank” and running their business for one day in an effort to pay back the loan the next day and also come out with some earnings of their own. Thankfully each of my groups came out ahead and hopefully they learned a thing or two as well. It was challenging trying to teach a business class in Spanish but at the same time, I felt very at home because I had a lot of experience tutoring these same topics during college.
I also learned a lot about what life is really like for a volunteer. The town I spent the majority of my time in was a small village up in the highlands of Cajamarca. The land there was beautiful. You couldn’t look in any direction without seeing a gorgeous view of the surrounding mountains. The people in this town were much more traditional as well. I could tell that the culture has not yet evolved the way it has where I am living in Lima. It was a nice change of pace. The people were very calm and it seemed like a much safer place where everyone knows everyone (reminded me of home).
During my time there I also managed to play in a game of football (soccer). It was team “gringo” against a team of local students. They seemed to be very entertained that the gringos had two girls playing on their team. In countries like Peru it is not very common to have women playing soccer, especially with men. We played hard, and I found it difficult to breathe because the air at that altitude was much thinner. My soccer playing skills are limited to say the least. I wish we had been playing volleyball, but apparently only women play that here… We even had a bench full of gringos cheering us on which was hilarious. The prize for the winning team was a little male goat, and we were determined to win it. We really wanted to be able to bring a goat back to the training center to show our accomplishment…
Needless to say we lost, but only by one point. The goat went to another team. However, we made up for it by performing a dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” to an audience of all the students from the Tech Institute we were teaching in. We wanted to perform it as a way for all of us trainees to show our appreciation to the students. I choreographed the dance one morning, and then taught the dance to the other trainees in my group and we performed it at the closing ceremony. It was even more hilarious than the gringo soccer team. Hah! It also felt really nice to choreograph and perform a dance again. It has been about two years since I last took a dance class. For this, I think I will definitely be including dance classes in the work I do in site. I really miss it, and I think it would be a great way to keep busy, and get to know the community. Also I think young girls here might be interested to learn American styles of dance (fingers crossed).
Now I am anxiously awaiting my site assignment. I will know on Friday of this week where I will be spending the next two years and what kind of work I will be doing. Wish me luck! (This picture is with another volunteer, myself, and two of the students we trained during FBT)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Living in a cloud of dust

This week has gotten off to an interesting start. But maybe I should begin with last week. I had a fever last Monday and wasn’t feeling too great for a couple days, but that was over by Wed. I have been keeping busy with classes. We went on a field trip to Lima two weekends ago, and this past weekend we began working at a local agricultural university. We are going to go there every other weekend to learn about planting in Peru. This should help us when we get to site to begin a garden if we so choose. I am very excited about this. I don’t have any gardening skills but hopefully this will be the start of a new hobby for me. I also broke out from an allergic reaction. This was strange because I have never been allergic to anything in my life (I think it was a spider bite). After 3 Benadryl I was good to go.
This week began with a holiday called Feriado, it was in celebration of a saint. I had the day off from classes. So my day consisted of me “cooking” lunch for the family. I really didn’t cook though. I don’t think they were ready to let me loose in their kitchen just yet. I’m pretty sure they believe I don’t know how to do anything on my own. And for those who know me, know just how much I like to do everything on my own. This has been a hard adjustment to make to say the least. I just try to do as much as I can to keep myself sane, like go out with other volunteers, work out, and do my language homework (even though there isn’t really any reason to do it except out of boredom).
Anyways, I “cooked” spaghetti, but again, since I wasn’t really allowed to cook they pretty much did all the work while I stood around suggesting what we could do next. The best part was at the end when they thanked me for cooking lunch. I laughed and shook my head, because I didn’t know how to say anything that I really wanted to say. I wish they would have let me cook, because I really can cook. If they knew I could do some real work then they might not perceive me to be such a helpless American.
Today we were supposed to have classes, but there is a strike going on with all of the public transportation drivers. They are in opposition to some law so they are marching through the streets as I type this. There are about 14 of us who live in my town and we were all supposed to walk to class today since it isn’t safe to take a taxi and all the busses are not going. So at 8:00am about half of us met up to begin our walk. We live at least 5 miles from the training center so this was not going to be a short distance. We got all the way down our hill when one of the other volunteers brother came rolling in on his bike to tell us we didn’t have class after all. This was good to know, now that we were all the way down the hill… We turned around and walked right back up. It was a good morning workout.
That’s the other thing I have had to get used to. Communication in Peru is very limited. Rather than planning a head for things people here seem to take a “wait until we cross that bridge” approach to life. For this I have found myself waiting numerous times for someone to show up, or I have been left without notice about many things. This is just the way it is. I know that I need to be flexible in order to survive the next two years, so this is just good practice for me I guess.

Here are some photos of the “hill” that I live on and walk up and down every day. This picture does not do it justice, but my walk up to my house takes about 10 or 15 minutes. It is all dirt, as you can see... I live in a cloud of dust, but I love it.

I have been trying to get some videos up on here but the internet takes hours to upload a video, so I have yet to figure that out. I will try to get some more photos up here soon.
Love and miss you all!