a few weeks ago, i had the pleasure of hosting 8 of the new 21er’s that just arrived to peru in june! if you recall, i also endured my on field based training, which is a week-long intensive training of language, culture and giving practicums. it is not for the weary. the days are long, and you end the day collapsing onto your bed, only to wake up feeling as though you had just closed your eyes. part of my hosting the trainees, was coordinating the entire schedule for the entire week, which included numerous site visits of other volunteers, which was lot of work…i know better understand the amount of coordination that goes into any training, and my goodness, it is A LOT! during the week, i stayed with the trainees, and basically served as a mentor for the newbies throughout the week. many have never been in a classroom before peru, and so i was there to help with generating classroom activities and ideas for them, and also help them with their spanish. i also was sort of a cultural liaison, to help them understand the cultural differences they were experiencing and seeing first hand. here are some highlights of the week:
we visited olmos!
the land of the limon! i loved being able to see all the other volunteers’ great projects as well!
i got to see milagros! another highlight for me was seeing all of the youth that i have worked with from our camps!
we visited the afro peruano museum in zana!
isabel getting into the music!
ana maria and the trainees enjoying some good ol’ american food!
the english activity with students at icpna!
trainees working with teachers at icpna!
the entire group of trainees were fantastic and stayed so positive through their grueling work week! i kept stressing to them that service is nothing like this, but they were always so eager and determined which was awesome! i am so excited for the four that are headed to lambayeque! they are a great group! though, it should be noted that it took me two full days of sleeping to recover…but that may also be from the gripe i caught during the week….
these last two weeks i have been playing host to the most anticipated visitor of 2012. it was more than worth the 6.5 month wait (but, who was keeping track?). during the two weeks i was able to share my life in site, experience one of the wonders of the world and just enjoy time with my best friend. though, to be honest, i was having too much fun to take a lot photos, though i am pretty sure mp disagrees on that point. ha. anyways, enjoy the following posts as they document our short two weeks of adventures!
trying his first chica morada. little did he know just how delicious they are…
i had so many little surprises throughout the first week. many of which included my favorite treats from texas…including these homemade s’mores from tillman’s roadhouse!!!!!
mp roasting a mallow.
one of the days, we packed a picnic and hiked our way to the penguins. though we had been lathering ourselves in sunscreen, we still had pretty funny sunburns from this excursion. but the ocean was a dream and the penguins were lively!
while in chiclayo, we celebrated christmas with the other peru 19er’s with a secret santa exchange! it was a blast and we all had so much fun with it!
you guys. i know. i know. it’s been a while. i’m sorry. i wish i could say it was all because i was busy, which is probably about ¾ true, however it is also finding the time and patience to upload photos.
overall life is good. and busy. but good. i have been spending most of my free time working on my community diagnostic, which will ultimately be a very lengthy document about my community, which i will have written in spanish. needless to say, it takes up most of my energy and time. especially processing and analyzing all of my surveys. translation: a lot of tedious paperwork.
but here are some pictures and anecdotes about what filled my time when i wasn’t working on my diagnostic:
i attended peru 16’s despedida (a goodbye party for peru 16…to put into context i am peru 19). it was a lot of fun. we all learned the gangnam style dance and went around chiclayo and performed the dance.
practicing for our big debut.
dancing in the parque principal in the center of town in font of a crowd of people.
we went all around town and ended up getting a huge crowd and following. after, we went to ICPNA (the english school that is partnered with the us embassy) and there was a break dancing group that performed for us. after, we all got pizza, hung out at the hostel and then went out to a club and just danced the night away and into the morning. i have never been a going out person, but i have since found it to be quite a release of mounted up energy from being in site all the time.
hanging out at the hostel.
artesanos de tucume.
my friend, cinthia, asked me to help her take pictures of her and the other artisan’s products at the museum in lambayeque. their products are quite impressive and all made by hand and out of organic material. the materials are dyed using local, natural, organic resources and the women turn the organic cotton into the thread that is used to make the products. they are an incredible group of women who take their craft very seriously and i am so excited to be working with them and to learn more about all that they hope to achieve while i am here and help them realize their potential. i also helped them set up a facebook page, check it out here!!!!! (also, don’t forget to like it!) i am also grateful for the friendship of cinthia.
just an example of their style/color palette of their products.
an example of the silver working as well. also all made by hand.
getting around town.
i finally got it. i have my own cruiser…a mountain bike that is. and to that end i am grateful. it has cut my travel time to the museum in half, and it is nice to get out and about and see more of the rural parts of tucume. i had my site visit today with my supervisors and people repeatedly made commentary about me and my bike…i guess they now know that i make good use of it…
my family got a kick out of me, my bike, my helmet and my camelback. samia seriously took an entire photo shoot of me on my bike.
speaking of samia and bicycles…in true bff form, as soon as i started speeding around town on my bike, samia decided that she wanted to start using her bike as well. i carried her bike all the way across town and to the outskirts to the grifo to use their air machine to fill her bike’s tires. then i carried it all the way home. we then spent the afternoon at the park, where i taught her to ride the bike. there is still training wheels, as i am teaching her how to pedal (she likes to pedal forward once and then pedal backwards a lot).
watch out tucume!
fact, my second favorite holiday is halloween. luckily, my friend, casey, had a halloween parade and party planned with the youth leadership group in his site, patapo. i dressed as cat, and made ears out of my hair and drew a nose and whiskers on my face. little did i realize that this would ultimately result in me drawing cat nose and whiskers on 30+ teenage girls’ faces as well. needless to say, i am professional cat whisker drawer….don’t worry, i will be adding that to my resume.
all of the volunteers with the mayor of patapo.
stephen and i on the back of mototaxi. riding through town shouting happy halloween to everyone.
michelle and i at the halloween party. i was so exhausted that i am pretty sure i was passed out shortly after this photo was taken.
all of the volunteers at the party!
the day after.
the day following halloween was dio de los muertos for peru, which meant a federal holiday here. this meant that most of our families ventured to the cemeteries to pay homage to their lost loved ones. this also meant that none of us had anything really going on in our sites. so we decided to go up to changoyape and visit stephen and tina.
changoyape is right on the border of cajamarca and kind of where the sierra region begins. stephen gave us the grand tour and it was just breathtakingly beautiful there.
the volunteers visiting changoyape.
while we were getting the grand tour, i found an odd spiky looking fruit growing. so i did what any normal person would do, which was to break it open. i still couldn’t decide if it was edible or not, so i did the next most sensible thing: i walked over to the old man pulling guava from his tree and asked him if i could eat the fruit in my hands. while he was explaining that i should not eat the new found fruit, i realized that he was pulling guava for his pet monkey. let me repeat that for you: his pet MONKEY. needless to say i won the award for best find of the day.
dreams coming true!
oh you know. best friends just hanging out and being natural, you know.
before we left, the old man was super kind and took a long reed pole and pulled down some guava for us to take on the road with us.
starting to enjoy the fruits of our labor
for those of you who have never actually seen real guava. it looks like a giant pea pod, and you stick the giant seeds in your mouth, but you only eat the white part. then you spit the seeds, which are a little bigger than the size of a quarter.
i am still going on caserio visits with vaso de leche, but now i am trying to work with the ladies on making tippy taps for their homes. water is not readily accessible and with tippy taps it will help them save and have accessible clean water to wash their hands. these are made by using household items that they already have lying around. a HUGE challenge with this is getting the ladies to bring their plastic bottles. but the good news is that plenty of cute kids still come!
i just love my mujeres jovenes. thursday nights we have our activity nights. every month has a value theme and the first week of every month we work on a personal progress experience within that value, and the other weeks we do fun activities. i only have 3 young women, but i hope that it slowly expands. right now the three that i do have are so incredible and have such amazing testimonies.
for the month of november, we are concentrating on knowledge. for last week’s activity, i brought a bag full of ingredients for a dessert. i turned it into an object lesson for the importance of directions and following those directions and seeking out knowledge and direction as well. then we made homemade whipped cream with strawberries. it was their first time to try whipped cream. it was an obvious success.
enjoying the fruits of their labor (budunching!)…
as soon as their mom’s heard i was teaching them a dessert to make, they were quick to join as well. it’s true, food really is the way to the heart here.
not mentioned above but of note, is that i have been working on getting my world map realized for the past 6 weeks. it has been an exhausting going to the muni daily to follow-up in order to get things done. last monday ended with a frustrated erin in the park crying (a normal peace corps response…honest), and an equally frustrating one that i am currently addressing.
i have been working on the iñikuk pageant that is going on tonight. this has included multiple meetings and rehearsals for the girls.
i had my site visit today, and overall it was just fine. i just need to keep on trucking on with my diagnostic. guhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
i have started to work with the museum, and i am working on an environment club for this summer.
i am busy in the colegio doing charlas. i have done a number on self-esteem, including a fun activity with balloons. apparently it was a hit with the kids, as i was asked to come back to do the sex ed charlas. (read the sex ed charla to learn more on the outcome of this).
i voted. and then watched election night with all of the volunteers. it was a lot of fun and involved a lot chips and guacamole.
i think this more or less brings us up to date. hopefully i can keep up with this. whew. glad we made it through that one.
talk about boy band mania. these guys are a household name in lambayeque. they were filming a music video, and as a part of it, they were giving a free live show. myself and a group of other volunteers attended, since it was the same day as the federal holiday. it was great to meet new volunteers, as well as reconnect with my fellow 19’ers.
anyways, the music was terrific, and the men in the group were…well…ridiculous. there was so many swooshing hips and gyrating bodies, it was a little too much. however, there was one guy in the group that looked like the peruvian usher.
seriously. you can’t deny it.
the other thing i didn’t get was that the group is called “grupo 5,” but there are 7 guys in the group. anyways, just a mere observation, that will never be explained.
personally, i think the title says it all. but to elaborate a bit more, on sunday morning i arrived to lambayeque. we were greeted by other volunteers who kindly made an all-encompassing sign. then we went to breakfast and attended our first regional meeting. honestly, after a restless night on the bus, i spent my day and evening in my hostel room. it was great to finally have a moment of nothing for a bit.
monday morning, i finagled a cab to my parraderra and caught a combi to tucume. my ride to site felt like a moment out of a movie. cumbia blaring on the radio speakers, the cobrador hanging out the side door’s window trying to get more passengers and the numerous chirps of little chicks in the box on the man’s lab seated behind me.
i arrived to site by late morning, and carried my things across the park, while everyone stared wondering why the gringa had so much stuff. i walked inside my new house and it already immediately and gratefully started to feel like home. though, poco a poco i have plans to make my room home.
this is everything i own…for the next two years.
this is the essential layout of my room. i am currently in the process of furnishing and painting it.
after lunch, i convinced my really great host brother to join me on an adventure back to chiclayo (the capitol city) to help me buy a bed. little did he know what he signed up for. i brought him for help with pricing (as there are two prices: the actual price and the price they charge gringos) and transferring my bed back to the house.
we went to all the tiendas at the mercado with all only offering expensive, foam mattresses, which honestly did not fit within the budget that the peace corps gave me to furnish my room. we met up with steven, his host mom and aunt, in hopes that we could barter for better pricing since we could then buy together.
out of luck, we resorted to going to a big name store, which is usually very expensive, but we remarkably found great mattresses within our budget. now came the great adventure. moving our mattresses around town while we bought the rest of the items for our beds.
proudly posing with our new mattresses.
everyone squeezed in our small taxi.
we returned to the mercado with our mattresses, and then bought our bed frames. then had the bed frame store hold on to our mattresses and bed frames while we went and purchased sheets and pillows. then, david and i hailed another taxi, loaded up my bed, and then caught a combi back to tucume.
i have two very astute observations about peru thus far: they are the best, but craziest drivers in the world, and they are incredibly talented at tying knots. needless to say, 6 hours later made it home. david was kind enough to help me with putting together my bed. i still need to get a light blanket it for it. and the ladies at the tienda thought i was crazy for not wanting pink/fuschia sheets with flowers. apparently, that is what the ladies love here?
my new bed.
i returned to the market yesterday to buy a desk and two sets of shelves for storage in my room. my host mom was kind enough to join me, and it was incredible. i went to the market a couple of weeks ago to price out items, and when i returned with my host mom, on average the prices they told her were 20 soles less. needless to say i am incredibly grateful for her attendance. also, honestly, i was most worried about how to get the shelving units back to my house, but yet again the combi driver’s understanding of aerodynamics and knot-tying left me impressed. maybe i should take some lessons from them?
a couple of weeks ago, the new lambayeque crew and i headed to lambayeque for the week to learn about our capitol city and also visit our sites, where we will be living for the next two years. we took an overnight bus to chiclayo, our capitol city, and we were a little surprised to have no one meet us at the bus station. but we had the address to our hotel, so we just all got cabs to our hotel. they swindled us, as really we just needed to go around the corner. then when we showed up to our hotel, and they did not have reservations for us until the next day. (as it turns out, all the volunteers/our regional coordinator thought we were not to arrive the next day, and had planned a greeting party for us…ha). after we dropped our bags in a room, we then went and explored the city. as it turns out it was chiclayo’s anniversary and there was a huge promenade in the plaza.
i liked the mayor’s shades.
marching to their own beat.
we then explored the rest of the plaza, including the municipality.
so many vultures here.
we also explored the mercado and priced out furniture. i found the best pizza since being here in peru…though it is still not great. we also found a great burger place, with bananas and pineapple on them. it’s pretty awesome. and to stay on this food train, we found a place with chicken empanadas that taste like chicken pot pies. yum! also, chiclayo had a lot of other great things to offer, but for whatever reason food is what sticks out in my memory…ha. typical.