Tag Archives: home

home. +1.

peru on our world map.

peru on our world map.

well. this month marks my one year mark of living in peru. i did it! but really, to live and adapt and integrate into a foreign country is not a cake walk, but it has also been one of the most enriching experiences. i arrived to peru, well….exhausted…, but completely open minded to the experiences that awaited. i also arrived only being able to reply with “si.” and by the second day, i was able to say the word “claro.” and i only hoped that i wasn’t agreeing to anything too absurd.

after learning enough language to survive, and receiving a full library’s worth of manuals and books, i was sent off to a pueblo in the middle of the peruvian northern coastal desert. this pueblo has slowly but surely become my home. i have built a strong relationship with a family that has become my own. i have built friendships with people who have never shorted me with their patience, their positivity and love….and of course, food.

traditional mochican wall carving.

traditional mochican wall carving.

their passion for their immense cultural history here has captured me, and as i explore and discover new parts of my site’s more rural parts, i relish in the fact that i am experiencing a living history.

i have discovered that in order to truly grow to love a place and people and culture, you have to endure the hardships as well as relish in the great things. throughout my time in site thus far, i have had some key socios move or have a change in career, a month long school strike, accumulative to a month’s strike from the health post, a school that started more than a month late, have spent hours upon hours waiting for people to show for meetings, and so much more. another challenge for me, in particular, was breaking the social barriers that existed in my municipality because of my being a female and a foreigner. so, when i was asked to raise my district’s flag with my mayor during my town’s celebratory flag ceremony for bolognesi, which happened to share the same date of arrival to peru, my heart was overwhelmed…because for me, this was a sign of how far i had come, and how far my site and i have come together. the truth is, everyone’s site is completely different. and some come with more difficulties than others, and sometimes i found myself wishing for an easier service. but, at the end of the day, it was through those challenges, that have come to call my site home. that it is. home. with one more year + a couple of months. i’m home. and i love it here.

getting ready to walk the flag through town before the flag raising ceremony.

getting ready to walk the flag through town before the flag raising ceremony.

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mi casa es su casa.

back in april, i put together a video for my world wise school that i am partnered with, and also for my presentation that i gave in the states. i don’t know how i did it, but i forgot to share it with you all here! let’s just call it, getting caught up in work, shall we?

anyways, here is a video that gives you a glimpse into my home, my site and its culture…featuring the accompaniment by the none other…talking heads (if you know me, then you know of my love and adoration of a band that was way before its time)!

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the great may escape.

goodness gracious. my, oh, my how time has escaped us…or really just me.

after celebrating the most incredible peruvian birthday, i hopped on a plane to visit friends and family in the us. i was overwhelmed in general, but also by the love of those closest to me. bu seriously, i was pretty overwhelmed culturally as well. being in the peace corps, you get so used to a certain pace of life, a very slow one, and also that about 90% of your time is spent independent of all other americans and in solitude in your country’s culture. another 5% is spent with any volunteer that may be near you, who you may see with varying frequency (once a week or once every month or so depending on schedules). and the final 5% is with other volunteers once or twice month, who are all living the same life of solitude as you, so really we are pretty not self-aware of  how strangely awkward we have become. so, to put me in a situation where i was constantly interacting with people, by the end of the 3rd day in a row, i slept for almost a full 24 hours to catch up. though, i am not complaining. it was so wonderful to see all of my family. and i am so blessed that my brother and close friend both flew in from nyc to see me.

it was especially nice to get to spend time with mp, who was my main reason to visit the us. when mp last left, we went to cusco and lima, and now it was my turn to pay him a visit. though, he kept me quite busy and even gave me a second birthday surprise! he coordinated with a local animal sanctuary to do an at-home visit with a SLOTH and FENNEC FOX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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i think it should also be noted that i got my hair cut for the first time in almost a year, and saw it straightened and cleaned, and i felt like a new woman. but obviously with the animals above i was on another level of excitement that was out of this world. eventually all good (read: great) things have to come to an end, and a very reluctant to leave girl was pushed on to her plane by an amazing mp to return to peru.

i arrived back to peru in one piece, and had a few days in site to remind everyone that i was still here and wanting to work, and also coordinate and prepare for our PEPFAR (president’s emergency plan for aids relief) training. with this training, my socia and i were able to take away a number of great new resources and statistics to share with our community, and now have the opportunity to receive aid money for our project.

doris and i after she received her certificate of completion!

doris and i after she received her certificate of completion!

the following week, we jump started our 6 classes of our sex ed leadership training program, but unfortunately later that week, she received news that she was being transfered to another post far from my site, so now i am still spearheading this training, but more so solo-style, since my health post is dramatically understaffed, and have them help out when it needed. but if anything, this motivates me even more to get my youth promoters trained, so they then can be doing this part and alleviate some of the stress from the health post as well.

i have been terrible about using my camera lately, so i will succinctly describe the other activities that have been keeping me quite busy:

  • i have been giving business charlas to the artisans, and helping them figure out what the costs of their products are and how to determine what they should be setting as their prices. and goodness, they were in need of this. one artisan had been selling these beautifully embroidered bread covers for only 10 soles, when the cost alone to make them was 35 soles.
  • 6 classes of pasos a week keeps a girl busy. let’s just leave it at that.
  • i have been working with my youth leadership council (ADEPZORT) on helping them with their community diagnostic. we have been visiting the most rural caserios and my goodness, you never get used to seeing the amount of poverty that exists in this country, or in any country, but you can’t help but want to give so many more opportunities to these people.
  • celebrated dia internacional de los museos with other volunteers, and finally visited my museum’s pyramids.
  • weekly youth group meetings with my mochumi young women’s group.
  • coordinating a 5-pueblo job fair for september
  • coordinating an environmental awareness event with my colegio for next week.
  • working on a website for the artisans
  • working on a video for the museum
  • and of course, camp ALMA!!!!!!!!!!! (which will be covered in it’s own post)

so i have been busy, busy girl and for that i am grateful. i have also been able to watch all of the new arrested development…superb! as a parting gift, here is a picture from the top of one of my pyramids:

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(b)earth day.

where to even start? yesterday was an incredible (and long) day, and i felt love from all over the world. a birthday is quite the holiday in peru. in fact, legally, people are free from all work for the day…unless you are a peace corps volunteer.

it all started the night before where mp presented me a video of all those i love and have loved throughout my life wishing me a happy birthday. there were friends from high school, college and beyond, and people fro seattle, nyc, boston, utah, all over texas and everywhere in between. within seconds of seeing hans dialing the phone (the opening shot of the video), i was left in tears. tears of feeling so much love from back home. for those four minutes, the usa and all those i love there no longer seemed so far away. it was the best way to start the day.

samia barged into my room to show off her new brigadir uniform, which then followed with my host mom running in to hug me and sing happy birthday to me. i then worked on finalizing the details of my earth day event for the morning, and i learned with about 10 minutes in advance that the ong that was coming to speak about reforestation in the bosque was not going to make it…so i had 10 minutes to come up with an hour-long charla about the environment.

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luckily, you learn to get pretty creative on the fly in peace corps. additionally, i was greeted with 70 students at my colegio singing happy birthday to me!

say, what?!

say, what?!

for the charla, i had an environmental youtube video i showed, then spent 30 minutes rambling about the ecosystem and reforestation. i also had us play a game outside…which went…well…let’s just say i was able to tie it all back in.

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afterwards, we planned a pasacalle in conjunction with the primeria, and my students followed behind and cleaned up trash on the streets, while the primary kids, ironically, used more resources to look cute in earth day costumes and posters…and was burning trash to show the consequences of doing so…i still haven’t figured that one out yet…

me with some of my alumnos ready to pick up the litter!

me with some of my alumnas ready to pick up the litter!

blanca with her cutiepatootie students!

blanca with her cutiepatootie students!

seriously. i don't get the burning things to make a point act, but it's peru...so it does kind of make sense...

seriously. i don’t get the burning things to make a point act, but it’s peru…so it does kind of make sense…

taking over the pan-american highway...it's what we do best.

taking over the pan-american highway…it’s what we do best.

you know, if one’s peace corps service was determined by the number of pasacalles one does…then i would be the pcv all-star…only because my site loves them, and is pretty reluctant to try something else…pero poco a poco we will see what we can do about that…

after an exhausting morning of corralling the alumnos around town and cleaning the streets, i came home and watched samia all afternoon. and she really demonstrated what it means to be four…tears…all day…for no reason…well, honestly, it was because she was exhausted, but i felt the consequences of that. for 3 1/2 hours straight it was just tears. at about the 2 hour mark it just became impressive.

also, our pesky chanchito has gotten bigger, stronger and smarter and keeps escaping. so i had to run after him a couple of times yesterday and redo his stake in the ground, which resulted him in getting his piggy-ness all over me…gross…

hammering the stake back into the ground...he was too close for my liking...

hammering the stake back into the ground…he was too close for my liking…

later that evening my family returned home, and they surprised me with my favorite meal: pollo a la brasa and of course, some birthday cake!

mi mama, yo y samia!

mi mama, yo y samia!

millie did such a great job on picking out the cake!

millie did such a great job on picking out the cake

i gave samia the reigns on my camera. i look like a giant in a 4-year-old's eyes...not complaining...

i gave samia the reigns on my camera. i look like a giant in a 4-year-old’s eyes…not complaining…

the johnsons wished me an extra special birthday with a special blog post on cat’s website. it still makes me smile!

later, i went to mochumi to visit with my branch president. sunday, after church, a lady there randomly asked me when my birthday was and so i responded with “tomorrow.” this caused my branch president to run after me in the street and invite me back the chapel the next day for “something.” i figured it was going to be cake, and when i was walking up i could here some of the kids say “ella viene!, ella viene!” but then the lights went out and it was just my branch president. he then proceeded to pretend to “interview” me/have a birthday chat. we then went downstairs, and they hit the lights, and i was greeted by everyone in my branch for a surprise party. it was great! there was a saxophone. and decorations. it was the best. they made me dance in the middle with every male in the room (per tradition). they pushed my face into my cake (per peruvian tradition). we danced to the saxophone some cumbia, huayno and marinera. everyone gave some palabras (per peruvian custom).

my branch president and family. love these people so much.

my branch president and family. love these people so much.

listening to the wonderful words of people in my branch.

listening to the wonderful words of people in my branch.

danixa giving her palabras.

danixa giving her palabras.

seriously. love this girl. she has come such a long way since i arrived.

seriously. love this girl. 

lourdes, jasmin and their sister. some of the girls i work with.

lourdes, jasmin and their sister. some of the girls i work with.

making my wish and getting ready to blow out my candle...

making my wish and getting ready to blow out my candle…

lucho wanted me to play his saxophone in our picture. seriously. this man has some great talent.

lucho wanted me to play his saxophone in our picture. seriously. this man has some great talent.

not an awkward picture with the elders. ha.

not an awkward picture with the elders. ha.

the leftovers.

the leftovers.

it was just so incredible. my heart was so full. in fact, it is still so full of all the outpouring of love i received yesterday. i wish i could stress just how small the world felt yesterday, because i truly felt love from all those all around the world. i have been less than enthused about turning 28 (for the first time in my life i feel old…), but i couldn’t have had a better day…including the chasing down our pig. also, i realized that birthdays are really just days to celebrate your relationship with all of those around you in your life, and i am grateful that i was able to do so!

peru. i fell more in love with you yesterday. every one else, thank you for making me feel so loved and cared for. i am so blessed.

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crafting for christmas.

my goodness the christmas season is in full swing! only nine…NINE…quick (oh, i hope they are quick) days until mp gets here! and while there was reportedly some snow in texas on monday, the heat is getting turned up here in tucume…literally…it is extremely hot here, as in i am writing this and sweating…a lot…it’s not pretty…SOOOOO with that, we have begun to decorate my house for christmas! hurrah!

we got a christmas tree this year! first one!

we got a christmas tree this year! first one!

teaching samia how to make snowflakes!

teaching samia how to make snowflakes!

her response when she first opened a snowflake? "woooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!"

her response when she first opened a snowflake? “woooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!”

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wedding bells.

last week my host sister, angelica (who i met just days before the wedding), got married! her and jorge had a delightful religious ceremony in the main church in the plaza. then we went to a reception hall for an all night party. i ended up coming home around 2 am, which was way earlier than the 5 am arrival for the rest of my family. the next day was followed by another all day/night party with the extended family. over all it was great. a lot of dancing and a lot of food. i am still full from last week/the wedding from last night.

samia sandwiches making sandwiches.

my host sisters (jenny, angelica and karen) with jorge and samia.

i got squeezed into a photo as well.

the newly weds ready to get this party started.

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