Tuesday, September 27, 2011

boring blog post

So some of you may be curious as to what a typical day might be for me here in Pariahuanca. I’m not even going to give you the obnoxious typical Peace Corps response of “it depends” – because it really does. I’m just going to tell you how an ordinary day – like today – might go.

I was dreading just a bit going to the school this morning just because every time I go my principal gives me another long list of things that she wants and expects me to do for the school. So I sat in bed for an hour before I finally convinced myself that there were plenty of other wonderful things that happen when I go to the school and I got up and went.

I got to the school and went to the main office where I signed in – and sure enough the principal tried to make me feel bad for not being there often enough and gave me more things to add to my list. So. Frustrating. But you know, at least she’s animated about having me help out at the school.

So I got out of the main office as fast as I could to go help out Professor Justo – the secondary science teacher. He’s a pretty interesting guy and currently he’s working on taking 3 students to the science fair (we go tomorrow! I’m pumped!). So he had some of these kids parents helping build a dog house out of plastic bottles the students had collected from our ridiculously contaminated river.

We still needed photographs to present at the science fair so I was employed by Justo to photograph their project and go to the river with the students to photograph them picking up trash. So I went off on a mini field trip with the first grade of secondary (middle-school aged kids).

After the photo sesh I helped paint a variety of plants potted in recycled goods (I love the ones planted in baby rain boots). One of the three science fair student’s moms was there and she happens to be my friend Maritza who I help with an adult education class that she runs. So that was nice to have her company.

And then I went home and had a quick meal of oatmeal and went back to the colegio for the APAFA meeting (Peruvian PTA meeting). I had been warned that it would be a long meeting so I sat next to my host mom and her friend and settled in. I’m not going to bore you with the boring details but basically it was a lot of fighting between the municipality and the principal over a lack of funds for the construction of a new auditorium. After the fighting I awkwardly stood up and presented myself – taking advantage of the rare large crowd.

And now I’m back home – I just popped some fresh popcorn and finished reading some entries I downloaded of Beth’s blog (another volunteer who lives close by – its good reading btw if you’re interested – http://bethperu.blogspot.com/). I also read a bit of the Washington Post I downloaded on my Kindle. Thanks again Mom and Dad for convincing me to bring one. I’m loving it.

Okay, so there goes my slightly boring blog entry. I thought I owed you guys some more info on my life here. Anyways, that’s all for now. Oh, my next update might be from Lima since I chipped my tooth (when my friend Brice punched me in the face) and next week I have to go to the big city to get it fixed.

P.S. Brice didn’t really punch me in the face… He just accidentally hit my elbow. Jerk. Totally kidding, he feels really bad.

Love and miss you guys like always. Can’t wait for your visits!

Friday, September 16, 2011

My best friend Ciprofloxacin


On Sunday I got sick for the first time in site. It sucked. A lot. I’ve been in bed for three days, I just got out and bought myself some knock-off Gatorade (Generade – pretty comparable actually). I was so super dehydrated last night – I think that was the worst part. My vision was so distorted I couldn’t see anything. I was secretly hoping that maybe I’d at least hallucinate something interesting, but no… alas, only blindness.

We do get rehydration salts in our med-kits but ask any Peace Corps volunteer – they are so so so awful. The last thing you want to put in your stomach which is emptying everything you put in it is salty water. Ugh… I drank almost a liter and then I just couldn’t anymore. I’m definitely stocking up on the Generade.

My host family really took care of me. They were really worried and although they wanted me to keep my door open to air out my room, they definitely respected my privacy. They cooked for me and checked up on me – it was so sweet. And then last night… Grandma Mamantuca passed the egg over me.

She what?


Passing the egg consists of taking an egg (in our case a very smelly – right out of the hen – egg) and rolling/dragging it across the body of the person who is ill while praying to God for that person’s well being. This should take away the illness. Then the egg is cracked into a glass of water and read to see what caused the illness. I apparently only had an “ojo” – an eye – meaning that someone gave me a bad look recently. So that was last night.

And I am feeling much better today…

Then again I also started taking the miracle drug Ciprofloxacin a few days ago, and I only have one pill left.

Local and scientific powers combined I guess.

…oh my God, that egg was so smelly.

Friday, September 2, 2011

...woah this is my life now

Oh… haha, just found the labels from the sex ed dinamica (activity) I ran with the nurses from the health post yesterday… and then last night I definitely electrocuted myself in my electric shower – DEFINITELY worth the hot water I’m getting in the campo though. Take that city volunteers. Seriously, how is my campo house so awesome?

But that was yesterday. Today, haha, or well I guess tonight really, is definitely a good way to describe my new reality here. So after spending the day in Huaraz (the closest city) learning how to become Girl Scouts leaders in our communities (um, yes please), Keren and I had to pick up a few things before heading back to site. Problem was, it was 5:15, we had a ton of stuff to do, and the last colectivos (think bus system, but in car form) to our adjacent towns leave around sundown. But if you know me, you know I do rushing very well.

So first Keren and I run off to the closest libreria (office supply store), where, surprisingly, the grumpiest saleswoman ever gives us excellent prices on papelotes (huge poster sized papers, great for running dinamicas). Then it’s off to the market to buy Keren some fruit, cheese, and bread for her family (with a slight stop at the churro stand). As Keren gets fruit, I go for the most fly infested meat stand (not really, but seriously though I should have been a little more selective) and buy my family a half kg of beef as requested. As I reach for my bloody bag, I also decide to purchase a ginormous cucumber which I cannot wait to eat.

Bloody bag and cucumber in tow, and also two more purchases of flax seeds and garbanzo beans (ridiculously easy and cheap to get here btw), I find Keren and we head off to the ferreteria (hardware store) to buy locks and paint. Keren picks a beautiful teal color to paint her room, I buy a few wachas (haha… washers), and we’re off to another ferreteria, because this one doesn’t have an exterior lock that will fit my door frame.

Turns out locks that actually fit my doorframe are quite difficult to find. By the time we find one its 6:38 and the sun is down. We decide to cut our losses and try to get back to our sites anyways. The very nice man who sold me a lock which actually fit gave us very incorrect directions to where we needed to pick up the bus back to site. We end up asking about 10 more people who all end up giving us opposite directions.

Finally we find the bus stop in front of the market. We climb in with our giant papelotes, Keren’s fruit, bread, and cheese, our locks, and our paint, my bloody meat bag, and both of our backpacks, and go straight for the back, where I tried warning Keren that the rear corner seat is the worse, because literally there is no escaping. To no avail.

Slowly the bus fills up and the combi driver keeps yelling at us to scooch closer and closer (…wishing I hadn’t eaten so much Chinese food at lunch). Poor Keren is completely plastered against the window, I’m stuck between Keren and this adorable old quechua woman, and on top of me is my backpack plus all of our stuff.

Oh right, and its nighttime, and we’ve never travelled to site alone, let alone at night, so we really have very little idea about where we’re going. So we just pray we’re going the right direction.

And we were! And we actually got off at the right stop! And there were colectivos waiting to take us the final leg to our sites! And my host mom’s sister is in the car and she’s the best!

So we pile into the trunk of the station wagon colectivo, bloody meat bag and all. As we’re travelling down the dusty dirt road, in the back of this car whose trunk door won’t even shut, we stop briefly. There are two cars in front of us, but we’re not really sure whats going on because, well, we’re in the trunk and its hard to see from the trunk. And then we realize, while the car is still running, three men are going to fill up our gas tank (which is right next to me), directly from a tanker (not exactly sure the correct phrase, one of those huge gas trucks), which I’m pretty sure is also running.

About ten minutes later I arrived safely home, still cracking up, to my host family who is finishing up dinner and crowded around a map and worrying about me. Love them. Tonight is still funny to me, but becoming normal. That’s my life now. And its awesome. And I love it.

Love you guys – thanks for all the emails!!!

*Glossary of terms you have to know to be able to understand what in the world I’m going to be talking about for the next two years:

Charla – a talk/class given by a teacher, volunteer, health post official, etc.

Taller – a workshop

Dinamica – a game run within a charla or taller, used to reinforce and teach info

Churro – delicious fried dough pastry filled with caramel, dipped in sugar, mmm.

Ferreteria – hardware store

Libreria – office supply store

Combi – bus, but where we live, van sized

Colectivo – again, think bus system in car form - also there is no limit to the amount of people or objects one can fit inside of a colectivo. Also, Keren will always be found in the most crowded colectivo.

Also, Five Things I Always Carry With Me At All Times:

- Toilet Paper (also newspaper and used notebook paper are good alternatives)

- Hand Sanitizer (see above)

- Camera (because hilarious things happen constantly)

- Sunblock (the sun is ridiculously potent here - hence my ridiculously burnt face)

- Water bottle (with my slightly brown home-boiled water! mmm)