I’m bored of writing long formal blog posts so today I’m just going to write a list. A list of interesting things about Peru, my site, and Peace Corps. I figure it’s the little, completely random things that will explain best what goes on around here. So without further ado:
• Keren requested a bike from Peace Corps (they’ll lend you one for free for two years, providing you always wear a helmet). When she picked it up it was all packaged up and was very hard to push around Huaraz. She called it “unwieldy”. Get it? Haha. Ha.
• Keren and I are pretty funny.
• An amazing thing happened. Peace Corps put two more volunteers in Keren’s site (remember Keren’s site is the one just above mine, a 20 minute walk away). They are a married couple named Ben and Katie and they have both done Peace Corps before (separately) in Zambia! They are fantastic, Keren and I foresee many sleepovers at their house (because they aren’t living with a host family… they get their own house…dude). They live pretty high up on our little mountain (“cerro”) and they have beautiful views. It does get kind of cold at night, but I don’t ever want to hear them complain because they have built in cuddle buddies. Unfair.
• Rainy season has begun. It runs from November/December to around March. Do NOT ask me what season it is. I have had thousands of conversations with my parents back home, other volunteers, and dozens of Peruvians. It is either winter or summer. No one knows.
• The place I live is known for its backpacking/climbing tourism. Huaraz is a bustling city of backpackers and we like it that way. There are some amazing ruins and hikes in both my and Keren’s sites.
• I was just invited to play soccer on Sundays. Fi-na-lly. I am psyched. I have been waiting for this for so long. I’ll let you know how it goes.
• My parents sent me Trader Joes Dark Chocolate today. Oh. My. God. [I can’t believe I’m missing out on the new Trader Joes a few blocks from my house, btw]. I had totally forgotten what real chocolate tastes like because it’s all milk chocolate down here. Thanks Mom and Dad!!!
• My host dad is obsessed with Werther’s caramels. Charlotte sent a bag and he keeps asking when someone can send more.
• Since Ancash has tons of backpacker tourists, Huaraz has kind of become this hub of North Face knock-offs. And they’re nice! I’ve always kind of loathed North Faces for their yuppie stigma. But I’m a total hypocrite, because I can’t pass these up. There are so many different colors and styles, its crazy!
• Huaraz also has the most incredible collection of 80s and 90s style thrifted backpacking clothes. Think 1990s ski jacket in purple and teal (Gunston represent).
• My town does not have any sort of waste management system. I am dedicating a lot of time to this (despite being a youth volunteer) because it’s a total mess. Since no one wants to dig a hole in their back yards to throw their trash in, they have 2 options – a) burning their trash, smells awesome, or b) throwing it into the river. And people just don’t know that this is harmful to both them and the environment, it’s not taught like it is in the U.S. so it’s totally normal.
• Flaxseed is ridiculously inexpensive here. Think $1 for half a kilo, basically a huge bag.
• Nuts are ridiculously expensive here. Think $10 for a kilo, basically a smallish bag.
• I actually have no sense of dollars here. My brain has completely converted over to soles (the Peruvian currency).
• I just made a paper Christmas tree and am considering mayyyybe taking down the Halloween decorations Metro sent me. Maybe.
• Really, I can’t believe I’m missing out on that new Trader Joes at home.
• Llamas/alpacas are iconic symbols of Peru. And they’re awesome. And so fluffy. But that doesn’t change the fact that I have only seen 2 llamas in Peru and they are both in the Huaraz plaza. They wear sunglasses and you have to pay 2 soles to take a picture with them.
• Dung beetles live in my town. Awesome.
• I was out watering our fields one night with my host mom and she thought she saw a ‘muka’. She explained it to me as a cat like creature with a long tail that sleeps upside down. I was so excited – I was sure we had bush babies in my site. As soon as I explained it to Keren she instantly realized it was just a possum. Yeah. It’s a possum. Let down.
• Spanish is actually usually a second-language here. Most people speak Quechua at home, the native language. I am trying to learn, and supposedly should reach an intermediate-mid level by mid-service. Also, this means the Spanish here is not always perfect, many people here actually have poor Spanish grammar. So don’t expect my Spanish to be too awesome after two years.
• Soopi-siki means farty-pants in Quechua. Haha. Always a crowd pleaser. Grandma I’m sure the bingo and counting ladies would all love that one!
• Charlotte Bowman is coming to Peru to celebrate New Years with me. I have never been more excited. We’re going to Mancora, a beautiful beach in northern Peru. It’s supposed to be nuts, I’ll let you know how it goes.
• There is apparently a pretty good Thai restaurant in Mancora. Omgomgomg.
• I taught my host sister how to play solitaire. She’s pretty good.
• Keren and I, just to seeeee, asked the guy who sells animals on the streets of Huaraz how much a kitten might cost. SIX SOLES. What, sir? You must be mistaken. Nope. SIX SOLES. For you Americans, that’s like TWO DOLLARS. For a kitten.
• They apparently eat cats on the other side of our mountain. This disgusts most people on our side of the mountain and may very well just be hearsay… but our Peace Corps security chief has apparently eaten cat before. But he’s a baller so…
• There is a common belief here that rainbows can impregnate you. So don’t get hit by a rainbow. And different colored rainbows can impregnate you with different things (never a baby). For instance, a black rainbow (?) gives you a pig, whereas a red rainbow just fills you up with water.
P.S. After writing this list I finally went up to the ruins and waterfall in Keren’s site and we saw a huge flock of… LLAMAS! Keren’s quechua-lady friend Pizza (nickname) swears they are sheep, but I promise you, they were llamas.