Hey ya’ll! Long time no blog! Two weeks ago, I was slippin and I just didn’t write and last week I was on my week long site visit. I meant to take my computer to blog while I was there but I lost my charger in our training center and just found it today. So without any further adieu or super witty intro here’s stuff that happened during site visit.
- Twenty Three Hour Bus Ride
Sounds like some kind of of cruel and unusual punishment, right? Well no 23 hour bus ride is ideal but since most travel in Peru is done by bus, they have perfected the art acceptable bus travel – unlike our not so good friends down at the Grey Hound establishment. This ride came complete with seats that recline 180 degrees, our own tvs with movie options, and a bus attendant that serves meals while you are on the bus. To the right, please enjoy a really crappy picture of me with pregnant face while on the bus:
Additionally, please find a picture of me fresh after rolling my eyes and begrudgingly agreeing to take a picture post 23 hour bus ride.
2. Real Coffee
We all know what a hot trifling mess the Dunkin in Lima turned out to be and I’m sure you’ll all be glad to hear that the country of Peru has redeemed itself with coffee as dark and rich as my favorite leading man Idris Elba. In Amazonas, they’re known for growing coffee beans, so you know its real. From here on out, I’ll no longer have to suffer from backhand slaps delivered to me by Nescafe instant coffee or poor excuses from the Dunkin imposters.
3. I Expanded One Man’s Mind
Who would have ever thought that there was this horrific thing called the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and that the descendants of those enslaved Africans would still reside in the United States today? Certainly not this man – in fact certainly not a lot of Peruvians. He is not the first or the last Peruvian to express surprise that yes, indeed, there are Black folk that live in North America. The conversation went as follows:
Man: Ah, very beautiful like [proceeds to name every famous Afro-Peruvian woman known to man]
Me: Thank you, sir.
Man: Where are you from? You’re a Peruana, right?
Me: No, I’m from the United States
Man: Yeah?! They have black folks in The United States too! Very good! [shakes my hand, exits
5. Agua Caliente
Hot showers are a luxury. Up until last week, I hadn’t taken one in months. So lets just to get straight to the TMI, gross things happen when your water is freezing and you’re only taking 1 minute showers and bucket baths. For example, one day I noticed that my feet were unusually tan — like extremely dark. Later that night during my bucket bath, I realized that when I wiped my washcloth over my feet they would get visibly lighter. Turns out, I had been taking weeks of quick showers/bucket baths and neglecting my feet. The amount of dead skin that accumulated was purely and utterly disgusting and resulted in the complete discoloring of my feet. I ended up spending 20 minutes scraping away all the dead skin only to reveal a golden brown tootsies underneath. Thus I learned that sometimes, when you’re in the Peace Corps you’re just reduced to being a filthy animal. Anywho, all of those horrors were steamed away when I checked into the hotel in Chachapoyas (the capital Amazonas) and found myself under the spell of hot water once more.
6. Tears & Sh*t Got Real
During training, they’re constantly talking about how this is “The Toughest Job You’ll Ever Love” and you’ll have the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Up until site visit I had been lucky enough to avoid the “lows.” But first let me start off by saying that my site is perfect. In fact, I am extremely lucky. I have room with my own bathroom attached to my room, I’ll be able to have wifi installed in my room, my host family is great, my future co workers are already working on my exact goals as a Youth Development Volunteer so all I have to do is slide in and start working, my town is hot weather year long, and there’s lots of archaeological sites to visit in Amazonas.
Despite all that, there’s something extremely unnerving, lonely, and overwhelming about getting a glimpse of your foreign two year reality in 3 days. I woke up on Thursday morning, with a pit in
my stomach thinking WTF am I doing here? My Spanish is a joke because I can only really speak in present tense, I don’t know these people I’m living with, I’m 2 1/2 hours away from my nearest PC friend, and trying to conceptualize living here for two years is nearly impossible. The reality of joining the PC hit me so hard my appetite was reduced to zero and I struggled through conversation and food with my new host family. After breakfast I returned to my room and just cried. Although my day eventually got way better (I did an entire interview in Spanish and I met an amazing future co worker), that moment that I did have was pretty rough.
Its hard to really process your future PC life when you’re in training because you’re busy from 8-5 Monday through Friday, speaking mostly in English to other Americans. Its easy to let the idea of being here for 2 years to slip furtively into the back of your mind while you focus on all the information you are being bombarded with during training. But little does your trainee mind know, that idea of two years is just lying latent and ready to be exposed during site visit.
I think everybody felt that way about their site visit. When we got back to Lima and returned to the training center to debrief our week, someone wrote anonymously wrote on one paper, “Shit Got Real” to which our program manager responded, “Welcome to the Peace Corps.”
7. I’m Peace Corps Famous
Last but not least, I went on a walk just outside of my site with my site mate and two little girls. It was a nice walk but I took a pretty awesome picture of the two girls on the way back from the walk. Turns out Peace Corps thought it was pretty awesome too because they reposted the picture on the official Facebook page.