Just like you don’t really get a lot of time during training to process the very real idea that you will be living in some foreign place for 2 years, you also don’t get a lot of time to think about what the Swearing In Ceremony will be like. I’m really not even going to attempt to put how Swearing In felt in to some long poetic post but just know that is was emotionally draining in every way, shape, and form.
Firstly, The U.S. Ambassador to Peru is sitting there telling you that you’re the best this country has to offer so you drop a few tears because of course you’re proud of yourself. Then you realize that you’ve worked so hard to survive through 11 weeks of intense training and didn’t get sent home for failing to meet some requirement – so you’re super relieved so you drop some more tears. Next, you’re ridiculously happy because you’re getting fed all these fancy h’oderves, talking to your friends, and hob knobbing with the Ambassador – so maybe you don’t cry there but you could if you really felt like it. Finally, after enjoying an hour of the pure joy that comes along with stuffing your face with mini eggrolls, you’re getting shuffled out the ambassadors residence and you realize that you’re not going to see some of your friends for at least 3 months and you’re outta this joint for good. Before you know it, you’re dropping tears like Drake be droppin’ verses. By the end of the day, I was just exhausted. Most people left that night but since my department is the farthest, we were able to stay the night in a hotel and catch our 24 hour bus in the morning.
Leaving for site is like leaving for Peru all over again. You’re leaving your
friends, your family, your routine, and where you’ve become comfortable for some strange place you don’t know anything about. Luckily for me the
nature of my site and my living conditions have made it a lot easier for me to feel at home. My living situation is almost comparable to my living situation in the U.S. I have a really nice comfy room with wifi, cable tv, access to all of my day to day needs in my town, the food is great, the weather is hot, and the cold showers feel amazing. For anyone reading this and thinking about applying to Peru, know that this isn’t necessarily the norm here. (read about my friend Camilla’s experience in another part of Peru called Ancash).
As for my first week, nothing eventful has happened – I was busy telling different institutions that I was here and ready to work and busy putting my room together (Peace Corps Cribs episode coming soon). I spend a lot of time walking around and getting to know the different parts of my town. Today I explored the edge of town where you can walk along the Utcubamba River — One of the tributaries of the Maranon River which is the main source for the Amazon River. So it is here, with the Utcubamba River, where I’ll leave you today my friends.