Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ode to Paneton

For those of you in the States, Paneton is this strange sweet bread with little pieces of gelatinous fruit thingies littered throughout.  Peruvians go nuts for it and it’s a Christmas tradition to eat it here. It’s special because it’s kinda expensive. Nothing at home compares to Paneton. I wrote this mostly for my other Peace Corps friends because they’ll get it. The Paneton experience can only really be expressed through spoken word. Find the cadence in my poem.

Paneton, oh Paneton
Packed in your shiny red box
Your marketing pleasing
Presentation appealing
Too bad you’re kept under locks

Paneton, oh Paneton
How rico you much taste
With your cylindrical form
And dried fruit a-swarm
There will be not a crumb left to waste

Paneton, oh Paneton
You look so moist and fresh
When will it be time
To savor the sublime?
My patience is a daunting request

Paneton, oh Paneton
A thick slice on my plate
The mound has been shared
I’m mentally prepared
Entiendo this moment has weight

Paneton, MY Paneton
My teeth grind the virgin bite
But it’s dry and disgusting
My tongue forward thrusting
This shit far out of my site

Paneton, my Paneton
Bereft of anything good
I was under the guise
There would be no surprise
But the bread has the texture of wood

Paneton, my Paneton
Seriously, what the fuck?
I mean the fruit pieces reveal
More than they conceal
They’re jellied chunks which suck

Paneton, fucking Paneton
Your mocking is harsh and crude
But I have to eat more
Cuz my family adores
You and Lord knows I can’t be rude

Paneton, my Paneton
I trudge on like a champ
I consume piece after piece
But try not to release
The notion of a tradition revamp

Paneton, shitty Paneton
There’s an Xmas party in my boca
But everyone’s throwing up
New guests showing up
That perhaps will make me choke-a

Paneton, oh Paneton
Perhaps no one is enchanted
It’s just what we do
But we don’t have a clue
A custom we all take for granted

Paneton, my Paneton
Something strange is occurring
The more I indulge
The less of a grudge
I hold- the cultural lines are now blurring

Paneton, my Paneton
I don’t believe I’m not a hater
The crap in my grill
Now feels like a thrill
I wanna save some for later

Paneton, dear Paneton
Can this be a new obsession?
Is it true? ¿Acostumbré?
I was lead violently astray
To not wish you in my possession

Paneton, sweet Paneton
Can you be an acquired taste?
I don’t want to gloat
But it’s worthy to note
Next Xmas had better make haste

Dirt So Good

Of all the improvements made to my room, I really wanted a cement floor done first.  My family, however, had different plans. The floor will be cemented in January.  This had given me much time to think about the merits of having a dirt floor.
    First of all, know that game you played as kids where you had to jump from thing to thing because the ground was lava?  Yeah, well, I play that all day long.  One had to be mindful about where one puts one’s feet when one gets up in the middle of the night to pee when one had a dirt floor.  Otherwise you track that shit back under your fort of blankets.  Looks like I’m reliving at least two childhood games.  Sometimes my blankets graze the dirt when I turn over during the night. It wouldn’t be so bad except that heavy wool blankets are a bitch to wash by hand and take days to dry when it rains every day.  Ok. I’m comfortable being a bit dirty when I sleep.  I think I can get used to this.
    I used to brush my teeth in the kitchen after dinner. I thought maybe I’d set a good example to my family and they’d use the toothbrushes they have. But one day, I accidentally knocked the half plastic bottle the toothbrushes were kept in onto the dirt ground and the toothbrushes fell all over the place. I was horrified because hell if I’d put a toothbrush back into my mouth EVER after it touched the ground (the ground is lava, right?).  My panicked look didn’t seem to convey the gravity I felt toward the situation. My mom sorta laughed and said ‘Don’t worry, Julieta!’ which makes me think they use them about as little as the aesthetics of their mouths portray.  My six year old sister has a toothache so bad that it wakes her up in pain more than once a night. Well, her teeth are rotting out of her head. Every kid around here had rotted baby teeth. This surprises me because I don’t even see them eating many sweets or soda. That makes me think they just hardly brush their teeth. I got some work to do with the kids.  Anyway, I started brushing my teeth in my room for no particular reason except that maybe if someone accidentally knocked over my toothbrush onto the dirt, they’d apply the five second rule and move on with life and see no reason to confess to me.  But, because I have a dirt floor, I spit on my floor. Well, the big spit goes into my piss bucket. I’ve learned the lesson and now release the toothpaste suds from a safe distance of about 5’5’’.  However, the rinse off goes right on my floor. It’s really, really fun to spit on the floor in your room.
    About that piss bucket. When the cement finally arrives, it will actually matter how good my aim is.  This concerns me. I mean, it’s a skill to pee in a gallon bucket for a girl and by all means I have been improving. However, the flow pattern isn’t 100% predictable.  I mean it’s not like I miss and entire trip to the bucket. I might miss the first 7% or something. Sometimes my room smells a little like an old cat lady’s house but I’m sure the dirt absorbs most of the ammonia. Cement absorbs fuck all.  Allegedly, my family is building a latrine closer to the house (and I must say that my Catholic Peruvian family uses pages of the bible to wipe their ass. I’ve seen it with my own eyes in the darkness of the latrine hole)… but in Peruvian time… I’m sure anyone who visits me will be learning to aim for a gallon bucket.  So, I think I will miss the dirt floor.  I hope I miss the cement…
    And on the subject of using my room for a bathroom, I bathe here too. Not often, mind you.  I can’t tell if it’s cold and rainy enough here that I just don’t smell or I’m comparing myself to folks who bathe less often than I do.  At any rate, once a week or so, I take a bucket bath in my room.  And as careful as I am, water gets on my dirt floor.  How do you remove water from cement?  I’ll need to actually buy cleaning products or something. 
    And about cleaning a dirt floor. It is, in fact, possible. I swear there is merit in sweeping a dirt floor. You wouldn’t want rocks getting all mixed up with dirt, would you? When you have a dirt floor, rocks are new dirt.  You gotta get that shit outta there. Also, I know this sounds crazy, but you sprinkle water on a dirt floor to clean it. Seriously.  You find that sweet threshold before it becomes hardcore mud. But just the right amount settles the dust but doesn’t not create a wrestling arena.
    I think I’m gonna keep the dirt. I’ll get a rug.


    When humans were migrating around the world a few million years ago, they found only two domesticate-able animals in Peru.  One, the llama (and llama-esque creatures) and two, the guinea pig (cuy in Spanish).  Llamas apparently taste like shit.  That leaves cuy to eat.  Mom, thanks for hating animals and never getting me a guinea pig for a pet.  For that, I am grateful for two reasons: 1) they’re stupid pets and 2) it made watching their slaughter and then sucking delicious meat off their bones doable.
    I got word yesterday that today was cuy-killing time.  I asked my dad if I could participate and I think he thought watching a gringa watch cuy-killing was as novel and I thought the whole thing was too.  We were on the same page.  Awesome.  I found it hard to sleep.  But not that hard for there is not much happening in the campo on a Saturday night. I tucked in around 8pm with two layers of everything except pants because I peed all over one pair on accident. I’ve decided the bucket, after exploring so many other options, is, in fact, the best method.  Anyway, I manage to fall asleep by watching Dexter for the millionth time (I only have that show on my computer) and counting cuy jump over a fence or whatever.
    And by the way, I think they call them cuy because that’s exactly the sound they make.  However, when they’re chilling in their ‘death bag’, they’re surprisingly quiet.  Pensive little fellows.  I sit on a tiny chair in my kitchen with my mom. There’s a little bowl between us and a bag of five cuy beside her.  She pulls one out of the death bag, holding it around the neck.  You can see the two little rodent teeth and a furry belly. It doesn’t make a noise.  I watch intensely as she drags the knife- well actually it’s the dullest knife on the planet so I’m going to use the verb to saw- saws the knife across the throat and quickly bends the gullet over the bowl and bleeds it out.  I’ve never seen an animal slaughtered before. My heart is racing but I’m not grossed out. I’m looking at it like a scientist.  I’m wondering how many milliliters of blood run through a cuy. It can’t be much. We’re saving it to cook up.  Then, the lifeless American pet gets tossed aside and the ritual happens to cuy number two. 
    After two are killed and drained, we put them in a plastic bowl and pour boiling water over them and beat their little bodies a bit.  This helps get the fur loose to pull off.  Then I held one up by the back feet and started peeling fur off the creature.  If you’re into picking zits, dry skin off feet and/or removing wallpaper, you’d be into this.  It was fun- but you had to make sure you get all the fur from the ears and around the eyes off which was challenging.  As my mom and I were working on numbers 3 and 4, my little sister picked one naked cuy corpse and started making it dance and sing a song as a really morbid puppet.  Its head was bobbing back and forth since it was really only attached by the nape of the neck. It’s hard to peel skin and fur off when you’re laughing hysterically.  My little sister, who is six, is awesome for so many reasons. This is just one of them. When she’s done playing with our lunch, she took off and mom had to ask, “Sarita, do you need to wash your hands? Is there cuy blood on them?” And of course there was.  I was trying to think of any time in my childhood my mom had to ask me that. Nope. Nunca.
    Then mom roasted them over the fire on the stove to get the remaining fur off.  This scorches the skin.  Now they don’t look like potential pets anymore. They’re crispy, naked rodents.  Next, we take them to the only working sink in Chuyas, next to the latrine.  There, I watch my mom gut them.  She’s careful to keep the intestines aside to wash out and cook up later. We only throw away the alfalfa not swallowed in their mouths and these little sacs of something orange-ish. I’m not sure if all mammals have them or not. The dog ate them.  After this part, I realized I really had to get some Spanish work done.   I retired to the house.
    When I was retrieved for lunch, the little legs and ribs were all cooked up.  There was an additional bowl of guts all cooked up.  Liver from a cuy tastes way better than liver from a chicken.  I think it’s just because it’s smaller and there’s a higher ratio of surface area that touched oil in the pan to weird liver texture.  The small intestines fried up like little delicious tubes of iron.  I had a side of cuy for lunch with this spicy red sauce.  Those little fuckers don’t have much meat on them, but goddamn they sure are tastey. The skin’s really thick and actually hard to bite through with human teeth, but the juicy meat around the spine and ribs was sooo good.  I yanked at the little scorched feet until the socket at the hip broke and I could excavate the thigh meat.  Mmmmm.  I never would have thought a year ago I would be saying, “Hey mama, can you hook me up with some more fried intestine cuy tubelettes?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ah-ha! I´m connected!

Hey everyone. It´s taken approximately 17 minutes to get this page open. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. I have some funny blogs ready but my USB won´t read on this computer. Balls. Look forward to them in the future. All in all, all is well. I´m healthy but filthy. I´m happy yet frustrated. I´m thirsty for friendship but can´t get enough alone time. My family´s great but I´m sick of the extra attention. I am, quite literally, the biggest thing to hit Chuyas in a while. My head almost hits the ceiling in my treehouse when I stand up.  It´s super chill here though. Days go by fast but sometimes I can´t wait for bed (which happens around 8 in the campo).  It´s a chance for me to stop engaging and thinking and speaking in spanish. My mom´s pretty overbearing, which I´ve never experienced before in life. She´s only like 12 years older than me but tells to change out of wet clothes, to eat more, that I can´t go to that party because people will be drinking there, etc. It must be my intermediate spanish that makes me sound like a child because I´ve been treated like one. Hopèfully that´ll wear off the longer I´m here and the stonger my vocabulary becomes. It´s definitely getting better but it´s not strong enough for people to think I´m smart yet.  My little sister is still pretty fun but the longer I´m here, I´ve noticed her fun-ness comes at a cost. She´s also kinda bratty and whiny. If you´re not paying attention to her, she´ll try her best to make you. But I still like her. My favorite family member is my 13 year old brother, Santiago. He´s really smart and I taught him to play cribbage and he beat me yesterday. He´s into science and art.  Anyway, my hour´s almost up. I can´t believe it´s winter, let alone almost Christmas. Weird.

My address is:
PCV Juliet Massie
Serpost, Pomabamba
Amcash, Peru
South America

I´ll write when I can!!!! Love you.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Murphy's Law of Nature

Upon my first night in the campo, I was getting myself tucked into bed after a long day of trying to comprehend Spanish. My room is on the second floor via a ladder of an adobe house.  I asked for cold weather. I got it. I don't think the adobe is insulated nor does the heat from the fire stove below rise to my room. So, not unlike the coldest nights in Minnesota with heat, I doubled up on pants, socks, a hoodie and gloves.  I have slept in my bra for eight straight nights because I can't bear the thought of getting undressed.
I bury myself under five blankets on my mattress that feels like in iron patio chair with a seat cushion.  Turns out, also have fleas. Fleas like me like mosquitos and flies like me. Great.  A new rival.  My scarf works as my pillow atop this sundae of sleeping comfort. I put on my earphones to try to escape the cold.  Music doesn't actually affect temperature I found. However, as I was drifting off to Bonnie Prince Billy, I had a thought. There's no bathroom or latrine in the house. In fact, my latrine is about a quarter mile away across a field and it's the rainy season. And pitch ass black. Due to my small bladder and affinity for warm drinks, I panicked. What the hell am I going to do tonight when I have to get up to pee like I do every night?

Shit. A litany of options ran through my head, none of which sounded appealing:
    A.  I have a dirt floor. It'll dry, right?
    B. Hold it. Painfully hold it and have dreams about how much it sucks to hold your pee in for
    C. Make it down the ladder and pee next to the house. Better than the room, right?
    D. Use the flashlight on my cellphone to navigate a new, very dark place to pee in a new, very dark

Or better yet,  I wish I had a motherfin' bedpan. I didn't have that on my list to bring from Lima yet. I'll add that. 

So night one, I hold it. And it's miserable. I reposition my body in the freezing cold to alleviate the pain in my bladder.  Turns out the positions that keep you warmest also put the most pressure on your midsection. Balls.

Day two, I had an idea. Dehydrate myself. No liquids after 4pm. Shit, soup is mostly liquid. New plan. I'll wait to see if I even wake up in the night before I worry.  But like always, it happened. Peeing on the house sounds like a good idea. Yep. I have my cellphone/flashlight in my mouth as I descend the ladder.  Aah, yes. That was much better than holding it, but I bucket would have been nice. And it's not exactly the model of perfect health, which I am promoting. I wonder where my family pees? I've never seen anyone use the latrine. Hmmmm.

Third night. Dehydration totally worked. I feel dry and scale-y but didn't have to pee.

On my last day, I decided to play volleyball (Peruvians love volleyball) with my brothers, sister and uncle. I was wearing my 'rain boots'* and I dove to hit the ball, landed on a rocked, twisted my ankle and collapsed to the ground. I am in pain. It's somewhere between Nancy Kerrigan and Peter Griffin pain. My face contorts in lieu of sound.  Everyone helped me out and was so very helpful, it's hard to describe. But this story isn't about how ridiculously awesome my family is.  It's about my sprained ankle and urinating. I know it's not broken, but everyone is freaking out except me. After a few phone calls, it was settled that I didn't need to go to the hospital. Thank the baby jesus. I sat with it elevated on a tiny chair and drew all afternoon. When it came time to have to pee, I loked at my host mom and asked, "Do you have a bucket for me?" 

Yep. The bucket's the best idea of them all. It takes a different skill set than the latrine which I will master, I'm sure. The bucket came at a hefty price but it came nonetheless. I rested well that night.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tengo suerte. En serio.

As life begins to work itself out, I am starting to wonder what part of my future I have a hand in. I mean, I almost always get what I want from life. Is that only good luck? How can I have that much luck? I'm beginning to think I have a hand in sculpting my own future. I have been placed in Ancash. I really couldn't be happier. Am I lucky or was it because I expressed my enchantment with the region to my directora? Both, probably.  In real life, I was littered with exclamation marks, hippe-esque hugs and wide-open mouth expressions. I jumped around like I was listening to post-punk techno remixes while  drinking IPAs at the Bedlam or something.  However, when I type, exclamation marks seem to cheapen the experience. But hell yeah, hell yeah. Hell yeah.

My two best girlfriends, Laura and Brianna are going to be really near me. Like tens of kilometers away. Compared to the vastness of my new country, it's a stone's throw. And that southern accent is mere hours away as well. Jesus. I really can't believe what luck I have. Luck, planning, whatever. Planning, luck, anything.  So many of the personalities with whom I will be spending so much of my near future seem endless yet also beginingless. They're old souls to me in many ways so unfamiliar; territory yet to explore. I'm up for the altitude.

My trip to Ancash last week was unknowingly relevant yet fun nonetheless. I taught in schools, painted a mural, built part of a latrine and improved a kitchen. And also engaged in a hippie hug-fest. That was the most foreign feeling to me since I've been here.

Besides that fact that I had a hell of a good time digging holes in the ground, gathering good rocks and shoveling dirt, I had the most fun making mud with my bare feet with my pal, Bradley.  We needed to make good mud to adhere the adobe bricks. That involved mixing clay dirt and water. The best way to do that was to take off your shoes and socks and make wine out of grapes. We danced in mud like paegens. It was magical. I may have increased to opportunity for worms to enter my GI system, but it might be worth shitting out feets of worms.

So for details about today... finding out our sites was appropriately dramatic and fun, Peace Corps style. I'm joined with a pretty great group of folks, I must say. I'm officially in Pomabamba, Ancash, Peru. Let's Google Earth that shit, for real.  It's a really fun name to say out loud. Try it. My town is only 550 people and 110 families. I will be able to get to know almost all of them and I get to learn Quechua.  My Spanish may never get fluent but hey, I get to learn an unwritten language lost to the Andes. I'm up for it.

I took this picture. I was really there. That's my real life right now and I can't believe it. I'll see that lake every time I travel from Lima to my site. Unfuckingbelieveable.

It's been an overwhelming week and it gets more intense this week. I got back early yesterday morning from the mountains and I'll be heading back there tomorrow night for 10 days. I'll meet my new family and learn some Quechua. It's going to be brilliant, awkward and intense. I can't wait.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Peace Corps Sour

I'm even having a hard time believing I got lazy about blogging so early.  But really, the last few weeks have been a normal routine.  Spanish, HIV, farm school, sharing a few pisco sours (the only cocktail this girl drinks sans bloody marys) with friends.  Things get crazier starting tomorrow.

Tomorrow night the whole health group goes to Ancash for a 5-day field-based training. It's going to be sick! We get to learn how to build latrines and improved kitchens. Maybe I'll get to take my first shit in a hole in the ground. It's a little intimidating. Thanks for the Go Girl, Heather and Annette. That'll make life a bit easier.  I get to see the mountains!! It's a coincidence that's the place I want to live, so I'll see if it's everything my thought bubbles promise.

One of my best friends here left last week. It's very sad, but it was the right choice for her. Stay in touch Karie. We miss your presence already.

I'm brewing something up with someone who has a soft southern drawl.  Life got more interesting. Lucky me; the gender ratio is about as balanced as the US budget. Or maybe we're in the black- I haven't read anything about news on many weeks.  Big news in my world is when someone has diarrhea.

So I have a few best pals here and one, Laura, is a really cool lady who likes science and beer. We get along really well.  We're scheming up a natural science curricula for kids in the campo during their summer months as we're integrating into our communities.  For any of you at home (Alex, que mas?) who might have any ideas about how to teach kids about evolution, ecosystems and the cosmos, holler.

Things I wish I packed: my french press (they grow coffee here but drink instant stuff. I plan on changing that) and Extra gum. Thank you mom for spending way too much money to make my life better.  Although I'd trade in a pound of rice for a pint of a strong IPA. And that can't really be shipped.

I moved up to Intermediate Low in Spanish. Bam! I can definitely get around but I don't know much past or future tenses yet. My strategy has been to begin sentences with 'in the past, I go' or 'in the future, I go'. It works well enough most of the time. But we just got our 501 Spanish Verb books last week, so I hope my comprehension accelerates in the coming weeks. I gotta be in Intermediate Medium to be sent out into the world.  I'll make it.

I don't miss home. I'm surprised by that some. Of course, I miss people, but everyone's so far out of context that it's not too bad yet.  I have been listening to my dark, dreamy, shoe-gazing, dissonant Minnesota local scene music of late and I get thrown back through a worm hole to those crispy mornings walking along University where you begin to see your breath. I can feel the cool air enter my body as my unearthed boots hit the pavement in front of me.  I can taste Oktoberfest and pumpkin brews, see leaves wearing their autumn uniforms, feel the sticky juice on my face from Honey Crisps and smell squash and clove soup.  For those in the frozen tundra, am I over-romanticizing Minnesota in October, or is it as lovely as I remember? It's getting hot here and I need this mountain trip.  And not to make St Louis jealous, but this summer ruined me from fantasizing about any weather there. I could go the rest of my life without swimming in the atmosphere.

Hopefully I'll have glorious climatic diatribes next week about the beautiful mountains. And for real, how do I put iphotos on this g-damn blog???

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Low Hanging Fruit

Life's getting better. And that's due in part to all of you lovely people commenting, emailing and showing your support. It means a lot to me and keep it up, por favor. I really wanna keep hearing about your lives and goings on.

It feels like I've been here forever now. I'm experiencing that strange paradox of time where it feels like a lifetime since I left for the red eye flight so early that Thursday morning in September but the days inch along like normal.  Things are better though. I mean, I'm not really living an exotic existence right now; things are fairly quotidian and I'm in a groove.

PC training has really been great. I'm so excited about how much practical public health knowledge I'm gaining. When I forget about Spanish (and/or Quechua for that matter), I am overwhelmed by how much fun my actual job here will be. Public health kicks f-ing ass.

My Spanish is improving. And I can sort of tell because I understand una pequenia more at the dinner table and when I wake up in the middle of the night to pee, I have vocab running through my thoughts taking the place of tv show plots and life drama. (By the way, my dad says the new season of Dexter is killer. But don't tell me what happens.)  I feel more confidant and don't worry so much about sounding like a moron. I'm literally reading the dictionary and writing down words I want to know in the next couple years.

I feel like I'm getting a better sense of allies among the PC kids now. I'm feeling pretty tight with a few in particular and it's great. We all met up with the other group doing Water and Sanitation (we met them the first few days and bonded) the other night for beers and swapped funny stories.  I needed that night. It's gonna be a every Wednesday kinda thing now.

We're going to Lima tomorrow for agriculture school. We will learn how to garden and take care of smallish animals on a farm. I'm pumped about that. Field trip!

I am having serious fantasies about being placed in Ancash (one department of Peru with mountains and very rural living).  I will definitely request it. I want COLD weather again (I miss you, MN), lots and lots of high altitude walking and a sweet hat. We'll see if it'll be a good fit... we find out out placement on Nov. 2.

I made dinner for my family last week. Pizza (from scratch, that's right) and lettuce salad, American style. It was fun figuring out their small oven and stovetop without the proper vocabulary. It was such a hit with the family they want it again. I'm gonna have to make it a special thing because it was kinda expensive and took like 3.5 hours. But I have to admit, it was one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten (sorry, Pizza Luce, but it's true).   I'm going to make pancakes and veggie omelets Sunday using an amazing new fruit here called lucama (for the pancakes). The fruit here is amazing.

Today I tried chicken blood at school for a demonstration. It was cooked up with onions and tomatoes and it was really good. And then they cooked some chocolate blood pancakes. It was seriously one of the best things I've ever eaten.  I know it's like the most un-vegan thing to eat, but hey, I'm going native. And love it.

My little sister is still being all weird, but I've accepted it and now think it's funny.

And I might be able to get a kitten to have forever! There are tons of cats around here and apparently it's all right to have one at site. I'm going to name it Archimedes.

All right. One step closer to having photos... it's taking forever to upload and I have to go. Next week mayhaps.

Oh and my Skype name is juliet.massie. Let's set up a date.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


So it's the end of the second week. The honeymoon is over and this is now feeling like real life. Summing it up in one word: awkward. Like a turtle. 

General awkwardness part one: Spanish. I sit at dinner with my family and they talk and talk and talk and laugh and I sit there desperately hanging on to my limited vocabulary. My Spanish shuts down at about 7pm, so I feel pretty dumb around the dinner table. I can't communicate and it sucks. I had a moment the other day where I felt like it would never come. But everyone keeps assuring me I'll be ok. I imagine what it would have been like in Africa where no one knew the language and I feel a little better. It's not my fault most everyone else in my program knows Spanish and studied abroad in South America and I didn't. Why the hell did I take Japanese? I can't remember...

General awkwardness part dos: Food. My family feeds me boiled chicken and rice for every meal. I eat fruit, but I've been suffering from the problem that comes with no vegetables and very little instant coffee.  Yeah. It sucks and it's hard to communicate health needs with a vocabulary of a child. But I'm using my own funds to buy fibrous food items. Wish me luck.

General awkwardness part tres: Clothing. I have to cover my tattoos, which can be hot. And I was told by the PC people that my knee-length skirts are kinda short. Gross. I'm not sure what I'm going to do about that since I hate pants and can't bear the thought of wearing sweaters and leggings when it's 80 degrees in the sun.

General awkwardness part cuatro: My host sister. The one that's 12 does not find me amusing. She won't talk to me and it's really awkward. I try to practice my Spanish and she looks at me like I'm an idiot. And she mumbles so I can't understand her whatsoever. I think she's over having volunteers living in her space. And what sucks is that I think she's actually pretty cool but she doesn't want anything to do with me.

Anyway, I had a rough week but things are looking up. I don't think I'll ever be able to get used to freezing cold showers and my coping mechanism to that is ghetto baths from the sink and letting the dust  just penetrate my skin. It's really dusty here in the foothills. Training is tough- it's 8 solidly packed hours a day of hard thinking and engaging. I go to bed at about 9-10pm every night and sleep till 7. Except when I wake up to the goddamn feral street dogs communicating all night.

I went out last Saturday night to a discoteka with a bunch of PC kids. The beer was really shitty but better than nothing. Since I can't have good beer, I've been running almost everyday to find a buzz. I guess that's not a bad thing.

I was gonna upload photos but I guess my camera needs to be connected to upload through iphoto. Next time. The color is beige. The texture is dust. 

My address here till Thanksgiving is:
Los Cedros 647
Lima 08 Peru

Thanks for the comments and emails :) Miss you and hot showers. juliet

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I´m here, alive and doing well!

Hello everyone! I am here in Peru. I live in a little village near Lima and with a host family. They don´t speak English... but ít´s forcing my Spanish to improve quickly, which it has.  They´re great. I have a host mom, dad, 17 and 12 year old sisters, a one month only baby brother, 2 cats and a dog. My family´s had volunteers in the past so they know I´m not dumb... just learning Spanish and speaking like a pequeña. The homes remind me a lot of Scotland- small but you have everything you need. My room here is bigger than in StL or Mpls for that matter. I have my own bathroom minus a toilet (there´s one down the hall...) with HOT water. Kind of a big deal. Training is like school- I walk to school with my neighborhood friends carrying the lunch my mom made me (and I wear Mary Janes...haha) and have 4 hours of Spanish class. I´´m in the short bus class and we´re learning the basics. The profesora is great though and I´m picking it up well.  Then we have other types of training in the afternoon about safety, public health strategies, Peruvian culture etc.  God I missed school this summer. It´s awesome. Check these shapes out on the keyboards here: çñ¿ª. Awesome. Or, chevere. That´s awesome. The other PC kids are pretty cool, but I am on the older side, for sure. Lots of fresh undergrads. So where my Spanish lacks, hopefully my public health skills will pick up. I´m sorta hoping to get placed in a mountainous area where they speak Quechan anyway, so mediocre Spanish will suffice. But I do wanna learn it.  There are lots of street dogs here. And chickens and roosters and shit. They talk ALL f-ing night. LOUDLY. But I´m usually so tired, it doesn´t matter much. I sleep well. The cats around here are tiny and look malnourished. But I think they´re ok, I´m just used to fat American corn-fed beasts. The cats have helped ween my offa Star...  I was woken up to a small earthquake in the middle of the night the other day. It was pretty fun. I have eaten chicken and rice for lunch and dinner for about 5 days now. That´s right. Chicken. Right off the bone and all. Like a true omnivore. I like it. Good thing, too. The coffee was something to get used to... hot water and NesCafe mix. But hey, I drink coffee. If I had to inject it, I would. With clean needles, of course. I miss people, but can´t say I miss home yet. It´s freaking awesome here and I´m having a hell of a time. Although we´re in the dry season so the mountains are all dusty ánd it´s really arid. Not much verde around here. But there are so many types of landscapes in Peru, I will see much, much more. Miss you all and love you much! And remember, if you reply to this, all will see. Email if you don´t want the world to see: juliet.massie at  Can´t access the at symbol... and haven´t figured out how to upload photos yet.... will come. Peace.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Heading Out

I love packing but hate unpacking. Maybe I can live out of my suitcase for a couple years.  This will be how I'll stay in touch. Pass along to anyone I forgot who may be interested in my whereabouts.

Here is the first blog entry

There. I did it.