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