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.