My sister Gladys (on the right) with Itlz (my niece) on our donkey, Ramon. Returning home from work in the chacras.
Hola a todos! I'm reporting from Huaraz, Ancash (the capitol of this department!) from one of our amazing cafes which is complete with brightly painted walls, hundreds of libros (books), delicious veggie sandwiches and even a mural of Where the Wild Things Are. (I believe that movie is coming out or came out this month... right? Look, I'm not SO out of American happenings :)
So. What I've been up to lately. Mostly the Community Diagnostic actually. Which (hey!) is what we're actually supposed to be dedicated to our first three months in site. Basically it consists of gathering facts, conducting formal and (mostly) informal interviews with community leaders and people who live in your pueblo, attending meetings, making and giving surveys... basically finding out TODO about your town. How many births, what are the common illnesses, are there teen pregnancies? what do the youth like to do? are there youth groups? how many teachers are there and how often do they just not show up (often)? do people wash their hands? how many donkeys is too many? what does the alcalde (mayor) do? etc. etc. etc. Sooo... I've made some surveys for the segundaria kids, gotten to know the municipality folks by attending meetings (they tried to get me to buy the huge castillo firework thing that costs like S/2,000) and I now know all the problems and disputes my fellow townsfolk have had this past year, how many births there have been (61!) and the ages of their padres, and the average age to get married based on the last two years. I had some young kids draw me some maps of their town too, which was an especially cute part of doing this epic project. It's a good way to do productive things and learn a lot about what Shilla needs and wants from me for the next two years! Also, I'm learning a lot about Excel.... because when you have time, and a huge paper/project due in a month... there' s no better time to do it! I'll come back from my little adobe town with mad computer skillz (courtesy of fellow volunteer Lisette's patient.. or not so patient... teaching as well).
Besides that.. the world map is coming along. We finished drawing all the countries this week. Whew. All those little islands up norte are difficult! So we'll be painting these coming up weeks which should be the fun part. Ademas, I spent some time at the jardin (basically preschool) reading Mis Amigos (the kids book I brought with me), and getting to know the very chevere principal and teacher Erika. She is as tall as me.. and a peruvian! It IS possible. :) She has a lot of insight I feel to what Shilla students need and lack.
On the Host Familia front, I feel mas and mas part of the fam. Last night we (my madre, 13 year old sis and I) all cuddled in the same bed in the basement and watched the popular soap opera Luz Maria. It was raining and it was just... a comfy moment. Also, my little sobrina (niece) Itzl now is like my mini magnet. I'm exposing her to the many wonders of American and world music. I've been reading the wonderful book that Vivian sent me for my birthday (thank you so much for the package by the way!) about music and how it has shaped human culture (titled The World in Six Songs) and one part talks about how if a young kid is exposed to a range of music at an early age they'll be more open to different genres later on. So. That is my new little side project. Get Itzl to like artists such as: Steve Miller, soundtracks to musicals (like Happy Talk from South Pacific), Jack Johnson, M.I.A, Lily Allen, Ok Go, Manu Chao and yes.. even Flight of the Conchords, They Might be Giants and Red Elvises. Also, the C is for Cookie song (from Sesame Street) has come to be a favorite. Needless to say, it's been very entertaining and fun... even if we have to stay inside during the afternoons because it rains every day now. :) yay!
Living in Portland prepped me for Peace Corps!
I'd just like to point out that the music playing in the cafe is Cat Stevens. That is why Huaraz is awesome.
Happy Halloween (and Dia de los Muertos!) to everyone! I will be dressing up as a boat. Yup. A boat. Or better named.. a ship. Because our (the volunteers) theme is pirates. Although I doubt that it will be better than my bull two years ago with Rachel, it will rival with my mountain that I dressed up as in Spain back in '06. :) Eat Brachs candy corn for me.. or better yet.. you can send me some! :)
Abrazos y Besos