Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pirates and Perspective

Happy Día de los Muertos!
I just wanted to write a quick nota letting todos know that Ancash is Better. :) That is our (the volunteers who live in Ancash) theme or motto. Because it is true. Last night for Halloween we all dressed up.. and we went all out. The theme was pirates (one of the volunteers had even been growing out a beard since April to get ready for last night!) so most were some sort of pirate and then the rest of us pretty much adhered to the theme by being something related. Lisette, for example, was the treasure chest, Baja was Tiger Lily... there was a mermaid, parrot and even a narwal (¿spelling?). I was a ship (as I think I noted in the last posting).. because every crew of pirates needs a ship right? Complete with cannos, a sterring wheel and an anchor. It was pretty awesome and fun to get into the spirit of Halloween. Candy was consumed, fun was had.. and even the new Peru 14ers were there for their Field Based Training.

In other noticias, I can´t believe it´s already Noviembre. Locura I tell you. Getting to know the community, doing the diagnostic and starting small projects does make the time fly! There are so many little stories I have now and it´s been amazing to learn about this culture and my own. Yesterday, I was thinking how I had never REALLY looked closely at American culture like I am now.. here in Peru. When we (all the voluntarios) get together in Huaraz it´s like a little other mundo (world) where we just immediately understand each other without having to explain anything. Even if I meet an American Peace Corps volunteer who I´m not BEST friends with, we still have that commonality which facilitates ease. Jokes are más or menos caught, our actions aren´t weird, what we eat is normal and delicious... and I´m starting to see what it must look like to see an American from the outsider´s view... from a Peruvian´s perspectiva. Just like it´s really very easy to generalize the Peruvian culture and say... they´re always late, meetings are just talk and no action, they are hard workers, they like to drink alcohol, they dance a lot etc. etc. so too must it be so easy for them to think like this about us. That is why, with this in mind, I still haven´t tired over explaining the same things over and over again... like.. "Sí, hay lluvia en algunas partes de los Estados Unidos, pero tienes que tener en cuenta que los EEUU son grande y hay muchos terrenos y climas diferentes, como en el Perú. En Oregon, llueve un montón como acá en Shilla.. en el sur de California, casi nunca!¨ (yes it does rain in the United States but you have to remember that the U.S. is huge and there are lots of different climates and terrains like in Peru. In Oregon it rains a lot like here in Shilla and in Southern California, almost never). It´s only been two months, so maybe I will tire explaining the same things over and over again.. but I´ll just need to keep that perspective in mind.

The real joy is when you start to get to really know some of those people who before were ¨Peruvians¨in your mind. That perspective has melted away for me in regards to my host family. I don´t see my madre as that ¨cuy (guinea pig) killing machine who works in the chacras¨ so much as I now know that she loves to crack a joke and to laugh... that she gets nervous by other people she sees as authority easily.. and when she gets nervous her eyes somehow look smaller and her voice is quieter, that there is a tender sadness underneath everything she does and she´s content to live in Shilla but it considerate to think of even a crazy California girl´s needs without even having imagined ever leaving her country. The herbs they use in tea and the many illnesses they prevent don´t seem outlandish or weird to me anymore.. even the other day when my madre told me that she heard bread causes cancer I caught myself... wait. Maybe bread does cause cancer. Who´s to say that all those thing I learned in the U.S. weren´t just fabled myths too? Peruvians could be right! This is all apart of asimilating I guess... and it will continue... I´ll be Peruvian before you know it! (just kidding Laurie.. I´m coming home.. no te preocupes). I can´t wait to get to know my familia and other people in my community más, and for their own label as ¨tall blonde gringa Americana¨to wash away when they look at me in return.

¡Hasta la próxima!
Abrazos desde Carhuaz,