Sunday, February 14, 2010

Shilla Perspectives

So here is the "epic" ish blog post I promised... earlier than promised!

A couple weeks ago I wrote an epic email to my mom in the states. The reason why it was epic was because I wrote it while in site (in Shilla) which allowed me to just come back to it whenever I was able and write about the things that were happening as they were happening. Sometimes when I go into Huaraz I’m distracted by time with other peacecordians and other chores and the overwhelming beautiful thing that is the internet. Therefore, emails I write there tend to be shorter and don’t cover how I actually feel most of the time in Shilla. So I’m going to give this stream of consciousness writing style from Shilla a try for my blog. Here goes.

10 de febrero
It is 3: 10 p.m. here in Shilla. Warm, sunny with big thunder head looking nubes (clouds) above which is pretty typical lately. It’s supposed to be rainy season, and I was all excited coming from Portand and all, but alas… the rain is letting me down some… not enough of it :). Anywho, today is a calm day. I woke up a little later than my usual time of 7:00, prepared my stuff for class, ate a typical bowl of noodle soup for desayuno (breakfast), and went across the street (literally 20 steps) to the school to teach my English class by 10:00 a.m. The attendance has been lacking for a couple weeks but today I had more alumnus (17 students) because I had promised it would be the day to celebrate Carnaval. At this point I should describe a bit of what Carnaval is:

Basically the best holiday ever! So, you know how we celebrate Mardi Gras? Or how at least New Orleans celebrates Mardi Gras? (my fav memoria must be in sixth grade when we celebrated in Mrs. Martin’s class… we got to make masks!!) Well, here they celebrate by soaking everyone and anyone with water… and paint in the department of Cajamarca. Mostly the kids celebrate… I mean, boys started soaking passerbys in cars and combis in the beginning of the month! But apparently it’s a big thing this weekend and to celebrate I am going to Cajamarca maƱana in order to experience the real deal of paint throwing and chaos all over the city. No puedo esperar!

Anyways, I promised my kids that we could throw water balloons and such at each other if they promised not to spray water on each other during class when I ask them not to. So. Today was the day and it was fun! We started out with me teaching them the classic water balloon pair toss and then it turned basically into a war. I was soaked, that’s for sure. The boys are little resourceful geniuses. They cut little tubes, put a bottle cap on the top, find a stick that’s the same length, and put a plastic bag over the top of the stick and basically make homemade Super Soakers. Who needs to buy a Nerf one in the stores? Afterwards we cleaned up the bits of balloons (hopefully we got all of them) and called it a day, but I think they really enjoyed themselves. Who doesn’t like soaking others? Today has basically been a day of yaku (water in Quechua) for me; I also just took a warm bucket bath shower thing (which must be my 5th one since arriving here in August… before you shout “ewwwww!!” I ALSO take showers when in Huaraz.. sheesh people) and washed all my clothes. My fingers are prunes but I smell good.

Yesterday I got my estantes (bookshelves) finally! Yay! In total they cost 110 soles for two big ones. And they make a world of difference in my room. Now I can use the walls instead of the floors as storage devices! And now my room is actually all clean and organized. Those who know (or have lived with me) don’t believe me but it’s la verdad. Now I just need to save up for a ropero (ummm… how do you say that in English? Uhhh… crap. Oh yeah. Dresser. ) I’m still living out of my suitcase.

Yesterday morning was an interesting experience. I went to a nearby caserio called Catay with a friend who knows a lot about agriculture and farm animals. About 35 minutes up, up, up, up hill. Once we arrived at the family’s house, my friend Alex proceeded to castrate a pig. Poor chancho. It looked painful. Then we gave some shots to two huge toros (bulls). I got to fill the shots… apparently I’m going to learn some random skills here. My other friend Raul, who is a rock climber/mountain guide, speaks French so my francais is getting better too… random, no?

It’s raining hard now. Yay! Gotas de agua are dripping into my room though… oh well. At least they’re not over my bed… yet. I just got back from playing with the “ovalo kids” as I call them. There’s a little plaza (ovalo they call it) area next to the Health Center a little down the hill from my casa where the kids from around this part play in the evenings. Since it was raining we gathered in the gazebo and played “nudo” or “knot”… meaning everyone makes a human knot by taking the hands of someone else in the group and untangling the knot you’ve created. Our record for the day is 14 people! Adult Shillapinos always look on with amused expressions on their rostros (faces)… hopefully in a few months it will seem normal and they’ll just glance at us no mas when I play with the kids.

I noticed that I am really starting to integrate because the people of Shilla don’t look at me strangely when I’m just walking down the street to my next destination. Kids and adults alike know my name. It just has become second nature to not be looked at twice by my fellow Shillapinos. I noticed this because when going to a different pueblo (like I did yesterday with my Ancash coordinator boss person, Nelly, to look at a potential site for a new volunteer in August) it starts all over again, with the stares and the puzzled amused looks and me feeling… very (there’s no other way to put this)… white. It makes me feel good to go back to Shilla. That would be the really difficult thing if you had to change locations like some volunteers do. You’d get past all the awkward looks in one place and then you’d have to start it up all over again in another town. I don’t blame people. I must look so strange at first. I’m truly a giant her. Probably twice the size of my frail grandma who has been camped in our house for a month because of her ailing health. They say she is 91 years old. No se la verdad.

To be continued in site...

Abrazos fuertes,

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