It's June. It's June? It's June! Which means a whole year has passed since arriving confused and sleepy at 2 in the morning to a dark and misty Peru. And I'm still alive... and loving it! I just decided I need to write a blog yesterday while washing my laundry. There's a lot of time to think while washing laundry by hand and your thoughts tend to be spastic and have no order so I think that's how this blog is going to go.
First of all... this is true for me (and for probably many other Peru and other peacecordian volunteers, though not all) I'm finding the 2 hardest things to manejar (that means to drive.. literally.. I guess figuratively you would say handle?) would be moving my way around this new country's bureaucracy (i.e. talking to the mayor/other important people I need funding from or to get projects going with) and bathing. The bureaucracy part includes the fact that.. hey!... I speak campesino spanish all day long people! That's right. My current spanish, although understandable, is like if I learned English in the South. Or worse. And it's now mixed with Quechua. Which isn't a problem until I am in the mayor's office trying to talk about a comprehensive project we can do to prevent AIDS and why that's important. Ugh. It's just a shock for the language system in me. Also (and I think I can speak this on behalf of ALL Peru peacecordians) I am so enferma (sick) of all this stupid paperwork that Peru makes you do for EVERY little thing. So DONE with that. Aye! You didn't get an official invitation??? We have to fix that right now even though we have to go thru great hoops to do that. The world is ending if we don't write an official looking officio for every little request that mostly is just fluffy words and probably one line of content. Blah. And bathing. It is just such a process in my campo site. And there are plenty of other volunteers who have it worse (and better). We do have a shower but the problem is the water comes from Huascaran. Ice water. Yaku de rahu. No gracias. Can't do it. It literally hurts. So I've probably taken a total of 7 bucket baths since moving to Shilla the end of August last year. I get firewood, light it, boil the water for an hour but it in a bucket... etc etc. Whew. The work for such a simple thing! :) Plus when you're done you don't feel all that must cleaner anyway. So I mostly just...don't do it. Huaraz is only 2 hours away anyway. I once came to Huaraz just to take a shower and then go back to Shilla. I was desperate that time.
Anyways. Washing my laundry yesterday I did reflect on the fact about the 1 year mark.. that I'm almost one year in site too and how the concept of time has really changed for me. In the beginning... I swear that first week (although a great week) upon arrival to training in Peru.. felt like a MONTH. And training, although only 11 weeks, felt like a good chunk of time and because training was centered on a breakdown of the weeks that's kinda how I lived. Oh. Week 5 is done. Oh. Week 11. Time to go to site. Then the first months in site is broken down to 3 months because after that you meet up with your group again for a training. And things are slow as you try to put together a diagnostic. Slooowwww.. And then it picks up. Slowly I haven't been counting days or months or weeks. I now think in terms of projects.. or what I need to get done for Tuesday for my class or who I need to talk to to get a mural painted on the hospital. Or when my dad or my friend is coming to visit. My concept of time in Shilla has also changed. First it was. How long can I spend in Shilla? How many days in a row? Like a contest. And that included not even leaving for day trips to Carhuaz for internet. Now I lead a normal life.. feel very independent. I can go down to Carhuaz for a couple hours or go get my friend's dog from a neighboring town and bring the puppy up to Shilla for the day. It's liberating because now life is normal. I am free and feel I have a balanced life between work, play, escape time, travel, coordinating, time with the Peruvian chico, and family time with the host familia. Things are busy right now for work and I think that helps a LOT. The busier I am, the more time I am forced to venture out of the room and NOT watch South Pacific for the 5th time this week, the better for my emotional health. And as my friend Laurie pointed out last week (she is visiting!!! yay!) it's a BIG self esteem booster to go into the primary and the secondary school everyday. All you hear is your name being screamed happily by small children with their arms stretched out to greet you! :) That makes it all worth it. Vale la pena. No matter how successful my Environmental Club is or how how many kids I "reached" in such and such project... I made a connection with kids I never knew existed in a town so beautiful under Huascaran that I can't believe I would have never known it if I hadn't become a peacecordian.
Happy Birthday Madre! :)