In Peace Corps, I have begun to really learn to luxuriate. Oh man, I cannot even begin to describe the loveliness of a hotel hot shower on the occasional weekend, or the taste of your first real almost-familiar food in a long time. We are supposed to be roughing it here in the Peace Corps, though I find that the vast majority of time, I do not feel very poorly off. I have a nice, cozy room I have built, a great family, and I have even become used to my food being something that is there to fill up my belly, and nothing more. I do notice the times when I am reveling in the lap of luxury though, and I notice them profoundly. Roughing it isn't rough, and is fully worth gaining this depth of appreciation of hot, running water.
I think have finally started work. I spent that first month doing a lot of waiting. A couple weeks of working on my Community Diagnostic, then a couple of weeks of just waiting for the town party to be over. It finally is over, my mother has returned from her non-trip to Japan (Something about getting stuck in Chile? I really didn't understand what happened, but it's convenient for me,) and I am finally able to spend some time working with my primary group of artisans. We have an artisan fair we are attending at the US Embassy in Lima at the beginning of November, so I get to start my work with them full swing.
I am half way between my arrival at site and the three month mark that is supposed to be my announced beginning of projects, and I am pretty comfortable with where that puts me right now. While I feel I haven't yet done a lot of business project specific work, I really have gotten a decent chunk done with my diagnostic and have a plan to get my business work more stable by the time this period is over. I go this next weekend to meet with another group of artisans and a group of coffee growers in a caserio called Saucepampa, just a few hours from here. I get to stay with my host grandma in Tostén while I am there. I will be taking a rep from the coffee group to Lima with us next month too, to slang some coffee with the artesenia. Between these few groups, I have weekly business classes, weekly English classes, and weekly computer classes, so I should be able to stay a bit busy with that. I also start English classes in a few second grade classrooms in my community this week. I am not stoked on teaching English (boring for me and all but useless for the people here,) but it's what everyone wants and it will help me build relationships with the schools for when I am ready to start other classes in a few months.
I went to Chiclayo this last weekend to try and pull a package out of customs. Chiclayo is the capital city of Lambayeque and much closer to me than my own capital city, only about 5 hours. I have the option of going there instead of Chota for my regional meetings, but this was my first visit. It was pretty spectacular. I hadn't realized that by going to Chota for all of my “city” needs, I hadn't really been going to civilization at all. Chota seemed plenty fancy. But Chiclayo! My God, this place had paved highways and gringos who weren't in Peace Corps. This place had a movie theater, a beach, and a friggin' STARBUCKS. I ate pizza. So wild. So luxurious. We renamed it “New York City.”
Alas, as it is always holiday in Perú, I couldn't retrieve my package from customs. I am heading back on Wednesday, just for a couple of hours. 10 hours of bus riding in one day is more than worth the contents of the package. However, I hope this is my final trip for awhile, as I can't afford bus tickets or hotels anymore this month and going to Chiclayo for just a minute is such a teaser...
In other news, I kind of have friends. And my Spanish is back on the road to improving, after a backpedaling that occurred with the influx of English speakers for the town party.
PS Mission accomplished, package retrieved, excited to watch my family pretend to like Annie's Mac and Cheese, while hiding disgust and confusion. Also, happy to have a new rock, some strange dried out little carrots, random useless to do lists I wrote myself 6 months ago, and my copy of Overqualified around and judge people with. Thanks, folks! You guys are random. And oh yeah, I got an external hard drive and will no longer have morbid nightmares of losing everything. And the customs office in Chiclayo – SUPER Peruvian...
My mom at work
Coffee Farms out in the campo
Leading the town parade with the mayor, starting off the town fiesta
Me and some artisans, being fancy
This monkey hands out lucky tickets and I have one
They almost spelled my name right, special guests at the town party
Battle of the Bulge
I love their outfits