Monday, January 10, 2011


My world is chaotic. In pretty much every part of my life here of my life here, things are going as well as humanly possible. In so many ways, my site is more than I could have hoped for. I may be the luckiest volunteer in Perú. Life's great. 
On the amazing front lines, OH MY GOSH did I strike gold with the new Municipalidad. Their first day was last Monday and I went in to meet them on Tuesday. The mayor seemed a little confused about my role (aren't we all?) but a guy sitting behind him, the gerente, stepped forward enthusiastically and started clarifying. Wait, you're here to do all sorts of projects to better the community? For free? And you have ideas? Great. He told the mayor to give me the next office over.

So now I am set up. I have a space to work and people enthusiastic to work with me. Getting in right at the beginning like this, they are taking project suggestions from me. I am going in and saying here's something I want to work on. Then I go back to my office and a little while later, someone has been called in who is good for that project and they are sent in to meet with me. I am giving assignments to City Councilors and shit. I am getting whatever support I need. Today, they are looking over my Community Diagnostic for me. It's amazing.

Even better than that, the gerente and his partner are brilliant, so far not corrupt, and actually want to get a lot of good work done. I have walked into his office in the past week with vague ideas and we have awesome brainstorm-y conversations to figure out what we can do with them. I feel like I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. But in the meantime, I have collected a ton of new socios in the past week. I am almost overwhelmed. I am the shadow government. Ha!

My friendships here are spectacular and a half as well. Most of us that are in the sierra don't get to get really good friends at site. We just come from a completely different world than the campo people and there isn't that much to talk about. You get a bunch of friends, but I mean real friends, like friends you would have back home. I have found that. One guy in particular, a Peruvian from the city who is a bit lost out here as well, and all of his friends that I am getting to know, who are smart and mellow and kind.

Tonight, these lovely friends have found me a place to watch the BCS National Championship tonight! We are having a little football party! I am absurdly excited for this. I sat up last night making green and gold bracelets for everyone. Actually, that may have been taking it a bit too far, but I had been planning to learn to make those things yesterday, so it just sort of happened on its own. Go Ducks!

I suck at making bracelet these things. They are seriously ugly. I am gonna practice a little more. I am gonna use this to teach my little sombra. There is a little dude that follows me around everywhere, maybe 7 years old, and I just call him “Sombra,” or shadow. He is a sweet kid but possibly one of the poorest and hungriest I have around. When I get too bored, I can always go sit on the church steps or in the bakery and my sombra will find me in a matter of minutes. I am gonna teach him to make bracelets and show him how to save up for more string. He can sell these in the market, or to the other little ones. Right now, he spends his evening walking around scrounging for scraps and begging for change. I think this will be a little better, and hopefully my first new little entrepreneur in the Peace Corps. I like the Sombra.

I don't really think I have anything else to say. We have our Early In-Service Training (IST) starting on Sunday in Trujillo. I am gonna head there via Cajamarca to see some good friends and have some Peace Corps style Olympic events called the Cajalympics. Won't say much about that here – but it should be a blast. And me and Biz are representing Israel (I'm Jewish and he is Palestinian.) Should be thoroughly inappropriate.

IST is on community banks, which I initially thought sounded like the most boring thing they could possibly make us learn to build. But then my Muni gave me a pretty awesome socio for it. He has ideas and plans and is excited as hell to come to Trujillo with me. Today, he even brought me some more people to my office who want to help. We haven't even had the training yet. Dude is gung-ho.

I will be there for a week, coming back via the Chiclayo route (faster and holds my mail) the next weekend, on the 21st or 22nd. When I come back, I plan to be in full swing with a lot of my new project ideas and it will also be time to start planning the presentation of my Diagnostic to my community. When am I going to stop finding this job intimidating?

I fell in the mud today. There was no electricity and a lot of cows. My town has been flooded the last couple of days. I think it will spend much of the next couple of months this way. I like all of these things.


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