I’ve now been in site for 6 months, in Peru for close to 9. If you were to look at my accomplishments and my level of Spanish, I can’t say you’d be impressed. This time not only marks the end of the first quarter of my service, and near a third of my total time here, but it also marks the beginning of seriously pursuing the projects I hope to accomplish.
I just came back from PDM/IST in Chiclayo. This is the last training as well as the last time all of WATSAN will be together until the year mark and med checks. As always seeing everyone was great, and hearing about the work done so far always astounds me. The group I am a part of has already made some great headway in terms of projects. In some cases cocinas have been built, others have identified areas of need and potential projects that could really make large changes, still others have continued projects started by the previous volunteer.
In PDM we learned to design complete projects. To this we were to bring a community counterpart who had been working with us. I had planned to bring the architect in my Muni, Rolando, but at the last minute and after getting all the necessary paperwork done, he told me was too busy. They gave me the number of a regidore, Don Juan, who could come and help. This didn’t work out too well. I don’t think Don Juan understood exactly what we were trying to do, and in those cases hours of powerpoints and presentations can be excruciatingly boring. It was helpful learning about projects, but also helpful to learn more about what to look for in a good counterpart.
This training ended Saturday and we had a much needed day off Sunday. So Saturday we put on our cleanest clothes, none of which were very clean, and headed out to see what Chiclayo had to offer us. We met up with Kim Ayers, she was in Bonnycastle with me first year and we hung out some throughout the rest of college, and some of the other Chiclayo volunteers. We went out for pizza and I had my first calzone since saying goodbye to Vito’s and the greater Lovingston area, it was a dream come true and really served to whet my appetite for all the foods I will eat when I go back to the Old Home Place. After this we had some beers and went out to a very busy club, this was the point where Chiclayo took more from us than we did from her.
As soon as we arrived to the club, I realized how packed it was. The line outside was pretty long, and once inside (gringos get to cut in most places, not exactly fair and equal but just the way it is) there were even more people. We filed through the crowd to get to some tables. As we were walking I felt my wallet move in my pocket, my hand immediately went for it and I felt the strange feeling of someone else’s hand in my pocket. I immediately grabbed the guys arm, shocked at the audacity, and checked for my stuff. Everything was there so I let him go. I should have taken him to a guard, but to be honest I was so surprised that the only thought I had was to make sure I had all my stuff. This really shook me up, shattering the illusion of normal that I had allowed myself to fall into here, but served to put me on guard which is always necessary, especially so in the larger cities. Over the course of the evening volunteers had their phones stolen and one lost his wallet. I count myself lucky to have caught the guy, losing my wallet would have meant losing my I.D., American card, and Peruvian card, not to mention some pretty witty fortunes I have come across over the years.
We used Sunday to rest and chatter about the evening, and began with a new training Monday. This training was our In Service Training and we learned more about potential projects such as viviendas saludables, which I will cover more in a later post, as well as the presupuesto participativo which is the participatory budget in Peru. I picked up a lot from this training and got a much clearer idea of the direction I want to head in during the next few months. This also served as the first training where I wasn’t nervous about my Spanish level. Not to say I am a pro, but it’s no longer a point of worry, which is a big relief, I just hope it doesn’t mean I’ve reached a low on the gaf level, unsure if Porterfield would be proud of that or disappointed. Dan, thoughts?
The volunteers all went out for a final dinner; I had steak, that’s right, steak. It seemed a little like heaven and little like home, but maybe home is heaven, if so that statement would be redundant. Billy boy Jensen and I stayed about late into the night having those deep conversations that only come about after a few beers. We talked with the Liberatore’s about religion, about Will’s coming down to earth, and about the next couple of months. It was an appropriate send off.
The week was good overall, but it’s come to the point that I really notice being out of site after a week or so. Arriving back was a great feeling and the first opportunity to let my guard down and relax. I was happy to see my family here and to get going on the projects I’ve been pursuing. The rains seemed to have passed, more or less, in Faique and that makes it all the easier to be here. My naps aren’t as deep without the enveloping static from the rain, but that’s a small price to pay for dry clothes and no drips.
On another food note, one night we went out and had anticuchos, heart on a stick, and I have to say that they were some of the best food I’ve eaten here, not to mention gaining all the power that comes from eating the heart of another animal, or something like that.