Links to new photos:
Album One: Walk Around January
Album Two: Mateos Birthday!
Album Three: Sunny walk in February
The whole "getting to know the community" has really accelerated recently. The weather has been cooperating and my anxieties about being the best I can be have subsided. For a few weeks I was really struggling, feeling lost, inadequate, and all around blue. But I think that is THE biggest challenge of the Peace Corps: emotional adaptation. Let me tell you, it is not easy being disconnected geographically.
It is not only the longing for Backroom Pizza, Honey BBq Wings from BDubs, the smell of Grandmas kitchen during the holiday that I miss. Not only the four seasons,the crunching of autumn leaves, the biting sting of cold winter air in my lungs, that amazing first warm day in February (that you know is a big Spring tease but you go for a walk without a coat anyways) and the week at the cottage on the lake that I look forward to every summer.
What has been particularly hard is the loss of familiar faces. The ability of calling a friend and meeting up at a bar to watch Michigan beat OSU. I cant have intellectually intimate conversations because of the language barrier. The best I have done so far is describe the problems with student debt after graduating unemployed. Usually the topic of conversation revolves around food: what I want to eat for breakfast....But I have made some new friends here in town. My six year old brother and I shoot marbles from time to time. Or blow bubbles on the sidewalk with straws. Most of all he likes playing cards. I gave him a deck for his birthday and we play crazy 8s, Go fish, memmory, and even Egyptian Rat Slap. Hes a fun kid.
This past weekend I hiked about four hours around the mountain, going house to house asking personal questions like how many times a day do you wash you hands? Or, do you have a toilet? Can I see it? As awkward as it sounds, it was really great for everyone to see me, and I felt really fulfilled at the end of the day.
The village im working in,most people do not have a bathroom. Virtuall no one has a stove. As a result of the open fires in their house their eyes hurt and they have respiratory issues.
Im finishing my huge Community Diagnostic report on day at a time, but its a little daunting. Its supposed to basically show what we know about the towns pointing out the problems and suggesting the correct means of action... you know no big deal. But Im excited too start the projects for sure. I just hope they have patience with me, its going to take some time to apply for funding ect.
In the mean time,I have been teaching English in adecent sized town about ten min. away. I have about 15 students from ages 6 to 10. They are often a handful. There are some guys who like to push when we play games or light matches when Im not looking. The girls are really attetive and smart which helps. I have two more classes planned,and then their summer vacation is over. But I have plans with the teacher to work with the school some more. Think I will start a recycling program and paint a huge mural of Peru.
Well that is all for now. Hope all is well back in the States. ¡Nos vemos!