Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Dear All, My name is Katie Campbell-Morrison. I am a 23 year old Peace Corps volunteer serving as a Community Health Volunteer in a small community of about 200 people named San Antonio de Cusicancha in Huancavelica, Peru. In the past year I have been working with 32 mothers in my community in a Healthy Homes Project. A Healthy Homes Project is a project to promote better nutrition, hygiene, disease prevention, childhood development and self-esteem in the rural households. The project is designed with 6 meeting and accompanying house visits. The meetings include PowerPoint’s and dinámicas (interactive activities), usually with an incredibly organized and passionate nurse from my health post coordinating the formal information part and while I coordinate non- formal education activities. During the meetings we discuss topics from Peace Corps program goals, the project goals, my health post goals and necessities of the community. The topics that we have covered are: preventing childhood diseases, early childhood development, a healthy community, nutrition and hygiene. In the upcoming sessions we will cover early childhood development again, how to use and maintain an improved cook stove, self-esteem and domestic violence. In the house visits each month the mothers demonstrate what they have learned from the previous meeting and implement small changes in their household. Often during the house visits the mothers realize how much they know more and become excited when they can answer a question correctly, slowly increasing their self-esteem. At the culmination of the project the mothers who have attended enough meetings and implemented changes will build an improved cook stove. The improved cook stoves help to improve quality of life of the mother and child by reducing smoke in the kitchen and risk of respiratory infections, reducing environmental contamination and reducing the amount of wood needed to cook. In the mountains of Peru it is customary to carry young children on a mother’s backs about 75% of the time. As a result the young children are exposed to the same smoke as their mothers, which reeks havoc on developing lungs. The mothers that I have been working with in my site are phenomenal. Their support is one of the reasons I found the inspiration to stay in my site when things seemed difficult. Their kindness and willingness to learn and work through the ups and downs may come our way has helped to make the project a reality. I truly believe that I have learned more from them than they will ever learn from me and their thirst for knowledge has sustained and guided the project. The mothers of my annex are equally incredible women. Tambo de San Antonio de Cusicancha has the highest rate of malnutrition and pregnancies in women under-25 of all the places that my health post cares for. It is located about 2.5 hours (hiking) from my town center, a hike that makes you it feel like you are walking into the sky. Many of the mothers have faces obstacles such as: graduating primary school still unable to read, social unrest, and a struggle to access protein. In the face of there there is still a desire to grow and a support from the community leaders that is non-existent in some other communities. The community knows that they have the strength within themselves to improve the life for the next generation. Together with the mothers in Cusicancha we worked on a project plan and grant application to get funding from outside of Peru for the improved cook stoves. Currently we are in the process of raising money for the project and short $1253.62. Any small donation would go to a wonderful cause and help exponentially in advancing our project. It is very easy to donate at: https://donate.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=donate.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=13-527-021 . Thank you so much for your time!
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Eye Contact is such a seemingly simple concept. Well it used to seem that way in the United States. Here in Peru it has become far more complicated. When I was young and living in Cleveland I got used to making eye contact with most people and giving a pleasant smile, unless it was -10* and I wanted to run into the nearest building. When I went off to California for college I realized that eye contact with everyone and a nice smile was a distinctly Midwestern concept. Although it was strange to make eye contact with everyone I still found myself consistently doing it. Or at least looking around to see if there was someone I knew. The only time I actively didn’t make eye contact was when I was listening to music and was in my own music far far away from the real world. Once I came to Peru I realized just how complex the concept of eye contact could mean. In America an innocent smile and some eye contact usually means “hello,” “nice to see you, “or some other form of casual greeting. Here in Peru on the other hand a girl making eye contact with a guy and giving an innocent saluting smile usually means “ I want to fuck you.” In the states it took slightly more work than an awkward half smile to convey that message. This confusion over a simple glance saluting hello has caused many of the female Peace Corps females to adopt a habit of walking in the street with a “bitch face” to fend off suitors or so focused on where they are going that they loose sense of the actual faces around them. Don’t get me wrong in the states there was many a time I would be walking around completely unaware of my surroundings and people calling my name, but this was by accident never by design. My lack of acknowledging my surrounding has cumulated to a ridiculous point. When I am walking around somewhere and getting harassed I purposefully don’t pay attention to the harassers or make any eye contact. Any form of communication will generally exacerbate the situation. In fact last weekend when I was in the capital city there was a group of fabulous men that worked outside of our hotel. They felt the compelling urge to aggressively catcall any time a girl walked by solita and generally make life quite uncomfortable. I got so used to ignoring the catcalls and not paying attention to any of my surroundings until I got into the hotel that when my friend threw a cracker at my head as a joke I didn’t even respond. I partially didn’t respond because I didn’t notice, partially because he was fake catcalling me in an effort to get me to notice he was throwing crackers at my head. Luckily in my site I can get away with eye contact or an accidental smile without it meaning too much, although I do find that when I am talking to a man who is magically in love with me I have to look at the ground rather than his face. In fact, I have to actively pay attention to those around me when I am in site because heaven forbid I forget to say hello to someone. It can get aggressive having to say hello to everyone all the time. I have to admit shaking hands or a kiss on the cheek while trying to continue to go running is one of the more complicated experiences I have had greeting people. I have this fear that when I return to the states my general confusion about the timing and action of eye contact will pose a minor problem. As in I will no longer be able to convey the correct moment with my eyes and on the streets everyone may think I want to kill them. When I was home for Christmas I found myself constantly misinterpreting eye contact, which created a communication uphill battle. But you never know maybe my complete inability to correctly interpret eye contact will somehow come in handy in the US, although I am not holding out much hope of that.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
https://donate.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=donate.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=13-527-021 In the past year i have been working with mothers in my community and in the annex above me in a healthy homes project. Basically what a healthy homes project is is a project to promote better nutrition, hygine, disease prevention, early childhood stimulation and self-esteem in the household. I am working with mothers from two communities- one San Antonio de Cusicanca which is the community i call home and another annex Tambo de San Antonio de Cusicancha. The project is designed with 6 meeting that each mother has to attend and accompaning house visits. During the meetings we talk about how to prevent childhood diseases such as the flu, parasites and diarrea. Ironically when I was giving the parasite charla I my self was trying to not poop in my pants from a parasite. The charlas include powerpoints and dinamicas (or acivities), usually with my nurse coordinating the informative part and me coordinating the activities for non- formal education. During the house visits each month the mothers have to demostrate what they have learned from the charla and implement small changes in their household. Often during the house visits the mothers realize that they actually know more than they thought and become aggressively excited when they can answer a question correctly. At the finish of the project the mothers who have completed the project with recieve an improved cook stove, which will help to improve their quality of life and their children by reducing smoke in the kitchen, reducing risk of respiratory infections and reduce the amount of wood needed to cook. Here in the mountians of Peru it is customary to carry a young child on your back nearly 75% of the time and as a result the young children are exposed to the same smoke as their mothers reaking havoc on their lungs. The mothers that I have been working with in my site are great and their support is one of the reasons I found the inspiration to stay in my site when things seemed difficult. They are very receptive to nearly everything I say- although I´m pretty sure in the first few months they had not a clue what I was saying. But their kindness and willingness ot work with me thorugh some fumbling and a lot of help from the nurse in my health post helped to make the project seem to be a reality. Everytime I got scared that I made an irrevocbale mistake they helped to guide me in the right direction and get back on track. I truly believe that I have learned more from them than they will ever learn from me. The mothers of my annex are also incredibly supportive women. The annex of Tambo de San Antonio de Cusicancha has the highest rate of malnutrition and young mother pregenancies of all the annexes that my health post are in charge of. It is an annex that at times can seem like its at the end of the earth. Well really only the last 45 min of the 2.5 hour hike up there where it feels like you must be walking into the sky. Many of the mothers have had obstacles that I could never imagine such as: graduating primary school still unable to read, social unrest, and a struggle to access protien. Although there are some steep obstacles such there is a desire to change and a pull from the community leaders that is non-existant in some other communities. For instance, when I held a meeting and some of the mothers missed the meeting the community president scrutiznized my attendance list and said he was going to put the falting mothers under "observation" because they should be taking advantage of every opportunity to improve hte livelihood of their children. This community clearly knows that they have the strength within themselves to improve the life for the next generation. Together with the mothers in Cusicancha we worked on a project plan and grant application to get funding from the outside for the improved cookstoves. Although I would have loved to get the money from within my municipality they are less than organized so the president of my goup of mothers recommended against it and the community knows better than I do. Currently we are in the process of raising money for the project and anything you can donate would be much appreciated and go to a very good cause! https://donate.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=donate.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=13-527-021
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
I was thinking of how to write this blog entry for about two weeks now but each time it seemed an impossible task because it was hard to write. Sometimes in Peace Corps it’s very easy to loose your voice. Finally I think I have found it. This is the story of the week that exemplifies the roller coaster that is Peace Corps. This is the story of worst week ever and the moments of accomplishment and joy that brought it to a close. The week, well really lets extend it into a 10-day week, started off on a seemingly good note. After Carnaval I made it back up the mountain and powered through finishing a grant application. The energy I was running on was sheer deadline and adrenaline. Now to give you some perspective, I can barely add 2+2 so having to make sure the math was correct in a grant was something that made me want to shoot myself. Thankfully I found a way to finish foraged my way back to site. When I got back to site I knew I was going to crash from traveling. I could never have predicted just how hard I would crash. My immune system decided to all but commit suicide. Really, I had it coming so I couldn’t be angry. What started as an innocent travel cold quickly turned into something resembling pneumonia. After a week of struggling in bed and watching far too much Boy Meets World (which h by the way is filled with life lessons, some of which just did not sink in and chock full of parenting advice, super relevant to 7 year old KCM) there came the day I The day I accidently got drunk on robatissin and thought my body was inflating like a beach ball and floating away, I decided it was probably time to call the doctors. Sounding like a drowning sea lion was not my most attractive look. After the antibiotics started to kick in I decided to head to the coast to experience warmth. I was sick of 1 hour of sunshine and perpetually being damp and cold. I wanted a relaxing weekend where I could just enjoy the sun. Of course I had no such luck. I fully learned the truth behind the phrase “nothing good happens after 2am.” The beginning of the weekend was calm, filled with pizza, an attempt at working out, and moving at the pace of an animal slightly faster than a turtle. Friday night we went to a friend’s birthday party. It was a low key and entertaining affair filled with far too much food. After making the world’s most awkward exit from the party, its hard to escape when you are ½ the party, we went to grab a drink at a bar. Around 3am we decided we were hungry and tired, and headed off on a mission. For some reason that I will probably never fully understand we decided to go out to get food rather than cook it in his nice swelteringly hot kitchen. Instead we made the ever-logical decision to go to a random restaurant to get some moderately tolerable food… When we got to the restaurant we decided to go for the worse of two options. Naturally. We got something resembling fried chicken soggy fries. After we paid we patiently sat and waited for our food. Around this time 2 guys casually strolled in asking for some pop. Yes it’s pop not soda. This seemed to be a totally normal request, until one of them whipped out a gun. Now this may sound scary, and don’t get me wrong it was and it was the closest I have ever been to a gun, but on a scale of one to shot, this was pretty tame. The gun was a solid 3 feet away from my face and in perspective it was the politest armed robbery possible. 3 am is time you can’t really get all that mad about getting robbed. Nothing good happens after 2 am. To boot we were in a part of town that we really should have expected to get robbed. Finally since they were robbing a restaurant we just happened to be there the aggression was never directed at us. Besides the moment they ripped off my little purse, which I would like to add I was trying to take off to politely hand to them, there was no time the hooligans were within 3 feet of me. So at the end of the day a polite armed robbery, or really a robbery we could have prevented by simply pretending we were intelligent and not wandering to a random restaurant at 3 a. But you’re only young once and I find most things you have to learn the hard way. I also now know that I would be the worst witness ever. The whole hullabaloo I was really just focused on the gun because in my head that was the most interesting part of the situation. The guys themselves were just blurs flurrying around. The next day when we had to give a police report all I could say was one had a red hoodie, the other one existed. Not the most helpful information. The most awkward part of the entire ordeal was after the robber left the building. In the USA if a restaurant were robbed the first reaction would be to call the police, or get the hell out. In Peru on the other hand the first reaction is for the restaurant owners to run after the robbers with some knives while we sat there dumbstruck. After about a minute and some confused eye contact we wondered if we should call the cops. It seemed like an effort no one was willing to exert so we went with the Peruvians and didn’t call the police. Around this time we also realized we had already paid for our food and since we had no other money at the moment we made the executive decision to wait for our food. An awkward 10 minutes passed while we sat patiently waiting for our food and the restaurant owners were still flittering around in a tizzy. It was one of those strange moments that could only happen in Peace Corps. This is probably the only job where the fact you had already paid S/. 10, a chunk of change on a Peace Corps salary, for some crappy food would lead you to the decision to sit and wait for your food after an armed robbery. But it wasn’t like we were very well going to get our money back if we left without the food so we might as well get something out of the excursion. The next day after spending far too long in the police station doing what can only be described as the world’s most pointless police report (no real details about the man, no real investigation to follow, The restaurant owners didn’t even bother filing a report) I went to the beach for the regional meeting. The beach was nice, relaxed and chilled. A good remedy to the night before…. that is until 2am. At 2am, almost on the dot, I wandered off on the beach to pee. Let me remind you nothing good happens after 2 am. On the way back, in a perpetual competition to trump my own clumsiness, I jammed my toe into a piece of rebar hidden in the sand. By far the most comfortable injury I have ever sustained. Basically I stubbed my toe so hard the nail bed just filled with sand. Delectable. It has currently left me down one big toe nail. The best toe nail to lose during the summer months. Of course, as life works I had to go bad to site at an absurd hour the next day. So at at 5 am I headed back up to site to participate in a “yunsa” to celebrate my health post anniversary. For those of you unfamiliar with the term “yunsa” it’s a party where you decorate a tree with gifts, dance around it in a circle while slowly chopping down the tree with an axe. When the tree falls it is a free-for-all for the gifts and whoever chops down the tree is in charge of paying for the decorations the next year. Also while the chopping and circling is going on there is a war of boys vs. girls with baby powder, lipstick, flour and powdered baby food, where you want to cover the opposite gender in any and every of these products. The yunsa was where the world’s worst 10 days seemed to turn around. I’ll admit it was a bit awkward to dance with a screwed up big toe, so I became the beer girl rather than try to dance in the circle. Right after the yunsa I got the news that my grant had been approved and my boss was happy with my work and growth demonstrated through the grant. That was the real turning point. That same day we played carnavales (throwing water at each other, of course only the opposite gender) while washing the pots and pans from the yunsa. The 10 days show to me how much can happen, not happen and change in one week in Peace Corps. You can have what is seemingly the worst week ever but it can end almost as abruptly as it began. There are no predictable moments in Peace Corps. There is no such thing as a typical week or even a typical day. Whenever people ask me what I do in a day I become stumped and speechless. I can tell you about my projects, my site, yesterday. But to tell you about a typical day. well there aren’t any. You never know what can happen in a week. All you can really know is that nothing good happens after 2am and it is not wise to go on excursions at this hour.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Carnavales has struck again in Peru. Its that magical time of year before Lent where everything in Peru seems to be filled with dancing, parties and celebration. This year not only did I have the ever glorious chance to give birth to a baby in front of my entire district, it was also a bigger and more elaborate event. Unlike last year when the dance routine was so impromptu that we practiced the day of and there was discussion of not even participating, this year we came prepared. Nothing like 4 nights of practice until 11 with perpetually changing choreography to make you moderately want to kill yourself. Luckily there was no rain this year so we got to hold the district wide dance competition on the giant soccer field rather than on the small basketball court. The stadium filled with people from my district to watch a dance competition between my town, one districto publado and two annexes. Once again I was a sort of clown, too tall to dance in formation with the other women. I had the pleasure of wandering around pregnant, and at the finale give birth to a black baby. And when I say black baby I mean the color black. A baby doll that would not be sold in the US under the threat of lawsuit. Let me tell you the comments that you get when you are wandering around with balloons under your skirt pretending to be pregnant are priceless. And then if your baby dies during the dance routine, you then have to talk about your dead baby for roughly the next week and a half. During our the first round of our dance routine I just had the balloons tied under my skirt, and then in the second round I had to have an actual 3-pound baby doll hitched up under my skirt. Not the easiest task I have ever accomplished, especially when it is tied with one plastic string. At any given moment it felt like the doll could come flying out of my skirt and completely ruin the moment I was supposed to give birth. Fortunately I made it through the dance and had the chance to give a dramatic, although quite embarrassing, birth and then watch my baby die and break into melodramatic overwrought tears. You know all in a days work in the Peace Corps. Unfortunately my community lost to the districto publado, but we did not go down without a fight. In fact their win caused quite the hullabaloo. My town thought they were robbed of victory by untrained and bribed judges. I would agree that in fact we did do a better job during the competition, but the prospect of having to give birth in front of my whole province the next weekend was enough to make me slightly indifferent to the loss. After extensive investigation, some of the most vigilant members of my community figured out that the judge culpable for us losing was a new biologist in the health post. He had been in the town for officially 24 hours when he was charged to be one of the judges to the most important and high stakes competition in my site. The poor man didn’t have food for a day because the woman who does pension in my site was one of the leaders of the “we were robbed of victory” campaign and was simply too angry to give him food. Naturally what you want to happen in your first 48 hours in a new community. Even after that entire struggle, there was nothing we could do at the end of the day but accept our loss and secretly talk about how it should have been us dancing the next week at the provincial competition. An ever so small part of me was glad that I would not have to scream a fake birth to a large dead black baby in front of actually everyone I had ever seen in Huancavelica. The next week my community made the trek down to the provincial capital in order to see the unjust winners dance, get covered in baby powder and enjoy the yunsa that took place late into the night. For those of you that don’t know, a yunsa is a tree that they chop down and then put back up in a hole into the plaza. Yes, they intentionally put a hole in the concrete of the plaza de armas for just the purpose of putting a tree into it. The tree is decorated with free gifts such as buckets, blankets, cups and fly swatters. Throughout the night dancers gradually cut down the tree, and the moment it falls it is a free for all for the prizes. In Huancavelica during carnavales the yunsa tradition takes place at least once a week, always to the exact same song. One singular 15 minute song song that sounds like “dadadadadodo carnavales” over and over again for hours, as you can tell clearly my favorite song. The band will play about 2 round of the song, take a 10 minute break and start right back up again. Who doesn’t love listening to a repetitive song played by a band for a solid 5 hours? The way it gets stuck in your head is so indelible at points you think about removing your auditory function. When all the festivities in Huancavelica were said and done, I thought, I headed up to Cajamarca for one of the biggest carnaval celebrations in Peru. The Cajamarca carnaval is equip with giant parades, a constant stream of water fights, dancing and bands (playing the same song, but a different rendition of the Huancavelica version) each night in the plaza de armas, and one day filled with a giant paint fight. Since it is warmer in Cajamarca than Huancavelica there is unfettered use of buckets of water and super soakers, all day, every day. Any 10 year olds wildest dreams come true. Thankfully, there was a social norm to stop when the sun went down otherwise we would all have pneumonia. The water proved to be quite problematic at times, even killing one of my phones, which I have placed in my boob for “protection.” Logical when water is literally being chucked at your face. Generally walking around could be hazardous. Being white made things even worse. And if you ever happened to be in a group larger than 3 people you were just asking to drown. Throwing buckets on your head was entirely acceptable, and walking through the plaza was basically not an option unless you wanted to swim standing up. By the end of my 4 days in Cajamarca a bird swooping down caused me to duck and brace to get hit with a water balloon. The paint fight put the water fights and any form of nightly dancing to shame. It is hands down one of the most epic experiences I have had in Peru. It is literally a war with music, dancing and a shit ton of paint. Everyone is running around dancing holding buckets of paint, squirt guns of paint and water and generally going to town on each other. There were certain parts of town where people simply posted up with hoses to douse passersby. The second we left our door we got approached by 3 women who put paint on us “de carino,” so we wouldn’t get pelted for being clean. That plan did not work. About 7 seconds later a heard of boys soaked us through and through with every color of paint. I myself am allergic to latex, a thing I did not take into account until after I was already hit with the first round of paint. Let me tell you being covered with latex paint when you are allergic to latex is not necessarily the most comfortable experience, there was lots of Benadryl running through my system. Even in the face of this the fight was beyond entertaining. The best part, besides the general frolicking, dancing and all our squirt gun war was the ability to squirt people whenever you wanted. If a guy whistled at you, you could simply shoot water at him, or if someone really nasty tried to hit on you it was socially acceptable to throw paint in his face. Made me wish we were always permitted to run around with squirt guns full of paint. The night was filled with huayno dancing in the plaza and bets placed on how many a drunkard were going to sleep in the plaza. I guarantee you every night there were at least 20, minimum. Cajamarca combined with carnaval in Huancavelica created what seemed like an endless stream of carnavales bands and dancing, the kind of jovial environment that should exist before 40 days of sacrificing something. America should take a hint. When I got back home I was ready to sit down, be calm, and work. I thought it was close enough to Ash Wednesday that the festivities would have ended. I had no such luck. There were still bands a blaring. People running around with talc on their cheeks reveling in the joy of carnaval. There is a limit to how much you can revel. I believe it should be a three-week limit. At this point you should surrender to the realities of life. Or just play another song. Any other song really. Even though it seemed like the music, well the 2 songs would never end, the entertainment of carnavales makes February seem like a remarkably entertaining month, rather than one covered in rain and short depressing days.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
This Christmas I went to America for the holidays. It was one of the stranger experiences of my life, although I have to say that I am very glad I did it. Going to America for a brief moment reminded me of all the things I loved and hated about the place. And generally just confused the fuck out of me. To start with when I got to America the sim card on my cell phone was broken, probably due to being turned off for the past 15 months. This left me entirely unable to communicate, except for the bountiful amount of Wi-Fi available seemingly everywhere in America. when I landed in the Houston airport I b-lined for an Einstein’s bagel, I hadn’t seen a bagel that didn’t oddly resemble a cracker in month. I ordered your standard blueberry bagel with cream cheese. And here’s the ringer. The woman then asked me what kind of cream cheese I wanted. I totally forgot there were more kinds of cream cheese than plain. I replied in one of the worlds creepiest voices “….what kinds of cream cheese arrree there?” She stared at me as if I was a crazy person; since I sounded like one I cant blame her. After an intense stare she then pointed non –chelantly at the list of cream cheeses and said those on the list there. To wit I instantly replied, “America is awesome.” Naturally. Then I boarded the plane to LA. I was shocked by one thing on the plane- and this is going to sound ridiculous, which it absolutely is- I was surprised by the number of African Americans on the plane. I actually had to refrain myself from shouting out “there are so many black people on this plane!” When I got caught staring at a man for far far too long I realized shouting this out on a crowded plane may not be the world best idea. When I finally made it into LA I then realized I had no cell phone to call my friend to tell me that I made it in. I also realized I had no American money…so off to the ATM. ATMs in Peru always suck the card in, ATMs in America not so much. So it took me about 15 minutes how to get money out of the ATM. You have to put the debit card into the machine and pull it back out with lightning speed that I am not quite used to. Then I also came to another unfortunate realization- you only get 20s out of an ATM machine in America, you don’t get quarters. To be fair coins don’t come magically popping out of a Peruvian ATM either, that was really just a lack of thought process. So completely forgetting to get my 20 broken I then was left with one option, to pay for a pay phone with a credit card. Who on earth even knew that was a possibility. When I finally made into western civilization I went out to dinner, of course entirely forgetting my id. The concept of needing to have an id to order a drink was not something I had even thought of. This train of acting like a whack job at nearly restaurant was a continuing trend. Nearly every time I saw a menu I ended up blurting out at nearly every restaurant “I can’t believe they have ____ on the menu!” Also the first time I ate with a large group of people and my food came significantly later than everyone else’s I noticed something odd. They were all sitting around uncomfortably eating one or two French fries. Not diving in, just picking at what looked like the most delicious French fries. I though initially´that maybe they were all trying to lose weight and eat really slowly. But then it occurred to me that that would be far too much of a coincidence for 8 people to be simultaneously trying to lose weight by eating French fires slowly. Because lets get serious that would not be the best tactic to go about losing weight. After an awkwardly long time I told everyone they could eat without me. At this point is seemed like a wave of relief splashed over everyone as they dug into their food. Oh the subtleties of American dining behavior. Nearly all of America can be compiled as a blur surrounded by food and family. My father was impressed by how I was keeping it together…that was until I had a complete breakdown about cereal. One day he drove me home, after let’s say more than one drink, and I discovered just how much cereal was in my grandmother’s house. This lead to a tirade about the glory of cereal and just how much cereal there was in the United States of America. I nearly got so caught up in the magic of cereal and its availability in every grocery store that I feel asleep on a granite countertop. Obviously the most comfortable place to go to sleep. Although America was pretty much a blur of food, family and sensory overload I did realize one thing. I left America with more questions than I arrived. I still have little to no clue what I plan on doing after these two years. At this point I feel like flying to the moon would be a logical option, except for the fact I’m pretty sure we no longer have people flying up to space, that and I am afraid of heights. America, although it is home and I will return there eventually, is one strange ass place. I can wholeheartedly admit that I don’t know if I am ready for a job where I will sit indoors and be bound by the clock. This is probably the only time in my life I am making decisions with nothing binding me. I have no one thing tying me to one place. It is a terrifying and yet really freeing concept. How often do you get to look into the future and get to say I could really do whatever I want and go anywhere in the world? Going home to America was amazing because I got a chance to see family, reconnect with old friends, but it was nice to come back and remember what hunger felt like. And New Years on a Peruvian beach is the definition of why there are firework regulations in the USA. Something I wouldn’t have given up for the world. Not often you get to see a spent firework fall directly into someone´s pocket and nearly destroy a car by setting off fireworks in the wrong direction. Although America will always be home, I´m glad to have the chance to experience something else while I am in the unique position not having ties to something else pulling me in one direction. Eventually I will have those responsibilities, but for now I´m enjoying figuring out who I am working in a foreign country, free to make as many mistakes as possible.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
1) I may be the one of the only Peace Corps Volunteers whose socios are so scared of her walking alone they nearly forbid it. Whoever thought of putting me in the Andes clearly never walked down the street with me. 2) I am paralyzing afraid of ledges because I am 99% convinced that I will fall off. Unfortunately I have to face this fear at least every 10 days and in the states ledges meant a building. Here ledges mean a mountain that if I fall off of I will plummet to my eminent death. 3) Flagging down a semi-truck on the side of the road is an acceptable form of transportation. Although I think of a 60 minutes special every time. 4) Tony from P90X has the worst fat kid syndrome known to man. 5) Having to travel 6 hours with a 3,000m altitude increase and no bathroom leads to the worst hangovers known to man. 6) Living with a parasite for 7 months is not necessarily the best idea. 7) Eating oatmeal off a Swiss Army Knife really means you should buy a spoon or a new host family. 8) Breast-feeding is not a private activity, it really means whipping out your boob at any given moment. 9) Hand washing your laundry makes you really appreciate washing machines and the magical way they get stains out. 10) Bucket bathing in your room is a complicate affair even for a coordinated person. 11) Repeating music is an acceptable thing. There is no problem listening to a Nicki Minaj song for 2 hours straight. Although playing “Starships” 97 times may be a bit excessive. 12) Food dreams are a real and crazy phenomenon. Dreams about running through a field raining Honey Nut Cheerios is one of the few. 13) Cutting your hair while angry and watching “The Wire” makes you look like you got ran over by a lawn mower. Thank god for curly hair. 14) Watching an entire series of a TV show is a feasible although disturbing act. 15) Realizing your monthly paycheck is about half of your monthly rent your senior year really puts things in perspective. 16) The concept of legroom is a myth. 17) Cold beverages make you sick, rainbows can get you pregnant, wind can cause stomach ailments, drinking Jello mix is good for your throat and mountains can make you sick and eventually kill you. 18) Going running once means that you go running everyday although people will comment that you are still as fat as the day you started running. 19) Saying this is the coldest I have been in my entire life every day really negates the point. 20) Stained or holey shirts are only ruined if you can’t hide the stain or hole with a carefully placed sweater. 21) Indoor heating was the greatest invention ever. Whoever thought of it should probably get a Nobel Prize. Also I feel bad for the heating bill when I finally have access to a thermostat. 22) Wearing different shades of all the same color is perfectly acceptable, as long as one item is either fleece or spandex. 23) Morning announcements exist outside of elementary school. And they must happen around 5:30am, just to make sure you are awake. 24) You only really need about 20 square feet to have a bedroom, kitchen, gym, closet, living room, and office all in one. 25) Cows are terrifying; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Also you have to cut off part of their horn in order to ensure that they grow.