Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fog, Mountains, and Guinea Pig... I must be in Peru.

So our plane was delayed and we ended up getting to the retreat center in Chaclacayo at 2 am.  I was groggy as we stepped off the bus and I was faintly aware of the smell of burning leaves, cold air, and thick fog.  As we walked into the center we passed a dog... wearing a tattered t-shirt?... the whole thing felt so surreal.  I snapped a photo as the gate squeaked shut behind us.

The first days of training have been long and exhausting.  We spent a lot of time sitting through presentations about what we would be learning later.  I suppose the extremely structured schedule is so that we don't have time to freak out about our 2 year commitment.  Personally I feel great to be here and I am chomping at the bit to get things rolling.

I met my host family for the next 10 weeks and they are very generous and nice people.  They have had four volunteers before me so things are pretty smooth at home.  They gave me my own room but I feel a bit bad because it is huge.  The rest of the family (six kids, one boyfriend, two grandparents, and two parents) all live in the other three rooms of the house.  So I obviously feel like a jerk for taking up so much space.  But it is rude to say anything and I appreciate their generosity.  They are great cooks and have been very willing to help me with my spanish and homework.  We have had a some great conversations and I am sure I am in a great environment for learning the language quickly.

My first day here they were having a birthday party for their 83 year old and made something called pachamanca.  This consists of putting a bunch of meat (guinea pig, rabbit, chicken, and pork) and potatoes and fava beans in a hole in the ground (which is called pachamama).  They throw in some coals and hot rocks and cover it for an hour to cook.  It was really good and I was totally stuffed by the end.  I was surprised to try guinea pig so soon.  check out the photo of the plate of food they gave me.

One of the more interesting things we have done during training is something they call "Mission Impossible."  Elke (an advanced speaker and pictured below) and I went around my community of Chacrasana and asked shop owners, community members, teachers, and kids about the area.  This forced us to be social - get messy and make mistakes.  It was a lot of fun and it resulted in quite a few people recognizing me in the streets.  It is great practice for when I arrive in my smaller site and need to integrate into my new home.  We then had to use a local pay phone and call the training center to get the password to enter the next day.  We, however had a bad connection and could not hear the password.  The next day I had to explain all this for about 5 minutes until the tech trainer had pity and let me pass.

Everything is great here.  I am having a blast and working hard.  I can't wait to get out of Chaclacayo and see a bit more of Peru but I guess I need to remember that I have a very long time to do all that... as they say here "Poco a poco."


  1. So jealous! Sounds like you are having a good time. The ten weeks might start to feel a little long, but soon enough you'll be at site and hardly even remember training!

  2. You never told me that training would be so crazy structured and intense. I have like 5 different projects to work on all at once. Its good though because it forces me to use my spanish and be more social.

  3. Yo, where's your next blog huh??