Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Time's Fun When You are Having Flies

Wow!  I can't believe my last post was more than a month ago!  I intended this post to be back to back with that one so you all don't think everything is horrible out here.  Unfortunately I was so busy that it took waaay to long and many of you wrote me with kind words of inspiration and support.

Actually, a lot of really amazing things are happening for me as well and I wouldn't give up my life here for anything.  I having a lot of fun and many of my other projects are going along as planned.  I just got a little carried away with the "frustrations" post I think.  So here is my opportunity to get carried away with a "life is grand" post!

So much has been happening lately it is hard to know where to begin.  I guess I will start with the fun stuff.  Right now Cutervo is celebrating it's annual town fiesta.  There is a whole week of bull fighting, great food, fireworks, booze, and fried foods - a knockout combination if there ever was one!  They do fireworks displays right here by building huge sugar cane towers with spinning spokes of fire and color, each level lighting before the next and ending in a huge display right in the center of the plaza de armas.  It is all very dangerous and highly amusing!  I have been up pretty late every night and I can see why they only do this one week out of every year.  It is exhausting!

Plaza de Armas - Cutervo

Being the only gringo in town, my host dad was able to get me a press pass for the bull fights.  I get to stand in the ring right outside of the fighting arena with all the "rodeo clowns" and trainers.  I can say I have started to become de-sensitized to the massacre and have even found myself enjoying the event.  Of course part of the reason for this is the adrenaline rush of being so close to the action.  The first day one of the bulls actually lept over the barrier wall and began charging around the outer circle I was standing in.  We could only tell which way it was running by the people jumping up the walls and screaming in a counter-clockwise wave.  The two guys I was standing with calmly but briskly pushed me towards the fighting arena and told me to jump the wall before the bull reached us.  I did so without a problem and waited while they corralled it back into the arena.  We switched sides again and the action continued as if nothing had happened.  Not long after that, the same bull did it again!  It was a blast and my family looks at me like I am a little nuts when I describe the event with some excitement.  I secretly wish for it to happen again this week.

I was standing in this outer circle.

The Matador makes it look easy sometimes.

The Matador goes in for the final blow.

As for work, life is not as bad as I made it out to be.  Professors and school directors have been seeking me out to plan programs for their classes.  I am currently doing a Life Plans course (9 weeks long), an english pronunciation course (12 weeks long), a parenting course (TBD), leadership/self esteem charlas, and I am planning a course for english professors with the regional school board.  All of this activity is allowing me to make close connections with people who are interested in seeing a youth center succeed.  I have a list a mile long of kids who are reading to get started with group activities outside of school.

Life Plan Class
My English pronunciation class.  Katie will work with them when she gets here.
A leadership/self esteem charla in Socota with Annalise

I recently received a grant from the DU Peace Corps community of $350 which I will be putting towards filling the center with furniture and other items we need.  The space is reserved but getting all of my socios together to finalize things is like herding gigantic balding Peruvian cats.  They all "promise" me that we can begin the real work after the town fiesta.  So I have a huge meeting planned for the 6th of July where we will finalize the rent agreement and we should be able to move into the space a few days after that.

The new space for the youth center

The courtyard of the new youth center

Inside the youth center

As for home life, my sisters are really comfortable with me - we are constantly teasing and poking fun at each other so I know they have welcomed me into the family.  My madre and I spend a lot of time cooking together and sharing recipes.  I love her food and I have been sharing my favorite dishes (bread, pizza, pasta, cookies - all healthy) with her.  She even wants me to show her how to make the pizza for her restaurant... she is the only spot in all of cutervo where you can get pizza and it always sells out really fast.

Saludos from the family!

Best soup ever - Made by Lilia Espejo

I eat well... too well.

Making pizza.

I am about to take a vacation as well!  At the end of this week I will be headed to Chachapoyas with a huge group of friends for our 4th of july vacation.  We are going to hike, see ruins, cook, drink, and get of to all manner of shenanigans!  I think it will be a good break and refresher.  I won't leave site again until Katie comes up here on the 25th of August.

This brings me to the next really awesome thing!  Katie will be here for a long chunk of time.  She will be doing some research on nutrition, teaching English at a local high school, and helping me with the youth center when she has time.  She has her own apartment and living situation already set up.  I am kind of jealous of her since she seems to have more structure than I have and she hasn't even arrived yet.  I am sure we will make a great team - we have already been tossing around ideas for youth activities and organizations.  It will be really nice to have a partner in crime to motivate me and keep things fresh.

Speaking of a "partner in crime," there is a possibility that a new volunteer specializing in special education will be coming here to my site as well.  So if all works out, there will be a gringo invasion of Cutervo!  The city's youth can certainly use some native English speakers to practice with... actually the teachers themselves really need it too.

On a non-Peace Corps related note, I am still working out what I want my masters paper to be about.  I keep switching between youth development ideas and human trafficking... but I just can't find the research I need to inspire a full paper.  I recently met a guy who works for the Peruvian equivalent of the FBI and he is very interested in giving me some info, so that is one lead.  Also, I have been contributing to the Aware! blog, dedicated to fair and rational discourse on the Israel/Palestine conflict if you want to check that out.

I have been having a blast out here.  My life is a fast-paced blur of events, classes, vacations, meetings, and great food.  I hope to have all of the youth center logistics worked out within the next couple of weeks (nothing happens quickly in Peru) and then we can really get the ball rolling on the community youth development.

Thank you for all the kind wishes!

P.S. ~ I have figured out the mail thing as well!  Send only packages in envelopes weighing no more than 2.2 pounds and it will get to me without a problem.  Anything in a box, even if it weighs less than 2, will get sent to Chiclayo.

P.S.S. ~ For some reason the flies have been awful even though the rainy season is over... there, I got my pessimistic remark in AND made the blog title relevant.  Go me.