One week in

(This is poorly formatted due partly to the Keyboard and everything being in Spanish)

To be very honest, it feels like I’ve already been in Peru a while (much longer than seven days), since every day just flies by. Each day has been different with challenges, learning moments, frustrations, and a lot of different emotions and experiences. My family in Yanacoto (a small city outside of Lima, and about ten minutes by bus from the PC training center) is awesome, and I really like where I’m living.

My day starts off around 6:45-7 when I wake up, and join my family for breakfast looking as beautiful as ever while they’re all nicely polished up and ready to start the day. However, since I wear my Wooster Intramural championship t-shirt, they know I’m serious business. Breakfast usually consists of rolls with your choice of ham, jam, butter or sometimes a special filling. Add on a little coffee and juice, and Tony the Tiger would be proud. Other trainees report getting anything from a lumberjack sized breakfast, to oatmeal, eggs, and anything in between. After breakfast, I hit the showers…hard. Although I’m lucky enough to have running water inside the house, there’s no water heater to speak of. My showers are freezing cold in the morning, making the even extra fun when my body starts going into shock. I pop out of the shower, change into something decent and then either head to a) another trainee’s house for 4 hours of Spanish b) the training center for 4 hours of Spanish. Depending on the day, language class is sometimes hosted on site to allow us to get out and practice a bit in our communities.

My Spanish class is just four people and our instructor. Thanks to the wonders of Middlebury, I currently sit at the language level that we’re required to have by the Peace Corps. Also thanks to Middlebury, I get mistaken for an actual Castellan here and there, due to the accent (which I didn’t know I had), and the excessive use of ‘vale’.

After class its lunch time…if we have class on site I get to go home, but if we’re at the training center my mom packs me a lunch. Usually starts off with soup, and followed by a hearty plate of rice, chicken, and maybe a few veggies. After lunch we have usually have technical trainings at Center for our various programs, or talks from the doctors/security advisor/anyone else who probably has something important to say. Classes end around 430/5 and some people go home, while others either stay to run or go grab a coffee. I’m usually back by dusk, and hanging with the family the rest of the evening. But to get back home is a fun little game. After making sure we don’t get overcharged for the bus, and that it actually stops at our stop, we get to climb up a giant winding road. That hike usually takes a good 10-15 minutes. And then my house is a bit further up, so when I see the family dogs running towards me I know I’m close. I get home, great everyone, talk/annoy them until dinner. We eat dinner around 9, which is late even by Peruvian standards. Dinner is usually some smaller variation of the rice/chicken/potato combo. I annoy the family a little more and then it’s off to bed around 10-10:30.

So who is my family? That’s a little complicated because it is a bit of an extended family living together. The dad (el Señor) is an elementary school teacher, while the mom runs a little restaurant on our front porch every knight. Yes, that’s right a restaurant. To be fair, a lot of other trainee families run internet cafés or bodegas (small stores), but I still think the restaurant is pretty cool. She serves French fries, fried chicken, hot dogs, hamburgers, and a few rice dishes. Their oldest son is in the Navy, and doesn’t live with us. Two of the other brothers drive motor-taxis in the neighborhood, and attend university. The youngest just attends school full time. Also in the house is a niece and nephew. She helps out at the restaurant and studies nursing, while the nephew drives a motor-taxi full time. On top of that, the family has three dogs and some birds. The dogs just roam around the house and the perimeter of the house without leashes or anything, but typically stay within striking distance.

Phew…that’s a lot! It’s been a good first week thus far, and I really like where I’m living. Having the restaurant is nice because it allows me to interact with more people in the community, and also avoid just sitting and watching TV. I also help set up the restaurant a bit, and am learning to cook a few of the dishes. I run some plates out of the kitchen to tables, to the chagrin of the dinners (especially when I know basically what they’re saying but just can’t quite follow along)! Since the family hosted trainees before, anything I say or do (supposedly) doesn’t bother them and that I am free to (and do) ask seemingly basic or strange questions about the neighborhood or anything else. I usually understand what anyone is saying at about 75-80% of the time, but sometimes it just doesn’t register.
I’ve actually been really happy thus far (I know it’s only a week in, but…) if not exhausted/frustrated/confused part of the time. I’ll try to post again in a week or so, but vamos a ver!


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