With Peace Corps, you never know how your day is going to start (or end, I guess). I’ve woken up, left the house with one objective and found something else along the way. Such is the life. Here’s a few examples:
+ Within my first week at site (December 1st to be exact), I set out to walk across town to meet up with the health post and talk with socio about some beginning work plans. I ran into them coming down from the health post, saying they were going to a parade. A parade? 9am on a Wednesday? Alright, cool. So we show up to the elementary school, and the kids are armed with various signs and posters about HIV/AIDS. Cool! Turns out, the health post organized the parade and were at the front with a banner and handing out condoms and of course Mateo was to be included. So I walked along with them, holding the banner and marching through town on display. At least the town found out I was anti-HIV/AIDS.
+Two weeks ago, I was sitting in my room, listening to music and drinking some coffee (aka easing into the day) when my sister comes and says ‘Mateo, te buscan’ or ‘Mateo, they’re looking for you’ or ‘Mateo, there’s people at the door for you’. People, not just persons? In the morning? So I go to see what’s up, and there’s about seven university students from Trujillo who came to see me and were sent by the regional mayor (who I, to my knowledge, had never met at that point) to do a project on tourism in our rural valley zone. Funny thing about that - there’s really not too much to make you swerve off the Pan-American highway to come to my town. My family sat in the kitchen laughing at the ridiculousness of the seven students cramped into our small sitting room and all eyes pointed towards me. Best part, they also filmed our conversation.
+ Sometimes I leave the house, and no one I need is where they’re supposed to be or their last known whereabouts. Sometimes things don’t get followed through on.
+Sometimes I just leave the house, check in at the Municipality/Health Post/High School just to see if anything is new, maybe talk with some people on the street, have a cold Coke and see what else I can get into.
The life of a Peace Corps volunteer is always varied and consistency is not a normal part of life for volunteer nor national, especially for posts in Peru. Volunteers are their own boss, and nobody is going to fault you for not ‘punching in on-time’. We make our own schedules, make our own rounds. It’s beautiful, liberating, and also frustrating. You’re the jefe, you’re the boss. Every initiative will be yours, and most of the beginning footwork.
And sometimes, there really is nothing to do. There’s really just shit to do. Things get put on hold, people go away for awhile, school goes on break, there’s transitions - during local election season, it’s impossible to get anything done through local government that won’t be finished and on display before the elections, and if the incumbents lose, it’s 3 months of lame duck (if they choose to show up at all). And even amidst all that, there’s still not stuff to do. And many times, like it might be in the States, it’s easier to stay dressed down, make an extra cup of coffee and stay in, turn on the TV/NetFlix (or in PC case, computer) and veg out for awhile. But I always think it’s worth it to do a ‘vuelta’ (a turn or lap) to check on things, and see what you might stumble upon. Season 2 of How I Met Your Mother will still be there when you get back.