i´m not really a blogger at heart – very rarely do I sit down and think, “well, I guess I should jot down all my thoughts for the world to read.” It´s a strange medium, too, throwing something up on the Internet and hoping someone who´s interested will see it. What the hell do I write? What if it´s too dry, too long? I prefer conversations. But I started this blog for my Peace Corps service, and hopefully it´s good for somethin´. (Keeping me busy at times, if nothing else.) It´s nice to know some of you might like it, and more than the whole ´it´s-your-peace-corps-duty-to-tell-people-about-your-host-country´ thing, it can help me feel more connected to home. And with plenty of photos, of course, because that´s what I like the most.
I´m on the way out here, in a good way. There are four months left in my service! That´s definitely exciting. As my friend Chris said a month back, I´m not tallying up the days now as much as I´m counting them down. There have been plenty of wonderful experiences lately, including going to Cusco and Machu Picchu with my sister when she came with a study group, and an English camp for youth in Tarapoto (a jungle city about 6 hours away) with an Embassy-sponsored language school and my Volunteer friends from Amazonas. (Sorry, these pictures are robbed from facebook – I don´t have the files here on my camera anymore.) And as an update apart, I´ve switched host families, only because the previous ones rent their house and the owner wants to sell it. My new family is great too.
In more recent news, I´ve just come back from a week-and-a-half long vacation to the States. It was lovely. I spent time with family (even if it was short), caught up with a few friends, went to the beach, and stuffed down all kinds of delicious food. (Seriously, that´s one of the things that can make a volunteer giddy. Breaded catfish, quiche, chips and queso, hummus, fried okra, lasagna, garlic bread, cheese enchiladas, salmon, beer, wine, margaritas, crab cakes, barbecue, cole slaw, mac and cheese, homemade apple pie, chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream – it was great. I ate way too much.) And spent lots of time with my fiancée, Ariel. That´s the most important part of these trips for me, because of how little we see each other. 4-5 weeks all told, out of a 2-year service, isn´t much.
Work here is going very well, in that almost all of the hard stuff is finished and the project looks like it will finish will. (Don´t know if I`ve already said that on this blog.) That´s a wonderful change, compared to spending a lot of time fretting about things. I have a few dedicated health professionals working with me, and in two days we get to talk with the whole Health Center about teaching hand washing to kids. The school kids are participating in hand washing activities and lessons and hopefully think about it more now, and most of the teachers are enthusiastic about the effort. They´re the reason that part of the project even works. The families in Ishpingo / Pomacochas (one of our annexes) have long since finished their hygiene awareness sessions, and most of them should have constructed their improved latrines by now. We´ll be visiting them again on Wednesday to see how it stands. (After the sessions each family got a concrete latrine seat, ventilation pipe and cap, and sheets of corrugated tin for the roof; and it was up to them to dig out the pit, set up the floor and the walls, and put the whole thing together.) It´s been wonderful to pass through and see a little girl meticulously wash her hands, and have a family call me over to ask questions about a latrine-in-process, and see the finished products of each household. Those little successes, and friendships and moments with the people, are what make my service feel worthwhile. It´s up to hope that there´s been some sort of difference for these folks, and that their health will be better in the future.
So I´m counting down the days! There are plenty of things to distract me, including our Patron Saint festival for the Vírgen del Carmen (just finished on the 16th) and Peruvian Independence celebrations on the 28th and 29th. A new group of Spaniards is arriving for their volunteer work with the University of Sevilla, and I´m getting a site mate soon too! Another Volunteer´s coming to town to work with youth, more or less at the end of August. It´ll be a change, sharing Leyme with someone else – I think I´ve gotten used to being alone!
I have to update my resume and do a job search soon, to get ready for life back in the States. Oh, and we´ll be planning a wedding, too. :c)