Where am I?
This is a tough one to answer. The quick response is 30K East of Lima. But there is more to it. I go to the training site in Santa Eulalia 6 days a week, and live with a host family in Yanacoto the rest of the time. both towns appear to be a suburb of Chosico, which is a suburb of Lima. The training center is in Santa Eulalia, a 30 minute combi (van/bus) ride from my host family's house (which cost 1S/.). I don't know much about the town of Santa Eulalia, since I spend most of my time inside the walls of the training compound, but I assume it is simaliar to Yanacoto.
Yanacoto is a relatively new town build high up on a super arid hill/mountain. The houses are generally new, or just being built, and are definately homes for the working class. The town is devided by a dry river ravine. On one side of the ravine, the houses have had running water for the last ten years, on the otherside the houses do not hae water. I only mention this, becuase every morning,afternoon, and night, there is a lady on a loudspeaker addressing the town concerning the need for change in the local government, for everyone to recieve water in their houses (asi es Sur America/That's South America).
In addition to this, there is a church (catholic obviously) and a soccer field in the middle of the town. A huge cross on the side of the hill over looking the town, and a trail that leads up to the cross and beyond. My host family tells me that if I take the trail to the top of the mountain, you can look down the other side and see some Inca drawings. I plan doing this soon.
I live here with 6 other volunteers. Each volunteer has their own unique host family and living situation.
See my future post with a house tour and family fotos (photos).
How is your host family?
Awsome! The mother is how I'd imagine my grandmother Verda, if grandma Verda was a short little lady from the highlands of Sierras who spoke Spanish and was 30 years younger. Her name is Gregoria. She has 6 sons, not including me, and 3 of them live at home. My host father, Fansico, is the jefe (boss/head) of the family and works construction in Lima. He and Gregoria have been married for 32 years. The 6 sons range from 32 to 16, and each carry some part of thier father's name (Fran, Franis, Franini, Frank, etc.) Needless to say it's a little hard to remember their specific names, but if I mumble and go with some variation of Franisco, they generaly let me pass.
Back to my mom though. She is the true spirit of the family. In addition to all of cooking, cleaning, laundry, and other house chores, she also sells ropa (clothes) in front of the church in the evening. I interact most with her, as she is constantly fussing over me (cooking for me, asking how my day is going, asking me what I want to eat, how my lunch was, teaching me Spanish, etc). However, I'm not the only one. It seems that all of the volunteers have a mother who fuss over them. For example, on the first day of training. Each volunteer was taken to training by their mother, to show them the way. Not a big deal, but it was funny to see 30 plus adults being walked to the same building by their mothers, carrying lunchs made by mom.
What am I doing?
Right now I am not a Volunteer. I'm a Trainnie. Therefore, I spend 8 hours a day learning about the Peace Corps, how to be an affective Youth Development Volunteer, how to stay safe and healthy in Peru, and about the culture and language. Each session is broken into 2 hour sessions, with a one hour lunch. In late August I may get to swear in as a Volunteer, and then be placed in a community (alone).
How is your Spanish?
I'm doing alright. It's all coming back to me, and I'm learning at a pretty good clip. I just need to start speaking more to work out the kinks. As far as formal level of Spanish, Peace Corps, I believe, has 8 levels: Basic 1,2, and 3, Intermidiate 1,2, and 3, Advanced and Native. I am currently in the Intermidiate 3 level, which I think is very accruate. Informally, I hold can hold either great conversations or really poor ones. It varies depending on my fatigue level, knowledge of the subject, and various other factors. Peruvian youths are almost impossible for me to understand. They use so much slang that 'mI lost shortly after hello.
How is your group?
Its great. Peru 17 (that's us) is a fun loving crew. Of the 51 who came, no one has quit. 32 of them are Youth volunteers (like me), and the rest are in small business development. The 32 Youth people are training at a different site than the business people, and all are getting along real well. The Peace Corps seems to attract a certian type of person, so it seems that I've found a pretty good group of people to spend time with.
What things are difficult to get used to?
The constant smog/dusty air, the noise,constantly worrying about getting something stolen, cold showers, having potatoes every meal, not being able to drink the water, seeing the night sky upside down (the dippers are flipped), trash in the streets, etc.
Do you like it?
I love it.