Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Week in Caraz (Part 2)

The Workfront:
Work was kinda slowed by school vacaciones (vacations) and government visits; however, I have had some successes. If you're ever in my neck of the woods on Thursdays at 4:00 PM, you'd be more than welcome to join the soccer club at the colegio in Yurocoto; however, be prepared to be smoked by little kids half your size, and a third your age. If soccer isn't your thing (I'm looking at those of you coming from 326 S. 20th), you might be able to join our Paso Adelante/Health Promoters group (Wednesdays and Fridays from 3-5). This is a group motivated kids looking to promote healthy life-styles in their community. On Friday we elected a junta directiva (group government), Alicia is our fearless president, and we held our first "Noche de Cine"/"Movie Night" this Sunday. The "Noche de Cine" featured a short Discovery film on climate change, and earned the group  S/. 5.20 towards future activities.

Director Florencio swearing in the Junta.

Cecilia receiving her certificate left by Christie.

Movie night.

"The toughest job you'll ever love" :
This is the recruiting slogan that is often thrown around by the Peace Corps, and I have to say that in some aspects, it is very true. Case in point: The time I spend trying teach Jefferson his letters and numbers (possibly the longest part of my day). He's high energy, seven years old, and knows how avoid doing work. Academically, he can correctly identify 3 of the 30 letters in the Spanish alphabet and his ability to recall number values is almost non-existent (however, he does have "A,E,I,O,U" and "1-10" memorized, but he doesn't know what they mean).

It's pretty frustrating when he comes home with homework requiring him to do multiple digit subtraction/addition, or reading comprehension questions, when he still needs to learn the basics. It's also frustrating when I try to teach him, and Dina (my host-mother) sits in the background trumpeting his "inability to learn" (she's too is just beginning to learn how to read). However, slowly but surely, it's starting to click. He's learning to spell his name*, and it's getting more popular (at least with the cousins) to spend time teaching Jefferson. One of my personal goals to have him reading by the end of my service (August 2013 doesn't seem like enough time).

Kathy, our cousin, reading to Jefferson in-front of my room.

* Jefferson and I started our educational journey together in the wrong direction. I spent good hour teaching him "J". We drew it, made it with our bodies, used a garden hose to walk the letter, and went on a scavenger hunt to find words that have the letter "J". Then when Roger come home from work, I boasted that Jefferson had learned the first letter of his name. Roger looked at me blankly and said, "Se escribe con Y"... yep, the kid spells it "Yeferson" (pronounced Jefferson). Oops, I guess "J" is just a bonus letter that we had to learn it sooner or later.

Trips to Caraz.
 With the school vacations, I was able to use the downtime to make a few trips to Caraz to make some copies, have a window made (63S/. including the metal, glass, and cement), and met up with the other Peru 17ers. All the trips were pretty uneventful, expect for the trip to the copy store, where I scared the life out of myself, 2 old ladies, and the young girl working at the store.

The short story is: when I pulled my leather binder from my backpack (which had been sitting on my bedroom floor), I found a scorpion staring up at me. I stifled a scream typical of a 3 year old girl, and threw the binder with the arthropod across the room, scaring the old ladies (who I assume figured the gringo was nuts or had more scorpions with him). Once I regained my composure, I calmly walked across the room, stepped on it, and then turned to the girl and ask for 20 copies (costing 50 centimos). However, no one else was ready to continue with the day, until they lectured me on the various poisonous animals in Peru, and how I need to be more careful since I live in the campo. Almost a half an hour later, the lesson was learned (I now check my shoes on 15 minute intervals). There are no scorpion pics, but here are some of the 17ers.

Peru 17 (Ancash) together on my turf of Caraz.

Peru 17 Ancash.

The heads of  Peru 17 Ancash.

Food poisoning
Speaking of poisonous things, stay away from my host-mom's soup. This is something that dawned on me as I spend Saturday night performing an ab workout that would make Tony Horton cry. Those of you looking to get your beach body in 8 hours, and feel like crap, just do what I did.

Eat bad soup for both lunch and dinner, then wake up 10:00PM and hold an inner-debate with yourself about whether or not you want to make a night-time trip to the latrine. 10:15 PM perform your first wind sprint to the latrine. Then every hour after that, re-run your sprint to the driveway, lunge into the puking position on all fours, heave, and then crawl up the hill to the latrine, hoping the whole way that: a) there is still toilet paper left; b) there are no spiders or scorpions laying in you path; and c) Some higher power will smite you and end the misery. Continue this until you finally fall asleep at 6:30am, to be soon awoken by Huanyo music being blared by your host-father at 7:00am. (I also awoke expecting to share similar war stories with the family, but the only thing they told me was that my body needs to become accustom to the food here in Peru. Not what I was looking for).

There's always an upside, and in my illness induced haze, I do remember thinking two positive things: 1) Usually volunteers want to quit the most when they are sick; however, it barely crossed my mind (minus missing a flushing toilet and a cold ceramic floor to pass out on); and 2, At 3:00am in the campo there are copious amounts of (bastante) stars, making me real glad I was still alive (well, barely alive).