Sunday, January 15, 2012

Volunteer Christmas and Moncora New Years

This post is something that I have put off for too long, and is now so long over due that it has just been reduced to built points in my mind. So sorry for dropping the ball on this one, but here's the main highlights of my 2011 Volunteer Christmas/Hanukkah.

This fun volunteer get together was held the night after my family did their Christmas celebration. It was cool for me, as it had the feel of typical volunteer reunion, but along with a lot of new elements. First, Keren's parent came into the country for a couple of weeks to see the sights and sponsor my first ever Hanukka celebration. They pulled out all the stops and thew one heck of a fiesta, which included dradles, jelly doughnuts, potato pancakes, and a travel menorah.  It was a lot a fun and interesting to see this different type of celebration, as Keren promises she'll introduce us to all the other fun celebrations. Also, Keren's parents were a lot a fun and very tolerant of our ignorance and stupid jokes.

In addition to this novel experience, Beth, a Peru 15 Volunteer, introduced us to the newest member of the Ancash family "Whyki" (who has now been renamed to Gulliver). Gulliver is young golden retriever pup that is very cute and playful. In fact, he is so cute that he's started puppy fever that has a complete grip on Jeff. The fever has set in so much to the point that Jeff already has his eyes on Gulliver's brother in the pet shop, who he visits whenever he's in the capital, and promises to buy the next pay period. I don't want a puppy (I do, but I don't want the responsibility right now), but I do want Jeff to get one so I can puppy sit.
Keren and her parents

Keren's mom showing Jeff, Kelly, and Keren how to make the jelly doughnuts.

Jeff meeting Gulliver

Santa's little helper

The menorah and a plate of food.

The volunteers playing dradle.

Moncora New Year:
Moncora is a beach town a long 16 hours to the north, and 8 hours south of Guayaquil, Ecuador. It's very similar to the beach/party towns I know in Mexico, (Cancun/Isla de Mujeres). It's a fun mix of surfers, bars, good restaurants, clubs, fishing boats, and a long sandy beach. It was also the meeting point for nearly 40 volunteers for New Years 2012.

Some of the volunteers had just returned from the US for Christmas, and rest were coming off the stress of getting projects done before the summer vacations started, so the beach was a very much needed place to unwind and either escape from, or transition back to, Peace Corps life in our communities. For me it was startling to see the contrast between the cultures of the Peruvian coast and the Sierra. People on the coast are so much more open, loud, and expressive. Furthermore, the idea that people actually wear clothing like shorts, tank-tops, and swimsuits, had me completely stupefied.

I had been warned that this place causes people to really cut loose, and paint the town red, but I'm proud to report that there were no major incidences to report. All the volunteers were all able to comport themselves as the responsible adults that they are, including myself. The weekend can be summed up as a nice weekend of sunning ourselves, eating good sea food, enjoying a few tropical drinks, and swimming in the ocean (as I write this, I can't help to think that our Country Director is inclined to read volunteer's blogs. So if that's true, feel free to drop me a comment Mr. Mathur with any comments, complaints, or suggestions). But really, it was truly just a nice relaxing time on the beach.

Here's a few pictures, which doesn't do the trip much justice:

Fishing boat of the port of Moncora. 

Little bit of food for big dog. 

Kyle, Amanda, and Ryan (Peru 17) eating great street pizza. 

The beach crowd.

Josh (Peru 16) and I celebrating the big New Years night

Horse rides on the beach.