Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Site Visits to San Miguel

Apologies for the lack of updates. Life has been a little crazy lately, and I needed to enjoy the ride; but , I'm back in the blogging saddle, so look out. Anyways, let's get started:

Being a Peace Corps Volunteer Leader demands that I split my work evenly between community projects and supporting the volunteers in my region. Both aspects of the job has his perks, but I think getting out and seeing the volunteers in their sites is one of my favorite things. Yesterday's trip to San Miguel was to see Brad and Taneesha in San Miguel. Brad is a Peru 19- Small Business volunteer, and Taneesha is one of newer volunteers, as she belongs to Peru-21 Youth Development.

San Miguel is a mountain town 3 hours west of Cajamarca City*, and was Brad's kingdom for the first year of his service; However, since Taneesha's arrival in late August, these two have been working next to each other in this cute little town of 2,500 people.

When I visit a site, usually meet a volunteer's host family and share a meal with them, then I see the volunteer's living conditions, and take a tour of their town and check on any work projects. Volunteers are generally excited to show of their town, host family, or work (sometimes all three), and it's fun to either share in their excitement or help try to problem solve any road blocks they may be having. Both Brad and Taneesha seems to be safe, happy, healthy and productive; thus, making my trip a breeze.

Voluntters feeling "alone" in site is very common. And having a site-mate is something that I'm sure that all volunteers desire at least once during their service. Feeling lonely can wear on you, and the quick fix solution is to have another volunteer there with you to share your experiences. But, as with most quick fixes, this isn't always the best thing. Sometimes it's just best to learn to be alone, but also sometime site-mates clash and step on each other's toes. I'm very glad to report that I saw no problems in San Miguel.

Taneesha is adjusting very well to her new site, seems to have a great connection with her host-family, and has very concrete, meaningful, and achievable goals for her service**. Meanwhile, Brad is probably more popular than anyone in the history of San Miguel, except for maybe last years "Miss San Miguel" winner (who, if Brad plays his cards right, could be the second half of a pretty impressive San Miguel Power couple. Think Beyonce/Jay Z or Tom Brady/Gisele). Everyone waves to him, the moto-taxi drivers stop to shake his hand, and the people in the municipality refer to him as "the Man from San Francisco" (almost reverently). However, even while being the most popular person in town, he still suffers from the chronic mispronunciation of his name, and it was very common to hear "BRAK" yelled from passer-byes at a very constant rate.

These two volunteers are making their marks in their community, but not crowding each other out. And I was surprised to hear that these two gringo neighbors (their houses literally share a wall) only meet-up once a week, every Thursday, for breakfast at the local juice spot (Pretty cool that they have that discipline).

*6 hours on a combi yesterday. Only one puker, a lady who had a BIG breakfast on the way up.

** Taneesha asked not to have her picture taken. She's shy***.

*** Brad on the other hand is a huge HAM.

Brad and the San Miguel Church, which is rumored to be the tallest adobe built church in Peru. We both want to fact check that before saying too loud. 

Your hero in front of the newly built San Miguel Mercado. Taneesha and Brad both avoid this place on market day as they hate the non stop stares they receive from the far away campo people that come in for market day, and aren't use to seeing people that look different from their normal. Imagine something like the Filling Station and Vani but all day, every Sunday. 

Brad with his artisan women in the municipality. Brad helped organize them for sales, classes, and business charlas. 

An Artisan working on a new bag to sell. 

Brad at his desk in the Municipality. 

An authorization for "Brak" to use the copy machine. 

The church had this sign painted on it. It reads: Prohibited to urinate on the house of God. Respect it. (Meant for: Town drunks and fiestas, I'm betting)

The view from San Miguel 

Brak only has 8 more months until this is just a fond memory. Crazy.