Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Getting along with the Rents

So since returning from Vacation, I have had the rare opportunity to get to spend a lot of quality time with my host mom. She really is the amazing person that I first met when I moved to Catilluc. The other day we went to a parillada (bbq) and really had a good time. I danced and she helped serve and take care of the people. I got to meet some more of her sisters, my host aunts. And mostly it just felt really chill and naturally to be with her.

My host family (ul Ailyn, me, Yobani, ll Fran, Maximo)

It's good that I'm starting to get along wtih Yobani, because Rosa left me about a month ago. I'm really feeling the lack of good, close friends. Friends that I can confide in and not hear about it the next day in the community. Gossip is an amazing thing in these small Peruvian towns. Not that I can blame them. They didn't have a written language in this country until the Spanish came, and most of their entertainment came through storytelling which caught them up on what was happening with the families in nearby villages. Gossip is just a continuation of that particular tradition. Now, of course, that doesn't make me feel any better when I hear lies about me in the community. But I'm learning I can't always control what other people think or say about me. This is one tough lesson for me, because I always want to be liked by everyone, and I don't want anyone to have a bad opinion of me. But I need to grow up and move on.

Mama Casilda and me.

Things in Catilluc have certainly been difficult since December. I feel like everytime I managed to get my foot in the door while staying planted firmly on the ground, then another big bomb will drop in my lap and completely devastate me. Of course, the current highlight, is just getting to spend quality time with my host mom and host family. It's so nice to feel like I'm a part of this family really for the first time since my early days in Catilluc.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Semana Santa a couple weeks and a few soles short

So I'm three weeks late of posting about Semana Santa. Many people emailed me to talk to me about what goes on here in Peru during the Holy Week before Easter, and the honest answer is...I have no idea.

The great thing about Semana Santa for me this year was that because it's consists of four vacation days for Peruvians, it also is four free vacation days for us volunteers. And seeing how things at site have been somewhat difficult, I had no personal qualms about getting away from the rain and dreariness of Cajamarca for bright sun, sand, and surf in Northern Peru.

My friend Bron and I went up to Mancora, Piura for a few days to "dry out". It was a good move for both of us. We had a great time. We met up with other Peru 9 volunteers, and we made a bunch more new friends from our great big Peace Corps family.

One night we all went out dancing, and for the first time in my service we were in a big PC group of Peru 7, 8,9 and 10ers all just having a good time. There truly is something that connects you to other people even if you didn't spend three months in training with them.

We also made new friends with some local fisherman. One day we (Bron and I) headed to a remote part of Piura to get away from the Semana Santa crowds with our new friend Brian (Peru 10). What we didn't realize was that we were going to a place that had no restaurant, store, or very consistent transportation. So after a couple hours of lounging around the beach we got hungry. We knew that we were pretty isolated and foreigners so we asked a family BBQ-ing on the beach next to us where we could find some food. In their awesome Peruvian generosity they invited us to eat with them. We had good food with a lot of potatoes (of course), but even more we had great conversation. Again, we were explaining what Peace Corps is and what we do, and they were teaching us about their lives. They were fishermen and so they showed us the fish they caught and how they wash their hands. They explained things to us about Peruvian culture as they knew it living on the coast. All in all, it was a great time, with great conversation. And we made new friends with more of the awesome people of this amazing country.
Brian, me, and Bron meeting the fish that our friends had caught that day.
Bron learning how to wash her hands like a fisherman with one of our friends.

The sunset in Mancora. It disappeared so fast, I didn't really have time to get a great shot.

Here I am catching up on the latest in movies, music, and television. I'm reading Entertainment Weekly. Thanks Big Sis for sending them to me.

As for the title of this blog, I did come back from vacation totally broke, but it was worth every penny.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Problems with Blogging...for the moment

I can't currently post my blog about Unsha, but I'll be headed to Cajamarca tomorrow. So I'll give a big, long update about life as of late in Catilluc.

I hope all is well. Forgive my long absence.


A few days ago there was a big fiesta in Catilluc. The Unsha is a traditional fiesta that follows the season of Carnaval. In all honesty, I think it’s just another excuse to party. Welcome to Peru. The tradition centers on a big tree that is put up over night in the town plaza. Then a bunch of “gifts” are hung on the tree. At night there is a big partner dance where the partners work to cut down the tree. When the tree is down people take the gifts with the knowledge that they will replace it the next year two-fold. So if I take on bottle of Pepsi (or whatever), I need to provide two bottles next year. I'm not sure people really follow through with this though because the tree was a little barren. The big “winner” is the person that strikes the final blow to cut down the tree, and they have to underwrite next year’s Unsha. I didn’t take anything; I actually didn’t even get to see the ceremony as the actual dance happened way too late into the night.

The big tree with presents

I did attend the dance for a little while though. Everyone always wants to dance with the gringa. To be honest, I’m pretty sick of dances in Catilluc. You usually dance to one of three types of music: huayno, cumbia, and marinera. They’re all fairly similar except the marinera which I don’t even know how to dance. I hope that eventually I can get someone to teach me in the privacy of their own home. The hardest part about dances in Catilluc is avoiding the drunken men. Last night a guy insisted that I dance with him, even though I insisted I didn’t know how to dance marinera. Eventually a friend saved me, but I ended up having to dance the marinera – very poorly. Sometimes I just wish that I could dance salsa or meringue or even a little hip-hop. Anything else would be great!

I hope to write another entry about Semana Santa which was two weeks ago, but I do have some pictures from my time in Mancora, Piura.

What's a party without futbol?