We had orientation in D.C. the 9th-11th where all the Peace Corps volunteers gathered before departing together to Peru. There are 57 of us – from all over the states and predominately in our 20s and 30s. We arrived in Lima around 9pm Friday the 11th (Ken’s birthday!) and I think I may have brought the least amount of possessions, which so far has worked both to my benefit and left me hanging... We took buses to a retreat center in Chaclacayo about an hour east of Lima for the weekend. There we were assessed for our spansish skills, met with our respective programs (health, water and sanitation- ‘watsan’, and the environment). A few of us ventured out and went running along the river – felt so good, and danced at the local discoteca one night – such a hoot. Sunday, the 12th, we were divvied up between our host families. My host family has a mother (Ana Maria Ramirez) and three kids (Lizbeeth- 20, Junior-15, and Graice-5). They are wonder-filled and like all Peruvians I’ve met, most amiable. We are living in Yanacoto (un pueblo outside of Chaclacayo); Chaclacayo is where the Peace Corps training center and some of our classes are during training. Ana Maria is a busy bee- owns an internet café, works at the school of her youngest (escuela inicial), and is going to school to receive her teaching degree. Lizbeeth is going to university in Lima, and therefore commutes 4 hours roundtrip by 3 buses (or rather combi’s) a day to go to her classes! Don’t think I’ll ever complain about commuting to work/school again. Junior is a total sweetheart- we totally hit it off with similar interests. He’s so responsible- while going to school, he helps out with the internet café and the household, his youngest sister, and cooks! He always is sure I have what I need and shares a love for music, art, and sports.
We’ve started week one of ten for training- breaking out into our language classes, our programs/projects (mine is health), and meet all together as a group for certain activities. Again, such a dynamic group – the volunteers and instructors. Lovin’ it!