jueves, 1 de octubre de 2009

Incorporating veggies into the diet (9/28)

Ah, some progress with my family! I prepared some fresh vegetables I had attained from the agricultural center on Saturday for dinner last night – I was SO excited for a spinach salad with some other veggies and herbs, let me tell you! My family liked it a lot too. This was somewhat counteracted by the arroz con leche (rice with milk) and the Peruvian equivalent to elephant ears for dinner, but have to start somewhere…

And tonight, my host-brother, Junior, prepared a salad for himself for dinner! Ahh, small strides. Had my interview with the Health Program Coordinator… looking forward to finding out where I’ll be placed (find out in week 8)!

Runner’s High (9/27)

We went to the National Agrarian University in La Molina last Saturday to get our hands dirty with some gardening and learned about the different plant life present in Peru. It’s incredible the rich diversity existing in this country, and disconcerting how the people predominantly turn to potatoes and rice for daily consumption. Two weeks in and I’m already sick of potatoes, white rice, and white bread… I am definitely a vegetable and fruit lover. Upon entering the agricultural scenery of the university, I was in food Heaven. From what I gather so far, a decent array of fruits and vegetables are sold in markets, but the majority are exported and are too expensive for the local populace to consume - unfortunately, it proves more feasible to sell the nutritious foods rather than consume them. This isn’t to say that fruit and vegetables aren’t apart of the diet at all, but rather they aren’t consumed enough… my opinion so far - and judging from the region where I live... I live with those from lower SES (socioeconomic status), and it’s coming to my reality the missing educational piece in nutrition and sanitation. I’ve been witnessing the lack of separation between food handling and dealing with feces, etc. - I’ll spare the details.

We’ve had a few talks already about the guarantee of having diarrhea if we haven’t already, and quite a bit along the lines of categorizing the severity - again I’ll spare the details. I’ve never so openly talked about this topic, and with such a large group of people, in my life. It was comical at some points, but we all kind of laughed nervously…

I finally sort of had a day off today which was rejuvenating. Besides hand-washing clothes and cleaning, I was able to escape for a run along a small canal toward the bottom of Yanacoto (the pueblo where I’m living). I feel like it’s so easy some days to be excited about my surroundings, and at other times, I can just feel down and out, and want to retreat to find solidarity. Running always helps put things into perspective and always serves as a foothold to discovering something new. I was surprised to find some community gardens around some homes or rather, shacks. There was some green amongst the dry loose, rocky dirt of Yanacoto! Wahoo!

I’m looking forward to my Spanish improving so I can start striking up more random conversations – I’m hoping to co-teach a yoga class in Yanacoto with another Peace Corps volunteer. I taught my first yoga/tai chi/pilates class to Peace Corps volunteers last Monday and I think it went pretty well:)

Well, there’s so much to do and learn that I shall never fall short of things to do- although balance is always key…

La Carreterra Central (9/25)

So I think my computer (or rather netbook) may have a virus or worm? That may explain why it’s not working… that or it just sucks, not sure… and my watch is being problematic, such luck.

Our language classes went into Lima today to gain more exposure to Peruvian culture and enhance our survival skills perhaps. I’m adjusting to living more conservatively - we receive about $2-3/day which translates to 6-8 soles (the Peruvian currency). We do normally receive our meals from our host families (they receive compensation for food and housing). Taking the combi back to Yanacoto from Lima was quite the experience which ended up lasting about 3 hours (should only be ~1-1.5 hours). Starting from Miraflores (a commercialized/Americanized sector of Lima on the coast where we ended with our instructor), 2 other girls and myself took a bus to the end of the avenue back into downtown Lima. During the ride, our bus broke down, but luckily for the driver, we were in heavy traffic, so he and the guy that collects bus fairs and hoards people on and off (el cobrador), were able to shut off the bus, reach into the engine compartment from the front end/glove box, and make some adjustments until it worked. This was the first segment of the journey. We transferred to a combi headed homeward bound (Yanacoto), and had a riveting ride on the Carretera Central (freeway). Weaving in and out of traffic—between other combis, cars, buses and people—and coming within millimeters, sometimes touching—we eventually made it back. The cobrador jumped on and off while the combi was moving, using the outside bar for leverage, to pick up and drop off as many passengers as possible, clinking the coinage he had in his hand. There are head bars above for the standing passengers to grab onto. Least to say, the night on the freeway was a spectacle of intertwining lights, vehicles, swirling dust, people, and vendors scrambling on and off vehicles (while pulled over momentarily) to sell snack foods.

Nothing is simple (9/21)

Using the internet (access, speed), having things work (computer, cords, electricity, using different sites)- impossible. Difficult. Most of the time, I don’t even want to bother. They really are keeping us busy here, which is good, just hard to fit in sleep. It seems like I’m more tired than normal- maybe speaking another language is more draining? I can say I miss having a phone to use for meeting up with others, reliable internet, and hot, or even warm, running water. Using a bucket of water isn’t too bad- but cold water, meh. I can’t imagine, or rather don’t want to imagine, bathing with cold water in less than 60 degrees- whoo, hoo (that’s my shiver sound). If stationed in the Sierra, that will be an interesting transition. But at the same time, the Sierra is the place I am opting for since the scenery is spectacular.
So one new part of life to become accustomed to…
Bathing in cold water and from a bucket that was just used for mopping ;) (as was the case with my host family…)