miércoles, 4 de noviembre de 2009

Compromise, Patience, and Conservation (sometime in October)

There are times when I am going to find myself with everything and other times, with nothing. It’s an interesting interplay- an interplay to keep in mind when becoming frustrated when resources run low. Things most certainly do not come on demand here, not that they did in the states, but the ease in which things could be attained was not so tedious. I am learning patience which was one of my primary objectives, and compromise. I feel that the two go hand in hand. I am learning a trail exists to attaining what is desired - where there is a general progression, perhaps in the direction of improvement – and how this needs to be maintained consistently or else digression will occur.

The simple everyday trials in patience: I cannot be well accomplished in washing clothes the first go around, or be accustomed to showering with cold water from a bucket with a small Tupperware container in the cold. It’s a gradual progression to learning the technique. Soaking clothes in one bucket (starting with the whites first), wringing them out, moving to the second pail with detergent and using a scrub brush, board and sometimes ‘special soap’ to scrub and remove stains, wringing clothes out, progressing to third bucket, wrinsing, wringing, then to fourth (to adequately remove the detergent), but performing the last wringing before putting the clothes on the line, while strategically placing the few number of ganchas, or clips, so that clothes do not fall into the dirt and/or fly away. And with the shower. Bending forward 90 degrees to wash hair first and wring it out before washing the rest of your body so, a) you can prevent a mop of hair from making you freezing, and b) you can start the hair drying process. I am so happy I chopped my hair before coming.

Okay, the application to more pertinent, and perhaps more important aspects of life. Learning Spanish, Peruvian Spanish that is, and well that changes when going to different regions… and doing presentations in Spanish on health related topics that may or may not be new in content. It’s easy to adapt to speaking a very basic level of Spanish - communicating enough to get by with transport, small purchases, and superficial level of conversation, such as the most meldrum of topics – the weather. But, if wanting to feel outside of yourself, because being introverted all the time can get tiresome, expanding to topics of politics, the environment, art, philosophy, religion, can really be stimulating and enriching. I can approach these subjects, and was able to earlier on, but keeping a steady pace, and varying my vocabulary - I need to work on these. And I so want this to come immediately, but outside of my already busy schedule of training, I need to allocate the time. Really focus on engaging myself to retain and exercise comprehension. At the end of the day, it is so easy to want to recede and shut off for the day, which may or may not be appropriate.

I don’t have much patience with myself for performing, and so I am working on this. I can’t be perfect on presenting a topic, such as self-esteem, lactation, nutrition, etc., in Spanish, when perhaps, I may still have been hesitant to approach these topics in English. I have to accept I may suck the first few times I present - just smile and laugh at myself, and hope my audience can be accepting. The first few times, I probably will suck, and that’s okay, I need to accept that, because I can get better.

Conservation of time and energy, there are time when they can be exuded and times were they are already exacerbated.

It’s a scary notion that some things just may not happen, even though you feel so strongly about accomplishing these things. You really have to dedicate yourself to prioritizing because those more predominating priorities will take precedence. And how to work with a realistic time frame because it always seems like the desired outcomes come later than anticipated…

Amores Perros (10/7/07)

So, it more solidly hit home today, being gone for 2 years, and losing contact with those back at home. It’s hard to convey how much I feel for those around me, and yet to set out on my own quest. We watched a radical movie in language class this morning- it left a resounding, unsettling, feeling - how alone we are - how one can just act in his own best interest. I went for a run with one of the language instructors and we compared different perspectives on how to receive people (well, kind of, while being out of breath and speaking in Spanish :) and, in summary, there are two ways you can receive other people - to simply reciprocate kind behavior to only those who treat you well and disregard those who treat you poorly, or conversely, to press further in those who seemingly treat you poorly and pry to find why they act this way. Perhaps, the latter can lead to a greater understanding, and promote an improvement in behavioral patterns in the future. One could seemingly consider the first method as easier, a way of settling, and the second as more time-intensive and well, work. It played out last night, after passing by some young teenage boys who rhetorically yelled out inappropriate comments while I passed by. I could have seemingly continued on my way, and ignored them, but because they didn’t seem threatening, I turned back around and approached them, expressing how I didn’t appreciate their disrespect, and continued into introductions and casual conversation. Being culturally sensitive, and rather taking into the age factor, I can try to understand how they were just poking fun, and on my account, they can see there’s more to just a face of a gringa passing by.

Some interesting developments this last week were visitors. The U.S. ambassador, Mike McKinley, made it a point to come visit us in Chaclacayo, accompanied by his bodyguard. This was a notable experience, and I guess, as far as political standards go and in the South American arena, an encounter with a celebrity. He was very well composed and seemed genuinely engaged in our interactions. He lunched with us for over an hour and afterward, spoke to us for a little over an hour. Some feedback included his favorite part of Peru being the people, and that the most valuable assets we could bring to rural communities would be the English language if we choose to teach and the internet/computer skills (I feel so hindered without a functioning computer!). These two assets in essence connect them to the outer world, affording them insurmountable opportunity. ‘Internet penetration’ (aka internet access), only reaches 4% of the population here, which I find shocking. One funny remark he made was how Peru is undergoing a gastro revolution and how we should take full advantage of this, by trying the rich delicacies restaurants have to offer. We all silently laughed and bit our tongues at this because, (a) our modest wages/stipend suffices as barely sufficient to eat at the cheapest restaurants, (b) we will be stationed in rural posts, and therefore will not really have access to restaurants, and (c) how our diet is consumed by rice and potatoes. And as a side note to the rice and potatoes, I am starting to understand how these foods came into mainstream staples – they obviously are an inexpensive option, are filling (which was greatly needed to take away the hunger pains of the poor), and serve as calorie dense food (especially needed for the labor intensive lifestyle). A couple of book s he recommended were Lords of Poverty and Bottom Billionaire – and therefore added to my endless reading list. He ended with the ‘moral superiority’ that we and the Peace Corps strive to uphold, and “to learn to recognize what you can’t fix.” Hmmm, brings me back to the Serenity Prayer Sevrina would remind me of senior year of college… I consistently get frustrated with life, and she would kindly nudge me and recite this prayer:)

Some other notable visitors were Russ (from U of P) and his friend Mike who I got to meet for the first time. We went hiking in San Geronimo and it was the first time I was able to escape the training bubble and see some lush green! And, share in real, feel-good conversation. It’s such a contrast to converse with someone who knows you from before. I love proactive encounters in nature – the two unfold so naturally.

A couple of observations to report - the Peruvian work schedule and transport, aka the combi. It seems like a lot of people don’t sleep here, at least not enough. The low to lower-middle class do an obscene amount of work between the home and actual paid work. They become accustomed I guess, to going to bed around midnight and awakening at dawn (4 to 5ish). I don’t know how they do it. And, on a lighter note, the joke is, if you think a combi is full, you can always fit 10 more Peruvians – some commutes have equivocated to disbelief, like really, we’re going to put even more people on here? I didn’t think it was possible.