Where you at?

September 19, 2007 at 8:28 pm | Posted in correspondence, natural disasters, Peru, travel | 2 Comments

Per Alex Friedman’s request, I’ve enclosed a map that shows where I live relative to where the meteorite struck and where the earthquake was.

I’ve also put up my address on the sidebar so you can always find it with ease.

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Skype

September 1, 2007 at 10:37 pm | Posted in correspondence | 4 Comments

I just downloaded it. Let me know if you have it!

Bad Blogger

August 23, 2007 at 6:38 pm | Posted in correspondence, family | 1 Comment

Thank you Missy for the lovely letter, and for the organic ´smooshed´ fruit. As you can imagine they are no where to be found in Peru and I LOVE that stuff.  Nice work. I´m so glad you enjoy the old blog.

Sorry I´ve been so absent…I´ve been sick and busy as well. Sick with everything that could possibly go wrong with one´s stomach, and busy wrapping things up and packing and buying presents for my family and teachers. Being sick here sucks, but I think it will suck more when I don´t have a toilet. Alas. I think I´m starting to feel better, or at least get used to being a little ill.

I leave for Lima tomorrow night with the group, and then take off for Chiclayo Saturday night on an overnight bus. And that is it, voila. I´m a Peace Corps Volunteer. I will cry a lot tomorrow because I don´t want to leave my awesome family here. Hopefully my family there will be of equal or greater awesome.

Apparently I have to set up my own mailbox when I get there, so I don´t have an address yet. I do have a phone number which I´m obviously not going to post on the world wide set of tubes, but if you want it just shoot me an email, and then you can call me and we can talk about the weather, or anything else that you want to chat about.

Last night I had a dream that I broke a plate and because of that got kicked out of Peace Corps. How weird!

Mail and Pictures

August 13, 2007 at 7:06 pm | Posted in correspondence | 1 Comment

Nana and Papa, muchisimas gracias for the article and letters and candy! It was so nice to get back to the center today and have your little gifts waiting for me. And to my heterosexual life partner, Sonyell Howantolo, THANK YOU so much for the awesome package. Two kick ass magazines, sourz, and Craisins, officially the best snack ever and not to be found in all of Peru. Also a hilarious letter that had me cracking up when I should have been paying attention in Spanish class…some things never change.

Mail-wise, I’ll be leaving Lima on the 24th so if you have been so kind as to be one of the people to send me mail, and would like to continue to do so, if you could wait until I get to my new site and get my new address. I should get that soon and will post it for certain. I’ll also have infinite more hours and will be getting paid a bit more so you can start to expect letters as well.

Also – I’ve put up a few pictures of Tucume, but wasn’t great at snapping shots all the time, and don’t have any of the house or family. I’ll work on it when I get there so you can know my new home.

One last good story about my friend’s new homes: one girl has to pee in her shower (no toilet) and the drain is pretty bad, so as you can imagine it gets pretty gross and all over her feet and legs. To go numero dos, she has to walk five minutes to the elementary school which, by the way, is closed at night and on the weekends. She did not enjoy her first experience with the shower/toilet, so she would go to the elementary school three or four times a day to go number one, and her family thought she had really serious stomach issues. Hilarious.

Back in the Saddle

July 23, 2007 at 9:06 pm | Posted in correspondence, family, food, friends, micronegocios, Peace Corps, pictures, travel | 1 Comment

I made it back to Yanacoto in one piece early Sunday morning. I was able to sleep for most of the 7 hour bus ride from Huaraz, and got to see Lima bright and early in the morning. It was dark, polluted, and rainy, at least the parts I went through, and I was ready to get out. A couple of people stuck around to hang out in Lima and apparently got trapped b/c of a parade. I went the cheapo route and took a 7am combi back to Yanacoto with Rachel and Greg, on which we luckily only had to spend half the trip standing. Got home around 8am, showered, and passed out for a while. It was a lazy Sunday in every sense of the word.

The trip to the department of Ancash was a rousing success from every angle. I got to take TWO hot showers (the rest were tepid), I saw some incredible sights (starting out with Harry Potter 5 before we left Lima last Saturday), was able to put into practice some of the language and technical skills I’ve been working so hard on the last few weeks, and got to spend good QT with my group. I spent two days worth of ‘salary’ to go see a subtitled version of HPV a week ago and it was the best 15 soles I’ve spent thus far. I loved the movie (I’m a huge HP fan), and it was actually really odd to do such a typical homegrown ‘American’ thing in Peru. When I walked out of the theater and heard people speaking spanish it actually threw me off guard for a minute. I thought Helena Bonham Carter made a great Beatrix Lestrange, though felt lukewarm about the choice for Dolores Umbridge. Am still loving Emma Thompson and that other British guy who plays Snape and got thrown off the Nakatomi towers in Die Hard 1. Alan something.

I ramble. I’ve posted lots of pictures on my picasa site, they start off in Chiquian at our hotel and then a hike we did in the early afternoon to a waterfall about 2 hours from the town. The views of the mountains, as you can see, are truly unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life; the contrast of green on blue on white was incredible. It is hard to believe people live their whole lives with this view out their windows. There are a couple of pictures of my students and the ‘Bank of Chiquian’ that we opened with Peace Corps money to make loans. As I believe I mentioned in a prior post, every one of the 13 groups was able to make enough money to at least repay their loans. A group of my students who ran a Bingo game actually made about 200 soles which is double what any other group made. I got to play the part of Vanna White in the bingo game and I believe there is a photo of that, as well as the makeshift bingo board. The first round, we realized that we were missing some numbers, so Greg and I made some bingo balls out of toilet paper and a red pen:

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I finally tried cuy, which is the Peruvian word for guinea pig, and is a delicacy here. It tasted pretty good, and apparently is the best source of protein you can get. Most of the people (outside of the vegetarians) in my group tried and it and I think it was well received overall,

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Yummy, no? The rest of the pics are from Huaraz, and some ancient ruins, and of Huascaran, which is the highest peak in Peru and second highest in South America. I’ve included my favorite shot of Huascaran below, but there are plenty more on my picasa site.
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How incredible is that? We visited a lake that sits right at the base of the mountain (about 3800 meters above sea level) and there are some shots of that as well. The colors there seemed as though they were from a different palette than what real life is made of. The water was this incredible green blue color, and contrasted with the orange bark of the trees, and the brown and whites of the mountains and snow. As per usual, words fail me, but I hope the point comes across in the pictures. Aside from the incredible sightseeing, the chance to go into a community and put into action all that I had been preparing over the last few weeks was a real confidence booster, and I’m proud to say that we were extremely well-received by the people of Chiquian. The students were hard working and enthusiastic and really put their heart and souls into their projects. I think every single volunteer walked away feeling successful and that should really give everyone a great platform from which to jump off once they get into site.

To close, thank you Mom, Dad, Nana and Papa for the continual letters. I love getting them and read them over and over again. I actually keep them next to my bed and read them sometimes before I go to sleep. It sounds silly, but it makes me feel much more connected to home. Thanks also to Susan for the lovely and inspirational card. I teared up a bit when I opened it at the center today and that was slightly embarrassing, but well worth it. Finally, THANK YOU PATRICK for the awesome books and t-shirt and card. I got one book of Spanish short stories and one of poems and both books have the spanish writing on one page with english translation on the opposite page. I can’t wait to read these and there is actually a line of people who want to borrow them, but I don’t know if I want to let anyone borrow them for fear of not getting them back!! I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. It is very appreciated so thank you, gracias, grazie, spaiciba, and thank you in whatever other languages I don’t know. I hope the pictures I posted can give you all some way of enjoying what I’m experiencing, as I’m enjoying all your thoughtful gifts and letters ever so much.

I Love Mail

July 10, 2007 at 6:57 pm | Posted in correspondence, family | 1 Comment

THANK YOU Nana and Papa for that awesome article from the times magazine about Peru, and of course thank you both and Mom and Dad for the loving words and updates.

Also… here is a video from a bday party the other day of my volunteer friends dancing. So hot right now.

Babies having babies

July 1, 2007 at 11:05 pm | Posted in correspondence, family, friends, futbol, party | 1 Comment

Lots to catch up on over the last couple of days, but first a hearty thanks to my parents, grandparents, and Kitty Kat for the letters, postcards, and candy. I can’t express how much it brightens my days to get your mail – so I’d like to send a million virtual thank yous.

Had a long weekend here as Friday was a holiday. On Thursday night the US played Argentina in the Copa Americana and lost big time. A big group gathered at my house to watch the game which was a blast, except for the actual game which was a disaster:

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There is me wearing my red, white, and blue, though it didn’t help much.

After the game we headed out to a party in my neighborhood where there was lots of dancing and some drinking. They have this thing called a vaca loca or, crazy cow, and it basically entails a person putting on a box constructed out of wood that has a cow’s face on it. Then they light it on fire and all these sparklers and fireworks go off, and the crazy person inside runs around. This drives the dogs insane – so if you can, try to picture human legs with a big cows head on top, fireworks everywhere, running around with dogs alternatively chasing it and then running away barking the whole time. It was a really good time and most of the Peace Corps 9 gang made it over to my ‘hood for the party. Didn’t get much sleep and then spent five hours playing bingo on Friday at my niece’s school. Not my real niece – obviously. The nice thing about bingo is you don’t have to speak spanish very well to play. The not nice thing is that it is not so easy to win at bingo.

Saturday got up early to head into Lima with the group. On Saturdays from 8-1 we have classes at La Agraria which is the agriculture school at the University of Lima. I didn’t know too much about this when I left for Peru, but I have to say, this might be the thing I’m most excited about with training. We are learning all about farming, maintaining a garden, how to go organic or conventional, and a bunch of other stuff about plants and herbs. It was so fun to get down and dirty in the garden and I planted some parsley and some spinach so I’ll let you know how that turns out next week. By the way – my favorite thing that doesn’t involve training might be handwashing my clothes. I am hooked on it; I put on some good tunes and wash the afternoon away. It is such a nice time to relax and to think – or to just let your mind wander. Call me crazy, but I think we’d all be a little happier without washing machines.

So I broke one of the gastronomical rules Saturday afternoon and ate a salad at la Agraria. So far so good stomach-wise (I’m writing this Sunday night), but it might have been worth it even if I had gotten sick; I couldn’t resist all those yummy organic veggies.

Anyways, Saturday night I went with my brother Alfredo to a baby shower. Baby showers in Peru are a little different than they are in the US, but they are also called baby showers, believe it or not (or, rather, baybee chow-wer). There were probably 50 people at this one, and everyone sat around in a big room and there was a show with some clowns. The father-to-be had to act out childbirth which was interesting, and they came around with some tasty finger foods. So it was not a bunch of ladies sitting around a living room gawking over PJs with footies (not that there is anything wrong with that). The *most* interesting thing about this baby shower was that the couple (unmarried) was 18 and 20 (father, mother respectively). Alfredo is turning 21 in a few months and already has several friends with babies. I have zero from college/high school. I couldn’t get over how young these people were and that they were about to have a child. Abortion is illegal in Peru, but contraceptives are available as well as condoms. I’m fascinated by the safe sex (or lack thereof) practices here; SO MANY young girls already have babies, and families are so much bigger than they are in the US. It is normal, par for the course, and so easily accepted. It is not my place whether to say it is right or wrong, and even if I wanted to, I’d have to think about it a lot more. For me, it is just so different than what I grew up around and is a huge cultural leap.

Went out dancing with Alfredo and his friends after the baybeechower and made it home pretty late (2:30ish). Then I got my ass up at 6:30 this morning to go on a hike which I’ll detail in another entry because this one is already too long, and I am already behind on my sleep.

My Address

June 16, 2007 at 5:13 pm | Posted in correspondence | 4 Comments

Here is the new and improved address; mail sent here will go directly to my training center in Chaclacayo (a little outside of Lima):

PCT Danielle Howard
Embajada Americana/Cuerpo de Paz
Calle los Cedros 647
Chaclacayo
Lima 8, Peru, S.A.

Keep ’em small. Anything over a few pounds I have to pay serious customs duties on and they only currently pay me (as I’m not yet a volunteer and only a trainee) the equivalent of $2 a day.

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