First Team!!

November 8, 2007 at 1:42 pm | Posted in family, futbol, US of A | 1 Comment

Congrats to my brother Michael who made first team all district defensive back even though he is and will always be a cute little munchkin and plays for the smart-kids school. You make me proud to be a Howard, kiddo.

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GO SKINS!!!

September 8, 2007 at 6:59 pm | Posted in futbol | 2 Comments

Baruch atah adonai, please let me find a place in Chiclayo to watch my team. Amen.

Here I Is

August 29, 2007 at 9:35 pm | Posted in family, friends, futbol, kids, Peace Corps | Leave a comment

Lots of changes are afoot. The biggest and most obvious change is my schedule; to go from having six of the seven days of the week planned out for you from morning until night, to having absolute complete freedom is taking some getting used to. I arrived on Monday afternoon and settled in a bit. I ended up changing houses from the one I visited two weeks ago; the room I was supposed to stay in was still occupied. With eleven people already living there, they don’t really have room for me. They actually started building a little hut out back of bamboo and mud for me to live in, but when the regional director came to check it out she decided that it was better to find another house.

I’m now living with a smaller family under slightly different living conditions. I live with a Mom and Dad and have two brothers and one sister. One brother is 22 and doesn’t live here, I haven’t met him yet. The girl is 16 and is studying to be a doctor, and the other boy is 8 and he is my one and only friend thus far. We just watched The Simpsons and are going running together tomorrow morning. I have a room but it was empty and needs a lot of fixing up, so I bought a bed yesterday and cleaned it out today. I must have swept the floor five or six times and still couldn’t get all the dirt up. But little by little I’m making it mine. This house has both running water and electricity which is phat. I’m currently sleeping in my little brother’s room and he is sleeping with my parents. At first I misunderstood and thought we were both going to be sleeping in his room which sort of caught me off guard, but that is not the case.

I spent yesterday morning visiting the elementary school and high school here in Tucume. Walking into a school and meeting with professors and administrators in a language I’ve yet to dominate is not easy. Giving a speech in front of a bunch of six year olds is even LESS easy. I think I was asked to be the volleyball coach and I had to politely decline the offer; I haven’t played volleyball since 8th grade and while I’d love to (and plan to) play, there is no way I could coach. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what I want to do with the kiddies of the community here. I guess I’m still figuring a lot of things out. My ‘job’, according to Peace Corps, for the next three months is literally to get to know the community and not much else. Again, to go from the long work weeks at DCE, to the full days of training, to ‘getting to know your neighbors’ is going to take quite a bit of getting used to. Tomorrow I have a lunch invitation with one of the directors of the school, and he invited me to a 25 year reunion of his students Friday night which should be cool. Sunday I have a date with my little bro (named Christian) to go watch soccer.

Despite the fear of downtime, I’ve actually kept pretty busy. I’ve been spending an hour or two a day with the family I was supposed to stay with, as I got close to them during my site visit and really enjoy hanging out with them. Since there are eleven of them plus the random brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins who are constantly going into and out of the house, it is better to detail that family in another entry. There is a son, though, named Cesar who is 20 and is an artisan in the association I’ll be working with. There is a also little girl named Alexa and I help her out with her homework sometimes which I really enjoy because it actually teaches me some Spanish as well. Otherwise, I’ve been cleaning up my room, buying furniture, and trying to get to know my new family a little better. I try to get out an hour or two a day just to walk around and try to meet people. Today I went to the hardware store to buy some electricity plugs and had a nice little conversation about Cuban-US relations. I think I swung it right by talking about how much I wanted to visit Cuba. Sometimes I think people ask you the ‘hard questions’ just to start a discussion, so its always good to deflect those bad boys and steer the conversation back to Peru and back to Tucume.

Mier…coles

July 12, 2007 at 7:07 pm | Posted in family, futbol | Leave a comment

Last night we watched Argentina play Mexico in the Copa. My brother and sister-in-law were cheering for Argentina b/c they have lived/worked there, and my Mom was cheering for Mexico b/c Argentina beat Peru last week. I was also cheering for Mexico to maintain the equilibrium. My mom kept saying ‘miercoles’, ‘miercoles’ every time Argentina would do well, or Mexico would play badly. Miercoles means Wednesday in Spanish. I was really confused and finally asked her why she kept saying “wednesday, wednesday”. Well, the equivalent of the four letter word in english that starts with an ‘S’ and ends with a ‘hit’ starts with a ‘mier’ in Spanish and ends in ‘da’. So instead of saying *that* word, she just kept saying ‘miercoles’. So I started yelling out other days of the week when Argentina would score a goal. I thought this was hilarious, but elicited mere giggles from the crowd. Note to self: must work on Peruvian comedy routine.

When You’re Slidin’ Into First

July 8, 2007 at 10:54 am | Posted in family, food, futbol, party, Peace Corps | 1 Comment

Actually, I didn’t get the big D again, I just really wanted to make that into a blog heading. I did get to make compost yesterday which sounds smelly (and was) but was also super cool and interesting. We did this at La Agraria which is a part of the University of Lima. I brought my camera but didn’t take any pictures b/c my hands were covered w/ cow doody. So we made compost using hacked down weeds, cow dung, and hay. I think we threw about four layers of this in a big pile and then added lots of water. So there you have it ladies and gents, for the next time you want to make a compost pile. I think it takes between 1-4 months depending on your climate and it turns into mushy brown deliciousness (for plants). Then, what we did with the four-month old brown deliciousness is an action that I can only compare to sifting flour. In the process, we found one live mouse and three dead ones, pobre little guys. This sifted compost is the food for plants. The spinach I planted last week was showing little sprigs of life, so I’ll keep you posted. Next week we are going to a cuy farm, and we are going to see how to ‘grow/raise’ bees.

Cuy – this is the Peruvian word for guinea pig and is a delicacy here in Peru. They love them some cuy. So a lot of people grow cuys to eat or sell, and it is actually a feasible small business project for once I get out into my site. It cannot make you a rich (wo)man, but it can definitely supplement a family’s income.

Last night I went to my little niece’s baptism. This was an hour of sitting in church and not understanding a word the padre was saying. I was not alone here, none of my family could hear/understand him either. My niece looked beautiful though, and the family was quite proud. Then we went over to my sister-in-law’s house (my brother, her husband, is working in Argentina) for a party. This was 5 hours of non-stop dancing, mostly with my ‘uncle’ who is teaching me the ropes. I hadn’t eaten much that day because I’ve been on a bread and water diet to ease my stomach back into existence, and was starving for some dinner/real food, but we didn’t eat until 10pm. The dinner was great though and was my first non-chicken meat in a long time. It was in the brisket/pot roast family I believe…yum. Today, my dancing shoes took a little rest.

Also, today I made bruschetta with my pal Rachel, and my friends Angela and Greg made icing-covered crackers and smores to eat while we watched Peru get dominated by Argentina in the copa americana. I think/hope that our Peruvian families liked our cooking; they ate all we made but they might have done that just to be polite, or they may have actually enjoyed the food. Well, I thought it was delicious. Come to think of it, making that bruschetta is about all I did today. Actually, I also did my laundry. I’m not sure whether or not I’ve touched on this, but this is one of my favorite things to do here. It is a nice time to think or to just be. I throw on my iPod and listen to some of my favorite tunes from home as well which is a treat. Though, it roughs up my hands a bit (what a wimp).

You gotta love Sundays.

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.

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