Week Three is all about immersion. This includes making new friends and developing potential work partners (socios).
Guess who I am:
*Special shout & thanks to my team of Mama Elephants. #kb
One-sentence summary: Peruvians do not mess around with birthdays; instead of brunch, let’s just throw raw food into a hot hole in the ground and bury it; the futile and profound satisfaction of acquiring a carga stamp; shamelessly turning students into personal assistants; filing Super Bingo under eco-tourism work; and even when spoken language fails, sharing love and care through food is one of the best things about being human.
Right Now: You guys. I think I’m happy.(?)
Sunday, Week Three (June 24, 2018) was my host-sister Jenny’s 42nd birthday. (She’s on the outer side of this picture with the knife. <3) In Perú it is common for the person having the birthday to host a party.
And the party is for family and the party is the food.
Pachamanca is Quechua for (pacha) “earth” and (manka) “pot” and is a traditional Incan meal originating from the Central Andes of Perú. Jenny’s pachamanca party involved meat (we used six kilos of pig and two chickens) [comma] vegetables (six kilos each of potatoes (papas), sweet potatoes (camotes), giant mutant green beans pods (avas), root vegetable yucca (yucca), seasoning made from No Idea (chinco), and giant mutant sweet bananas (plantains).
First, we dug a hole in the ground, about the size of a small fridge. A fire was built above the hole and stones were placed above the fire to be heated. We waited a few hours for the rocks to turn blanco.
Then we threw in about 50lbs of food. Pile more rocks, vegetables, dirt, leaves, and a tarp full of soil.
Wait “until it’s done” (thanks #MomScience) and there you have it. A birthday meal for days. We just straight-up skipped the dining room table, sat on the ground, and shared way too much food. (P.S. It was the best chicken I have had in my life. Go out in the yard and dig a hole now.)
During the seven-hour session aka “cooking of meat in a hole in the ground” I crafted a card, inserted a sketch I made of the farm, and wrapped up a box of Sublime chocolates.
For my next birthday in the States, I will try and talk Suzie into cooking 50lbs of meat in a hole in the ground. In January. In Maine.
This week [air quotes] at work [end air quotes] I reluctantly started tutoring English. And by tutoring, I mean my socio Edizon threw me under the bus and assigned me his niece to conversar some Ingles. Turns out, Kyanna is so fluent I have elected her to be my intern to help me perform our assigned Community Diagnostic. (In short, I have Peace Corps homework for the first 90 days and I am making these
sweet students badass women help me.)
For example, when I “graduated” Peace Corps training (PST) I was handed an envelope of very official-looking stamped letters addressed to various leaders in my community. Twelve, to be exact. I asked my new students 1) what the hell are these 2) why and 3) what do I do with them? And 4) please help me deliver them?
Kyanna (on the far left) explained in Spanglish “When you start a new position, you get an official letter. You need to present this letter and a copy and then get stamped (carga) as proof you presented yourself officially.”
So I made my new English students “present me” to all the places we could find around town this week. We successfully copied and stamped (carga-ed) three letters. For those of you in Perú, you appreciate the quantifiable success.
Audra, a fellow and nearby volunteer from Peru 31, happened to birthday close to Friday (also a federal holiday) so I went to Chontabamba (about a 20-minute adventure away) and aggressively played BINGO (prizes: microwave, oven, fridge, and cow.) We did not win a cow. Sad face.
The work week also included failing to acquire Internet, hiking the same mirador, seeing a cashuna, visiting local businesses, and preparing for Selvamanos.
One reader commented (Fleener, keeper of the baby elephants) that she is contemplating Peace Corps (after age 22) and is not entirely sure -after reading this blogonicle- it is for her. I get that. I’m keeping it as real as I can.
But this week, I think I am happy here. Come visit before I am gone.
Vamos a ver, amigos.
A Parting Shot x2
Theoretical Mailing Address
Hermana Jessica Rice, Cuerpo de Paz Perú 31
Apartado NO. 120 SERPOST La Merced
La Merced, Chanchamayo, Junín, PERU
Please note: 1) This mailbox is 2 hours away AND I am very eager to go on a field trip. 2) It costs a lot of money to send me stuff – only send it USPS and to SERPOST 3) Keep packages under 1lb (or to not appear worth $100) or they get sent to Customs Jail in Lima. 4) Customs Jail is as arbitrary and random as my blog posts, so don’t send me anything that you’ll be sad goes missing. 5) The last numbers are my Peru cell phone and they will call me if it gets lost. Place them in the spot you would look if you were lost. 6) There are lots more rules but let’s experiment together.