Service Week Three [I promised Fleener Baby Elephants]

Week Three is all about immersion. This includes making new friends and developing potential work partners (socios).

Guess who I am:

Baby elephant chasing birds - Imgur.gif

*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.)IMG_7023


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

My host-nephew Juan Diego (stroller) and Grand Nephew, Nico

Theoretical Mailing Address

Hermana Jessica Rice, Cuerpo de Paz Perú 31

Apartado NO. 120 SERPOST La Merced

La Merced, Chanchamayo, Junín, PERU

m: 955895172

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.


18 Replies to “Service Week Three [I promised Fleener Baby Elephants]”

  1. I am so happy to hear you’re happy. I don’t think I’ve heard those words out of you before! (though the beaming smile and giggles have implied it sometimes). yayayay!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello, Jess. I am typing on my laptop and since I’m kinda old and not terribly cool, I don’t know how to make emojis on here. So, please pretend you see a LOT – I mean a LOT – of hearts in this space right here and not my words. Goodbye for now. (And since you’re happy, I’m happy. )

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jess loved this post – especially the cutting of the green orangey fruit and all the fire pit food!! Keep writing and posting thru guinea pig internet. Whatever works!

    I don’t understand half the Spanish or Quechua you reference but syntactically I feel it. 😂Yes! Lol.

    Food is always a great gateway to sharing and showing love. I want to build a fire pit feast for my next birthday. Goals.

    Great to see you happy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. KWON. Thanks for reading and saying you loved the post. I wasn’t going to post any videos of me (GAH) but dropping everything made me giggle all over again. Don’t worry, I don’t understand more than half of Spanish or Quechua I reference too… it is part of keeping the faith. Do the birthday pit! DO IT! ❤


  4. Love your posts! Awesome knife technique! Choice of word “pica” before finding the word “stinging”: Your brain is thinking Spanish. Here in la USA, I went to a #familiesbelongtogether protest. I arrived just as a gray hair was singing “The Times They Are a Changin'” downtempo. Looked around at the majority of gray attendees. La lucha continua, baby. Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks VB <3! Jajajaja – I didn't even notice I used "pica" before I could find "Ouchy Slivers." I have been "watching" the news from here and it is so hard not to feel despair. Thanks for sharing the anecdote of your Sunday. I keep on looking for, and holding tight to, the human moments.


  5. Jess/Ja/NinJa: Awesome awesome awesome. Watching your knife tutorial (?) is like a very welcome conversation and – “your knife tutorial (?)”! – somehow apt, can’t say why. And this of yours: “But this week, I think I am happy here”; spoken like a buddha. Namasté.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to Woodlandrice Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: