Service Week Six [Would I Rather?]

Written feedback from my site visit is in my Inbox and the Greek chorus is my “challenge with language.” You know what I have to say to that?


One-sentence summary: Gave my first public speaking engagement to a group of local product vender/producers; new Guinness record of eight hours to mail a primary absentee ballot to Wyoming; six weeks of stubborn persistency and I now have a highway robbery form of personal Wi-Fi called “Mi-Fi”; took a night “off” (alone) for the first time in 127 days; semi-lengthy conversations of semi-substance with native speakers talking about more than what is Peace Corps and how many children I don’t have; and the amount of messages received about last week’s frustrations was truly startling — I feel like no one should ever pick the wrong fight with me — and I feel deeply loved.

Thank you for reminding me how to be here.

Right Now: I regularly have stark moments of clarity where I think ‘Holy F. why is everything in Spanish?’ while my brain-in-English continues to fight relinquishing control.

Expression of the week: “Claro. Ya pe. Nos vemos. Ya-chau.” [The exact sequence of words you need in order to exit any conversation as fast as possible.]

View from Casablanca in San Ramon, Junín

I am not going to lie. Week Six was kinda tough too.

And the only reason I am bothering to scrape my phone, keyboard, and eyeballs together into a blog post is because I stubbornly don’t want to miss out on a streak of eighteen weeks of bloggedy updates in a row.

Week Six: More highs, more lows, more victories, more absolute deadpan confusion. It took a few days to pull out of the tailspin from last week’s performance review. All told, it took leagues of energy. But I did, and a couple of you reading helped me, and after some good old-fashioned processing I filed it away in a laminated folder labeled “Remember This Next Time.”

Socio Edizon Casimiro at Producers Meeting for 28 de Julio Events

So “Next Time” just happened to come again this week. A few “next times.”

But guess what? I am okay. It is not worth reliving by sharing a play-by-play. It is worth noting I am getting angry enough to stand up for myself and wasting less time wading through other people’s problems.

Found a Missing Care Package

How am I handling it differently?

  • I know who to call to quickly vent, check myself, and investigate my perceptions. I listen.
  • I have a frame of reference to understand how quickly my emotions and the silo of translation can escalate.
  • I remember I am not a baby heart brain rocket surgeon. I am a volunteering volunteery volunteer.
  • And maybe one of the biggest lessons I am here to get: I treated myself like I would anyone else but me. (Thanks for the reminder, friends.)
Making Comics from Texts from Fellow PCVs – the Antidotal Social Media

That brings me to a new game!

And a sneaky way to get to bed in order to hike in the parque nacional with a new socia and a guia tomorrow. Rain or shine.

Would you (I) rather…?

Have hot pineapple carcass water (delicious) or limon dulce?

Hide with my tears of frustration in the woods at night so my family doesn’t hear through balsam-wood-thin walls or let it all out in my spaghetti chicken soup at the dinner table?

Eat cuy picante or cuy frito?

Deliciously sleep-in at 5:45 am when the alarm goes off or zombie march up 500 stairs for a daily dose of endorphins?

Side Planks in la madrugaba

Pretend laugh at myself along with my co-workers when I say all the wrong things or not risk speaking incorrectly by talking at all?

Call a slippery new socia I have been mandated to present with on the phone (gasp) or WhatsApp a meeting confirmation in perfect Spanish with digital proof?

Say hello to a familiar stranger and be ignored or respectfully keep my head down until spoken to?

Municipality of San Ramon, Junín

Internally compare myself to fellow volunteers posting beautiful images and stories on social media or call and ask how they are doing?

Walk to work and say hello to strangers who stare at me or bike as fast as I can to get to my desk where no one barely talks to me?


Spend a day traveling two hours (31 miles) and 40 soles ($13) (a week’s worth of volunteer discretionary savings) to vote in the Democratic primary in a predominately red state or save my soles for some nice self-care?

Go to seven different stores trying to print my absentee ballot on A3 Oficial (legal-sized) paper or message people (Ariel) in Wyoming to call the County Clerk and check for me?

Follow my Peace Corps “feedback” to focus more on my municipality or go visit another volunteer’s muni and realize how nice, friendly, and helpful co-workers can be?

Visiting fellow Peru 31 PCV Clint in San Ramon, Junín

Wear dirty stinky clothes or wet laundried clothes since it has been raining for three days straight?


Spend four hours writing an email in both Spanish and English to a staff member elaborately explaining, arguing, and proving how I am right or go hike in the National Park and see tropical wiggly things?

Take an interesting community leader out for coffee to hear more about their life’s work or sit at a desk in the storage closet at the municipality?

Spend a little savings for a bottle of not-Peruvian wine and a hotel room with hot water in a new place or hide in my host-family house/bedroom re-watching Bridesmaids for 1 hour and 47 minutes “off”?

Spend half a day correcting my site review report to better reflect accuracies of the first month’s account or just say bless your heart and go be imperfect wild-haired me?

Nicolas Says Hello and Goodbye from el Cafetine

…Because who has time for – or wants to remember – anything else?

Vamos a ver, amigos.

A Parting Shot

On Saturdays I make lunch for my family (anywhere from 3-8) after we cook and serve patasca y cachanga all morning at our restaurant. This week I made BLTs since we had piles of homemade bread. The bacon, freshly smoked at the farmer’s market, sliced by the metric unit, was everything unregulated home grown animal meat should be. Sorry, vegetarians.


My Host Family Politely Devoured their BLTs



11 Replies to “Service Week Six [Would I Rather?]”

  1. Dear heart, you can do this! I know you are way outside of your comfort zone but you have so very much to offer and the world needs people like you, who care.
    Love reading your blog.
    Judi & Joe

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’re tugging on my heart strings! I literally am in awe every week of your effort and resilience.
    …and in other news…
    Wondering how long your care packages take to get to you… (asking for a friend…😀)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aliya! Thanks for your note. ❤️ I’m working on more fanciful unicorn reporting this week. Great question about care packages. I accidentally found one sent from PT addressed to my host family address in Oxapampa (re-packaged and incorrectly addressed yet thoughtfully sent by the Peace Corps office) that was mailed in April 30. 😳 So it’s not in La Merced as of this weekend. Maybe 4 weeks on the early side? Depends on if it makes it through customs… I will definitely send you a video when it finds me! Thanks for visiting me each week here 🤗😘


      1. Well I guess that rules out me sending Pane D’Amore breadsticks? They would be fossilized! Send me a wish list?

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome to every minute of every day. Eventually I just surrender and let all the questions just rush past me instead of trying to catch one drop of water in the flood. I have been in all the situations in each “Would I rather” and the answers change every time. (Also: I tried for two days to load the video Clint made of me opening your MIA care package to share with the masses – but it was too long! Or too silly…) xjo


      1. NinJa! you heroic, inspiring ninja, you. Wonderful, these posts. You are living Yoga, my friend. (Dual readings to previous sentence unintended but welcome, so the Universe intended it via me.) Delighted to see your Side Plank photo, by the way. Hugs,

        & love,


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