Service Week Eight [All In Good… Theory]

<<August 4, 2018 / 145d / 4 mo. 23 days>>

What it feels like in a PCV group chat text at deadline:


One-sentence summary: This week was Fiestas Patrias (think U.S. winter break with less Christmas); I continue to show up (and be welcomed) at the municipality tourism office; our formerly tranquilo house of three is currently a mischievous, banshee-screeching, mayhem of eight; turns out in Perú eating avocado and egg simultaneously is a scandalously bad act; finding the punchline and hitting ‘delete’ may be the only way through this adventure with some resin of sanity; and this “Peace Corps experience” recalls the immediate intensity of friendships formed and bonded in the strangest (and unlikely) of conditions.

Right Now: I am currently conducting a science experiment -I’m mid-observation- about what happens when I don’t turn something in on time. [Yup. This rebel also had eggs and avocado for breakfast.]

Expression of the week: Que chiste. What a joke, ~how funny.


Speaking of chiste, I may have pulled it off — and O! Dear Sweet Validation! when they laughed: A salon owner, Jovah, made a comment to a customer about how fine (and strange) my hair is – and further demonstrated by holding my not-thick pony tail. “Mira!” Until that moment I had been polite and scared-mouse-quiet so I shot back in my very loudest and not-perfect Spanish:  “Oh yeah? Well my hair may be small now but it gets all crazy big in the jungle! …Just like ME.

And the entire salon burst into laughter.

– Put that under immersion in my site report.

I will be honest, blog friends, it is getting harder and harder to cram in exercise, eating family meals every few hours, being a resident ambassador to all questions EEUU (U.S.), washing and hanging clothes in erratic windows of sunshine, going to work for the day, writing reports, sending emails about writing reports, responding to texts about sending emails about surveys about writing reports, acting as a communication relay to regional volunteers about surveys needing texts and email reports, answering all of Sarah’s chat questions about all the amazing tourist opportunities all over the entire damn country when they come to visit in November, and penning a funny-yet-poignantly-epiphanic blog post.

Sometimes it’s just a win to get in a shower or remember to pack some toilet paper.

To that point, Week Eight has been 98% preparation for a workshop (un taller), 1% getting stood up, and 1% being snarky in group texts. Maybe next week I’ll compartir the meaning of life. Until then.

Work Life

Fiestas Patrias Program 2018

Fiestas Patrias is a celebration of all things relating to Peruvian Independence. There was a week’s worth of events here in Oxa (my suspicions indicate 19-37% of Lima comes here to visit family) and surrounding communities. Events included city parades, military parades, school parades, traditional dance parades, horse parades, and spearing artisanal ribbons (las cintas) on a moving motorcycle (tournimoto.) My new position in the tourism office is very similar to the summer months I had (Hi Carol!) at the Lander Chamber of Commerce, handing out maps and directing tourists where to find obese trout.

Astrid Featuring una cinta painted by a local artist for a judged competition

Fiestas Patrias is also pretty much on par with Christmas week as far as traveling /spending time with family – and business’ generate a large chunk of their annual income during this week, from those visitors.

On Friday, July 27, our municipality had a parade, separating over 200 business-suited employees by [traditionally assigned] gender to march through the town plaza with other flags and pods of civic community groups. I managed to get out of 1) sourcing and 2) buying black high heels and a dress suit by feigning bad language comprehension and offering to take photos. I have never been very obedient operating in a straight line anyway.

Fiestas Patrias Desfile Municipalidad Oxapampa 2018

Home Life

It continues to be great. Full stop.

I think the Navarros are my favorite part of service. Even now… seven poor-quality sleeping nights into an extended family house occupation.

Basco: The Closer the TV the Better

My case in point, this here is Basco, one of the little nuggets who happens to be fluent in a special dialect of banshee, in for the week from Lima. His brothers, Jago (4?) and Matias (10) and their parents, Charro y Iza, occupied all nooks and crevices inside and outside of the house. They are kind and sweet and treat me like the welcomed oddity I am.

Pile-on Tia Jenny

Each meal we were joined by neighbor-family (host-brother) Lucho, Ceci & Juan Diego – and (host-sister) Ñomi, Paolo, Andres, y Nico. No matter how cleverly I tried to stealth-hide by washing the never-ending one million dishes, I didn’t successfully evade full-table, rapid-fire Peruvian interrogation about the States, why did people vote for Trump, why did people vote for Obama, what is Yellowstone, do I know the New Kids on the Block, Peace Corps isn’t an NGO?, my favorite foods, my (alleged) secret muy alto lover in San Ramon, and questions about when I am having children.

My response? I just asked if I could have one of the 7 kids already screaming at the table. They asked which one. I pointed to the deadpan 17-year-old.

Que chiste.

I dare you to tell one of these women they got one of the restaurant orders wrong.


Next Week Life


[Activity: Insert the word “theoretically” into the beginning or end of each sentence in the following paragraphs. I find this a worthwhile daily practice.] (h/t KB)

I have My First Very Big Super Professional Presentation this coming week. I am facilitating a two-day, teacher-training workshop for regional docentes on how to teach entrepreneurship.

This “Yo Soy Emprendedor/a” curriculum was developed by a team of volunteers and PC CED program staff in collaboration with MINEDU (Peru’s National Ministry of Education) to promote and stimulate successful business & economy within the country.

Screen Shot 2018-08-03 at 9.23.23 AM
Preparing Module 3 of 9: “Lean Canvas”

My pre-assigned co-facilitator, Nilda, especialista at the UGEL, likes to run her own version of reality. Don’t we all. By “co-facilitate” she means she will observe me teaching solo for 18 hours. By “10-12” teachers, she added 50. By the 9th and 10th  of August, she means the workshop begins at 8am and ends at 6pm on Tuesday and Wednesday (the 7th and 8th). [Still liberally applying the word ‘theoretically’?] By “observe” she now means she will be teaching the same workshop (she has never taught nor seen) at the same time in a classroom “nearby.” So that workshop PC so considerately set up for me back in May with “a required UGEL co-facilitator for successful support” is now a do-or-die event for who-knows-how-many teachers who are being “invited” to join me for unpaid and former days of winter vacation. No que chiste.

I will also have a classroom with a white board, the exact number of pieces of paper for each activity, two markers, two dry erase markers, masking tape, a projector, a cord for my computer for said projector, printed and bound participant packets per participant, and some snacks.

Every single second and contingency I have prepared for will certainly go (as it always does) exactly as planned. Just like all of our planning meetings that no one told me were cancelled.

muni parade
Fiestas Patrias Desfile Municipalidad Oxapampa 2018

So how is it I am in a Community Economic Development (CED) program and find my work monopolized by classroom teaching?

You remember when you had that class in school about fluoride, brushing your teeth, the nutritional pyramid, stop-drop-and-roll, exercise is good, plastics are bad, how all sex leads to pure evil, how dancing leads to pure evil and hopefully the use of plastics, how to Earth Day, how to compost, the nutritional square, gender neutrality, gender fluidity, nutritional rhombus fluidity, what to do in an earthquake/tornado/tsunami, and/or insert that youth programming your parents (or a previous generation) raised an eyebrow at you for?

The selfie you send to a co-worker when locked out on your second day in Turismo

Well, my eventual theoretical point is, adults are goners. Adults have fully formed experiences, beliefs, habits, and opinions.

I used to be an adult and I agree.

So one of our CED program metas (goals) is youth development to affect change aka “Let’s go after the kiddos.”

As a fellow Peru 31 WASH (Water, Sanitation, & Try Not Getting Worms) volunteer teased a CED-er: “Go save the world by spreading capitalism to babies.” Pretty much.

Or, maybe slightly more nuanced, CED volunteers aid educators in teaching future generations to start thriving businesses.

Part of Peace Corps’ invitation in Perú [*seems to be*] contingent on assisting with promoting and supporting educators in a nationwide entrepreneurial curriculum – and perhaps the hard push (so early out of the Peru 31 gate) to execute this workshop is metrics? Optics?

Oddly, a lot of this material is what I was reviewed in grad school. In English. Now let’s see if I can fake teaching it in Spanish.

Nico and his Local Crew of Perros y Gatos

One challenge in a new community, culture, and social structure is I have had some real frustrations (full-on tantrums) about the circumstances and communication (clusterF***s) leading up to My First Presentation. [Buckle up newbie, this is STILL just the beginning.] And it isn’t just the normal cliffs and blackholes and blatant untruths working within a different country’s system. It’s the misdirection of messaging from PC staff as well. It’s taboo to say that but I just did. Sorry not sorry.

I figured out the harder way that support isn’t where I am told or even expect.

But there is a small break in the storm.

oxarainbreakTurns out, support is my site mate offering out of the blue to attend my class for two entire workdays so I can be on language belay. This freed up so much frustration and fear energy I am actually having fun (shhh) preparing the classes. Support is also having a third-year volunteer (who made this new curriculum actually lucid) on speed-dial, who can also roll her eyes in text as loudly as I do.

Support is talking to fellow volunteers and gaining reassurance/perspective everything will be okay… and laughing at how serious we can take our assignment at only two months in. Or just getting a one-minute voice message of some ocean waves. And, of course, support is the kind words, messages, pictures and posts from home.

It is also giving myself permission to sit at a café, hit pause on another government report deadline so I can over-prepare and turn this presentation into my version of Jess-gold.

Vamos a ver, amigos.

A Parting Shot

-Got no time for videos. You got three last week. x.j.o

This WordPress thingy comes with reader stats. I only know about a few of you reading in Peru and there is like 12. And one stray Australian. So… Dear PCV Peru Stealth readers, leave me a note if you find someone you recognize below. Just number them from the top. Maybe I will send you yours with a fun thank you prize.

PC Peru 31 – Work in Progress

Theoretical Mailing Address

[Update: I got some more notes that mail is on its way! This is so cool!]


Known in-transit: 6, 5 items

Confirmed delivery: 1 item*

*This item was a test-run (conducted by my secret future husband) via Amazon and DHL. It actually arrived within a week. ($6 to ship a $3 item in a shared shipment.)

Hermana Jessica Rice, Cuerpo de Paz

Apartado NO. 120 SERPOST La Merced

La Merced, Chanchamayo, Junín, PERU

m: 955895172

Please note: 1) This mailbox is 2 hours away 2) It costs a lot of money to send me stuff – (like $23 for $5 of candy) and only send through USPS 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 if you read this week’s blog they are more “suggestions” – so let’s experiment together.


20 Replies to “Service Week Eight [All In Good… Theory]”

  1. Would like the Mad Hatter’s take on the Peace Corps unless I am already receiving not good at details..sigh.,
    I so look forward to reading every blog post and checking the photos!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am pretty sure this “version” you’re reading from me is more toward the Mad Hatter (or rather, the Queen of Hearts) than Alice or the Rabbit. Thanks for meeting me here and sending me these notes. Love.


  2. Have you considered setting a goal of determining which bird egg yolk best replaces the avocado pit and then playing terrible pranks? (Upon review I considered adding hard boiled, but decided it was funnier to let you decide.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So when are you going to teach me how to say, “Your butt is this big.” In Spanish? I’ll akso take what you said at the salon. My hair and I get crazy big in the jungle too. 😂 I’m encouraged to see how you are finding the little pockets of light that are warming your soul in the midst of confusion and workload. Kinda like finding the sun for your wet laundry to dry. ☀️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. KWON. I heart you. I will make it a goal this year to find you an expression equivalent to “ni pigu…” Jungle Kwon & Rice would be a reckoning. I love your closing analogy. On. ❤


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