Sometimes how it feels writing to you from inside the blog:One-sentence summary: The entire country of Perú made it through compulsory voting on Sunday, complete with normal robberies, protests, and vandalism; Monday was a feriado (holiday) and subsequently we had Second Sunday (my favorite kind of Sunday); the news of an early mentor’s passing, Well School teacher Kate Mott; a day trip to La Merced to mail my U.S. ballot; spontaneous pedicures with a possible side of Staph; and using this time of vulnerability to experiment by doing Regular Jess-Ways-and-Things differently.
Right Now: While snow started in Wyoming, summer begins in the capital of Lima, and winter (rainy season) begins in Oxapampa. I have self-issued a pair of rain boots, umbrella, and a recurring sheet of homemade salted oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
Expression of the Week: “Un dia de compras con mi nena.” A day of compras is the equivalent of a day of running errands. Nena is a term of endearment, used for a female (think, niña, chica, besita.)
The only thing of relevant import and public consumption for Week Eighteen is that I voted in U.S. elections. And by “vote” I mean I printed out the ballot emailed to me and enviar-ed it to Wyoming. And by “print” I mean I opportuned a window of Internet, transferred a downloaded file to my USB, walked to my favorite print-and-copy place, enthusiastically nodded to questions in Spanish, evidently ordered two envelopes, received paper, and paid 1.5 soles. I must say it was pretty damn cool (um… adult?) to see five familiar names on the Fremont County ballot.
My house, dog, and truck live in an awesome town.
Accompanying said absentee ballot to La Merced (our nearest international mail post, Serpost is 80km away) I ran this internalized screenplay: Starring me (as early 00’s movie character Lara Croft, Tomb Raider) jumping out of the middle of a jungle chacra with a machete, cut-to footage hoofing it by way of sad skinny mountain cow, followed by an impossible waterfall rappel into a disintegrating ravine, to arrive by flotsam log to a straw-built Serpost hut to just under the international wire mail my ballot (dusty parchment paper rolled in my papelote quiver). Naturally, this all finished off with an inspiring PSA tagline about how easy it is to vote. Even from the eastern slope of the Andean mountains of Peru.
But alas, staging an epic film production over a semi-hopeless Internet upload connection was too much effort. And I would have had to borrow a machete from a WASH volunteer (Water, Sanitation, Hygiene program) and I am not sure if they are back from, ahem, “EIST” yet.
As it turns out, remotely voting from service is not quite as easy and straightforward as staging a machete-jungle cow-rappel (especially if you didn’t register in the States before departure). Friday, a tiny group of Peru 31 volunteers proceeded to contact every member of our training group (roughly 48 members) to see if they voted, and if not, would they like some help?
The three of us tagged-in tagged-out throughout the day to help contact, research, and navigate shareable link forms to state and county online registration / absentee voting rules and deadlines – in Ohio, New York, California, Puerto Rico, Oregon, Texas, North Carolina, Colorado, Illinois, and a side of Nevada.
I get why many were at a loss for where to start. Some days it is all you can handle to leave your house and swim in the site fishbowl, coordinate a tepid bucket shower at elevation, or maintain a safe level of candlelight for indoor heating. We wish we had started our “Rock the Vote” Peru 31 campaign sooner – we were a week too late for some to fire drill their way under a local deadline. Still, I think a few people were excited and grateful for some team-help and possibly a couple more votes will make it in because we spent some time (read: Jess avoided Chapter 17 of her Community Diagnostic, see image below) reaching out to our friends.
In other week’s events, I was surprised to remotely observe low-grade protests and acts of vandalism after local elections here in sleepy, tranquil Oxapampa. Not much was explained to me at work, so I am (surprise!) not certain what the incoming alcade means for my socios and municipality office at this point, or the cause for reactions from the dissenting population. A work week later, all seems to be settling back into business as usual.
My family enjoyed a second draft of cookies this weekend and I just finished learning how to make humitas, a sweet version of a tamale made from choclo, a type of big kernel corn. Tomorrow, we festive away for my host sister Ñomi’s birthday after her son Andres’ confirmation in church. After another busy Saturday running the restaurant, it is definitely not a weekend of Second Sundays. But before we alpine start to clean, cook, and prepare to host the masses, I volunteered to remove worms from a volunteer’s feet in trade for tampons. Better upload this post and start prepping the instruments.
Bet you didn’t see that ending coming.
Vamos a ver, amigos.
A Parting Shot
Salted Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies – just add crushed Sublime (or chocolate cheeps, if you can find them in site) and substitute all the sugars for blonde sugar.
Leaderboard: One letter from Port Townsend, Washington mailed September 6, arrived September 24. If you mailed something this summer, it is safe to say someone else in Peru is enjoying it possibly even more than me.
Hermana Jessica Rice, Cuerpo de Paz
Apartado NO. 120 SERPOST La Merced
La Merced, Chanchamayo, Junín, PERU
Please note: 1) This mailbox is two 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.
I have Port Townsend visitors coming early November if you want to pass something to them.