What it must feel like to be in your fourth month of service and be featured on Peace Corps Perú Facebook page:
Remember how that story ends.
One-sentence summary: A family two-torta all-day, casi-all-night celebration; it seems likely I will never have, nor desire, the party stamina of an average Peruvian; watching the Peru vs. USA futbol (soccer) game in my Peruvian jersey; incoming training class Peru 32 received site assignments (thirteen new volunteers coming to Junín, zero to Pasco); standing over the decomposing corpse of the dead horse that is my community
dissertationdiagnostic; and practicing the fine art of patient, relaxed, Buddhist-zen [sarcasm font] surrendering.
Right Now: I just received a text message that two U.S. care packages are inbound to Oxa via another volunteer. Squeeeeeee.
Expression of the Week: Huapuchi (wah-poo-chi) has two meanings. It (apparently, according to my untrustworthy interpretation of my host mother) was our lunch today: a combination of smoked sausage, purple cabbage, onion, picante spice, oregano, and potatoes. (Think a Peruvian-style sauerkraut without any sour – no fermenting pickle.) Also, the word doubles as “a sweetheart” because I was accused of going to meet my huapuchi after lunch to retrieve my packages.
Bonus round! Miscommunication of the Week:
Customer: “Dos patitos for favor.”
Me: “En serio? Porque tenemos dos patos. Puedo trajer dos patitos?”
A small but ultimately significant miscommunication at the restaurant today. Customer orders two “small plates” (platitos.) I heard, and subsequently brought them, two live baby ducks (patitos).
Week Nineteen was exciting in that I took two showers and did my laundry. I read a fascinating volume of twenty-year strategic plans for the province, the province capital, and Oxapampa. Followed by a few very dry reports from the national census 2007 and 2017, all in stress-default, over-preparation for the community diagnostic I am fairly certain no one is going to read beyond me bribing them to proofread – and my replacement PCV plagiarizing.
To be fair, I am learning a fascinating amount (in Spanish, no less) about totally off-economic-development-plan topical things about my region such as geomorphological characteristics, the humid puna ecosystem of the Central Andes, water resources and watersheds, and the existing infrastructure for river transport. [Características geomorfológicas, ecorregión puna húmeda de los Andes centrales, recursos hídricos y cuencas hidrográficas, and infraestructura para transporte fluvial, for the third-year PCV geeks reading along.]
One personal goal I have in the community dissertation is to gain a more encompassing history of my community – beyond the “German colony” tourist-trap feature. Oxapampa is unique in architecture and superficial demographics from most other Peruvian towns because of the Tyrolean-style, red-roofed houses, varnished wooden siding and white picket fences, and without fail, a stray group of students wandering through the plaza in traditional Austrian-German lederhosen. The general feature in marketing here is a depiction of a blonde-haired, blue-eyed maiden re-living a scene from The Sound of Music.
My Oxapampa is different. I happen to live with a non-German descent host-family, whose ancestors came from the high sierra near Huancayo. I work with people in the municipality and small business owners, recently transplanted from Lima. Many of the artisans’ featured products during community events are from Tsachopen, an artisan colony descendent from the Yánesha and Asháninka tribes, original residents before the European colonists of the 1800’s. And my research indicates even before the native tribes, before Spanish invasion of Perú, there were pre-Incan people of the Andes, called Proto-Arawaks, likely residents of Amazonas in Brazil, circa 3000 BC..
All this is important from a community economic development (CED) volunteer standpoint (all findings point to a concentration in tourism) to help me appreciate and understand the complexity of the Community Story.
Here’s where my 1-2-3 basic community diagnostic avalanches into a dissertation.
Why do people come to Oxapampa? Why will people want to come to Oxapampa in the future?
Food, escape, sights and culture.
For the chance to see blonde-haired, blue-eyed Peruvians? Yeah… No. To see red-roofed wooden houses straight from a German Christmas candle carousel? No? To experience delightful pastoral tranquility, in a beautiful climate and setting, relatively safe, and tucked into a national park that is part of an internationally preserved biosphere? I mean, I would. Well I know (incoming U.S. visitors) Sarah and Justin are coming to see the second most diverse / population density of birds in the world and not just bring socks and play Carcassone with me.
Anyway. I need to be careful not step on any socio / host country national toes with my first grade Spanish linguistic skills and my (fresh-glue-drying!) soap box about my over imagined economic and ecotourism vision. Just like choosing to drink a large mug of Shut-the-Hell-Up when it comes to “helping” my family’s business – and enjoy the moment out of a second helping of fried dough and an accidental (wink-wink) double-serving of live baby ducks.
So until next week-ish from another regional meeting in Huancayo, I shall practice surrendering to the mischief of my hamster wheel mind, enjoy the occasional huapuchi, and patiently wait to be asked or put to ‘good enough’ use.
Vamos a ver, amigos.
A Parting Shot
When you read into what people send you in a care package:
Leaderboard: TWO packages arrived! One mailed September 13 from Southeast Alaska (thanks Babe!) and another sleeper-agent package mailed September 29th from Port Townsend, WA, from incoming November visitors Sarah and Justin. They wanted to race their irregular jelly beans. Those belly flops are going to get me to November 15th.
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.
Last call for Port Townsend visitors coming early November if you want to pass something to them.
Oh yeah there was a footnote. Dissertation much?
 How do you laundry, Jess?
Well. I wait two weeks until I have no clothes left, then wait another week for a potential weather window, sneak a 102-minute load in the new washer that lives outside year round on the back porch, and hang it on the neighbor’s line when it is not already in use. Then I field many comments of how my brown socks would be more clean and my two shirts would last longer if I did it by hand.