Service Week Thirty [Viente Diecinueve]

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One-sentence summary: I am (“gratefully” would be an understatement) on the other side of another host-family ultra, aka New Year’s Eve; the complete turnover and awkwardly painful “New Unknown” at my local municipality; a record haul of notes and love at the mail post; and embracing the quality and quantity of reflection time for annual resolutions.

Right Now: Lazy like Sunday morning.

Expression of the Week: Déjalo! = Leave it, drop it, and/or let it go.

This is a verbal command Site Mate B uses for her dog, Deschutes, when she is getting aggressive while not-relinquishing a stick. I am confidently optimistic this mantra will start working on me in 2019, too.


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La Merced, Junín

Week Thirty, the finale of 2018 and inauspicious start to 2019.

*Looks around.* Anyone else surprised to still be here?

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Well the obvious event to recount is New Year’s Eve.

In Perú, the color yellow at the New Year brings good luck. As does eating uvas (grapes). There is a custom to buy/gift new underwear (ropas interior) of yellow (brings luck), green (brings dollars), and red (brings new love). Naturally, I wore a pair of old blue underwear under some aggressive Spanx, vintage 2001 (brings new bulge.)

img_2696My family redecorated, cleaned, stuffed, and refreshed the halls and Santa dolls for the Nuevo Año. We served dinner at 11:30pm and ate just after midnight. There was a piñata, hit with underwhelm by a toy Viking plastic bat (perhaps compensating for no blindfolds?) filled with caramelos and trinket gifts. My family danced and shared chelas until 9:30am. I changed into my pajamas at 2:30am and ghosted, freshly out of excuses and apologies and general care to be further polite. I love you and I was all done on Christmas Eve.

Around 5am, I cried alone in my bed over bad Peruvian Pop 40 for the holiday season to be. over. already. and whispered a furtive commitment to be hanging off a remote wall in a bivouac sac in a country that doesn’t observe the Gregorian calendar for the year 2020.

img_2761Do not get me wrong. I still love my host family. But by Wednesday morning, the 2nd of January, I was buffed, trimmed, and neatly pressed for work before breakfast was served. I walked the ten minutes down back dirt roads in a dress, muttering my New Year resolution workbook’s insightful euphemisms about self-kindness, bravery, confidence, and just overall taking less bullshit and being a helluva a lot nicer to myself.

img_2902[You’d think after a few decades I’d have figured it out and moved on to invisibility and alchemy. Yeah, nope. Here’s to 2020.]

By the time I arrived at the municipality’s tourism office, the door was closed and my team had just received the news no one had jobs in the incoming administration.

To recap, every four years the local government changes personnel after elections and the incoming alcalde/alcaldesa (mayor) appoints new positions within the municipality. In Oxapampa, the new head of the Economic Development department had been appointed prior to the New Year, but not the sub-department of tourism.

Wednesday was not such a great day for the socios I had hard-won a version of relationship with since June. Once again, the delicate nuance of language and empathy in Spanish failed me, and I offered awkward, useless hugs and walked home, changed my clothes, and ran the stairs five times more. I came home, showered, and packed for a reset and postal reconnaissance in La Merced.


img_2904What does the month ahead look like? Currently, school is out of session for “summer vacation.” Many employees of educational agencies take extended leave over the holiday season. Independent clients I have cultivated for business coaching are promising, but coming into (or off of) their high season.

Then there is the upcoming chunk of time we have for our second training in service: Summer Camp for Sophomores.

The third week of January is “In-Service Training” (IST) with a focus on Project Development for the Peru 31 CED team. The eighteen (remaining) volunteers need to each bring a socio to a retreat center an hour outside of Lima for the week to develop a communal team project.

My socia Mercedes (who has now lost her job and needs to concentrate effort on finding a new one outside of the muni) has recently rescinded the invitation to join me. My socia from our last training, Soledad, is interested in a reprise, but is trying to arrange time-off during the high season.

Me? I spent the morning wondering if I should write you all a highlight reel of “Best Moments of 2018!” or an in-depth visual account of how to cook a chicken for lunch. Mostly I spent the morning making already obsolete work lists and telling myself to put down the stick.

At this moment, service is like starting all over in June again. At least this time I know I am blindfolded, hitting a trinket-filled piñata with a plastic Viking bat, wearing lucky Spanx, and making sure I am surrounded by people, near and far, I love.

Vamos a ver, amigos.


Parting Shots

  1. Taxi rides are shared between four (well five, shown here) passengers between province towns. I don’t know this mother and daughter team, but they weren’t afraid to instantly fall asleep on me.
  2. Part of my workout accountability is a text group. Here is a screen shot of my video call with KBS and her two babies, completing a circuit.
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Sharing a Taxi to La Merced
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Working out Via Face Time with Tiny Humans

Mailing Address

img_2800Update: HOLY CRAP BALLS CHRISTMAS Y’ALL

Leaderboard:

Washington: Letter. Postmark 05 or 15 December, arrived 31 December.

Vermont: Small package. Postmark December 8, arrived 18 December.

D.C.: Package. Postmark December 4.

Wrangell, AK: Box. Postmark December 4.

Lander, WY: Christmas CD sent December 6, arrived 17 December.

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 two hours away 2) It costs a lot of money to send me stuff – (like $23.50 for one pound 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.

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6 Replies to “Service Week Thirty [Viente Diecinueve]”

    1. Only glitter bomb board members who don’t follow through with accepted tasks and the legal departments at Cox Cable and Verizon for not closing paid-up accounts because you don’t know three generations back of dead people’s maiden names. Just a couple rules I go by.

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  1. In belated news, your Christmas post inspired me to find a recipe for relleno de pavo on the Internet. It was Ecuadorian rather than Peruvian, but still very interestingly different from stuffing I had had before and very tasty. Thanks for all the food blogging!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh holy heck. And here I thought I was going through the wringer (I know you’re happy I added that w😅). Thinking of you. More details (from both of us? On messenger?). There was a simpler time (conjuring board meetings in my mind) but I suppose we weren’t challenged enough by that life. I certainly feel that I am being tested now. And it seems so for you? Good luck♥️Much love ♥️

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