Today is Valentines Day. Here in Peru that doesn't mean much, and it certainly doesn't mean lines outside of a Hallmark store and overly preserved sponge cakes with sugar hearts waiting to fly off the shelves. It is just a Thursday, and that is refreshing.
I like to think of us Peace Corps volunteers as warriors of the heart, fighting the good fight. But amidst all that fighting we tend to get lost in the bureacracy and red tape we face seldomly, losing sight of the mission. Today it just took a single feeling to remind me.
My friend and I went to a neighboring town to do a little lunching and possible gift grabbing for my upcoming trip to the United States of America. After a labor instensive stroll due to the oppresive heat that is summertime in Northern Peru, we decided to park it on a bench for awhile and be the "starers" for awhile as opposed to the "stared at." Not long after, a young, seemingly exhausted boy came up to us, wanting us to hold his pet iguana for a small tip. Per usual I screamed at the site of it, and to my surprise he didn't react. He was weak and drained. As we politely declined his service we watched him sluggishly carry on to the other patrons in the park to see if maybe they wanted to snap a photo with the green guy on his shoulder, to no avail. He was tired...and thirsty. I yelled for him to come over. I asked him while his head was hanging low if he was thirsty...and through hazy eyes he slowly nodded. I told him I would give him 2 soles (about 75 cents) if he promised to go get something to drink. My friend and I watched him slink over to a juice stand and CHUG two giant glasses of Maracuya juice, and then order a bag to go. He instantly had a pep in his step and ran over to us to offer his many thanks again with a huge smile, the first we had seen from him yet. I told him I was glad to help, and Arturo with his pet iguana and his brand new bag of juice, found some shade and took a break to sip away smiling.
It doesn't seem like much, but it meant more to Arturo than you and I will ever know, and I could feel it. 75 cents, a lizard and a smile filled my empty tank right back up and thanks to Arturo, I won't be running out for awhile. Happy Valentines Day my dude.
I love my job. And you.