Thursday, June 13, 2013

The One Year Post.

 So I have been avoiding this post with haste because it thwarts me that I can't possibly describe this past year in a coherent, sensical, unambiguous blog post. I even feel blogging about it cheapens it somehow- it just can't happen.  There have been days I have completely lost due to the overload of emotions or lack there of, but I'll give it a whirl. Aside from the aforementioned reason for blogging today, I am having an "up" day, which for my fellow PCVs and close loved ones will understand, this isn't lasting long so I better get it out somewhere while I still can. I don't know if it was the perfectly picked by the universe shuffle I listened to on my way home tonight or the sunset behind the palms, but today, I love Peru.

I love the palm trees that go for miles, and I love the seemingly CGI sunset that falls behind them every night.  I love the cryptic lingo of headlights and hand signals used between combi/taxi/mototaxi drivers that I don't understand but for some reason even millimeters from a horrible t-bone it makes me feel safe. I love that if you don't say good morning, good afternoon or goodnight to a passing  stranger you are a total dick.  I LOVE chicha morada (google it) and Inka Kola and anything covered in lime juice.  I love seeing my 96 year old neighbor who I thought did nothing but sit outside in a chair all day, everyday, to fall asleep and intermittenly wake up and ask me how I am, but if you get up early enough can catch him walking up the hill barefoot with his shovel and huge sombrero after an already long morning in his rice field.  I love the horses that escape from their owners to eat the fallen algarrobo from the tree outside my house and watching their owners run down the street to catch them.  I love the neverending fields of cotton, rice, corn, plantain and so much more and how everytime my host dad goes out to them brings me back a ton of guava to eat. I love when he comes home each month and tells me all the legends he knows of Peru over and over again.  I love picking tamarindo straight from the tree, more than that I love mango season.  I love teaching my host sister how to ride a bike and her face when she balanced alone on it the very first (last and only) time. I love how my host brother 8 year old Leandro screams my name and runs perpetual circles around the table everytime I get home even if I had only been gone a few hours. I love when my dad sent me home with a pocket knife that belonged to his dad to give to my host dad as a thank you gift, he took it and taught Leandro how to cut papaya he picked from a tree out our front door. I love the friends I have here, I can't believe how much I do and how lucky I am to have them.  Those friends also know that this list could very easily take the opposite direction... but for today we'll stick to the theme.  Because it was today on my drive home from the city that I have taken a million times, and mostly loathed every detail until hitting the palm fields, that everything turned beautiful.  The people waiting for buses and the houses and the sand and the hot pink sky, I swear to whatever it is responsible for it all, I saw it all differently tonight.

It may be because the group ahead of me, Peru 17, (I'm Peru 19) is leaving, and I hate it.  They are some of my best friends and with them leaving I started to think about it too.  I am so far from ready to go (right now, in this moment, give me 20 and I'm sure I will be) and way farther from ready for them to go.

A little over a year ago from today I was harboring total freak out emotions about leaving for the Peace Corps.  An unorthodox move for me, I actually sought advice on how to deal with them by reaching out to my then assigned mentor turned dear, dear friend Kelsey Goering on how the hell I could handle it.  She responded to me with this little gem:

I'll leave you with this little thought: When you get to Peru, soak it
all in. You are going to be feeling a million different emotions-
you'll be excited, happy, sad, depressed, scared, hopeful...
everything. Don't let yourself get stressed out by your emotions and
just enjoy yourself. Revel in the fact that you are going to be living
in one of the world's most beautiful and vastly unique countries for
the next 2 years. There will be times when you hate it and you'll
convince yourself that you're getting on a plane back to the US the
very next day. There will be days when you can't even fathom how LUCKY
you are to be living here, doing what you're doing.
You're going to
miss your friends and family, but you will make new friends and family
here. Some days you'll want to scream, and some days you actually WILL
scream. But then you'll look up and see the beautiful mountains, or a
child laughing, or the ocean, or an old man working in the field, and
you'll realize that what you're doing here is important, and you ARE
making a difference. No matter how few and far between, those days are
what makes everything worth it. Embrace it.

Like we've said love at first e-mail and now look. There goes the neighborhood. You totally nailed it.  Still can't imagine it here without you.

I can't tell you how many times I have looked at my suitcases and my belongings and thought about what to pack first and what I could leave here and give to who.  But sometimes I look at that same suitcase and remember how after months of joking about taking Leandro with me in it to my visit to the states, I caught him in secret trying to fit himself inside it.

My job tomorrow is to teach the most adorable children on earth how to read, then get to see my best friend.  I got to go to Lima a couple weeks ago because I was elected to be part of the Peer Support Network and represent my department of Piura and the department above me Tumbes as a point of contact just to make sure us as volunteers are all okay because the staff thinks I'm fit for the job.  I ate falafel and a garbanzo burger and Subway (!!!!) and other awesome grub and stayed in a hotel room with a bestie that had a hot tub and dry sauna IN THE ROOM to celebrate his birthday.  I  just got back from a beach weekend to send the 17ers off right and came back with all my belongings. The staff called me to extend an invitation to Lima in July to present my work to the new volunteers as "Volunteer of the Week."  I still think they had the wrong number- but it's just another ingredient in this stew of contentment that recently found me and is being served up hot.

I still miss my family and friends and America everyday, and even though about 20 minutes ago I asked my friend on the phone if we could go home yet since we've made it a year and that's more than a college try,  I think I'll stick around for awhile.  I'd sign off with pictures but the internet will barely load these letters right now.  Facebook?

Strong hugs to everyone! <3

UPDATE: Got some pictures below of previously mentioned items and or activities. Enjoy!

Chicha Morada yummmm

Inka Kola

favorite spot to watch the sun in site

Rogue Horses

host poppa with his new knife


  1. Beautiful Mandy, I felt your every emotion.

  2. Gosh dammit, Mandy, I miss you. I think I've read this post of yours approximately a million times, and every time I read it I think to myself, "Nailed it." You beautifully describe what I think ever pcv feels at some point in their service. Here's to LESS THAN A YEAR of more highs than lows. Love you so, so, so very much!