Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Full disclosure.

I have entitled this blog post as such because it is nothing more than a condensed, succint (maybe not so?) summary of the haps as of late, in the second year of my Peace Corps service.

Since my last post describing my anticipation of the arrival of my friends, the non-describing of my current work in site amongst many other forgotten chestnuts, several phases have cropped-up and it is my pleasure to keep you all (or maybe just you, my possible sole reader) up to speed.

Since then, we had our mid-service-medical checks all together again (!!!) in Lima to poop in cups and try to impress everyone with our service.  Mostly it was overeating and excessive alcohol consumption, which is exactly what we planned. It was great to see everyone- but a blunt realization the next time we would all be together is when we are leaving, when we are finished. What the hell?

Peru 19 Youth Development with boss-friend in center.  A little of this...

But mostly this.

Right after that I came back to site to finish up my literacy project with my little niños where we focused on reading comprehension and critical thinking for 3 months.  It was a huge success, the best time I have had so far in site and something I am really proud of.  It has been 2 full months since we finished the course, and both parents and students are still door-knocking to ask when we can start again. ::::sigh:::::

my geniuses. I love them.

Last day of class

My friends Zak and Kelli came and went, leaving with what I assume to be a new-found appreciation of all things waste management and private transportation, but hopefully with a bit of Peru in their heart as well.

Aside from the stranded on a deserted island in the middle of the Amazon river in torrential downpours with no boat and a drunk tour guide and the parasite that reared its grisly head in the intestines of one Kelli Brechbuhler, the trip was a rip-roaring success.  For me- I got to have home here for two weeks.  The feeling really is inexplicable.

Contrary to my careful plans of signage and obnoxious screams for greeting purposes at the Lima airport upon their arrival, they found me unconscious, deep in an R.E.M. cycle big-spooning a wall on an unfavorable-for-sleeping airport floor.  They had to kick me.  Both to wake me up and to force me to believe they were really here.

From the less than climactic airport incident we went to our hostel for the next night, Kokopelli in the district of Miraflores.  Zak left his iPhone in the airport taxi, cursed the country and all it stood for until I coerced him into returning on the slim chance the iPhone was still in the car.  Sure as hell- a hundred sole cab ride later and a few cigarette bumming taxistas, we got that so'bitch back as well as the pleasure of a non-grumpy ex-boyfriend for the remainder of the trip.  For all you reading this living in Peru, you will realize this was the iPhone-left-in-a-cab-and-was-not-sold-by-the-time-we-got-back-to-look-for-it Miracle Incident of 2013.

 All day we explored Lima, had the delicious, albeit now a bit overrated, La Lucha for lunch and galavanted about the city.

They tried on some hats.

The historical Plaza de Armas in Lima, of which I still know zero about.

We had an easy night and prepared for our trip to Cusco the next morning.  We arrived after an hour and a half flight, settled into Pariwana Hostel, strolled around the Plaza a bit and then posted up to party with the other travelers.  We met some crazy people out to get maggot (refer to any Australian you run into), participated in a very last minute masquerade party, got zero sleep and hit the road to Aguas Calientes from Ollantataymbo early the next morning.  From there, we stayed at a great hotel recommended to us called Las Terrazas del Inca, acclimated ourselves to the altitude (well, as it turns out, I was the only one doing that. I live at sea level, man.) and headed to Machu Picchu at a brisk 4:30 am to casually see one of what they call the 7 Wonders of the World.  And it really was.

That is real.
From here we went to climb the mountain in view, Huayna Picchu because a friend tricked me into believing it was an easy climb.  Cut to full body pull-ups, failing limbs, but we made it, and although I hate to admit it, I am glad he bamboozled us.  It was totally worth it.
on the way up

the summit!

From here we headed to a part of the Peruvian Amazon, a city called Iquitos in the department of Loreto for the second leg of our trip.  I drank a lot of camu camu, Zak fell in love with moto-taxis, and monkeys fell in love with him.  Kelli got sick, held a sloth (unrelated), they swam in the Amazon and caught piranhas.  Zak held an anaconda that smelled like rotting garbage and we were feasted upon by mosquitoes. Wasn't the the most successful part of our adventure, but an adventure it sure as hell was.

Kelli with her piranha!
Zak eating (hating) his grubworms


 Finally we were off to my homeland of Piura to introduce the visitors to my friends, family and life here in the desert, land of eternal heat.  They, to no surprise, were received with warm hearts, and my own nearly exploded watching their interaction with the life I have slowly, very, very slowly, but without a doubt, fallen head over heels in love with.  The gringos took over.

home and family

fútbol in the plaza

a natural

the largest human they had ever seen

a new brother and paper airplane


To close out the trip we hit the beach for some r&r.  I reflected on the trip, remembering how nervous I was to show them this new life I have been living for the past 15 months.  I should have known how easy it was going to be.  So many things have changed, but not the feelings we have for the ones we truly love. It isn't common you hear someone say they have friends that would make this trip, I am so grateful. I will never forget us dancing to Daddy Yankee's "Limbo" in a sweaty gringo circle at the hostel in Mancora, when I had nothing but my favorite things in the world around me.  I still get goosebumps and a stupid smile when I think about that night.

 It was so hard for them to leave, but I am so incredibly lucky they came.  It did something to my service I won't ever forget, and that I can't explain.

Right now- back in the grind with a project called Pasos Adelante, working with the youth of San Clemente on topics of decision making, self-esteem and sexual health.  It is only a couple weeks in the making, but going great so far.
with my socia/third mother Doris

hot topic...should a girl EVER pay the bill? DUH

Coming up: another group of volunteers on their way out, another best friend leaving me in the dust.  Selfishly loathing the thought, proud they made it.  Newbies coming in November, then the holidays... then MY MOM AND SISTER!  Updates to come.

amor amor amor. <3


  1. When I get rich and famous, I will pay you to write my life story. I will pay you in airconditioned bus rides scratch that PLANE rides and many many Reeces Peanut Butter Cups (miniature or regular, your call). I truly love how you write, Mandy. This makes me want to send you a letter by SERPOST. :-)

  2. Nice post - I posted a really nice long post but it didn't show up! I love you!!!