I just finished my second week in Peru so I thought it would be a good time to go over some highlights of the past week. I’ve done so much it’s hard to believe that I’ve only been here for two weeks. It feels like much longer!
One of the first exciting things that happened was finding the mall on my own. I live in a smaller town and there aren’t many places so go shopping so I decided to venture out with a friend of mine (another volunteer who lives on the next street over) to Mall Aventura in Santa Anita, which was about an hour away by bus. We got there and back with no problem and without getting lost. It was quite the accomplishment. I was on a quest to find a jacket but didn’t have much luck because to my dismay I couldn’t find one that fit because each one I tried on the sleeves were all too short so I ended up just getting a vest instead. Problem solved.
We also met up with an old friend from high school at the mall who’s currently living in Lima and we all went out to lunch together to a traditional Peruvian restaurant. They both ordered Ceviche mixto and I tried the sudado de pescado, which consisted of a giant seafood soup filled various kinds of fish, whole crabs, yucca, and a various other ingredients. It was quite tasty but there was just way too much of it. It was like the never-ending bowl of soup. My friends said joked that they could go see a movie and come back and I’d still be trying to finish it.
Speaking of food, my host mom is quite the cook. I especially like her deserts. This week she made strawberry ice cream from scratch with chocolate pieces and pineapple cake. It was pretty amazing. Sometimes I feel like I’m back in elementary school because she packs my lunch everyday and I bring it with me to the training center. Some volunteers’ even have their name written on their lunches. The other day I brought a papa rellena for lunch, which consists of baked potato dough filled with chopped beef and onions, hard-boiled eggs, and spices. They usually have olives too but my host mom knows I hate them so she didn’t add them to mine. It was delicious and one of my favorite meals thus far. Another dish that she cooked that I really liked was trout with spinach puree.
Another highlight of the week was finding out that my host dad’s friend happens to be a Peruvian Inca Orchid (hairless Peruvian dog) breeder and owns a farm nearby with over 60 hairless dogs. He said he’d take me to visit them sometime…
On Monday, the U.S. Ambassador to Peru, Brian A. Nichols came to the training center to speak to give a talk and to have lunch with us. He congratulated all of us and told us that Peace Corps Peru is one of the most competitive programs and for our group, “Peru 26”, there were over 500 applicants from all over the U.S. and only 39 were selected.
On Wednesday we visited a school in the Sierra in the small town of San Jerónimo de Surco. There I worked with a class of third year high school students for the first part of the morning. It was a history class and the students all shared their projects of the various leyendas (legends) of their town with me. During recess I discovered that there was a familiar face in the crowd, it was the young girl that I had met one week earlier in Ricardo Palma. I remembered how impressed I was by her level of maturity and the fact that she took care of her grandparents. Later that afternoon, we attended a dance workshop in which she and another student taught all of us how to dance Tinkus, a folkloric dance originally from Bolivia. After about an hour of practicing, I have to admit we were looking pretty good! Our teacher got a video of us dancing, so I’ll try to get a hold of it so I can post it.
On Friday I taught my first class to a group of 30 senior high school students. It was a 45-minute lesson on self-esteem and although I was pretty nervous going into the session, the nerves quickly went away and it actually turned out going pretty well.
Saturday afternoon I attended my first aerotón or outdoor aerobics session in which some friends and I did about 2 hours of Zumba. It was too much fun and just what I needed after all the carbs I’ve been eating. It incorporated of my favorite dance styles including cumbia, salsa, merengue, mambo, reggaeton and samba. There was even a viejito (old man) with no teeth who kept trying to dance with me. It was quite the sight. I really wish I had brought my camera.