Tuesday, October 13, 2009

¨¡Lauren, mira! tu amiga está caminando abajo¨

I thought it was about time to share a little bit of information about where I live. How do you get to my house? “Walk until the paved road ends, go through the “doorway” carved out of the stone wall, walk through the dirt road, turn, keep walking…” This is really how I give directions to where I live, no kidding. I honestly don’t know even know the address of my house.

I posted pictures of my neighborhood but was not savy enough to add captions for each picture. The first was taken from the top of the hill in my town, the view is great from up there although the area is very dusty making it difficult to fully appreciate the beauty of the mountains since most days you cannot clearly see into the far distance. Which reminds me of a comment on the climate, it is extremely dry here! As you can see, there is very sparse vegetation as a result. In the 5 weeks I have been here, it has only ¨rained¨twice, once while I was sleeping and the second time was the smallest mist of raindrops. I actually miss the rain! The last two pictures are taken from my rooftop/porch area. We have two dogs that stay on top of the roof all of the time. I was surprised when I arrived, I expected the dogs to live outdoors but never expected to see dogs that never leave the rooftop. Perhaps only for intimidation? Although honestly my dogs are the most passively quiet and harmless dogs you can imagine. This is not to say that all of the neighbors have dogs on the roof, plenty of others own dogs that live behind their gated houses and there are still stray dogs roaming around. But in my town there are no overly territorial dogs that attack you when you go running...I am grateful for that!

One interesting observation I have made about the houses in my community is that it is extremely common to see houses only partially constructed. Many people live in houses that are not fully finished and continue to save money to pay for the rest of the construction. For example, most of the first and second floors of my house are empty and construction of those areas has been going on for the whole month that I have been here…and continues. Other houses have materials for building a second/third floor and are just waiting to be finished. Very different than the US, where people choose to live in smaller apartments or houses and wait until they can afford a large (and fully constructed) house.

My house has an awesome view because it is three floors but the main portion of the house is on the third floor (the bedrooms, kitchen, family room) and half of it is an open air roof/porch…still have not decided on the best word to describe it. As a result, my host family uses this area to see who is ringing the door or just people watch. Since I love people watching, it is fun to partake on Sundays when I have a break from training.

One day during the second week after I arrived, my host mother and cousin were looking down at the road, spotted a gringa walking by and excitingly called me over to point out my “amiga” walking by. When I looked down, I was embarrassed to realize I had no idea who it was. Was it possible that I still didn’t even recognize all fifty seven Peru 14 Peace Corps trainees,or more specifically the 15 of those placed with host families in my town? I mean sure 57 is a large group, but I felt really awkward admitting I had absolutely no idea who it was. Later, I found out it was a PCV visiting her old host family and there was actually a gringa in our small town who I didn’t know! Turns out not all of the gringos know each other as surprising as that is to everyone in my community. Not to blame them because I live in a town with three streets and an invasion of 15 PCTs.

Another great assumption is only gringos go jogging in Perú, or so the gringos think. After classes, a lot of the PCTs like to go running, do yoga, play soccer…just about any of physical activities. But we never see anyone jogging in the streets. One day after class, my friend and I decided to pass around the soccer ball. I came home and invited my host brothers’ to join us in playing fútbol and to my excitement they loved the idea …next thing I know they had quickly recruited 4 more people in the neighborhood for an impromptu 4v4 partido del fútbol. After which we went for a jog to the park, eight of us mobbing the street and truly a motley group of neighborhood “kids.” I honestly felt like The Sandlot. We passed other PCTs who later told me they were extremely confused when they saw a group of Peruvians running beforing seeing that my friend and I were with them. It was a great time until I realized when my host brother suggested “veinte”, he was referring to “vueltas” not “minutes”…meaning 20 LAPS around the park, not 20 minutes!

Well that is a long enough post for now...

Hasta luego,

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