" Make the most of yourself. for that is all there is of you." - Emerson
The Training Center is about a 15 minute walk from my house and is a tropical wonderland unto itself. It has a huge garden and open air classrooms where we have our Spanish Classes and Technical training classes. After a brief glance around many of our families were already waiting for us. We were warned that some people would be as far as an hour's walk to the training center, while others could fall out of bed and onto the front door. I hoped to be one of the people that was within a reasonable walking distance, because many of you know, I get lost easily. A trait I plan to improve tremendously while I am here. As they called off our names and we emerged like prizes for the highest bidder to the center of the circle. I met my host family, and they are lovely. I live with a mother and her 10 yr old son, and her 12 yr old nephew (her husband and other daughter live and work in Italy). But I admit when Norma and Andre saw me was a range of emotions. Norma looked very pleased to have a blonde-haired blue-eyed American and kept telling me over and over "Que linda, muy simpatica, que bonita", while I could see the displeasure in little Andre's eyes that he wasn't getting a host brother. Its understandable. If I were a ten year old boy, I would also want a host brother. Winning him over I thought would be challenging. HOWEVER, once he saw that I had brought a soccer ball with me, I was suddenly okay. The magical swaying power of a soccer ball, don't leave home without it! Its very useful in getting the affection of your younger host-brothers. They lovingly at first called me Hannah Montana and sometimes Shakira. I am not sure which one I like more. But since those first few weeks they now refer to me as Saralita.
|Where in the World?|
original name: Santa Eulalia
geographical location: Huarochiri, Lima, Peru, South America
geographical coordinates: 11° 54' 3" South, 76° 39' 48" West
|The Town Square in Santa Eulalia (yes that is an internet cafe!)|
|The Walk from my house to the Peace Corps Center|
The first day with my host family was awkward. Mainly because after I went through my arsenal of Spanish vocabulary (hola, como estan, me llamo, me gusta...) the conversation came to a screeching halt. Silence is a curious thing. It can be a great asset sometimes, but painful the rest. I was in painful silence, as I was smiling so much to appear happy with my situation even if I was unable to eloquently communicate that in Spanish. I think the only thing my family knew about me that day was that I had a lot of teeth.
Now, I realize that it will take some time before I can open my mouth and be magically fluent. I came into training at the lowest level. But, IF during my walk to my new home, a genie had appeared out of an empty Inca-Cola bottle lying in the middle of the dirt road and granted me a wish. It would be that I was the grand-master of Spanish speaking. Silence was not the way I envisioned my grand step into the next phase of my life. I remember this feeling when I visited areas of the Czech Republic for the first time. The inability to tell people about yourself and disarm whatever opinions they are forming about you. It's the absence of recognizable sound. For now, I will have to learn the normal way, with heavy books and practicing on random people, and the power of intense observation... no magical Aladdin-esque trickery here. Its incredible how superficial you seem, when you can't express yourself in words. I didn't expect that twist of ego.
|My room! I love the window and the high school musical posters!|
I was, however, amazed by my luck with a housing situation. I had a bubble-gum pink room, in a bright yellow house with tons of windows and three floors. Que WOW. Norma's house had the kind of colors that scream happiness. As my she led me through the house I begun to realize the difference in wealth disparity here. She doesn't work for a traditional job, but instead is a house-wife first and then does small jobs on the side for extra money. Half her family goes to university in Europe while the others attend private school systems here in Peru. I believe they financially better off than others in the town. Her husband does work with telecommunication towers, which I was told is a dangerous job. My level of Spanish stops here for more meaningful conversation about what kind of dangers exist for him.