Saturday, October 26, 2013

Life on an ANIMAL Farm:

I grew up on a farm and the farmers grew tomatoes, beans, and hay behind our house. I was woken up by crop dusters and went to bed with the sounds of harvesters. It was very dusty and dirty, especially during harvest. 

Now, I get to experience the other style of farm life, with animals. I wake up to the sounds of pigs oinking, roosters crowing, and dogs barking and go to bed in near complete silence (with the exception of some random things here and there). 
The Rooster is stealing the mototaxi! Help!

We are now going to live in Huanuco for 2 months with the Herrera Family. Their names are Orlando (dad-mid 40s), Carolina (mom-mid 40s), Toño (son-25), Yimi (son-24), Eynor (son-11), and Fabricio (nephew/cousin-7). 

Their house is located in Huancachupa on the hill called "Las Lomas De Vista Alegre" (aka, The Happy Views' Hills). It's the truth, the view from here is spectacular. It looks beautiful at night with the full moon lighting up the sky enough to see the outline of the hills enclosing the city. We have excellent roof top seating to enjoy said view. It is probably my favorite thing so far. 

People refer to this location as the house behind the pig farm, because the house is located right behind the pig farm. There must be about 40 some odd pigs in there (it's hard to count the little ones). They also have roosters and hens and guinea pigs. 

The other day, we went to the Higueras River to wash clothes. Fortunately, we have only been here a few days, so didn't have that much to wash, but it still took an hour! We will have to get used to washing clothes more often so we don't have to wash so much at a time. It is tiring...and we only had to rinse the clothes off...Carolina didn't seem to trust us with the washing part or maybe she just knows she could get that part done faster. It was kind of fun to stand in the cool water and get the assistance of the rushing river to rinse off our clothes. They seem quite fresh and clean. Though, I was a little jealous of the boys playing in the looked fun! Another time.. The second time we did laundry, we stayed up at the house and just used the water here since it was working that day. 

I am also learning the art of saving water and taking bucket showers. I am not sure what the deal is with the water here, but we don't have running water everyday. So, on days that we do have running water, we fill up a bunch of buckets in preparation. Also, the shower doesn't seem to work often, if at all, so we use the water from the buckets to bathe. FYI, I was very concerned about having to take cold showers everyday for 2 months. Well, now I have learned that if you set the bucket of water in the sun for a while before bathing, you don't have to suffer! A warm bucket shower is superior to any bathing involving icy cold water. It is a welcome adjustment. 

So far, there has only been one sacrifice on the farm, that I am aware of. Last Sunday was Rolen's birthday (Orlando's brother), and they made pachamanca. It is a typical Huanceño dish - prepared by cooking everything with a special combination of herbs and spices in the ground. It was prepared with pork. I feel bad for the pig, but mmm, it was delicious. I look forward to seeing what other wonderful foods we will get to eat (especially now that the sickness has passed - hopefully, that means that I am good to go on the food front). 
Welcome to Haunuco!

It's been a great first week in Huanuco! We are having a great time getting to know the family and their way of life. The rain finally arrived yesterday, but has just been a slow sprinkle. Feels good to cool down a bit. The weather is super nice here, but if you are standing in the sun, it is strong. I have a few burns to show for it. Ooops. There are lots and lots of mosquitos here! I have a few bites to show for that too. Sunscreen is the new lotion. Bug spray is the new perfume.  

It's a welcome change of pace and scenery to be in Huanuco. 

A few pics so far... 

Melissa and Mirtha - Kotosh October 17, 2013
Mirtha testing the acoustics in the meeting circle. 

Tono taking a nap on the Energy Rock.

Crazy Rope Bridge! [Wilfredo, Tono, Melissa, Mirtha]

Wilfredo and Tono posing with the statues of the Negritos.

Huanuco's Mascot.. RAWR

~nos vemos~

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Last Night in Lima

Tomorrow at 6am (well, you know, maybe 6:30 or 7am), we will start our 8 hour trek to Huanuco!

Fortunately, this time, we will be travelling by car. It will be El Comandante's (that's what name we helped Wilfredo pick for his car) first real trip! It should be way comfier than the bus and, with luck, a little faster than the bus.

Unfortunately for Wilfredo, neither of us drive a manual and really don't want to practice in his brand new car. This means Wilfredo will have to drive the whole way. I have faith in him! :) And, I will do my best not to sleep the whole time and keep him company. I have been stocking up music to entertain us and I'm sure we'll come up with interesting things to talk about.

It will be a big change and, as I said before, we will have to adjust to a new way of life even though it is the same country. I am really looking forward to the experience and should be interesting to see how things are different from last time I was there.

Living with Graciela's family for a much longer time period has been great. I feel like I have actually gotten to know the family, rather than just meet them. Not to say I have them all figured out, not even close, but we make more of a family now.

So, now on to Huanuco to build stronger relationships with the Herreras and the church. :)

But, before we jump to that, we had to squeeze in all those things we have been meaning to do since we'll only be back in Lima for 2 days before we head back to the States. I'm not sure how it came down to this, but we really wanted to cook! I mean, we wanted to do other things too such as Christmas shopping and the paragliding. But for the people that don't cook much or at all when living on their own, we wanted to cook gosh darn it. So we did .. to the good or bad fortune of the family. Haha.

First, because Wilfredo has a brand-spanking-new kitchen, we wanted to make lunch for him. On a subconscious level, it was motivation for him to finally use the kitchen for other than pouring a glass of water or yogurt. He's been there for 3 months and just that day we were pulling the plastic off the oven. Also, he bought his couches and chair, so we got to test those out and see how they looked in the house. I think they are great! For that meal, we made fish, cilantro lime rice, sauteed veggies, and rice. Nothing crazy and not difficult. Well, the hard part was buying the fish. I had never bought a whole fish at the market before that day. We were told to look for fish that don't have clear eyes. So we set out in search of our perfect fish, no other information. We found one and it wasn't crazy expensive and ended up being the right amount of food. The vendor even removed the guts, cut off the head, and cut it into pieces for us. Wilfredo has informed me that for next time I can even ask them to remove the bones. Maybe you learn the other tricks as you buy more fish.. hard to say.

Second, we made banana chocolate chispe pancakes. They. Were. Delicious. It was the first, potentially 2nd, time I made pancakes from scratch. No Bisquick nor Krusteaz were used. The batter was simple enough, the experiment came with the banana. We ended up smashing it all up and mixing it with the batter. Best. Idea. Ever. Then, Melissa really wanted chocolate chips in her pancakes, but unfortunately, they don't seem to exist here. Whodda thunk it?! Rocio left on an excursion to see if we just missed them, but all she could scrounge up were these chocolate covered rice crisp sprinkle type things. They sort of did the job, but chocolate chips are definitely preferred. Anyway, we had invited everyone over to try, but only Sandra and Rocio were takers. We enjoyed a feast of pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs, and pineapple. It was by far the best breakfast I have had in a while. :)

Third, we made chili. This is also something we have not made before, just knew we wanted to eat it. We bought 1.5 kilos of beans for the chili and now I am aware that that is a LOT of beans! We prob used a little over .5 kilo in the chili. They'll be eating beans for a few days yet.. Also, we attempted to buy sausage to include, but whatever we ended up buying was awful. When it was "raw" it was a real deep red and then once cooked for maybe 3 min they were pitch black. They were sorely lacking in flavor and had a chalky texture. Womp womp. However, the rest of it turned out pretty great! It wasn't a spicy chili, I'll have to work on that, but all the fresh veggies and meat and beans made for a tasty lunch. We were also proud of ourselves for making something that fits the parameters for a meal here: (1) it has to be reasonably priced (we got 9 mouths to feed people!), (2) it needs to reheat well, and (3) there needs to be enough to feed people for lunch and for dinner. Quite an accomplishment on our part!

Fourth, we have all of this peanut butter here that my Grandma and Lela coordinated to bring to us, so of course Classic Peanut Butter cookies were in order. They will be a welcome snack for the car ride tomorrow. :) *Excited* This is the first thing I made here that I could prepare basically the same way I would have in the US. It is so nice to do something the way I know how and not have to make major adjustments, btw. The only thing we had to switch up was that the recipe called for baking soda, which also doesn't seem to exist here. Instead, according to the Google, you can just add more baking powder, so that is what we did. I don't know what difference it made, but they turned out dang good!

So, that was our cooking adventure to semi-close this chapter in Callao, Peru with the Carlos, Paz, Yanqui, and Herrera families and the congregations of Monte Sion and Filadelfia.

Shall be interesting to see what tomorrow's road trip and the next 2 months in Huanuco have to teach us!

It seems I was not in the mood to take pics of the things we made, my apologies. Melissa graciously snapped the meal from Wilfredo's. Just imagine all the goodness! ;)

~nos vemos~

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Los Parapentes! (aka Paragliding)

Woo hoo! Finally! Por fin!

It only took 2 years and 3 ms of planning, but I finally got to go paragliding in Miraflores!

When I was here the first time, we were wandering around the parks and passed by the paragliders floating in and floating out. It looked incredible! I wanted to try it then, but am not so good with the spontaneous activities, plus it seemed like something that would be against the rules for World Service Corps [shh, don't tell Emily ;) ], so it didn't happen.

But when I found out I was coming back to Peru, I knew this had to be something I accomplished. I talked to Melissa about it and when we visited Miraflores, I was able to show her was I was talking about. Then, it just became a matter of when...

Then, in September, we started our Spanish class which meant we would be right down the street from the paragliding place for an entire month. We decided, it would be our celebratory event for finishing our Spanish class. On the Thursday before the last day of class, we figured out how to walk over there and ask about it. Unfortunately, we didn't have our passports. So we tried again the following day, but it wasn't windy enough.

So then, we decided we would come back the following week and Wilfredo could accompany us and maybe even try it too! So we set out and as we drove into Miraflores, we noticed there weren't any paragliders in the sky. Turns out there was not enough wind that day either! At that point, we were running out of time to get this in before the end of the year since we go to Huanuco soon.

The date was set for Monday, October 14, 2013 after 2pm to give it another try.

I guess it pays to wait. We got a little discount for calling ahead or something. The sun was shining. The wind was perfect (according to my pilot). It couldn't have worked out better! And it was SOOO FUN!

Hard to create the sensations of flying and weightlessness just by looking at the picture, but you get an idea of how high up we were and what we could see. :D Enjoy.

Thanks Akita for the awesome ride!

~nos vemos~

Thursday, October 10, 2013

3-Month Anniversary in Peru

Wow! Feels weird to write that.. Has it really already been 3 months?! 

When I arrived in July, I had no idea what it would take to adjust to living here. There were lots of doubts, but lots of faith that this is where I needed to be and everything would work out. 

Sure enough, things seem to be working, and I don't feel like a stranger or a guest here anymore (at least not all the time). Sometimes, they still serve us the biggest portion of food and it doesn't seem like we have much say in the matter. Otherwise, we have adapted to the routine and make our own schedule within it. We now know the routes to places around the house and know how to ride the combi. We know how to work the stuff in the kitchen and are capable of going grocery shopping. I still don't understand everything that is spoken to me, but can catch on to most things. And like everyone else here, I can complain about the cold. I am definitely acclimated to my surroundings and can say, "Sí, ya estoy acostumbrado a Peru/Lima!" 

Also, the family has adapted to some of our ways. When we first got here, it seemed we would never be able to go anywhere alone because they were all worried we would be harmed or taken advantage of for being women and foreigners. As time has gone by, they have loosened up and now give us advice on how to navigate our surroundings rather than just saying we shouldn't do this, that, or the other thing. We even have our own set of keys! By their standards, we wake up late and go to bed early, so they try to give us instructions before these things happen. Haha. And we can eat more or less on our own terms (but we live with 6.5 (Wilfredo technically doesn't live with us, but he eats most meals with us, so he is the 0.5) other people, so sometimes we just have to make exceptions). 

I still have a whole bunch to learn, the language included, but everyday of these last 3 months has certainly been an adventure and a learning experience! 

I was thinking I would add a quote from the Bible, so I clicked on my bookmarked scriptures from church and this was the first to pop up..seems fitting. ;)

Philippians 3:12-14 MSG (But NIV and DHH are also good versions!) 

"I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back."

~nos vemos~
P.S. Next week, Wednesday, we head to Huanuco, and the adjusting, acclimating, and living in Peru experience will restart and throw everything off. Ready, set, go!  

P.S.S. Here are some long overdue pics of our living quarters.. 

 My bed! Sorry, I didn't make it up all nice. I currently have 5 blankets on it. I hope that some day I will be able to remove layers of them. It is currently being warmed up a bit by my corn bag, compliments of my Grandma with the assistance of Lela to get it to me. :) 
Here is computer land! It's quite a site to see all 5 chairs filled and us hammering away at our keyboards, listening to assorted music, praying the internet doesn't kick off in the middle of something important. We make it work. 

Sinchi Roca Park

Yesterday, Peru commemorated the Battle of Angamos, which was a loss of a major ship called the Huarasco and its captain Miguel Grau.. or something like that. I'll read up more on it later. I quizzed everyone around the house to see what they knew. I was told that in the war Peru lost the southern part of the country to Chile, there was some hero and there is probably a statue of him somewhere, and they weren't sure why they had a holiday for it. About the same as people would know about a holiday in the states, I think. Haha. 

Since it was a holiday, most everyone had the day off from work, so we went to the park! It was a great way to spend the day..much appreciated and lots of fun! 

We had 3 carloads of people, so there were 15 of us! Fortunately, it only cost S/. 5 per car to park and S/. 2.50 per person for entry. Big spendahs. 

It was a bit breezy and cool when we got there, so I was not inclined to just sit still and immediately picked up a ball and started hitting it around. Eventually, we got a rope tied up between 2 trees and we started to play semi-competitively. 

After a bit of that, we had to take a lunch break. I don't know about you, but when I go on a picnic, I bring sandwiches, maybe some potato salad or something prepared like that from the grocery store, a bottle of water and some cans of soda, and some packaged snacks. Well, that's not how they roll here. One group of the family brought "chaufa," which is basically homemade fried rice. Another group brought this potato and beets mixture. And Graciela cooked and shredded chicken for us to make chicken salad sandwiches. [The sandwiches were quite the to-do! Wilfredo mixed up the mayo and Huancaina sauce bags, so when he pulled it out to make sandwiches, well, he was kind of distraught. He didn't want to have anything to do with this sandwich business because it was sure to be bland for lack of salt. Eventually, Consuelo took over and added the Huancaina, Mirtha gave it the taste test, then everyone, including Wilfredo, had a Huancaina chicken salad sandwich. Oh the drama!] To drink, we had homemade chicha morada, some Inca Kola (cuz that's what the Incans drank!), and water. Plus, we had an assortment of apples, bananas, and mandarine oranges to choose from as well. It was quite the gourmet picnic lunch! 

After lunch, I got up and hit the ball around with Carlos for a bit while everyone let their food settle and set up the rivalry of boys against girls. Then, we played vball, boys against girls. Well, Consuelo was on the boys' team because we were one boy short for even teams. Apparently, she was their good luck charm! They beat us 3:4 and the 1 the girls' team won was when Consuelo sat down for a moment. At any rate, it was a lot of fun to play volleyball again and I appreciate that they actually play volleyball and keep track of the score and have a little competition, not just chaos. 

After prolonging the losing streak for a bit, we finally broke out and played some other things. Some kicked around the soccer ball. Marlene re-purposed the volleyball net rope so we could play some jump rope (salta de soga) and tug-of-war. I got pretty good at the jump rope, but tug-of-war is not my game. I blame the rope. It actually started stretching when we got 5 people of each side of it, I haven't played before, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't help anyone to have the rope get longer. Just sayin'.. 

Finally, the boys (I'm not sure why it was boys only, but it was) played a quick game of soccer. While we waited, Melissa and I hit around the volleyball, which brought back memories of being on my high school volleyball team. Bump - Set - Spike! 

We packed everything up and headed out (the long way so we could see the ducks, ostrich, and horses from the zoo and the random lake). I was feeling very grateful and thankful for the bonding time, the outdoors/nature time, and sporty time with my Peruvian Family. 

And today, I hurt ALL OVER. I haven't played those sports (especially not for more than 4 hours at a time) in sooooo long! Oish. But still happy we had such a great time :D So blessed. 

~nos vemos~