So far Huanchaco, Peru has remained a place of contrasts.
Huanchaco itself: Upon arrival, I was turned off by the drabness of the town. It’s “off” season- no sun, no tourists. the streets are quiet. The sky is grey. The area lacks any greenery it’s all dust and sand, monotone and depressing. But the longer I’m here (4 weeks now!) the more I fall in love with this town. I love building campfires on the beach.
I love going to visit “Burger Lady” on the corner for 75 cent burgers or “Cake lady” in the doorway of her house for delicious chocolate cake. I love the adorable furnished apartment Cameron and I are moving into on Friday (pictures soon!). And when the sun manages to peek through the constant layer of grey, Huanchaco becomes beautiful. The longer we are here, the longer I can imagine being here.
Volunteering: My frustration with the volunteer program, Otra Cos Network, continues to grow. Beyond the money issue, the operations manager is not a fun person to work with. I have to work on my deep-breathing relaxation almost daily after interacting with her. Cameron and I have a running list of things NOT to do if we ever find ourselves in charge of a volunteer organization. By now, I think we’d be pretty dang good at it. But the work we are doing is wonderful!
Cameron is a leader at the school, organizing the other volunteers, building relationships with the administrators, and working one-on-one with the kids who need it most. He loves it and is already talking about staying on longer to continue the work. I am head over heels with teaching sex ed to teenagers. So far no one has tried to censor me. Even the most difficult class (the 17 year old boys!) fill the “anonymous question box” with excellent questions. On my first day with the boys, I learned the most effective way to get their attention and respect. I opened class like this: “Hey boys! Do you guys know any 26 year old women who want to talk to you about sex? Do you know any women at all who want to answer your questions honestly and openly? No? Then sit down and be quiet because if you don’t show me respect, I will walk out the door right now and we will cancel this class!” It worked.
It also works to my advantage that I’m such a novelty in the school- the kids seem to count themselves as lucky to have the Gringa teach their class, no matter what I’m talking about. So far I’ve mostly managed to build a good balance between keeping it light and getting the information across. My favorite moments: 1) When the 14 year old girl raised her hand in class to ask if I would please sing them a Justin Beber song. 2) When the 13 year old boy kindly corrected my mispronunciation of the work “Vagina” in Spanish. 3) Repeatedly correcting the omnipresent notion that a girl can’t get pregnant the first time she has sex…where did that come from!?
I think I found my calling.
This last weekend was the annual Spring festival in Trujillo (our neighboring city). It’s the biggest event of the year around here and we went to the 3 hour long parade downtown. The best part
of the parade was the street food- ceviche, potatoes stuffed with beef and deep fried, fresh cheese and candied figs, strawberries drizzled with sweetened condensed milk, beef hearts barbeque on a stick…we ate all day!
Other ways we fill or plan to fill our free time: Cameron did his first surfing lesson, and was great, but freezing. He’s still not sure if he wants to continue.
Friday and Saturday was a big surfing competition here in Huanchaco- we sat on the beach for hours watching. We organized a house party on Saturday complete with jello shots and pitchers of mojitos. This Wednesday is a local soccer game and we’re on the lookout for the next cock fighting competition. Somehow or another we manage to keep ourselves busy- it helps to have an entire group of fun international volunteers to keep us entertained.
More to come soon!