Site visit: a week billed as the most awkward in the entirety of the Peace Corps venture. It lived up to its reputation. It went better than I had hoped, because I will be living with an amazing family, but the first few days of this kind of situation are always a little awkward.
The week started with the 5 people from our group, Peru 17, leaving Lima together for Trujillo, the capital of La Libertad. We spent a day in Trujillo lying low, then the following day we had a day to meet with our community partners before heading off to our respective new homes. Socio day, as this was referred to, was a day for our community partners to meet us and get a presentation on what Peace Corps is all about. All went well and before I knew it I was off to Ascope for the first time. I went on a bus with Karla, a kind 27 year old lady who works at the municipality and came to socio day with her colleague Carlos, who is in charge of sports, culture, and education at the municipality. Honestly, as nice as site visit was, I think the bus ride there was my favorite part. As we rode through the sugar fields, the sun was setting in the best of ways- burning bright red over a desert blue sky. It was so pretty. Bonus: that particular week was harvest week for a lot of the sugar fields, which meant there was a deliciously sweet scent in the air. I was really excited to know that this would be my home for the next two years.
The rest of that week kind of slipped by in a blur. I was confused and getting oriented the whole week but managed to stay busy by meeting the people who work for the municipality, the high school director, the doctor, people from the school district, and more. I also met the four new puppies who were born the day before I arrived. Adorable.
The majority of my time was spent with my host family. We picked avocados from their trees, ran errands, met people, toured the town a little bit, etc. I particularly enjoyed spending time with Piere, my new 5 year old host brother. He is very excited about learning English, and he's at a good age for it. He picks it up really quickly and has better pronunciation than adults or older children. He can make English sounds way better than anyone in his family. After the excitement of someone new wore off for him, he dove right into the "How do you say...?" game. After several numbers, colors, and animals I got a little bored. So when he asked me how to say 'oso,' I replied by making paws and growling out "beeeaaarrrrrrr" as if I were one myself. To this day he can't say the word bear in a regular tone. We've tamed it down quite a bit, but there's still some aggression behind it. lol.
It was a little overwhelming, being the new person. I kind of felt like a puppy. Everything I did or said was repeated and talked about right in front of me, which got to be a little trying on my patience and at one point inspired what Joe calls my 'Nigon glare.' Piere was being especially little brother-like one day and received a less than pleasant glance. He was so scared at first that he ran out of the kitchen and didn't come back. Now this is something we joke about and he gives the glare to me when I'm being annoying to him :)
I felt a little bad about the glare slipping out right away, but I think it was also an indicator of how comfortable I was right away. By the end of the week, my host family took me back to Trujillo and set me up with a cab with a better fare than I would have gotten without their help. During my cab ride back to the hostel, the driver asked me if I was married to a Peruvian. When I said no, he asked how it was possible then for me to have a Peruvian family. Precious.
All in all, site visit was a good way for me to see that I was about to get an awesome host family and a community ready to accept me. I went back to Lima so happy, so overwhelmed, and so ready to get this thing started.
Picking avocados with Piere and abuela Betty.
Plaza de Armas, Ascope
Piere and who would later be named Ruby