Sunday, November 18, 2012
Impressions of Junin
But enough complaining. The upside is that Junin is beautiful. The terrain varies, but the theme is always mountains. Sometimes they are stark and rugged, sometimes verdant. The signs of the Inca are everywhere, their terraces carved up and down the steep slopes like ridges on a washboard.
The first half of this trip was Field-Based Training. A group of us from the environment program practiced teaching in the schools, buying recycled materials from women on their weekly buying day, planting trees and working on a tree nursery, visiting a protected area and an eco-tourism site and interviewing local people about trash and recycling.
After that, I traveled to my site. There was a welcome ceremony with a speech by the mayor and a presentation by our program director on Peace Corps. I made a short speech to thank them for their welcome. A group of students from the elementary school were there as well as teachers from the junior college and some people from the town hall. The presentation was covered on the radio, and in the subsequent days, several people I met told me they´d heard about me on the radio.
When I get to a computer that will allow me to upload pictures more easily, I´ll post pictures of my new home. It´s very, very rural. The house is adobe with Spanish roof tiles. It´s a small compound. Two sides are storage and barns, another is a building with bedrooms and a sitting room. The 4th side is the kitchen. In the middle of the courtyard, there is the pen for the chickens and turkeys. In the barn area, there are several dozen guinea pigs. At night, the 4 cows and the calf and the 4 sheep and 2 lambs sleep there. Every morning, my host parents take them out to the field to graze, then bring them home in the evening. There is also a beehive and 2 dogs and a cat. My host parents are a kind older couple. I´m really happy to be living with farmers. It´s an interesting new experience, plus it is already giving me insight into the reality of the lifestyle of the community I´m serving.
During the 3 days I was in site, I talked with the directors of the kindergarden, primary school, girls´ high school, boys´ high school, and junior college. They were universally warm and welcoming, and seemed happy at the prospect of me teaching environment lessons in the schools. I also began talking with officials about a town trash and recylcing program. I will have no trouble keeping busy.
It´s been intense, often uncomfortable, but definitely positive overall. Vague imaginings have finally been replaced by solid knowledge of what my new home looks, smells and feels like. My site is Deep Peru, and I´m glad.