Last week all of the volunteers from my training group came together for the first time since our last group wide training event which was in April for medical checks and our mid-service conference. The first three days we had med checks; a visit with the doctors, the dentist, and a parasite test. It was really nice to catch up with everyone and we had a lot of free time to just hang out in Lima. We volunteers really get excited about good food, because often in site we eat a lot of the same thing over and over. For me in the sierras that means a lot of rice, potatoes, and fried egg. In Lima we could eat burritos, Indian food, pizza, or felafel, the food choices are endless! (*burrito means 'little donkey' in Spanish, except apparently in Mexico where it means delicious food...but the name confusion has proven to be an embarrassing disappointment on more than one occasion)
A few highlights of the week in Lima with the rest of my training group Peru 18;
Going with a group of friends to give our stool samples! Finding out I have no parasites was actually kind of disappointing, because it means that all the times I got sick was just food poisoning and having a parasite would be way more bad ass.
A visit to the national museum.
On my friend Christina's birthday a group of us went out to eat burritos (and I don't mean little donkeys) and go dancing.
Staying in a backpackers hostel we were in rooms with 4 bunks and lockers. So in our room we had 2 strangers; sick Lewis and Emma, a sort of friendly couple from England. Sick Lewis spent all his time in bed and may or may not have gotten me really sick before I left. However, it was really fun to refer to 'sick Lewis' all week, he and his girlfriend Emma told me they plan to rent motorbikes and drive to Colombia. To really pant the picture for the reader I want to make sure that you imagine Lewis with dreadlocks down to his butt and lot of piercings/tattoos while Emma wore a lot of tiny clothes and a fanny pack at all times.
Getting a pedicure was nice, but I was seriously embarrassed about how gross my feet were.
Going to Parque Kennedy; a park named for President Kennedy that is full of cats. A local church feeds thereby supporting a very large population of homeless cats, that roam this park. I felt like I was on cat safari.
Playing euchre one night with 2 other volunteers and a very friendly Canadian man named Glen who was probably in his late sixties. It was one of my favorite and weirdest moments of the week.
On Thursday and Friday we had mid-service conference with the Peace Corps health staff. It was really nice, but I had trouble staying focused and participating since I was so excited about leaving Friday night for the states. It was also really difficult to hear about the successes of the other volunteers; I am happy for them, but also really jealous. With the site change in July and more recently the healthy homes project that Diamond and I were planning fell apart-I'm feeling pretty dejected. My hope is that being home for a couple weeks will help me to be more motivated to start fresh in January, after all I am kind of an expert now at staring fresh third times a charm, I hope.
On Friday night I went to the airport with Ellie and Hayden two of my best friends in Peru, also volunteers in Cajamarca. We had a scare-err I had a scare, Ellie and Hayden were both very calm, when the taxi broke down for a while. At the airport we discovered that as Peace Corps volunteers we can go through the diplomat lines. We felt pretty proud of ourselves. It does say on our Peace Corps passports that we work for the American embassy.
On Saturday morning during my layover in Miami an elderly woman from Brazil found me and latched on for about 2 hours prior to takeoff. She was coming to Michigan, Ann Arbor specifically, to visit her doctor son and his newly pregnant wife. However, she spoke no English. She spoke some Spanish, but mostly Portuguese. When she spoke to me and I confused her Portuguese for Spanish we became fast friends.
I'm at my parent's house typing this write now. It feels like so much has changed and at the same time nothing has changed. Definitely seeing Jessie and Eric was really weird at first. I cannot get over how tall they both are, but especially Jessie-it's like she is walking on stilts or something. Kevin the cat is all grown up and he's not such a great cat. I would have thought with such a great name that he would be better, but he doesn't really like me. So I think I have mostly escaped the reverse culture shock, but I still haven't left the house yet so only time will tell. I may freak out in a Walmart or an Applebee's, I've got plenty of time to do it still.
Below is a link to the Peace Corps website about the top states and cities where volunteers are from. Michigan made the state list and Ann Arbor made a list for the highest per capita.
Also, finally here is a link to the much anticipated music video that we made in site. Diamond, Laura, Ellie, and I had so much fun making this. We think it's great, but it's probably pretty weird. I wrote a short description of important vocabulary words on youtube.