Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Homestay






Okay… I’m pretty sure my name is now officially Bess.

But let me back up a little bit…

I arrived in DC without any problems and even found a girl on my plane, Erin, who was going to Peru with the Peace Corps. We were able to navigate our way to the hotel with minimal problems. Staging in DC went well – we discussed our anxieties and aspirations for Peace Corps service and learned about the logistics of travel the next day. After staging a group of us went to Chipotle and had our last, real American meal. I’m pretty sure I’ll be craving Chipotle for the next eight months.
The next morning we got up really early to head to the airport and had a few hours before our flight to Miami boarded and were able to catch most of the South Africa/Mexico game. Peace Corps trainees (PCTS) are really into the World Cup – I’m glad I asked Tim for some advice before leaving.

Unfortunately our flight from Miami to Lima was delayed by two or three hours. I filled the time reading magazines in stores, taking walks, and playing card games (including a few rounds of the game “Spoons” with travel toiletries instead of spoons). Instead of arriving in Lima at 9:25 we finally made it in at midnight. We got to the retreat center around 2:30 am and had a quick night before needing to be at breakfast at 8am.

Saturday consisted of some informational meetings that served to get everyone really excited about what we’re here in Peru to do. We also had two interviews – one to determine Spanish placement, and the other to gain information to give our homestays. Saturday evening we walked around Chaclacayo with two current Peace Corps volunteers (PCVs) and they told us about their time so far in Peru.

Sunday morning we had a quick breakfast and then headed to the official Peace Corps training center. The facilities are really nice and include a big, beautiful yard to play Frisbee and other games. We had some more informational sessions and then learned what Spanish class we would be in. I’ll be Intermediate – Low which means I only have to jump one level in order to get to the mandatory level of Intermediate – Medium. My teacher, Ivan, assured us that this will be no problem and that we should probably jump two levels before we leave training.

All the information about my host family was relayed to me in Spanish so I’m not exactly sure what the situation is here but this is what I understand: My host mom lives in this house, along with her daughter, the daughter’s husband, and their daughter who is three. My host mom’s parents will also be visiting for the rest of this week. The house is really nice, with a big living room, a modern kitchen, and the promise of hot water. My room is off of the courtyard behind the house, which affords me some privacy. The chickens also live in the courtyard and it seems like they regularly escape their cages. I currently have my door open and I’m just waiting for one of those chickens to wander into my room.

My room is really nice. The walls are painted seafoam green and buttercup yellow. It has a bunk bed, a dresser and table. I took an hour to unpack and decorate my room and now there are pictures and maps hanging all over the place. I really like it and think that I definitely lucked out with my placement here.

But before I could unpack, I had a little adventure to go on. After my host mom and uncle (?) picked me up from the training center we stopped at the house to deposit my things. My host mom then asked me… something. I didn’t know what. I heard her mention “la nina” and thought that we were maybe going to get her granddaughter from school (which, in retrospect makes no sense since it’s Sunday). She asked if I wanted to come along and I said “yes”. Which brings me to my first PC survival rule: When in doubt, always guess what the speaker wants you to say. If they’re laughing – laugh. If they’re nodding – say yes.

So we all got back in the car and started driving. After driving a few minutes, I realized that we were not going to a school and had absolutely no idea what was going to happen. Soon, we pulled up at a plaza in a neighboring town that was having a big fair. We got out of the car and I was promptly introduced to ten plus family members. My host sister asked what my name was and when I told her “Beth” my host mom corrected me by saying “Bess”. I’m pretty sure my host mom thinks I was saying my own name wrong since the th sound isn’t very common in Spanish. So I’m think that I’m going to be called Bess at home for the next few months. When I met the little girl who I’ll be living with I crouched down and she gave me a big hug. Then she went and hid behind her mom and my host mom assured me she was just scared because I’m “so tall”. My host mom went and talked to some more relatives and I followed her around because my second PC survival rule states “Stay close to host mom when confused”.

We stayed at the fair for awhile and then returned home. Since then I’ve been unpacking and decorating. I also plugged my computer in for the first time since arriving in Peru and it gives a nice electrical zap whenever I touch anything metal on it. I’ll have to figure out what that’s all about. The electrical current doesn’t seem to be hurting anything but I’ll have to see what to do about that.
I spent a few hours with my host family, struggling through questions about myself, my family, and the US. I also found out that my family has internet (!) and received a Spanish lesson from my three year old host niece. She got out her “A, B, C and Animals” book and would point at the animals or letters and make me say what they were. And I thought Spanish class didn’t start until tomorrow! Supper was delicious – a chicken and cheese broth soup with chicken, pasta, and potatoes.

Things are great here. I’m happy to be in Peru and I promise that pictures will be up soon. All the PCTs are really nice and I think I’ll be making some great friends. Please send me an e-mail and let me know what you’ve been up to… I miss everyone a lot and would love to hear from you.

P.S. I wrote this entry on Sunday and already there is so much more to share. Another (hopefully not so long blog entry) will be posted soon!

6 comments:

Caitlin said...

Bess,

I'll read your blog posts no matter how long they are!!

I miss you! Glad you have a good host family!
How long will you be with this host family?

Future FSA said...

Beth,

I know the picture of your decorations is blury, but I only count myself in three of them...and why aren't my pictures blown up bigger than everyone else's? I thought they would be...

Peter

Jennifer said...

I'm so glad you have a blog I can follow! I vaguely wanted to do PC, so I'll enjoy living vicariously through you. I'm cracking up over "Bess," btw.

NZ Nat said...

Awesome, so great to read your early observations and experiences. Am envious and in awe of what you're about to experience. Can't wait to read more and thinking of you. Buena suerte! xox

CarynD said...

Bess -

Haha. Love the new nickname, but its no Bethie. Wait, if you told them the nickname Bethie they would make it Bessie...lets stick with Bess there and Bethie here in the US. haha

Glad to hear things are going well. From the pictures it looks like you've made a nice little home for yourself. Awesome that they have internet! Love you!!

Anna said...

Hi Bethie!
So great to hear that you are doing well so far! I'm impressed with your Spanish abilities and a bit jealous that soon you will be speaking like a pro. I am currently in Iowa at Mike's aunt's and uncle's house because they have wireless internet and I am supposed to have a lecture for my online class but am having technical difficulties. Reading your latest blog post was much more fun than learning about clinical phonetics! Love you Bethie, keep the posts coming!