Catching up

**There are no pictures because my computer is not being very kind.   Disculpen.**

I’ve started and stopped this blog post too many times in the past 6 or so weeks.  Training has flown by.  Sort of.  Time is weird here.  Tomorrow, I moved to site.  Here are some of the things that have happened since last I posted:

  • Carnival has come and gone, and not a day too soon.  I’m looking forward to a year’s respite from maizena [the white powder on my face in all the pictures]. 
  • Site visit #1: Piojó
    • Site visits are meant to show the day-to-day lives of PC volunteers.  Two of my cohort members and I had the honor of visiting Natalie, a phenomenal English teacher and overall 10/10 human being.  
    • Piojó was too good to be true.  It’s the highest point in Atlantico, home to some killer views and blissfully cool evenings. I was certain I was being set up for disappointment.  No way I was going to get mountains for my permanent site …
  • Site visit #2: Guachaca
    • Yes, I procrastinated this post so long that you completely missed my anxious waiting period between site visits #1 and #2.  But I got my mountains!
    • Guachaca is about 20 minutes or so away from Parque Tayrona.  There’s a lot of tourists in this neck of the woods.  I was one of those tourists a few years ago, and I may have teared up a time or two thinking about how I never expected that I would call the Colombian Coast my home.  
    • I have the best PC neighbors.  I spent a lot of my site visit with fellow volunteers and was absolutely overwhelmed by their kindness (and, in Devlin’s case, mad cockroach-killing skills; he had to have killed upwards of 20 cockroaches in one night).
  • I have made some incredible friends during training, and I absolutely was not expecting that.  I had heard so much about how lonely Peace Corps is, I forgot that you essentially spend the first three months in the constant company of people who are in the exact same boat.  I’m sure I’ll write a feverish love-letter to my cohort after a week or two on my own in Guachaca, but for now, a lone bullet-point will have to express what pages and pages of grateful journal entries could not.  
  • I’ve co-facilitated actual English classes.  With varying degrees of success.  With the best co-facilitators I could have hoped for.

  • Team Santo Tomas facilitated a training workshop for primary school teachers.  We had upwards of 40 teachers show up to learn activities they could use to incorporate English into their classes.
  • Speaking of Team Santo, I am infinitely grateful for the six gringoes I’ve gotten to share this pueblo with.  For the most part, we were placed in Santo Tomas because we had the lowest Spanish level of the group.  Naturally, that poses a bit of a challenge when you’re trying to lead workshops for people who don’t speak English.  Time and time again, they’ve pulled through and humbled me with their persistence and effort, both in their commitment to improve their Spanish and in the work they’ve put into every task that was thrown our way.

  • Swearing-in was beautiful.  And hot.  The power cut out several times throughout and even when the lights came back, the AC did not.  Sweaty hugs were had by all.

  • A month or so into training, two friends and I started a community English class.  It’s been the highlight of my week ever since.

  • My Spanish went from intermediate-mid to advanced-low.  So, miracles do happen.

  • With the help of my host mom, the kids on my street threw me a surprise going-away party.  My friends kept me distracted with 3+ hours of Resident Evil films and Grand Theft Auto.  When I came home to a darkened house, I caught my mom standing behind the door and still suspected nothing because, hey — she’s an adult and she does what she wants.   And then the children jumped out of the hair salon, and there was this huge poster with my name on it.  Everyone said a few words wishing me well on the next step.  I tried to say a few words but promptly forgot Spanish and just kind of got really shrill from gratitude.  I can’t cry anymore, apparently, but my voice can jump 7 octaves if people are nice enough to me when I absolutely do not deserve it.

 

This has been an awkward attempt to describe something that’s indescribable.  There’s no way a bulleted list could adequately communicate what this has experience has been like in any comprehensive sense.  Not for me, not for my Colombian friends, neighbors and students, not for the other volunteers, not for my teaching counterparts.  

Regardless, here are a few slices of a life that is definitely still in transition.

The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Colombian Government.

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