Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Pleasant Surprises and Penguins

The pancakes I made for the 4th of July!
“It’s just so surprising to see how happy we’ve made these people,” one of them explained, a smile spreading across his face, yet that smile was laced with something else: confusion. One of his peers echoed his facial expression with the comment, “Yeah, even though they’re so poor.” These comments arose during a daily discussion between fifteen seventeen year-old boys, three adult chaperones, Chantelle, and I. The boys and their chaperones were here in Chulucanas all week on a school mandated mission trip and this was their reflection time. Malvern is a highly respected, Augustinian, all boys’ middle and high school mostly populated by white, upper-class students.

When first told that as Augustinian Volunteers we would- in addition to our other jobs- be in charge of creating a schedule and toting around 15 high school boys, I was obviously not thrilled. I pound one highly caffeinated cup of coffee and try to manage at least one five minute period of nothingness (this means horizontal immobility, silence, and occasionally a quick nap time) each and every single day. This strict schedule helps me through my crowded schedule of teaching and other impromptu events. I don’t have much free time.
Me, Fabiana, and Chantelle on 4th of July. Amurica.

Much to my pleasant surprise, this experience was actually one of the most life-giving that I have had so far this year. Watching the boys experience Chulucanas for the first time, learn about what service really means, and reconsider how they live their lives. We played soccer with local children, introduced them to our host families, visited the orphanage and old folks’ home, and introduced them to some typical Peruvian dishes. At the end of the trip as we hugged each boy goodbye, I realized that I was very sad to see them go and extremely grateful for the time that we had spent together.
The day that Malvern left, the medical campaign arrived. Every year, twice a year, 2 medical campaigns come to Chulucanas. The first (which comes in June) is a general medicine, physical therapy, gynecology, and eye doctor mission while the second is for operations. Our role during these campaigns is translation. I worked in a general medicine room with Dr. Ellen. Working with her was exhausting, wonderful, and extremely interesting. We saw dozens of patients each day from all over the diocese, including some from the Sierra (the mountains) and campo (the country).

A week later, our program director, Pat, came to visit us and brought us to the beach for our mid-year retreat. It turns out that this was the exact thing that we needed as a community. In addition to rejoicing in a successful six months in Peru, Chantelle, Britt and I recommitted ourselves to our community and talked about what we could to get the most out of it.
Paul and I with our awesome, secret belly bags.

Last Sunday, Paul, Chantelle’s friend from home arrived in Chulucanas. He spent the week coming to work with us and getting to know the city. On Thursday, we all jumped on a plane to Lima and the very next day we started our tour of Paracas, Ica, and Nasca! In Paracas we took a tour of the Paracas National Park- a desert right near the beach known for its high volume of marine fossils, went for a dune buggy ride and sand surfing, and took a tour of the Islas Ballestas (the poor man’s Galapagos). Amazing! The dune buggy ride was so incredibly fun and we saw penguins at the islands!!! In Ica, we took a tour that brought us to a Pisco and wine making factory. While in Nasca, we were supposed to take a flight over the famous Nasca lines, but it was unfortunately cancelled due to the poor weather. Instead, we made our way to one of the lines’ lookout point where we were able to see two of the formations: the hands and the tree. Such an awesome trip!

Us at the Paracas National Park.

The Cathedral formation at the Paracas National Park.

Me, Britt, Paul,and Chantelle!


Ready to sandboard down a super big hill!

On the boat to las Islas Ballestas.



Sea Lions!!!
Tomorrow morning I get to march in the Peruvian Independence Day parade. So exciting! I hope all is well for you.

Love and miss you all!!!

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