Álo Karikuy followers. I’m Jacqui (also known as Cuy), the newest volunteer to start blogging here! I’m in a bit of a different situation from the rest of the Karikuy bunch in that I’ve already spent a good amount of time here in Peru. I was an exchange student in Lima for my senior year of high school from July 2009 to June 2010. Now, I’m back “home” (living in my host’s family guest room) because I couldn’t imagine spending my summer vacation anywhere else.
It’s kinda crazy thinking back to August 2009, which was my first first month in Lima, and realizing how different things are, or rather, how differently I view things. That August was the most confusing month of my life; I never had any clue what was going on. I could barely speak the language, I had a hard time getting used to the food, and I wasn’t used to sticking out like a sore thumb (being 5’10” and blond in Lima can be a curse), but no matter what, I enjoyed (almost) every frustrating minute of it.
This time around… Well, I can more or less speak the language, I love the food, and I’m used to being called out for being a Gringa. My level of enthusiasm is equal, or even surpassing that of 16-year-old me. However, I still have no idea what is going on a large chunk of the time. Peru continues to throw surprises at me, no matter how much time I spend here. Just when I think I know what’s going on (oh, it’s flag day, there will probably be a little parade!), something unexpected happens (not only is there a parade, there is a contest, party and lunch/open bar for the teachers afterward?). I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So exactly what have I been up to this month? Living Life.
My first weekend here, we had a big Barbecue in my (host) grandmother’s house. We have a family reunion pretty much every Sunday, which is not particularly difficult because about half the family lives within two blocks of each other. For some reason (probably for lack of having done anything the week before for Mother’s day), the men in the family decided to cook. They were being less than successful so my cousin and I joined in as well, while our grandma and aunts sat back and laughed. 😉
My second weekend, I got together with my old Rotaract club for their ceremony for the Inauguration of the new executive board and the new members, and the following party. Another ex-exchange student from my year, came into town from Ancash, where she is doing volunteer work with a program from her university, to celebrate. It was just like old times, staying out ‘till the wee hours of the morning, going out for sandwiches afterward, and sleep over in my house! We also met the new group of exchange students, which was quite weird, a bit like seeing ourselves as we were a year ago.
I’m also swimming with the same Master’s team that I swam for my last couple of months of my exchange. When I left, there was about five of us who came regularly; now there are twelve. Ergo, I like to think of myself as one of the founding members. (: I’ve also joined one the four women’s rugby clubs that exist in Peru. Rugby is not a very popular, or even heard-of sport here, and to my slight disappointment, there are only 7’s teams for women (as opposed to 15’s like I play in the states). Still, it’s a great game, a great team and great sub-culture.
[I am the one with the inside-out shirt… Long story!]
Most of all, this month has been about remembering why I love this country so much. I’ve been remembering a lot of things I didn’t exactly forget, but didn’t exactly remember about Peruvian life. Things like the smell of the city, the taste of the Coca-Cola, the greatness of the radio stations and the wonderfully convenient bus system. Lima is a great city, full of adventure, entertainment and memories waiting to be made. I could not be more content to be home again!
That’s really all I have to say! I’m sorry I haven’t done anything truly exciting yet, but there’s still plenty of time (I’m here till August 14th!)
¡Viva el Perú!
Jacqui is a blogger and researcher for the Karikuy volunteer program. Visit www.karikuy.org/volunteer for more information.