Sunday, July 1, 2012
Friday, March 23, 2012
- Sitting on my front porch at dusk with my host family
- Swarms of children at my window
- Having too much free time on my hands
- Being the most popular girl in town
- Fresh food and produce
- Mango season
- The most delicious fruit to ever touch my taste buds
- Fresh fish
- Speaking Spanish
- Eating Pizza Hut with reckless abandon because it’s the only American food I can find
- Strangers gifting me watermelon
- Peruvian food
- Dancing with my fellow volunteers and making fools of ourselves at the Discotheque
- Ease of travel and leisure time
Monday, February 6, 2012
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Friday, September 16, 2011
Monday, February 21, 2011
Hello Friends! As you may know, my big project for 2011 is the improvement of the community library and the creation of a youth center. Fortunately, the municipality has provided a great building and some help with furnishing, but we need help filling our library with books! I am in contact with several NGOs and Tucson schools that are willing to help with books donations and book drives. The International Book Project is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that will provide the books; they only ask that people donate to fund the cost of shipping, which works out to about $200 for 32 pounds of books.
Please consider donating to this cause.
1) Here is the link: www.internationalbookproject.org
2) Please include "Elizabeth Salerno, Peace Corp Volunteer" in the notes section.
Thank you very much on behalf of the children of San Clemente.
Friday, February 11, 2011
These are the little babies that hang out outside my window. At any time of the day, I can hear "Senorita Libby! Un ratito..." (give me just a minute of your time). They come to borrow the basketballs that Lee left or to play puzzles or to borrow a book.
It is summer time in San Clemente and I think I could fry an egg on the pavement and then put it on a flavorless, styrofoam-like piece of bread with a bit of avocado and salt to spice it up. Breakfast anyone? But seriously, HOT and with no relief because air conditioning just doesn't exist. I have a little fan that I carry from room to room with me. The women say it will get cooler by the end of March and I am counting the days. For the first time in my life, I am wishing for winter and scarves and sweaters and layers. Despite the heat, I notice that this place comes alive in summer. The heat keeps people inside their homes from 12 to 5 pm, but then everyone comes outside and people sit in front of their houses chatting until 10 p.m. Ice cream men come with their obnoxious horns and women set up little snow cone tables. They have parties every weekend with "junses", which are an activity where someone pays to have plastic products like bowls and tupperwear hung from a tree and the kids come and climb the tree to take the prizes back to their mothers. And no... I haven't quite figured it out yet. In March begins Carnival with water balloon fights and paint smearing competitions. It is all anybody talks about. I'll report back as soon as I find out what all the fuss is about.
Like I said, summer time is party time. I was a invited to the 46th anniversary of the town of Bellavista, about a 20 minute walk from my site. The night was celebrated with entertainment for the entire community, which included singers, dancers, and artists from the region. Two clowns came and told nearly harmless dirty jokes to the crowd. I was proud to note that I understood about 90% of the jokes, a long way from the blank stare I used to wear when I watched Chilean movies or saw comedians when I was first learning Spanish in Chile; and even later in Guatemala and Mexico, I had trouble with jokes and troublesome cultural innuendos. Now, I can understand a lot of the babble over the town loudspeakers and on the radio. I remember thinking “I’ll REALLY know Spanish when I can listen to it on the radio or watch the telenovelas on TV and understand.” Well…I’m there!
Anyway, back to Bellavista. After the clowns came the famous comedian. He spoke in voices, imitating perfectly a small girl child, a silly little boy, and an angry housewife. Being the only gringa for miles and sitting in the front row I knew instantaneously I would be part of the show. Sure enough, in less than 10 minutes, he’d plucked me from the crowd and started asking me questions, swearing to me he’d marry me one day and off we’d go to the United States. He set me up in a little skit with other participants from the audience. I was to be the wife who finds out about the other woman. He whispers for me to slap him when I find out, and I do exactly as instructed. With exaggeration he stumbles away from my “slap” and blubbers to the audience that he had told me to simply push him and that I had slapped him. The crowd is delightedly shocked by the gringa’s crazy antics (are you noticing a pattern here?!). For days all I’ve heard is “Senorita Libby is it true you slapped the comedian?!”
I had a really hard time after Lee left. I thought I’d be fine, but being that my host mom and brother had left for the south indefinitely and my host dad is always in the city, I’ve been left alone in this little house to fend for myself. For a girl from a family of 8 who lived in a sorority house with 50 other girls and has had multiple roommates at a time, living in a little house in Peru with myself was quite an adjustment. Worse yet, it is summer here and without school in session, I had very little to occupy my time. Thankfully, I’ve more or less adjusted and things have picked up a lot. I’m working in the summer school program in 2 other communities, plus San Clemente, teaching little kids how to like themselves (self-esteem building). I’m also facilitating a youth group.After trying my hand at different topics and finding my teenagers incredibly bored, I tried the sex topic. Within seconds, I had my kids on the edge of their seats and hanging on my every word. Needless to say, I think I’ve found our niche. These kids are anxious to learn about puberty, menstruation, STDs, and birth control. I will gladly facilitate that learning if it means keeping these girls and boys from being teenage parents or getting venereal diseases.
Despite missing my host family, it is nice to be able to cook for myself. I haven’t eaten rice in weeks! I cook with lots of different vegetables and I’ve been filling my extra time with cooking experiments. I know how to cook with eggplant and pumpkin now J I’m also teaching a local woman to bake and sell cakes; call it my own small business project. Being lonely has pushed me out into the community even more. I’ve been visiting more families and making new friends. I still hang out with my same little kids. I really adore them. I swear 10 year olds are my favorite. They are just discovering who they are and they love to participate in activities and answer questions. The girls are still willing to fight with the boys, aka they haven’t succumbed to that machismo inferiority complex as yet and they don’t care if the boys like them or not.
I'll be home in May! Ticket is officially purchased for May 9th through the 19th. Please feel free to take me out to breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner. I prefer Mexican food. Just kidding, but seriously, I want to see everyone! Love you all