Saludos a todos! 🙂
Hello everyone and greetings from Peru! It has been a very busy but extremely fun rewarding process acclimating to our new home and work environments. It’s hard to believe its only been ten days! There is so much that’s happened, and we’d love to give you all a quick update and bring everyone up to speed.
First, though, we would just like to thank everyone for their love, support, encouragement, and patience as we begin this new chapter of our lives together. It means the world to us to have such incredible family and friends with whom we cannot wait to share all the amazing and exciting adventures that await us here in Peru! Please feel free to share this blog with anyone who’s contact information we do not currently have 😊
Since this is our first post, it’s going to be a long one, so buckle up!
We started our journeys (very) early on April 9th, as we made our way to the airport to meet the rest of our training class in Miami. This day and a half long event, referred to as “Staging,” serves as a way for new trainees (that’s us!) to meet each other and become familiar with Peace Corps expectations and policies through a variety of seminars and group activities. There are a total of 55 trainees who make up Peru 33, all of various ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, expressions, and identities. It is such an honor to be a part of such a special and diverse group of unique and talented individuals!
A pause for some brief background, for those of you who are interested. Peace Corps has operated a post in Peru consistently since 2002 (after previously operating a post from 1962-1975). A new class of trainees is brought in twice a year, once in March/April and once in September/October. PC Peru operates in four sectors, meaning that trainees will be working in one of the following technical areas: Community Economic Development (CED); Youth Development; Health; and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). Our group of 55 is split between the CED and WASH sectors – the other two groups will arrive later this year. As you may have guessed, we are a part of the WASH sector, but more on that to come!
Before we knew it, we had touched down in Lima and were being whisked away to a retreat center just outside the city for a night of much needed rest. The following day, we reported to the training center for our first official day of orientation prior to PST. PST, or Pre-Service Training, is a period of 11 weeks during which we will spend many hours taking language lessons, participating in safety and security briefings, engaging in technical skills seminars, getting all our vaccines, and of course, establishing a ton of new friendships and professional relationships! During PST, we are considered PCTs, or Peace Corps Trainees (if you’re already losing track of the acronyms, trust me, you’re not alone, there are literally hundreds we’ve had to learn…). At the completion of our 11 weeks of training, we will officially swear-in as Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs)! The Big Day is scheduled for June 28th, 2019. Oh, and we got this super awesome button to honor the best class to come to county, Peru 33! Peep the pic below:
We met our host family on the first day of orientation. This was a very exciting moment for us, because we are going to spend all our time outside formal training here! Our family is literally the best (sorry everyone else). We could not have asked for a more open, loving, supportive, and kind group of people. Our host parents live with grandma (on mom’s side) and their two-year-old granddaughter. Their two daughters (ages 25 and 27) live, work, and study in Lima during the week and spend weekends here. We all spend several hours a night during and after dinner just talking about literally any thing and everything. By the way, no English is spoken in this house, so it’s been great practice for Andrew! Our living accommodations are comfortable, we were blessed with a private bathroom, and an awesome balcony with a view! Here are some views of the room (and a cameo by Andrew):
Also, the food that our host mom prepares is absolutely amazing, and we’ve already had our share of typical Peruvian dishes. Fortunately for us, our host family does not each much meat to begin with, and after explaining our reasons for going vegan, they seemed super interested to try it themselves! We’ve all been eating 100% vegan for the entire time we’ve been here, and it’s just such a blessing to feel not only supported in our dietary needs, but also free to share our diet with others. In a future post we’ll update you on the really amazing situation our host mom has found herself in after deciding to go vegan upon our arrival! So far, so good!
This past week has been especially busy, as it was Holy Week, or Semana Santa. Holy Thursday and Good Friday are considered holidays here in Peru, so we had a four-day weekend! On top of that, we’ve gotten to experience first-hand a few local traditions. On Friday, we traveled to Lima with our host mom for the traditional visit to seven churches. This custom doesn’t necessarily involve seven different masses, but rather spending a few minutes in different churches to reflect and pray as a community. We visited a few before things got too crowded, but, we did get to see the church where the heads of Saint Rose and Saint Martin de Porres are kept (not on display, of course), so that was pretty casual. We also had the opportunity to have a veganized version of a delicious Peruvian dish, Lomo Saltado (see the pic of the dish below). The streets were filled with hundreds of thousands of people, and it was definitely a sight to see and something very humbling to be a part of.
On Saturday we made a trip with several other PCTs in our neighborhood to a mountain about an hour and a half away for some hiking! The trek was about three miles long and took us to an elevation of over 9,000 feet. Our prize was a stunning waterfall at the top, where we stopped for tons of pics and then to enjoy some pre-packed lunch (thanks mom!). It was a really fun way to not only get our cardio in, but to connect with our fellow trainees, get to know each other more, and bond over getting our cardio in! We celebrated our athletic achievements with some Inca Kola, the world’s most addicting bubble gum flavored soda (which fun fact, is the only soda to outsell Coca-Cola in any country). Check out some highlights below:
We have lots of homework to finish for the rest of the week (that’s right kids, 11 weeks may seem like a long time but there is a lot to learn and study before The Big Day), so it’s time to sign off for now. Be sure to check out the Contact Us section of our page if you’d like to reach out to us directly! We have Peruvian SIM cards in our phones so our US numbers won’t work, but, you can always reach out to us on social media or WhatsApp! We’d love to answer any questions you may have 😊 Check our page every few days for more updates and pictures! Thank you, friends, for being you.
Paz y Amistad,
Andrew y Bryan 😊