We wanted to share a bit of fun adventures from our first week here at our site. It’s been both exciting and at times a little overwhelming settling into our new home, figuring out our work routines, and organizing our cooking and shopping. Moving into a new place is never easy, and certainly not when it’s in foreign country! But nevertheless, we had a really great first week.
We arrived to Trujillo from Lima by bus on early Saturday morning, and we spent the day there with the other La Lib peeps shopping for the essentials we needed in our sites. Trujillo is wonderful in many regards, especially because there is everything you can imagine available for us to buy that you’d normally get in the States, for the most part. We’re super lucky that we are only about two hours from the main city of Trujillo, as we only need to haul our heavy luggage that far. Some of our colleagues however, are 6+ hours from Trujillo, so they had quite the adventure taking all of their luggage, and in many cases new mattresses and bed frames, to their sites. One of our really close friends Nicole had a little bit of a rough start, with her mattress flying off of her combi (basically 7-to-14-seater passenger vans that work as public transport [among other forms] here in Peru) once she started making her way to her site. Everything turned out great, and her along with the mattress arrived to site safely, but it was certainly a laughing/crying kinda moment for everyone, not just her:
We decided to pass on buying a mattress this go around, since we already had 7 large luggage bags which included all of the shopping items we had (memory foam cooling gel pillows anyone?) to take with us to our site, and it was heavy enough without adding an entire mattress. We think we’ll head back to Trujillo on a later weekend since it isn’t too far from us distance-wise and buy a mattress then, when we only have that large item to worry about and not 7 or so.
Anyways, on Sunday, after saying our goodbyes to the wonderful people we get to call region mates, we departed for our site. It was certainly an adventure, needing to get a taxi from the hotel to our bus terminal and maneuver stuffing everything in there, and then on the bus that takes us to a town nearby our site, then transfer over to a smaller combi that we had to hire for ourselves and all of our luggage to finally bring us to our house in-site. We had lunch with our host family, and then spent the rest of Sunday unpacking and settling into our room. This is actually a temporary room, as our host mom is building us a new room with our own private bathroom and entrance, which is super nice of her, so in a few short weeks we’ll fully move into that one. Here are some pics of our temporary room (we tried to make it as homey as possible even though its temporary):
Our first day of work at the muni (what everyone here shortens municipalidad or municipality to) was very productive. After settling into our desk (we both share a desk next to one of our main socios (counterparts), we created a simple plan of work for the week and started tackling our work for the next three months. Here’s a pic of Andrew at work at our desk!
As I believe we’ve mentioned in an earlier post, our service is divided into segments, from Swearing-In to EIST (early in-service training) which is months 1-3 in-site, from EIST to IST (in-service training), which is months 3-6 in-site, from IST to MST (mid-service training) which is months 6-12 in-site, and finally from MST to COS (close of service), which is end of year 1 to end of service, the second full year. So we started tackling a work plan that aligns with our work goals and expectations (mostly what Peace Corps expects us to get done) and that of the Subgerencia de Saneamiento Ambiental (Sub-office of Environmental Sanitation), which are our main counterparts that would bring us to the end of our first three months in-site and ready for EIST. We’ll explain in a later post what exactly these in-service training events are like. Here’s a pic of one of our socios, Ingeniero Ricardo, in the office. Our other principal socio is Ingeniero Mario, who we’ll show you all in future pics!
You might be asking why I called Ricardo and Mario “Ingeniero”. Good question! Here in Peru, titles carry a lot of weight and respect. Basically, if you have completed any form of higher education, it’s expected people address you by that title (like how we address anyone with a doctorate in the states by “Doctor so-and-so”), and this is especially true of ingenieros (engineers), or Ing. for short.
We had the day off on Tuesday, as both Ing. Ricardo and Ing. Mario had to go for a training in Trujillo, but on Wednesday we hit the ground running by planning out a facilitation schedule with Ing. Ricardo. Ing. Ricardo is in charge of the Área Técnica Municipal (Municipal Technical Area), or ATM for short. The ATM is in charge of providing technical and financial assistance to the rural communities that belong to that particular muni and have community managed water committees known as Juntas Administradoras de Servicios de Saneamiento (Administrative Sanitation Services Committees) or JASS for short. Given that our focus is to help improve the capacity of rural communities in their management and operation of their water systems and services, the ATM is our main socio. We’ve planned out about 10 facilitation/training events to the six JASS that fall under our muni’s jurisdiction from now until the end of September, which include general training on the importance of water conservation, hand-washing, and the importance of a community having a water committee. Later sessions will also include more technical-oriented trainings, such as how to chlorinate a water system, how to maintain a water system, and how to calculate and implement a monthly service charge for users. We spent Thursday also preparing the presentation materials that we’ll use to deliver these facilitation/training events.
On Friday, apart from further preparing our presentation, we had the opportunity to go out and officially visit one of the communities we’ll be working with. For safety reasons, we can’t name the sites, but for reference moving forward, we’ll be coming up with acronyms to differentiate which sites are which. The community we visited on Friday was PLP. We had the opportunity to meet the President and Secretary of the JASS of PLP, as well as several community members. We also carried out our first water system inspection and diagnostic with the JASS members. Here are some pictures of our visit and water system inspection:
We spent the weekend relaxing at home, catching up on emails, spending some time with our host family, and just resting after a crazy but productive first week.
Overall, we had a really excellent first few days in our site! Next week, we begin our training events in the annexes (those rural communities that belong to our muni) so we have lots to look forward to. Stay tuned for our next update coming next week 🙂 We’ll try and write and publish updates every Sunday, that way we hold ourselves to a schedule and you all know when to come check for new posts 🙂
Saludos: Andrew y Bryan 🙂