Five months in Los Angeles

I really thought that I had posted since I got here. Apparently not.

I arrived in Los Angeles at the end of March. I had the opportunity to go back to Peru in early May, but chose not to. There were many reasons; each individually was not enough, but taken together, it was best for me to remain in the US.

While I have been here, I have been taking classes to get certified to teach English to speakers of other languages. At the end of August, I will have one class left (which I plan to take early next year). I am going to Puebla, Mexico in September to improve my Spanish. I was very disappointed in the language training that we received in Peace Corps Peru, so I am looking forward to nine weeks of structured classes. Also, I believe that some of the second language acquisition coursework that I have done will be helpful. We’ll see. In November I am returning to Peru to be a tourist for a month. There were a lot of places that I didn’t get to see; I had a couple of trips lined up when we were evacuated and I was able to change the tickets, so I am going to visit.

State of emergency

Due to rain and flooding, much of Peru has been in a state of emergency for the last couple of weeks. The loss of life, the people left homeless and damage to infrastructure is overwhelming.
All Perú Peace Corps are safe, but the volunteers from three northern coastal states are being evacuated. This includes me. Right now, I am in Lima and will be heading to my sister’s in a couple of days. Peace Corps will assess the damage and decide if we are able to come back and whether we will need to go to new sites.
Here is my friend Caron’s account of the last couple weeks have been like:


By the title you should be able to tell that this post will be all about ME.
In the US, I never spent much money on beauty products or treatments. I did spend a fair amount getting a good haircut every 8 weeks. When I accepted the invitation to Peru, I decided to grow my bangs out and stopped with the regular haircuts. I had my hair cut in LA in September and thought I might wait until the end of April to get it cut in Buffalo before my mother’s service. My hair was looking a little ratty and it was starting to bother me. Then Liz posted this pic and my hair really bothered me.

I was worried about getting it cut here. Wasn’t sure if I could explain what I wanted, etc. Eventually, my frugal (cheap!) side won out. In the US, I would pay at least $50. Here, in my site most of my friends go to Wilmer, everyone said that he is very good. I thought I explained what I wanted, I thought he understood.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not unhappy with it, but if you knew me 20 or 30 years ago, this is how I wore my hair for a very long time. I am not sure if it is just a sign of where Peru is fashion wise, or if this is just the style that seems to fit me best? Cost? S/.5 ($1.52). Can’t beat that!

More rain

Yesterday the rain came back with a vengeance. Today was nice enough, hot and sunny. Stopped by to visit with Maritza and it started raining again. Renzo tried to divert some of the rain out of the courtyard

But it was raining so hard

and the drainage systems were already overwhelmed from yesterday that the courtyard soon filled

And the water came pouring into the house.

Tierra de miel

When I first got to Pátapo, I was confused that it was called “tierra de miel.” To me, “miel” was honey, but here, honey is “miel de abeja” – “honey from bees.” Miel is used more to mean what I would call syrup. Pátapo started out as a sugar cane plantation, and the main crop in the surrounding area is still sugar cane. To make the sugar you extract the juice and boil it down, hence, the miel.

The other thing that confused me were the steam engines. Almost all of the pueblos around here have steam engines in their Parque Principal or as is the case of Pátapo, at the town entrance. The thing is, there are no railroad tracks and I didn’t understand why each town had one of these engines.

Francisco is our resident expert on The Ciudadela (the Chimú ruins on the hill next to our town). He has devoted the last 16 years (when he wasn’t at work cutting cane) to exploring the ruins and collecting historical articles and photos of the town. The other day we were looking at old photographs and I got the answer about the trains. Up until the 1950’s the trains were used to bring the cane from the fields to the factories. Of course, now it is brought by truck.

The entrance to Pátapo

Parque Principal Huaca Blanca

Sugar cane fields

Truck full of cane

A visit to el campo

Last weekend my friend Maritza took me out to another friend’s chacra (little farm). Raimunda was picking mangoes when we got there. We walked around picking mangoes, starfruit, limes, coconuts and mamey ( There was also a gigantic honey beehive, but I couldn’t get a good photo.
Raimunda cut the coconuts open and we shared the coconut water while eating a delicious mamey.
So lucky to come home with a big bag of fruit!
Starfruit on the tree

Raimunda and a mamey

the rain came

During my first six months here in sure, people talked about “the rainy season,” but seeing as it never rained that whole time, it seemed like an abstract concept. Over the last couple of weeks there were a few showers and last night the rain came in earnest. Power was out all over Lambayeque for most of the night. The mud is incredible. I am fortunate, my room is on the second floor and the roof seems to be keeping the water out. Another volunteer posted these photos from Chiclayo (Peru’s 4th largest city):

And this was the view from my room this afternoon: