Yesterday was a crazy day. Una dia loca. And it was only day one.
The Peruvian adventure started on the wrong side of 4am in Minnesota. Thankfully, dad took me to the airport; double thankful that my suitcase fit into the trunk of his car. ("Did I mention that I have a gtR?") blah blah blah. Minneapolis airport. Early. McDonalds breakfast (win). blah.
The story that you're all actually interested in hearing about is what happened once I actually arrived in Peru.
My flight landed around 9pm, and it was a whirlwind of Spanish attempting to make my way off the plan, down to immigration, gathering my gigantic luggage, and pushing the oh-so-suspenseful Red or Green customs button. Thankfully I got green, and could make my way out to the lobby to find the man that would (hopefully) be there to pick me up.
Well, that's where it got sticky. At this point, I've been awake for 18 hours, I'm frantically trying to eavesdrop on the conversations around me, and I'm drenched in sweat from dragging 70 lbs of school supplies through the airport. Then, add to that the fact that I am unable to find the handy-dandy little man with a sign showing my name...or my program...or anything in English.
The great news was, another group must have recognized how frazzled I was, and asked if I needed help to watch my bags while I looked for my taxi driver. I accepted (of course...then told them to wait 10 minutes and I may join their group instead) and headed off to scope the signs for my name, or really anything that looked familiar. Thankfully I found him: standing in the very back, behind huge signs, holding a tiny scrap of paper folded in half, with my name on it.
Someone needs to revisit their job description.
Either way, I greeted him, and we headed out to his taxi with my luggage. He chattered with me in Spanish all the way there, and far too quickly I realized that my 8 years of public schooling had seriously failed me. Or maybe it was the fact that I hadn't spoken Spanish in 5 years, and completely gave up on Rossetta Stone. I'm gonna stick to the first one.
Once we got to his car, he loaded my luggage in the back, said something to me (that I clearly couldn't understand), locked the car -- with me inside -- and headed off. Back to the airport. Apparently I wasn't the only person he was suppose to pick up, but he didn't feel the need to communicate that.
45 minutes later...after sitting alone in the taxi, on a dark, humid, Peruvian night....he returned with another volunteer. Thank god. Not sure what I would have done otherwise; that would have been a difficult thing to explain to my parents.
"Yeah, my cab driving just abandoned me..on my way home...nbd"
I arrived at my homestay around 10:30pm, greeted by the Director of Tarpuy Sonqo, Lidia, and her son Juan. In the house, there are a total of 14 volunteers residing at a time, all completing different volunteer projects, at different locations during their time here. Its confusing, and overwhelming, but thankfully it means that I'm living with a large group of people who all speak my native language...for better or for worse.
Overall, my impressions of Lima, and my program, are positive. Its been a long time since I've been so out of my element, which is intimidating, but also very welcoming in my usually-average life. The language barrier is definitely there. Communication is so difficult, and I find myself unbelievably embarrassed when trying to speak in Spanish, because I know I'm making mistakes. However, I have surprised myself in the past 24 hours with how much I really do remember from school, and how well I can pick up new language, and understand those around me.
Tomorrow I head to the school where I'll be teaching for the first time. After, I'll get to sit down and decide my schedule on a weekly basis for the remainder of my two months. Aside from teaching, I have other options, such as working at a local orphanage with teenage girls, helping at a abused girl shelter, and volunteering at Wawa Wassi, a baby orphanage. More then likely I will teach Tuesday-Thursday, Wawa Wassi on Monday, and the girls shelter on Friday. However, the school is over an hour away, and waking up at 7am to get there doesn't exactly sound appealing.
However, for better or for worse, I'm going to have a crazy experience here. The other volunteers are already so comfortable with Lima -- granted some have been here for many months -- but it feels like it never going to happen for me. I don't speak Spanish, and I struggle to feel comfortable around kids...especially when I can't understand what they need or want. I guess that's the reason I do these kind of things...to learn and to challenge myself.
I'm here for 2 months to have an experience. This is not a vacation, and I knew it wasn't going to be easy...
Keywords: Culture Shock, Peru, Travel
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