Monday, June 24, 2013

Cajamarca and All That Jazz

This weekend, we went to the city where the Inca empire ended! We took a six and a half hour bus ride which landed us 9,000 feet above sea level in Cajamarca, Perú.

Upon arrival, we went straight to the "Incan Baths" at 5 AM and enjoyed some relaxing, warm, natural water.

Then, we found our hotel where we paid less than $20US per night and got a spectacular view of the sun rising.

Then, we went on a tour of a city called Granja Porcón that is 10,500 feet above sea level. There, they make fresh dulce de leche, yogurt, cheese, and other foods. It was nice to get away from the smog of Trujillo for a little while. Especially when llamas are involved.

We returned to Cajamarca two hours late and went to have a nice lunch around 3 o'clock. I promptly got very sick but managed to roll out of bed, climb a mountain, shop, and snap a picture of the sunset.

The next day, after nine hours of a coma-like sleep, we climbed higher up on the same mountain and enjoyed the city from above for an hour or so.

While I did come home with a sunburn and some great pictures, I didn't manage to snap a picture of their main delicacy, cuy. I think I'm doing you all a favor by not posting a picture, anyway. Imagine your sweet, gentle, cooing guinea pig from when you were a child. Do you have that image in mind? Good. Now, imagine it twice as big, dead, and on the side of the road being sold for food. Still on my list of foods to try, but it may have to wait a while as my stomach adjusts. PTL for having 6 months left to complete my Perú To-Do list!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Girl Meets World

In accordance with all the hype from Girl Meets World commencing filming this summer, I am quite stoked that I have finally come into my own in Perú.

The last couple of weeks have been stressful as I began my first year of teaching which is commonly regarded as the hardest year of teaching. It is especially difficult when the administrative side doesn't really know what's going on, the students know you have no clue what you're doing, and you are a woman in a machisto culture trying to teach people who are the same age as you. This has proved to be a struggle for the last two weeks, but I have finally gained the trust and respect of my students. They still try to get out of everything (because picking up their pencils for 45 seconds and writing a couple words is that draining), but at least they are learning. Thankfully, I am learning from them as well. They frequently teach me words in Spanish, and I enjoy teaching them quirky things about English. Every time I say section "2B" they have to respond with "Or not to be." They're cute. (And don't worry G-man, your video is a work in progress...)

Also, I want to give a huge shout out to Ms. Susan Kirkman for hooking me up with some sweet snacks as part of a going away gift in May. My diet in the States usually consists of anything but meat and rice, and guess what the two staple foods here... You guessed it. Meat and rice! And huge portions of them. With bones. I finally had to ask my host mom to only serve me half of what she was planning to prepare for me. You can imagine that such a drastic change in diet in a short amount of time has been quite trying. I haven't eaten much the last couple days due to stomach aches, and on Father's Day I was craving something familiar when I remembered my gifts! I was luckily able to nosh on one of those lovely snack bars, and it helped tremendously. Sending you lots of hugs and kisses for that heads up play!

In other news, this past weekend was quite eventful with many salsa clubs, sandboarding (yes, sandboarding!), and friends. Sandboarding was incredibly fun, and yet completely different from snowboarding.

It was also incredibly beautiful!

Finally, I want to give another shout out to my dad since Father's Day was yesterday. We celebrated Sr. José with a nice duck dish, and it was wonderful but you know nothing beats celebrating THE Timmy T. He is my favorite, and he has always worked so hard to make sure we have everything we need and more. I know we never say enough how much we love and appreciate him, but he deserves to hear it each and every day all day long. Thank you for always supporting us. Thank you for giving selflessly to us. Thank you for passing on the Hinesley last name and good times. Thank you for coming to all of my 149,999 softball games (excluding the 1 where I hit my only home run....). Thank you for paying for all 150,000 of those softball games. Thank you for giving up another Father's Day together so that I can be in Peru writing this right now. Basically, thanks for being the best dad.

I love you!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Back to School, Back to School...

Tuesday was the first day of my intensive English I class (7:00-11:00), and it's been going well! Earl and Hank (my rooster neighbors) have woken me up at 4:02, 5:14, 5:56, and 4:36 consecutively. I just love roosters. Said no one ever.

My students have all turned out to be slightly lazy but wonderful. Half of my students are 16-20 and the other half are 28+.  We've have an average of a whopping 10 students per day, which is much easier to handle than 31 high schoolers.  The dynamic in the classroom is wonderful because they were shy at first, but my Spanish mistakes (and great personality.... and humility) made them more comfortable messing up in English! (It probably helps that I have tripped and almost BUSTED IT twice a day. Day three and I'm already that crazy teacher.)

It's been very clear that the Lord has been walking with me daily. Day one of teaching was rough because I knew no one, I ran out of material with an hour and a half left in the period (but managed to stretch it out... What's that you say? A Teacher of the Year award. Why, you're too kind!), my supervisor was too busy to speak with me, and I felt very overwhelmed and on the verge of homesickness. All before 11:00am might I add.  Thankfully, I got to go home and have lunch with my fabulous host mom.  She is the sweetest, most loving person ever. She reminds me a lot of my grandmothers who will drop everything to come cook a meal for you or bend over backwards just to make sure you were comfortable. The Lord has given her such a good, servant's heart!  I felt at home as we had a religious talk where I had to explain to her that Protestants are Christian's, too.

Our chat over lunch was wonderful but still didn't help me feel quite satisfied, especially since I'm trying to find a new home church. And WOULDN'T YOU KNOW IT, we went out that night, our taxista was listening to Christian music, I asked if he was Christian, and he gave me a flier and his card for their (non-Catholic) church. Say what!? The Lord can be so sneaky.

Day 2 of teaching went even better than day one because I only ran out of material with an hour left in the class. I was still on the verge of homesickness as I haven't had many people to build personal relationships with (which has left me just sitting at home most afternoons) when I met other people in my program who all welcomed me with open arms... One of whom is from Snellville!  They have let me in on their observations and what life is like in Trujillo, and I'm getting much more accustomed to everything.

I've made quite a few observations for observations myself, and just to share a few...

  1. I am super tall in Peru. I went for a run the other day, and I saw 7 people the whole time who were taller than me. One of whom was one of my old UGA professors.
  2. Peruvians are loud. They are making me get accustomed to lots of noise. All the time. Between having 10+ people in the house at any given time, the roosters, and the taxis always honking, I'm having to figure out when I can get some shut eye.
  3. Peru is going to help me get over some of my slightly OCD and germophobic habits (PTL!). No one ever knows what's going on so nothing can be done perfectly. People can't drink the water. My sheets don't quite fit my bed. We don't have hot water at the sink, so killing germs isn't really an option. I found out upon arrival that Trujillo is a desert so there is dust everywhere, and my shoes are quite covered in dust already. It's been nice knowin ya, sperries.  All of these are among other things, but I really am enjoying my life here!! I am still grateful for the experience.

For now, that's all the boring business about school. There should be more exciting adventures soon as we are going up to the mountains this weekend!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Travel, Travel, Travel

After an uneventful flight into Lima, we had quite the eventful 24 hours. (The "we" I am referring to is a group from UGA that just happened to be flying down at the same time as me as well as our native Peruvian contact) About 10 minutes after we got out of customs, two famous Mexican singers Jesse y Joy showed up. People were screaming, running and flashes were going off everywhere. I really thought they were coming for me.  Then we all crammed into two taxis and almost got into countless accidents. I think they were just trying to keep us on our toes.

A little shaken from the taxi ride, we finally arrived to our hotel and slept til morning.

Later, we perused the streets, looking like súúúúpergringos (aka tall white people)... Some students stopped us and asked Kevin and me to take a picture with them.

And then 6 of us crammed into a  4 person taxi...

Then we rode for 9 hours on a bus where I saw nothing but...


... but don't worry, the beach was on the other side. The. Entire. Time.

As for now, I have learned that many Peruanos are incredibly loud and don't care if you hear every word of their conversation. Even their animals are loud. The roosters living on the roof of the house right beside my window became the sound track of my morning at 7 AM sharp. Love those fellows. May even give them a name. Definitely up for suggestions.