Monday, September 30, 2013

4 Month Update

It's hard to believe that 4 months ago to the day I was packing up my things and heading to the airport for this journey! This isn't the promised Galapagos update, but that will have to be when the real world gives Melissa some time to breath. . .

The month of September was a little more relaxed as far as "fun" activities go, and I was really able to focus on teaching better. Spring finally came (even though it's still been cold), and since Trujillo is the "City of Eternal Spring," there have been plenty of festivities the last week.

I was going to post pictures of the first celebration in the main plaza, but I was unfortunately robbed that evening. :-( My Peruvian friend and I were outside of my house chatting when the two choros came. Thankfully they only got my Argentine purse, my UGA ID, my key, my American cell phone, 50 Soles (about $20), and other small things. One of the men had a gun, but thankfully the only harm done was psychological and financial. Because they stole my key right in front of my house, I had the fear that they were going to return and possibly enter the house and harm my family. AKA I slept horribly that night. Then, all day Saturday I didn't drink any water because they stole my water bottle and I was too preoccupied to buy another one. Which then turned into me being incredibly dehydrated all day Sunday. (When will the last domino finally fall!?) From there, it was a rough start to the week for my stomach until Friday morning.

Friday the 27th I woke up with a rash from my waste up, swollen eyes, swollen ears, swollen face, and an itchy scalp. When I walked into class, all of my students asked ¿Miss, qué tiene!? (Miss, what do you have?), and then I knew it was bad. I went to the pharmacy and took some sketchy pills that brought my symptoms down, but the rash keeps coming back every few hours if I don't take some sort of pill.

Saturday the 28th, I went to the "parade" and start of the Olympic games for La Universidad de Cesar Vallejo (where I work), and I was the queen of the Language Center.

Following my short-lived and highly embarrassing queen-ship due to having 10 minutes to choreograph a dance to a song I'd never heard, we ate a lot of chicken and then commenced the volleyball tournament. This is my incredibly fierce team! Not sure how we pulled it out, but we won the first game to put us through to the next round next weekend.

Overall, it was a fun morning, but the rash came back shortly after that and I got sunburned, so I had to leave a little early. My family was worried about me, so they took me to a dermatologist. He told me it was one of four factors: a reaction to medication, a reaction to food, a problem with my blood, or a parasite. I find it so odd, because the food and medicine I had taken during the week is all food and medicine I have eaten or taken before. He then gave me a strict diet. No medicine. No citrusy foods. No pork. No eggs. No chocolate. No packaged food. No artificial coloring. No seafood. AKA he cut out about 95% of my diet in the States. Nothing packaged? Really?!

In all honesty, I have never believed in culture shock until this week. Two people prayed for me in English on Saturday, and I burst into tears both times because that’s the first time somebody has prayed for me in English in the last four months. My upcoming trip isn't helping my anxiety at all, and I am completely focused on getting home to get rid of the rash and all the other bad things that have snowballed the last week and a half. I’ve had a rough time being present in everything I’ve done lately. I honestly never thought I would miss Lawrenceville so much. Haha.

Amid everything that has gone on, I have realized even more how important it is to surround yourself with believers. All of my friends from the church are the ones who took me to the pharmacy to figure out my medicine situation, didn’t judge me when I started to cry, listened to me gripe and complain about their country without trying to prove me wrong, gave me hugs when I needed them, and have made me feel at home.

Everything that has happened in the last week has all been a test of the Enemy, and as much as he has beaten me down, HE HAS NOT WON because my God is better than him. I think the Lord has given me this time to really make me appreciate what I have in the States as well as toughen me up a bit. For that, I am thankful!

On a happier note, this is what I have been up to the last couple of weeks:

1. I put on a movie night at the church with the college-aged group. We watched Despicable Me. :-)

2. A free orchestra concert downtown.

3. Street burgers at El Gitanillo after the show. Nomz.

4. Hanging out with Mariale after my queenship!

5. Dinner with some of my old students at El Gringo Loco which is the best burger shop around!

6. Watching the Spring Festival Parade from the terrace of my friends' house.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Lessons and Lesson Plans

The time has finally come for that awkward blog post that I have been dreading... The one where I haven't written in over a month! Oops. Please, pull up a chair as I enlighten you about one of the most stressful months of my life.

At the end of July until the beginning of August I had a few days off between semesters, so I decided to head up to northern Perú thanks to the invite of a local missionary, César, to see the most beautiful beaches in the country, and boy were they beautiful!

This little gem of a beach is called Zorritos (Little Foxes), and we sat here for hours enjoying the sun and relaxing sounds of the waves :-) We only encountered a handful of people on both days combined. Que rico!

This lovely beach is called Máncora which is the most touristy beach there is in Perú. I saw many friendly gringo faces after days of pure Peruvians!

This is Puerto Pizzaro with Whyny, the daughter of the family I stayed with in Tumbes.

From Puerto Pizzaro we went on the sketchiest boat ever and saw a LOT of birds. This place is literally called Bird Island.

One of the highlights of the trip is that I got to go to ECUADOR! I have wanted to go to Ecuador for some time, and so this was like a dream come true! César and I walked across the border from Aguas Verdes to Huaquillas, had a smoothie with an Ecuadorian grilled cheese sandwich, and bought sunglasses and earrings. Unfortunately there is so much commercial exchange between these two cities that they don't stamp passports. I left Ecuador a little heartbroken that I didn't have a stamped passport. At least I can say I walked across the border...

And that I took my first motorcycle ride!

I stayed in less than desirable conditions in Tumbes (there was a pig, cold water, lots of dirt, and a rat hunt), but it was one of the best experiences of my life! A Tumbesina family welcomed me, an unknown gringa, so openly into their home. Likewise, César took off multiple days from work to make sure I was comfortable and enjoying my time there. I really wouldn't have felt safe without him by my side! This trip was a good reminder of just how hospitable Peruvians are. Amid all the frustrations their strong cultural differences have caused me, they generally have huge hearts--Christians and non-Christians alike. As much fun as I had, I was very happy to finally be home in Trujillo. Living in Trujillo has made me appreciate what I have in the States, and staying in Tumbes made me appreciate what I have in Trujillo. I firmly believe everyone needs to have the chance to experience another reality like this to make you appreciate the little things (things like hot water, carpet, clorox, and toilet paper).

Returning from Tumbes (five hours late thanks to "difficulties" with the bus which made me miss work Saturday morning--oops!), I went to the wedding of two people from my Peruvian church. The traditions were quite similar to an American wedding, but the whole event was much less serious than an American wedding. Jokes were being made throughout the ceremony, and a good time was had by all! They sure do look happy, right? Haha. I am diggin the father of the bride with his aviators during the whole ceremony.

Starting from that Saturday during the whole month I averaged about 4 hours of sleep per night as I was trying to keep up with planning for my 3 classes, hosting friends in Trujillo, and planning my trip to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador! All of August was an incredibly rushed month, but I am still thanking God for my time here! This is the part where I lamely encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and explore the world! There is so much to be learned about what God has created for us. We lack so much understanding due to living our lives so comfortably confined within our own home, and I think this is what has ultimately caused a lot of conflicts, wars, and prejudices in our world. If we increase our understanding of others, walk a mile in their shoes, hurt for their pain and feel joy for their triumphs, intentionally causing them pain becomes unimaginable. Thank goodness for August and all it taught me, but PRAISE JESUS for September and the relief it has brought.

Fear not, faithful readers! The next update will be Galapagos galore. I know that is the main reason you decided to visit my blog today! :-)