8/4/2011 -- A good friend of mine told me several weeks ago that I should continue blogging my life, not necessarily for any of you that happen to read this, but for me. So my goal with my new start is to reflect on things that have happened, how they've changed me, and how I can apply what I've learned to the future. Feel free to follow along or whatever, I got things under control even if no one ever reads this.
First post is something like half done, expected time of arrival: 1 week.
Monday, October 4, 2010
First real post!
It's Sabbath evening and I'm tired. It's been a long week so far, and I really miss home.
Not knowing when I was headed out to the airport, I got up early to say good bye to my mom before she went off to work. Through all my getting ready to go, I have discovered that I really don't like goodbyes. Especially when they have to last for such a long time.
After she took off I chilled at home and worked on getting myself packed and made sure that I had everything I needed. With all the offers of people going to write me letters, I went and got myself some more pens so I would have enough to last.
I called Jonathan and figured out that we weren't leaving till later that night after his mom finished cleaning the clinic. That made my day! More time at home for me! Toni came over to say one last goodbye and ended up staying till my mom came home for lunch. When she heard my mom remind me to clean the garage, she offered to stay all afternoon. So we got the garage organized and shuffled the tent trailer around and my car fit!! I said goodbye to my trusty stead and shut the garage door.
Between then and sevenish, I said my last goodbyes to Toni and my mom, and finished packing. Jonathan and Paula came and picked me up about seven and we headed out to Portland. We probably made it to bed about ten or so, not that it really matters, but thought I'd through it in.
My day started at 3:55 in the morning when Jonathan failed to wake up to his alarm due to the fact that he was wearing ear plugs. I shook him and we were up. We got all ready to go and met the shuttle. I ended up leaving my water bottle on the shuttle, but things happen. After what happened last time we were at the airport, Jonathan and I were early and probably spent at least twenty minutes waiting for our boarding time. This was an eternity compared to last time, but time enough to use the internet and relax for a bit.
The plane rides were nothing crazy, 3ish hours to Los Angeles, (Did not like the layout of that airport) 9ish hours to Bogotá, and then 3ish hours to Lima. You have to realize that by the time we flew in to Lima, it was 12:30 am Wednesday, so read on!
Hours and hours of airplane travel are horrible!! I have discovered a great dislike of long distance travel by plane, especially when leaving for long periods of time. Goodbyes are not fun and getting used to another way of doing things is something I've done too much of recently. Honestly I'm ready to settle down and make a routine of life the way that I like it. Which to some, may not be a routine, but just a way of doing things.
In the last year and a few days extra (depends on when this is posted), I have packed all my stuff into my car (or suitcases) and moved four times. Ouch. Just wait till I get home, then I'll get on with getting my life settled. Reading this, you might be thinking that I hated the last year of my life, but it has helped me figure out who I am, which is good. Now I have another 8 months on my plate. Which reminds me! I'm actually coming home in May, not June. This is great!! The reason for this is because that's when the winter session missionaries leave. So if I stay till June like I was planning, I'd be here by myself, or with Jonathan. I am a happy man!
This might make you think that I hate it here, but let me tell you something: it is a lot of fun here! I'm learning a lot of Spanish and working hard. It's all good. I also just realized that I am writing this all under Wednesday's section....
Wednesday!! It was 12:30 and me and Jonathan were in Lima and had a flight at 6:30. Luckily going through customs took up much of that time. I came out with a 90 day visa, which is perfect because I'm headed out to visit my grandparents in Costa Rica for Christmas break. We pulled ourselves out of that about 2ish I think, and headed out to check in for our next flight. That was a nightmare, and I will finish it tomorrow when I get more sleep.
It's Sunday morning! We are headed into Pucallpa to use the airport's free wifi and to do some shopping. Jonathan and I have discovered that it is very hot at night here, so we are seriously considering investing in a fan.
Wednesday (9/22) continued.
We ended up waiting around in the lobby for two hours just sitting around. At first we thought we only had one hour till the check in counter opened, but when 3 o'clock came around, we found out that we had till 4. If we had known this before, we would have holed up somewhere and slept a good two hours.
When check in finally opened, we were informed that Start Peru, the airline we were flying to Pucallpa with, failed to transfer the flight that we missed to that morning like we had asked them too. So we had to purchase a ticket on the spot, and then also pay the overweight fees because they didn't accept the international weight limits (two 50lb bags). So we ended up flying out of Lima something like $140 poorer. Ouch.
I was so tired on this flight, that it flew by. Before I knew it, we were landing in Pucallpa to be picked up by people that we didn't even know. We had been reassured that we would be easy to spot, being the only white guys with the lost look in their eyes.
We were greeted by the Doctor and the dentist as well as Caleb, one of the guys already down here. We tossed our bags in the back of their beat up Toyota and we were off to Kilometer 38, as our site is called because it's on kilometer 38 of the only paved road between Pucallpa and Lima. The road is a super nice road for Peru!! It's like a US road, paved, flat and one lane each way. Though it is big enough that it's as if there is a middle lane in the road.
Imagine flying down the road at 120 km/hr with little motokars (basically a motorcycle with an extension and then two wheels on the back with seats for passengers) and crazy taxi drivers everywhere and being super exhausted and trying to figure out who was who and make conversation all at the same time. That was us, plus the super humidity and hot sun. Wowee. It was just about then that I was wondering what I got myself into. Nine months in a foreign country? I'm crazy.
It took about half an hour or so to get back to the compound where we met the 8 other SMs, 6 girls and 2 guys. Jonathan and I were quick to claim our rights and went to catch some sleep for most of the day.
That evening we ate and hung out with the other people there. We met some of the local Peruvians that work for the Doctor, they are pretty cool guys. Nothing too crazy happened that night, the girls claimed that the food we got, lentils and rice, was much better than usual, and after a week and a half, I will have to agree with that statement.
In Peru the sun goes down about 6:30 every night, so that should mean that most of the people here go to bed early, right? Key word is should. The early dropping of the sun does result in it being super easy to hit the sheets early, and I will say that it's something that I really like! Though I really miss home still.
Jonathan and I got a chance to work with Daniel and Hector, two of the Peruvian workers, building a sidewalk from one house to the other on the compound. It was tough work mixing the sand and cement with nothing more than a couple of shovels and a pick ax. By the end of the Peruvian work day, 8-12 and 2-6, we were both tired.
It's tough work doing manual labor like that, but also working with guys that don't speak any English makes it even harder. That is the best way to learn Spanish though, being forced to learn it just to be able to communicate with the other guys there. So far I've learned quite a bit, but still am no where fluent. I don't expect to be having real conversations for another several months. I have learned that among guys, even with a language barrier, there is the universal topic of girls! Ha! Always something that any two guys can easily talk about unless one or both of them is gay... That just gets kinda complicated.
Sabbath here is not something I would call restful unfortunately. It's not like we have to work or anything, it's just that we have to be in church almost all day. That first Sabbath was no exception. Church from 9:30 to 11:30 and then we broke for lunch, then right after lunch we had to run the games for the kids all afternoon. I will say that it isn't so bad, in fact it's kinda fun in the afternoon, except for the fact that we are required to. We aren't given much of a choice. If any of you know me much at all, I hate said situations. I can deal with it, I just resent people who put me in such a position. Just a heads up.
My Sabbath was still worth writing about though! Church was similar, but kind of a knock off of our church service. Their church building is a basic structure with four walls, a tin roof, and a cement stage. There was maybe 25 people there, so not a whole lot. We sang hymns in Spanish, something I'm getting more and more used to, and then listened to the speaker in Spanish, something I have yet to get used to. Ha, but everyone speaks Spanish here, so it's no big deal.
Lunch was provided at a cost of 6 soles (2.77 to the dollar) which is kinda ironic for it being the Sabbath. Someone offered to make us lunch, then charged us for it. It was good though! After lunch we were in charge of keeping of keeping the kids entertained for the afternoon. Luckily the Doctor had some stuff planned and the girls already had experience keeping them all busy. So Jonathan and I just kinda tagged along and practiced looking busy.
Saturday nights the other SMs said that they usually partied Adventist style, so popcorn and games or a movie. But! Saturday night I was tired enough that I didn't stay up late enough to see what was happening. It was great! I love sleep, especially here.
I'm officially claiming Sundays as my day of the three 'R's: Rest, recuperation, and relaxation. The first Sunday we went into Pucallpa, the closest actual city (about 38 kilometers away), and got a tour of the place, or at least a tour of the main places where we were told that we'd spend the most time. Jonathan and I invested in a fan to make it so we could actually sleep at night instead of lying awake sweating all night dreaming of sleep.
Pucallpa is a cool place, nothing too crazy, but definitely bigger than LC. To get to Pucallpa, we have to walk out to the road from our compound, grab a motokar to CampoVerde (1ish soles), and then grab a taxi to Pucallpa (3sh soles). Total trip time is about 45 minutes or so. Not always worth it to go, but the airport in Pucallpa has free wifi! Though that first Sunday it was so slow that I couldn't even check my email or post to my blog, thus I'm posting this so late.
I'm throwing these all in one because this week was super long and super tiring. So let me tell you why:
I somehow allowed myself to be drafted into the clinic team, everyone other than the Peruvians are on it. So I found myself trucking out early with the team to do triage (pre doctor stuff). One of the locals that were helping out ended up taking over my job because of my lack of Spanish, but it was good because she was a lot more efficient than I was. I just ended up doing blood pressures for most of the day.
The rest of the week for clinic I helped in the pharmacy counting pills and telling the patients how much and how often. For that week we were in Pucallpa at a place that Puma, the Doctor's friend, had picked out for us. It was just a little community in a house near the Adventist church.
Tuesday we ended up leaving early to take the dentist to the airport, she was just there to teach the dental SMs the basics of dental work and that was all.
Thursday we got a call, there was a fire out in the jungle behind the compound. So we ended up leaving 3:30 or 4ish to get back to fight the fire as soon as we could. The fire wasn't too massive luckily, but there was enough dry leaves to keep it going until we were able to load up the tractor trailer with a massive water tank and fill it up at the well. We all road out with machetes and buckets to fight the fire.
Caleb and Chris, the other two guy SMs, managed to catch a sloth that was getting away from the fire during all the chaos. By the time it was dark we had it all out. Or at least we thought we did. Over the next several days, Thursday through Saturday night, we ended up spending 20 or 25 hours fighting fires out behind and next to the compound due to it rising out of the ashes. We ended up waking up during the nights several times to go out and fight the fire, so between clinics, the fire, and the small amount of food that we are allotted, this last week was a tough one. Saturday alone we spent seven straight hours (5:30-12:30) fighting two massive fires trying to keep them away from the houses and keep them from getting too big. This was all purely with machetes, shovels, hoes, and buckets of water from the tractor. Tough stuff.
Sunday we all got up exhausted, I didn't manage to pull myself outta bed until 11:15 or so. We were all sore and tired from a long week before. Luckily for us, it cooled down big time and rained a bit. Right after eating breakfast I grabbed my machete and walked out around where the fires had been looking for anything that might be going up in the near future. It's crazy how much a fire leaves behind even in cold and slightly rainy weather. I found tons of super hot coals and smoking logs. It's a sorry sight to see all the burned landscape. Thank God for the rain or we might have spent many more hours fighting the blazing heat.
Through all of this, I will say that I got lucky enough to only come out with a burn on my foot from getting a hot coal stuck in my boot. I still have all my hair, I can still breathe well, and I'm still alive! So don't worry about me, if a massive fire can't get me, then I'll be fine. God is good.
Yesterday and today (while I write this, today is the 4th of October) have been very relaxing. I have done very little in either days other than writing this and writing some letters. Last night we went to Pucallpa for food and today I'm going into CampoVerde for internet in a bit.
Overall thoughts so far:
What ever made me want to spend 7 months in Peru away from home? I have no idea. I miss home like crazy right now. I would do anything to get myself home for good, but I'm gonna put in my time here as best as I can. It's been 2 weeks now, so the rest of time shouldn't be too bad. Good news is that the winter SMs all leave in early May! So I can get away with leaving here and going home the first week of May! Woohoo!!! I'm pretty happy about that!
Food wise, if it's cooked right, the food can be pretty good. Though there is rarely enough to really feed everyone what they want. So it's looking like I'm going to be spending a little extra on food to buy my own supplemental food. On top of that, the food cooked isn't always something that has much in the way of nutritional value. Lotsa of watered down oatmeal and sweet Arroz con leche (rice mixed with milk) for breakfast. Jonathan and I are trying to get everyone to consider hiring a cook from around here to shop and cook for us. That would be absolutely amazing! Not gonna lie.
Internet is extremely unreliable around here, you've probably already figured that out because of how much I've been able to post so far. On top of that, there is little free time. I've been promised free time, but have received very little. I'll give it time and let you know how it turns out.
This next week we are headed up the river on boats to do some mobile clinics up there, and then next week it's back to manual labor for me. And let me tell you, after one week of clinics, I am super excited to put my back to work! Even though it's a lot harder, it's so much more fun for me and I actually get some exercise!
Off to post this! Peace, hope and Love to you all! Keep me in your prayers please! I need all I can get.