Reintroduction

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.



Sunday, February 20, 2011

Alright, so I have been unable to have sufficiently fast enough internet for the past four weeks, but I have been actively writing my blogs since. These were all written on the date listed above the actual post. I have also conveniently titled each post after it's week number, so if you would like to skip certain weeks, feel free to do so. Enjoy four posts all at once!

Week 19

1/30/11

 Dude, it's hard to believe that it's the 30th of January already. It seems like just last week I was chillin in Costa Rica with my grandparents. I guess time flies when you're super busy.
 This week was a weird week, even for Peru, I did a lot of crazy things. Went muddin with the truck, pulled the 'This is my house' card on 4 Peruvian men, and even wrote a program in my spare time.
 This week I was living at Km 8 at the clinic. The reason for working their instead of here at 38 was because I'm the chaufer for the evening VBS program that we've been doing at Km 6. The problem was that while I was sick and Jonathan had the conve (van), the van experienced several problems. As of Friday, (the last time I drove it because the doctor switched due to the mud issues we were having), the sliding door was broken and had to be tied shut or open, only 2nd and 4th gears worked with reverse working only sometimes, one of the headlights went out, and one of the rear lights was broken. Let's just say that when the Doc got back from Lima and had a look at the conve (pronounced conbe), he was not a happy camper.
 So anyway, I had to drive the garbage can on wheels (my nickname for the conve) back and forth through the mud every night. Thursday night ended up being too muddy, and Friday the doc traded me cars so I had the trucks four wheel drive, which saved us!
 Monday and Tuesday for we were just chill recovery days. Even now, I still have a residulent cough from being sick. So I just took it easy and helped out with what I could, but didn't really do a whole lot. I did take the girls to the market on Monday and then went shopping with Jonathan on Tuesday, but that was about as exciting as my days got.
 I came upon a problem while I was at 8, I didn't have all the addresses of the people I've been writing letters to. I have a tendency to try to think of solutions to problems, so I decided to write myself a program that would store, sort, and edit the contacts that I input to it. And that was what I spent most of my spare time doing this week.
 By Wednesday, I was feeling a bit better. So by the afternoon, I felt ready to go back to work. We had some kinda special lunch with some of the locals, and so I was a bit late getting to work, but work I did. I dug us a compost hole, which ended up being pointless because the rain keeps it full of water. You have to understand that we don't really have dirt at Km 8, we have a clay kinda ground. So it's super slick in the rain and does little in the way of absorbing moisture.
 Thursday I worked with Erick digging out a foundation for the house that we are building at 8. We have the basic frame and roof up (the posts and the tin roofing), so we're just leveling the ground to pour the concrete. By the end of the day, I was super sore and ended up quiting early. Laying around in bed for a week sure didn't do me much good. In fact, I was told that I look super skinny now, but that might also have something to do with the availability of food around here at times.
 Friday for lunch, we had ourselves some visitors. The pastor guys from the Evangelistic campaign came by and asked if we were cooking and when we would be done. The weird part about it was that they didn't ask to have lunch with us, they implied that they expected us to feed them.
 Now I want you to know that if I had been at the gate when they came around asking about lunch, I would have told them that if they wanted food they would have to ask for it and I probably would have asked them to leave. It's not because I don't like them or anything, I think that it's extremely rude for them to show up and expect us to feed them. We barely had enough food for us at the time, but we ended up compromising and asked them to get some bread and something to drink.
 We did feed them, and we fed them well, but I did tell them that if they wanted to do this again, they would have to call us in advance and plan on contributing to the meal. They apologized and agreed to my terms and all was well.
 Friday afternoon, the doc dropped by to pick up Hanna and switched vehicles with me so that I would have 4 wheel drive to make it through the mud to VBS. It worked out nicely, because we would have definitely gotten stuck without it.
 I got to enjoy the 4 wheel drive again Sabbath morning on the way to church (same place as VBS), and then all the way back to 38 for the night and then my day off.
 That brings you all up to speed with how things are going here. Nothing too crazy. This morning I did have to get up and deal with the dogs because the doc had the great idea of putting 3 male dogs together with one female dog that is in heat. They woke me up at 5:30 because they were fighting. And who woulda guessed? Ha.
 Man oh man do I really miss home. The whole homesickness thing only lasting for the first month or two was a joke. Do realize that I love it here, the other SMs are really making this year great for me, it's just that I love home. Hearing about my flight home on the 3rd of May made me think of being home and all the people and places and things to do back home. Sigh, at least it's only three months to go! Though I do love it here. It's just hard to explain. Bottom line: I miss home and look forward to going back home.
 Anyway, don't have too much in the way of thoughts for the week. Other than that run in with the four Peruvians who expected food, but from what I understand that is just a culture thing. Not a huge fan of the Peruvian culture, but luckily that isn't a big problem. Cause it don't matter how I feel about it, funny how those things work.
 Money usage: 25 soles for food for the week, 5 soles for the last hoorah of the VBS program, and I can't remember spending money on much else... So that brings my total to 30 soles for the week! Dang, hardly anything. My average is now: 51.7 soles a week and I can expect to expend a total of 671 soles in the remaining time. So about $242 more or less. Wow. This is good!
 Keep praying for me, I could use them prayers.


Peace to you all,
Antonio

Week 202/6/10

 So last week I was unable to post my blog, and for that I apologize. We've been having internet issues down here, and when the internet was working, I didn't have my computer or a copy of last week's blog with me. Because of that I'm going to post them both this week. This one here, and last week's below.
 It seems to be a recurring theme, but I still can't believe how much time has passed since last week! If it wasn't for writing these blog posts and noting the date, I would be a lost soul in the swirling time vortex, but I'm not, so don't worry.
 This week was getting things back to normal, kind of. I worked the whole week here at 38 with the guys, but spent most of my time chauferring Lucio around Pucallpa to buy various things that we needed.
 We bought everything from a new machete and file to dog food. So I'm gonna ponder a guess and say that I drove to Pucallpa and back about 7 times this week, and then driving to Km 8 is several kilometers off the road, and the picking up kids for VBS here at 38... So I estimate I drove 6 or 7 hundred kilometers this week. So like 350-400 miles. Wow.
 With all that spending of project money for all our building projects, I came up with something that I could purchase to help my Spanish abilities: a radio! So I put out 90 soles to get a radio I could pick up the local stations and also plug my computer into to amplify my music. It was a good buy and I've heard anything from sermons to a cooking show on the radio, and all of it was in Spanish.
 Every night this week we've been having VBS which means either me or Jonathan goes to pick up all the kids (about half an hour to an hour of driving around and waiting for kids) and then bring them back for our program. With Jonathan getting sick, I ended up doing most of it.
 Other than all the driving I did this week, I did spend a full day helping out with constructing Kevin's house here at 38 (Kevin is the treasurer for the project). The house is a slow project, so the doctor put the guys to work last Sunday to speed things up. The reason that it's so slow is that Kevin wants it all contructed outta bricks which means we've been doing a lot of brick hauling, brick laying, concrete hauling, mixing, and pouring.
 Thursday when we started work in the afternoon, Hector asked me to go get two bags of concrete from the hanger and bring them back. He didn't mean all in one go, but Elias told me to do it in one trip, but then told me that I couldn't. Those kinda remarks get the testosterone flowing, so I marched off to the hangar to bring back two bags of concrete in one trip.
 Each bag of concrete weighs 42.5 kgs, about 93.5 pounds, so I was unable to lift two of them onto my back, so I had Eric help me and I staggered out of the hangar with 85 kgs (187ish pounds) on my back. The distance from the hangar to the construction site is about 200 meters, and by the time I reached about halfway I knew that it would be a miracle if I made it, so I shouted at Elias to make sure he saw me with both bags on my back. I wasn't going to give up, because I knew that I might make it, but at about 3 quarters of the way I stumbled and lost one of the bags off my back and ended up tripping over it and falling backwards, much to the amusement of the guys. We all had a good laugh, and I had a sore body, but it was worth it.
 Wednesday evening (I'm just relaying experiences as I think of them, not really in any order), I went to play soccer with the guys, and had a great time. They guys we played against weren't super good, they were just as skilled as our team as a whole, so I actually had some fun playing with the guys. We played till it got dark, and then kept playing. It was so dark that the goalie would kick the ball and everyone would stop and wait till it would hit the ground and they could hear where it was. This went on for probably 20 minutes until someone finally turned on the lights.
 We ended up winning the game, so we each won a sole. The thing about playing soccer down here, is that all the Peruvians put in an apuesto (bet) to be able to play. I lost several soles when we played in the Yerbas Buenas tournament, but actually won a sole Wednesday night, so that was cool! That and the fact that the guys actually thanked me for playing was nice. Last time I played, I didn't quite live up to their standards, so this time they didn't expect much, so I exceeded expectations and came out with 1 assist and several steals.
 VBS every night has been a lotta fun, the kids all love riding in the truck or the van. So, by default, that means they love me when I come pick them up! One of the nights, don't remember which, there were two girls (probably late teens) who were still in the truck bed after everyone else had gotten out. when they saw me get out and come around, they asked me to help them outta the truck even though they could have easily gotten themselves out. Ha! Just thought that was a funny experience. A couple of Peruvian girls asking me to help them outta the truck.
 Down here I'm doing great still. Nothing really that exciting going on, just the norm. The doc headed back to Lima till the 17th, which is nice. Things are a lot more relaxed and chill when he's gone. In my opinion, it makes for a better working environment. I will say that things do get done faster when the doc is here, but it sure ain't because the guys like working for him, it's because he pushes them super hard and has too high of expectations that the Peruvians try to live up to. So I prefer it when he's gone.
 In the realm of my money spending, I spent the most this week since I got back from Costa Rica. 90 soles for the radio, 30 soles for food, -1 sole that I earned, 1 sole of fresh orange juice, 1 sole of cervado (a drink made out of some kind of grain, good stuff), 1 sole of matches for the kitchen, and 14 soles to send 2 letters. Total of: 136 soles. Brings my average to: 72.75 soles per week. With that I can expect to spend 873 soles more ($315) and a total of 1164 soles this year (Jan 8-May 3) or about $420. Not bad, but I do expect the average to go down because I do not plan on buying a radio again.
 “[Be Holy] Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.” - 1 Peter 1:13 Don't have a Spanish Bible handy, so you'll have to make due with English on that.
 Anyway, if you have anything you'd like to tell me or ask me, post a comment!


Peace out,
Anthony

Week 21

 Dude, guys. Just want to apologize for being so poor at keeping my
blog updated. The last two weeks I've just had problems accessing the
internet every time I've tried. For some reason the broadband internet USB
device that we use here at 38 won't let me log into my blogger account, so
that's been a problem. That and the internet cafe in Campoverde is now only
open for general internet usage in the evenings, so my lunch trips turned
out to be pointless. My evenings have been spent doing the VBS thing and
playing futbol (soccer) with the guys. I'm gonna get this posted TODAY
unless something super ridiculous happens. You can count on a new post next
Sunday as well, trust me.

2/13/11

 This week was an interesting week. Spent part of it being sick again
with some kinda weird stomach thing and got myself pulled over again, but
the biggest thing that happened to me this week was nothing more than
electric signals between my brain cells. Let me explain:
 Being down here in Peru has made me seriously consider doing something
like this for the rest of my life. The reasons for this is that not only is
life down here just so simple because of the living standards, but having a
job that works the body is actually respected, the fruit is amazing and
living day to day is to serve day to day.
 Well then, why not go somewhere that I already have my foot in the
door? What I mean by that, is that I'm good friends with all the Peruvians
around here, especially Elias. As weird as it sounds, I would go as far as
to call Elias a close friend of mine, even with the language barrier. What
I'm trying to say by all of this is that I am seriously considering coming
back here in the future, even in the near future like next year.
 One thing you should know though, is that I would never do it as an SM
again. Too many times did have have that title held against the throat of my
dignity. So I would come as a independent volunteer if they would have me.
 Now I'm not saying that this is all set in stone and this is what I'm
going to be doing next year, but I'm just letting you know that I'm
interested in doing this next year. I haven't talked to anyone about it, nor
have I done much looking into it, but I do know that I can get a decent
Honda motorcycle for a thousand bucks or less around here.
 So lets say I do come back next year, I've estimated that I would need
to earn 6 grand this next summer. $1000 for living expenses for the summer,
1800 for flights, 1000 for a motorcycle (I would want to buy one if I came
back), and then I figure the 1200 left over would cover me here for
something like 8 months and if I earned any extra money, then I could stay
for longer. In all honesty though, if I wasn't able to earn all the money, I
could ditch the motorcycle idea and put that towards just living down here.
 Who knows though, I could end up back at school next year and I would
still enjoy myself and have a good time. I do want to find myself a
significant other before I do anything major, but wouldn't be opposed to
finding a girl from a foreign country if it comes down to me living
somewhere else, like here, permanently.
 What I did this week was pretty fun. Monday I was working on the house
here at 38. It's super slow because we it's a house made outta brick and
concrete. I estimated that we are putting in maybe 20 bricks an hour. This
week we finished the outside four walls and started the inside walls. So
it's coming along. Played with the guys Monday evening and we won again,
which was cool. Then in the evening we had the VBS program with the kids.
 Tuesday I woke up with something weird going on in my stomach, so I
skipped breakfast and went back to bed just waiting for whatever it was to
make me puke. I napped until my stomach went crazy and then went out on the
front porch and puked in front of two of the local kids who were there
playing. They thought it was funny though, so it was all good. After that I
felt somewhat better, but not good enough to eat, so I chilled the rest of
the day away in my room.
 That night while Jonathan was out picking up the kids to bring them
back for VBS, the van battery caught fire and destroyed itself. So we had to
send Daniel out with the truck battery to get them back because Jonathan had
the key to the truck as well. So that was quite the fiasco, but we got
through it and now only have one good battery between the truck, van, and
the tractor.
 Wednesday I felt a bit better, but definitely not completely better,
so I took the day off as a recuperation day and didn't do a whole lot. That
was nice after spending a day listening to my stomach complain.
 Thursday my stomach started complaining again, but I held out for the
morning and worked with the guys out at Km 40 where we're building a new
church. We worked on putting together the rafters and then on the way back
the tractor broke down, so Daniel Pua had to fix it real quick and then we
had to push start the massive thing.
 I took the afternoon off because I thought that I was going to barf
again, so I laid my body down and napped for the lunch break and then told
the guys what was up. For some reason, Daniel (there are two Daniels, so I
refer to Daniel Ruiz as Daniel and Daniel Pua as Daniel Pua) always has it
out for me, so he of course tried to convince the others that I just didn't
want to work, but whatever. I don't care what he thinks, which is something
that he just doesn't realize.
 Friday was my morning to make breakfast with Jonathan, but Jonathan
had to run into Pucallpa early to pick up a patient that needed surgery, so
I rode into Campo with him and picked up some goods at the market and then
grabbed a motokar back. For breakfast I fried up some potatoes and made some
Arroz con Leche (rice that, for the last half of the cooking processed, is
cooked with milk. Actually very good.).
 The day was super rainy, so we didn't have breakfast till 8 and didn't
really get to work until 9 or 9:30. Even then, we just worked in the hangar
cleaning it out and reorganizing the wood in the woodshop.
 It stopped raining around 11ish, so Lucio rounded all of us guys and
we worked on push starting the tractor so we could haul some lumber out to
the church we're working on. It took something like 10 or 15 runs, but we
finally got the tractor going and loaded up the trailer with the wood and we
were off. But not before Elias agitated the wasp nest by the house and got
several of us stung.
 The tractor quit working again on the way there, so we ended up
disassembling the entire fuel system from the tank to the engine and cleaned
it out. Then we had to push start it again, yay. Ha. But it started running,
but by the time we got to the construction site, we only had enough time to
unload the lumber and prep the frame for putting up the rafters.
 After lunch, I went into Pucallpa with Elias on his motorcycle and he
let me drive in. It's a lotta fun driving even a little 100cc motorcycle!
But I managed to get us pulled over. Do realize that here in Peru, the
Police park their cars on the side of the road and just walk out on the
street whenever they see a car coming that they feel like pulling over.
Elias' soat (vehicle insurance) was expired so he paid a 10 sole bribe to
get out of a ticket. This is actually pretty standard in Peru, which is cray
compared to the States.
 When I got to Pucallpa I pulled out 500 soles and gave 100 of them to
Elias so he could get a new soat (90 soles for a year). He then dropped me
off at the taxi station and headed out to where he lives in Km 6.
 When I got back I went and played futbol in the mud with they guys and
we lost, but it was still fun. Afterwards we had a nice big 'ol bonfire for
the kids for VBS. One thing I learned after that fire is that Peruvians
prepare the wood in a fire in such a way that it is dependent on having some
sort of combustible to start it. So after 15 minutes of trying to get it
started Peruvian style, I rearranged much of the wood and it caught and held
with the use of a little gas.
 Saturday morning I took Lucio, Hanna, and Jesús (Jesús just along for
the ride) to Km 8 so we could take some benches and take Hanna to the new
church out there because she had to meet the pastor so she could tell the
board about him or something.
 It was raining, so when we got to Km 8, the mud was a ton of fun to
drive through! What sucked though, is that the pastor decided that he didn't
even want the benches when we got there. Then proceeded to give us poor
directions and not answer his phone when he told us he would. So we drove
around for 45 minutes asking random people if they knew where the church
was, but that got us no where so we had the pastor come lead us to the
church. When I finally got back to 38, it was already 11 and raining super
hard, so we didn't make it to church, but we had a relaxing time together,
Jonathan, Rebecca, Janessa, and I.
 It was nice to have a Sabbath without any obligations, and we took
advantage of that big time, and just relaxed all day. That evening Janessa
and Rebecca had a Valentine's party at their church, so Jonathan and I went
to part of it before we went to bed.
 And so that brings me up to today! This morning there was a big
gathering in Campo with some of the local Adventist churches, but I didn't
hear about it until this morning, so I didn't make it to all of it, but it
was cool. Went shopping at the market for this weeks food and came back to
type up my blog. I will be going back into Campo here in a few to use the
internet, so sit tight!
 Money-wise I spent quite a bit more than expected, but that was due to
giving Elias 100 soles. Unforseeable friendship expense, no big deal. So
between that, 50 centimos to the motokar Friday morning, 5 soles to ride the
taxi back, +1 sole for winning the game on Monday, but then the sole I lost
on Friday for losing, 30 soles for food, and then 5 soles I donated to
Janessa's birthday party celebration today. So my total for the week is a
new high at 140.5 soles. Ha, and I said that it would go down from last
week. Anyway, my prediction is that next week will be a low spending week.
That brings my average up a bit to 86.3 soles a week, or about 31 USD
weekly. At that rate I should expect to expend another 949.3 soles or about
340 USD. So even with the average slightly higher, I will have enough to
finish out my stay here, but I fully expect to have several weeks where I
spend little more than the cost of food.
 Keep praying for me, it is much appreciated even if it doesn't look
like it. I'm looking forward to coming home in May! If any of you, young or
old, are interested in coming down here and would like to hear more about
this place, shoot me an email: anthony.howell(AT)wallawalla.edu. I'd be more
than happy to help you out!



Live hard, play hard, sleep hard, pray hard.
Antonio

Week 22

2/20/11

 I would have to say that this week is a week to remember for many reasons. First of all, there were a couple run ins with the police for us and secondly, every time I've tried to use the internet, for some reason or another, the internet has not been working. Weird.
 The biggest issue that I encountered this week was a matter of poor communication, a repeating theme with the doctor. (This is going to be out of chronological order, but bear with me). The Doctor came back Wednesday afternoon from his 2 week stay in Lima while we were all out working, so he came out to see what was going down. You have to realize that this wasn't a 'Hey guys! Good to see you all again, and good work while I was gone.' This was a 'Hey guys, I'm back, and, like usual, I'm disappointed with your work speed.'. It's hard to work for someone who is never satisfied with your work, especially someone that never says 'Good job' or 'Nice work'. He just showed up looking very dissatisfied and had Lucio come with him for a chat (Lucio is the jefe for this month, basically he's the supervisor and the errand boy for the Doctor).
 None of us had known how much he'd expected us to have done, nor even when he'd be back. Then, come round Thursday, he flew out once again to Lima and didn't tell a soul. The guys that took him into Pucallpa didn't even know he was leaving, and I'm not even kidding.
 Sabbath morning came, and it was probably the most relaxing morning I'd had all week, and I get up and get ready to go only to find out that the Doctor had banned Jonathan and I from driving. Neither of us knew why, all we knew is that the Doctor had told Lucio that only the Peruvians were allowed to drive. You have to realize something here, none of the Peruvians have licenses. None of them are legal to drive, the Doctor directly supports having unlicensed Peruvians drive rather than legal Americans who have hundreds of hours more experience behind the wheel. I can remember the Doctor training these guys how to drive back before Christmas, so none of them have more than 4 months of driving experience. You're probably thinking exactly what I'm thinking, this makes perfect sense.
 What's actually really ironic about the whole situation, is that yesterday one of the Peruvians got a 1000 sole papelita (ticket) for driving unlicensed. Because of this, the Doctor reinstated me as a driver (for some reason unknowned to any of us, just me, not Jonathan). With all of this craziness going on, I told Lucio that I was not going to be behind the wheel of either of the Projects vehicles until I talk to the Doctor about how I feel about the whole situation.
 Neither Jonathan nor I know the reason behind the Doc's little fiasco with driving, but we do have some speculation. There have been some things going wrong with the truck and conve (van), and we assume that he blames us. For instance, Jonathan was driving to Yerbas Buenas (local village about 3.5 Kms away) in the conve, and the battery caught fire due to having one of the connections broken because of a poor battery mount. On top of that, while I was driving sometime last week (The Peruvians actually drove much more than I did this last week), one of the lights on the dash came on and started beeping for a little bit. This is one of the lights that came on about a month and a half ago, or maybe even before Christmas, but instead of getting it fixed (we actually took it to the shop and had a mechanic look at it), the Doc decided to jimmy rig something up to get the light to turn off. We didn't ever actually fix it, we just turned the light off. So occasionally bumps set it off.
 That is all just speculation, but do know that I have no grudge against the Peruvians, I love working with them, I just think that the Doctor is not a very good leader nor a very good communicator. Many times, not just now, the Doctor seems to have something out for the Americans, nothing is ever the Peruvians' fault. So even though both Jonathan and I are much better drivers than the Peruvians (I'm saying this because it's true), we are the ones at fault when anything goes wrong. Oh, and I almost forgot that when you drive junk, things tend to go wrong quite easily.
 That's how I've been feeling about the whole deal right about now, but I'm glad to have to deal with someone like the Doctor, because it has taught me a LOT of things. If I ever end up in a leader position, I've seen what can result due to poor communication and negatively motivational leader. On top of that, I'll come out of this better able to deal with such people.
 Other than that whole deal, this week was pretty normal. We worked on the church in Santa Elvita (Km 40) and got the roof all put up. What was crazy, is that all Monday and Tuesday with working on getting the crossbeams and the roof up, I spent more of my waking time clambering around like a monkey in the rafters than I did on the ground, but it was fun. I learned a bit about roofing with tin roofing (dunno what to call it in English, but it's calomines in Spanish).
 Wednesday we cleaned up around the work site so we could put in the walls and dig it out and level the ground. That was also the day the Doc came back.
 Thursday I got to start weed wacking, and spent all day doing so, and I can expect to spend the rest of the month trying to finish up the weed wacking around here at 38. It's a lot of work and the weed eater ain't the greatest either, but I rigged up a harness outta a rope I found and it's working well enough.
 Yesterday it's rained hard enough that I couldn't really weed wack, so I went out with Daniel and worked on the church in 40. That afternoon I went with Elias on his motorcycle to Pucallpa so I could use some internet (this wasn't the first time I went searching for internet this week either, I had gone to Campo a couple of times). We got stopped by the police on the way, and Elias still didn't have a valid soat (insurance) because it's in the name of the Doc's wife, so he couldn't get it renewed, and the Police officer didn't think my license was actually valid. So after a long talk about everything they could do to us, he asked for 30 USD. I told him I didn't have that kinda money on me, and he said something like "Well we could just haul you off to the police station, it is a $600 fine..." So I offered him 20 soles after he refused 10, and he beamed, shook my hand, and told us we were clean for the day. This was proved when were coming back and they waved us on.
 The internet in Pucallpa was out unfortunately, and Hanna wasn't even at 8. We were supposed to take her some documents that she needed, but she had already left for 38, so the whole trip to Pucallpa was kinda pointless, but it was still a buncha fun hanging out with Elias. He's hilarious at times, and I can speak good enough Castellano to keep up with him. The funniest part was when we were on the way to the clinic at 8, there was a buncha mud and I was driving. Motorcycles are not good for mud, but I hoped I could make it through, and kept going. I almost ended up completely tipping the motorcycle, which made Elias laugh super hard, so he got off and kept laughing hysterically while I slowly got his bike unstuck from the mud. In the process I got super muddy, but you can't make good memories without some kind of sacrifice, right? Ha.
 This week was a good week even with all the things going on with the Doctor. I have this feeling that he's not going to like some of the things I have to say to him when we have our little chat, but I do believe honesty is important.
 I'm still seriously considering coming back next year, I have yet to send Jenny an email asking if it's even a possibility, but that's been due to the lack of internet. Last night was one of the moments that really made me want to come back, and that was just hanging out with the Puas. Danial Pua, his wife and two kids, then his sister and her husband and three kids, as well as Elias, Daniel's brother. They are all family, so they hang out together a lot, and what I think is super cool, is that they pretty much accept me as one of their own. Yeah I can't speak Castellano as well as they can, but they enjoy making fun of me and I have fun making a fool of myself. So all I can say is that I really hope I can come back again next year.
 As to spending, this week turned out a bit worse than expected due to all the driving and putting out 20 soles to have a police friend for a day, but things happen and I did spend less than last week, so things are all good. I spent 30 soles on food, 20 on the bribe, 10 soles for a phone card to call my mom, 5 on gas that I forgot to mention from last week, 9 on gas from this week (all the times I took Elias motorcycle to go check to see if there was internet in Campo), 1 sole on a mango, 2 soles for more oil in Elias' motorcycle, and the 1 sole bet on the game we lost on Thursday playing soccer. So that brings my total for the week to 78 soles, which is gonna bring my average a little lower. Total expenditures since I got back: S./509.5 ($182), with an average of S./85 ($30). So I can expect to spend another S./850 (about S./1350 total ($482)). Not bad, I do plan on purchasing a soccer ball and a Spanish/English dictionary here in the future because one of the guys said I could get a dictionary for the local dialect, so that would be pretty sweet.
 Well keep praying for me, I know it's been I while since I've been able to post a blog, but I have regularly been writing them, so they are up to date. Looking forward to coming home in May, and hope to see you all then!


Peace,
Antonio