6 Weeks in Pachachaca
After living in Lima for 7 months, my boyfriend, Bryan, and I decided it was due time we got a taste of a different side of Peru. Although I had been working for a microfinance bank in Lima that seves some of the poorest districts of the city, we both knew that Lima is worlds away from the rest of the country and we wanted to gain a better understanding and appreciation for the daily life of that Peru as well. Despite my gung ho attitude about things both Latin American and development related and my confidence speaking Spanish, I was anxious about a load of things before arriving in Pachachaca – no toilets, no showers, teaching in a classroom for the first time, living with a family, and especially eating lots of potatoes (i know it’s weird but i really really dislike potatoes). It turns out most of these concerns were legitimated, but our time in Pachachaca also turned out to be one of the most eye opening formative experiences I have had in Latin America thus far.
Being from Washington D.C. Pachachaca is the most rustic living I have ever experienced by miles and while it wasnt always easy for me to be that far out of my comfort zone, the enthusiasm of our students, warmth of our homestay, and raw beauty of Pachachaca always kept the experience a positive one. Plus eating a good homemade pachamanca is an unparalleled experience.
In terms of tips for future volunteers:
1) Be flexible and patient, easier said than done but really makes a difference
2) Spend as much time with your homestay family as you can; working, cooking, watching tv, whatever
3) Expect to be dirty and not your most attractive, that is a growing experience in itself
4) Bring lots of books and go on exploratory walks
5) Brainstorm fun games for the classroom to keep the students engaged
6) If youre uncomfortable with anything at the homestay just say something, its usually not a big deal
7) Definitely volunteer with Blue Sparrow – its not a vacation but its very very real and beautiful and certainly worth your time