The content of this webpage, and everything associated with this webpage, is independent of the Peace Corps and the United States Government, though I think they should read it too. This blog solely reflects the experiences and observations of Jake DeBerry.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Year Anniversary!

Well folks, I’ve been here a year on June 8th. You may think, ‘wow, has a year already gone by?’…and for a fast-paced American lifestyle, a year can go by quite quickly…but I assure you, I definitely feel the year that has passed. I have another year and 3 months before I’m done with Peace Corps. Sometimes the frustration and home-sickness level surges above the dam. Sometimes I look around and think, “Wow, am I lucky.” Most of the time I think to myself that I need to take full advantage of this experience, and what an experience it is! After Peace Corps, I won’t have any responsibilities and there is a lot of world to experience, so who knows.

I plan on returning to school though for an MBA in International Business…or, that’s what I am thinking about right now at least.

Anyhow – this blog is going to be short little ideas that I had for blogs along the way, wrote down the idea, but never elaborated or put on here. Some should provide a laugh or two, I hope.

For instance – there is a Jean Claude Van Damme phenomenon here. I don’t know what it is, but if you’re looking for a Van Damme movie or poster, or t-shirt, or blanket, or what have you…you can find it. His movies are everywhere! I had no idea he was still making them.

Old people – I’ve never seen so many old people before! I’m not referring to the elder person in a business suit in their 60’s. I’m referring to the hunched over, tropical and altitude raisin-type skin, lips sucking into their skull - no teeth, and seemingly eternal-type of old. Living at this altitude and a stones throw from the equator, and with the hard lives they lead, it is certainly earned.

Transportation – I am vigilantly aware of my mortality every time I get into an object of transport here. Not only are they crazy drivers without rules, there aren’t really any police to enforce rules if there were any…and the cops just want to be bribed anyhow. The roads are full of potholes and problems. I squeeze into mini-vans made for 10 but if you try hard, you can squeeze 20 or so…it’s usually smelly, hot, squished, uncomfortable, bumpy…and everyone stares at me.

Coca Leaves – you know, what cocaine is made out of. Don’t know if you know this, but it is a big part of the culture here. You can buy dried coca leaves in almost any corner-street store. Mainly, they are used for tea. But, many people also chew them. Chewing them gives energy. Not saying I’ve chewed or drank the tea…since the US considers it illegal…but say if you’re doing a hike or helping build an adobe house, chewing on coca leaves is a great way to give yourself a boost. (the pic...well, doesn't have to do with anything...but there are also a ton of flowers around here. I usually feel silly in that shirt...but you see people with those all around here also)

Customer Service here sucks! And the funny thing is, you can’t just go to the next restaurant or business because it’s going to be the exact same! Say there is a strike and buses are not running that day…NO REFUND! WTF?

President – Do you know who the president is here? Probably not. BUT, most people here know who is running in the election in November in the States. Most Americans are completely unaware of the impact our nation has upon others. But – just to let you know, the president here is Alan Garcia – he was president between ’85-’90. He is bi-polar, and had hyper-inflation during his first service. And he got re-elected! Similar to the States, a Shaw quote is appropriate, “Democracy is a device that ensures we are governed no better than we deserve.”

Dogs – I’ve always been a dog lover. I get to act like a little kid and roll around with them, big or small, always a good time. BUT…I want to shoot all of the dogs here and torture a few. They are not pets, they flinch if you try to pet them, or they bite you. People just leave their dogs outside and they run around all night, barking, humping, and fighting. I’ve seriously considered leaving anti-freeze outside my door for my neighbor’s dogs. It’s sweet and tasty to them…oh, and it’s also lethal. (that pic is right outside my door...yes, one of them is humping)

The movies – The closest movie theater to me is in Lima – 8 hours away. I had a meeting in Lima and I brought the president of my association. I took him to a movie because he had never been in a movie theater (nor really walked around a mall). They are too expensive…and obviously far away. Imagine being 48 years old, and then going to see Iron Man in the theaters. Pretty cool to see someone have that experience. As far as seeing new movies – about a week after they are in theaters, we get pirated copies of it up here.

Dancing – The other day we had a laugh over the dancing here. When we go out on a Saturday, we go out to dance. We laughed about the idea of hanging out with friends in the States and going out just to dance. The dancing culture here is great. You’re expected to dance, everyone is expected to dance. I wish I could transport this to the States.

Dating – I’m dating a Peruvian. She is studying to be a nurse, she is 24, and very unlike the rest of the girls up here. She doesn’t call me 20 times a day, she doesn’t act jealous, she takes care of her teeth and body, she pays for some of the things we do(like lunch today), she likes to hike and appreciates the beauty of where she lives. I met her in a bar…I noticed her immediately because she was wearing a skirt…and no one wears skirts here. I thought she was from Lima. We’ve been hanging out since February. Remember that Jean Claude phenomenon – well, when she was 18 a boy who liked her gave her a present…a poster of Jean Claude! She said she laughed so hard tears came out and threw it away. That’s one other way I find her to be normal.

Skinny Dipping competition – The area I am in is full of glacial lakes – they are everywhere. All of them are gorgeous…and freezing. One of the volunteers here, from Minnesota of course, started a competition among us - Who can skinny dip in the most lakes while here? At first, I told her she was crazy and there is NO WAY I’m going into those lakes…well, here is a photo…you can imagine what I did before taking it. They are as cold as I thought…but after a long hike, it’s bearable to get in for 20 seconds. 1 lake down!

I miss you all dearly. I look forward to the time when I’m able to see all my friends and family and give everyone a big hug. Until then though, please know you are in my thoughts and having such great friends and family helps me pass those lonely moments when I’m wishing I was back with you.

All my love,


Blogger Kristin said...

Llama! That is the sweetest post ever. Also, why on earth would you feel silly in a GNR t-shirt?? You should feel totally bitchin!!

June 24, 2008 at 9:44 AM


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