I am currently in my capital city, getting some errands done, taking some time for myself and reflecting a bit on the last two and a half weeks. At this time, I've had time to get used to taking care of my basic needs. I have a small gas stove set up in my room so I can cook up yummy veggies and have a little more control over my eating schedule. I have fixed my bed (it was 10 centimeters too short for the mattress), and have bought a very comfortable and warm comforter, keeping me cozy. I have been visiting the local school, K-12, 240 students, my face is becoming more known, and I'm getting ready to start planning some small projects with the kids. My counterparts and the school and the health post are lovely people. The health post is a great resource, I feel welcome there, and it is another avenue where I can integrate into the community, especially with mothers. My first thoughts there are working on nutrition, perhaps organic gardening. But there is still the need to ask more of the community regarding what their interests are. Then it is up to me to find a creative way to start collaborating.
This week is party week in Amashca, which means 7 days of music, food, dancing, and lots of beer. Each town celebrates it's patron saint, in the case of Amashca, La Virgen de Natividad (also the name of the school)every year. The size of the town nearly doubles and bands are brought in from Huaraz and Lima to play the favorite Huayno music (Peruvian country) of the Sierra, eat, drink, and be merry. Unfortunately, for me being the new and only gringa in town, I felt the pressure was a bit too great to be hanging around in such an explosive environment...so while I'll be back in my community today, I am thinking maybe the first two days have given way to a more mellow crowd. We shall see.
I find it interesting that I feel some social pressure here in my community in a way I never have. While integrating is good, and I loved helping to cook and make bread in preparation for the festivities, I will have to learn to set my boundaries and say "no gracias" some of the time. It certainly is a balancing act.
It is important to have that time in your room for your activities like yoga or meditating, reading, etc...here is where one processes oneself within this new context, and one maintains integrity. We aren't just here to do projects, integrate and have an adventure, we are also here to be ourselves.