November 18, 2012 by jiejie768
A quick glance at the calendar offers up an astonishing fact. At just over two months since we arrived in Peru, we are about one quarter of the way through our time here. It’s amazing how the time flies.
The first thing that stands out to me as I look back what we’ve experienced so far is how familiar and normal our surroundings and day-to-day activities now seem. Really in no time at all, Ayacucho has come to feel as much like home as Ellensburg or Klamath Falls before it. And more than Bellingham ever did, though I lived there for about two months longer than I have been here.
The other thing that is alarming, and it goes hand in hand with the first thing, is how much a part of my life the Kids at the Crossroads are (the actual kids). Though it is still several months off, it’s hard to imagine returning to a life where watching Isak terrorize his brothers and eat whatever he can pick off of his shoe isn’t a daily activity. Yes, I’ve definitely sat and watched him pick stuff off the bottom of his shoe and eat it. I’ve seen him find a used lollipop stick (not his) on the ground, dig a hole with it in the dirt, and then proceed to chew it to a pulp. The kid has an ironclad immune system, I’ll give him that. I’ve also come to adore the fact that for some reason he wears ski bibs as pants at least once a week and frequently dons unbuttoned one-sies as T-shirts. I have a great respect for his waddling run (the only pace at which he moves), which is likely the result of most of his shoes being too big for him. And lastly, I hope to one day perfect his running knee slide which he most often uses to plant himself squarely in one of his older brothers’ stomachs as they lay on the ground. Once I leave Ayacucho, I’m not sure how I’ll remember to shave without Lucas and Abrahan (Isak’s brothers) petting my stubble to remind me it needs done. I don’t mean to focus so much time on those three kids specifically, but being the children of one of the school’s employees, we have the great pleasure of interacting with them outside of class in ways that we don’t with the other kids. And seriously, Isak is like a one-man sitcom that’s on every day. I will miss that kid a lot.
It’s also strange, in a good way, how natural it feels to spend my time helping kids learn to read and work their way through various homework assignments. Undoubtedly, it can be frustrating at times, but it no longer feels like something new. It’s hard to put into words I suppose. I guess it’s to the point where it no longer feels like a new job, if that makes sense. It’s just is what I do. Just like getting up everyday and making a newspaper was what I did before, heading to school and teaching Nelson how to sound out each letter is just life.
Likewise the quirks of living in Peru no longer feel like quirks, but rather simple realities of day-to-day existence. It no longer seems strange or unfamiliar for a trip for groceries to encompass stops at upwards of eight different locations to complete the list. As I walk down the streets of Ayacucho each day, I’m no longer craning my neck and chuckling at how “different” life is here. Rather, I’m noticing the crazy drivers, the smell of fish at the market and recklessness of children darting into the street and simply thinking, “that’s Ayacucho for you.”
What once was foreign is now a comforting reminder that I exist as part of this place too. Certainly I still get weird stares when I get on a bus with a maximum occupancy of 30 and a passenger load of 55, but that’s just part of the backdrop. And if those on the bus find us strange, they watch as we disembark and are greeted by a gaggle of children headed up to the school, and they think, well, they still think we’re strange, but they realize we’re no longer strangers.
I’ve likely rambled on a lot longer than necessary. But what I’m really trying to say is this: When we set out on this adventure, we thought of it as a trip, but now that we’re fully immersed in it, it feels a lot more like relocating. Certainly we’ll still be coming home next summer, but now it feels like we’ll be leaving home at the same time.