Thursday, February 19, 2009
Stretch your limits
Part of life in the Peace Corps is dealing with the inevitable illnesses that are brought on by food, water and insects. I’ve been slowed down several times this month with frustrating intestinal illnesses that take time and energy. Fortunately we have great doctors on call, lots of raunchy humor about our conditions and medications when needed. I often look at food with suspicion and regret every bad decision! And with the stress of illness, I’ve been homesick this week. My host mother asked what I would be eating in the US and I couldn’t answer, everything is so different here. When we talked about rice, I tried to explain brown rice. My family said, “it must be toasted” or “it must be precooked” but consider it inedible with the hull. I compared it to whole wheat with no better success. They figured the problem was my Spanish so I called my friend Sarah who validated I’d been using the right words.
When the rains come, flies emerge and are everywhere all the time. Water is more contaminated than usual which makes washing fruit and vegetables difficult so even with boiling all my water, I’ve caught the bug. When I am talking with families about water, most boil water only for the smallest children while the adults drink crude water. I’ll never view water the same way again both because water in the US is plentiful and clean from the tap. We’ve been getting water every 4-5 days during the rainy season so I’ve learned to really use my tank conservatively. I can’t explain why we get so little water when it’s raining and rivers are full. Roofs don’t have gutters so collecting rain This week the dengue patrol came to my house inspecting my tank to see if it was clean and covered (it was!).
Now there are more mosquitoes and at first I was surprised to see how much fear people have of them as I think about the hoards of mosquitoes in Wisconsin every summer. But mosquitoes in the US don’t carry dengue or malaria which changes perception of them a lot. The question that comes to me frequently is if mosquitoes carry HIV as they go from person to person biting. When I say, “No, the virus dies in the mosquito stomach”, the next question is “Why don’t they study what kills the virus in the mosquito stomach”. One of my medical friends could send me a better explanation of this!
I have a sticker on my notebook here that says “Stretch your Limits” and I certainly have done many things I never thought I could. This last weekend, my friend Robyn brought 20 kids from her youth group to the beach for the day. Some of the kids from a youth group here joined them and started up a game of volleyball on the beach. Now I hated volleyball in high school and never played it again after graduation 48 years ago. I planned to watch and take photos but the kids really wanted me to play so I stretched my limits. I’m pleased to say I can still serve volleyball. When it came to volleying back and forth, my technique sent them rolling in laughter in the sand, especially when I ducked and covered my head exactly as I had done in high school. Now they want to give me lessons. I think I should act my age…
So that’s the news from Peace Corps Peru.
Sara aka Sarita
Posted by Sara at 11:58 AM