Week 2, Thus Far.

After returning from our vacation, routine was relatively back to normal. For the most part. The group has become closer and has “settled down” a bit. I’m finding myself more comfortable around everyone (generally) and am enjoying everyone’s company much more. Granted, I haven’t ventured to the casino with everyone (it’s like a mini-vegas here), which a group has been doing every night this week (strange?). But overall, I’m quite happy with the changing dynamics. There is, a slightly unfortunate reason for this new and sudden bonding. Last weekend, and “incident” occurred. With out going into too much detail essentially one volunteer who does not appear to be emotionally or mentally stable enough to be here (and has a rough history) claimed she was assaulted on her walk home one night. No one knows if its true or not, her reaction seemed genuine enough, the time frame doesn’t add up. By the end a few volunteers who had taken it upon themselves to take care of her had to walk away, the attention seeking, self-destructive behavior she was exhibiting was far too much for them to take on. Personally, I just hope she  gets the help she needs, in whatever form that entails. Our group has of course bonded over the incident, and tighter friendships have formed for all of us.

Sister Jackie, and two of our Abuelas

Other than that, everything else is basically the same. Though I realize I have yet to really describe what “the same” is. So, a day usually goes like this: wake up 7am. Work by 8:30am. On Mon, Wed, and Fri we start out by helping the kitchen staff bring the abuelos (term used for elderly-literally meaning grandparent). After they’re done we clean up and usually help prep lunch in the kitchen. I personally, am quite happy to spend a few hours a day chopping vegetables (even if its with a dull knife). I know some of the other volunteers want a bit more interaction, but I’m quite happy with what I’m doing! We also help with whatever activity they’re doing. Like yesterday they played bingo and we helped those who had trouble seeing/hearing. I still can’t get over how cute most of the are. The abuela (grandmother) I was helping was under five feet, so when she sat her eyes barely came over the table. She had these huge 1970’s style reading glasses, and would smile and dance a bit in her seat when she got a number on her card, then apologize for not being able to see very well.  We then help serve and clean up from lunch and go home when the center closes. On Tuesday and Thursday we go to home visits. On Thursday of last week we visited a few couples who couldn’t come to the center because the fare to get there (Lima lacks a major public transit system) was far too high (under $1). Sister Jackie was able to get a driver from the center to pick them up so they could come, and they did on Tuesday! Its great to see a system actually do sustainable good. We also visited a few homes where someone was sick to ensure they were getting proper care and medication from the government, if they weren’t they used the money given by the church that runs them to provide medication/supplies that they need. Overall, it has been a greatly rewarding experience. Tomorrow, we’re decorating the center for the New Years celebration on Friday. CCS is providing all the supplies, we just need to put them up (will provide pictures of course)!

Villa El Salvador
Ceviche Mixto
Crab Causa

Last, since our vacation was in an area not exactly known for their cuisine, I haven’t been able to indulge in any food-adventures for a few days. Our staple restaurant has been T’anta, which is luckily, across the street from our home base. Run by the infamous Gaston Acurio, it provides solid food when our homebase food is less than ideal (often). As a souvenir, I want to get his book, probably off amazon since I can get the english variety. Last night however, we got to go to Francesco, which is on my short list for “must eat” before leaving. It is La Mar’s rival, and I have to agree, its a close call. The atmosphere is a bit more formal/stuffy, generally filled with Lima’s elite/business men lunching. And their ceviche isn’t quite as amazing as La Mar’s, but their other dishes I have to admit are better, and they do serve up the best pisco sour I’ve had to date (still, sadly, not as good as the Pegu Club’s variety). One more off the list! What I wouldn’t give to be a food editor for a travel company…


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