Panama isn’t a place I’m anxious to see again. I was confined to a hospital for 9 days, and spent another 4 in a hotel, but didn’t get to enjoy my freedom very much. My eye was troubled by too much activity, and I REALLY didn’t enjoy trying to deal with crazy city traffic with one eye tied behind my back. It was miserably hot & humid. I did visit the Casco Viejo, the old colonial part of the city, but its charms were lost on me. The Peace Corps personnel I dealt with in Panama were uniformly nice and went to a great deal of trouble on my behalf, but I’ll be perfectly happy if I never see them again!
I got home to Peru on Independence Day, and never has that phrase meant so much to me! Jean met me at the airport in Lima, and a taxi took us to the Peace Corps 4th of July fiesta in Chaclacayo, already in progress. No fireworks, but it was GREAT to be back someplace where I could kick back and socialize with my fellow aspirantes. Jean and I left long before the party was over, (but not before I established my party animal credentials) to come home to Angelica’s cooking.
My right eyeball is still bloodshot from the surgery, and my vision is still pretty cloudy from all the gunk floating around inside my eye. I’m told it will all be reabsorbed over time, and that I should eventually regain most of my visual acuity, which wasn’t all that great to start with. I had an appointment in Lima today because one of the stitches still buried somewhere in the socket is inflamed and causing me pain. It really doesn’t bear thinking about. At some point in the reasonably near future, I should be able to resume normal activity, whatever that is.
Thanks to everyone for keeping me in your thoughts and sending some good healing energy my way.
If all checks out OK, we’ll be going to Cajamarca province next Saturday for a week of “Field-based Training.” That apparently will involve touring a dairy operation, and then working with students at a technical school, teaching business basics to see if we can put together a quick project to develop their business skills. It will be great to get out and see some more of Peru.
By the way, one of the things that Cajamarca is famous for is its dairy operations. Angelica hails from Cajamarca, and claims that all the cows have names, and that they all come when called by their names. Does the milk swirl in the pail in a different direction, south of the equator? We’re here to find out.
Jean and I went to the market in Chaclacayo Sunday and bought herbs, spices, fruit and vegetables so that tonight we can attempt a tuna curry, served in a cantaloupe, working without a recipe or a net. I wish I could send you the experience of walking through the market on a Sunday morning. Then we walked home, passing through the “magic gate” that separates Chaclacayo proper from our neighborhood of Huascaran. It’s always amazing to pass through the gate—a portal in a thick stone wall, called the “wall of shame” when it was put up to keep green, verdant, affluent Chaclacayo from having to look at our dusty, rather-less-visually-appealing neighborhood. Most, but not all of the wall was torn down, but the “magic portal” remains. I’ll try to tuck in a photo or two for you, of the gate itself, the homes in Chaclacayo, and our street.
Last note—it’s good to slip back into the routine we’ve established here, limited as it may be. When Jean and I first arrived, none of the thousand “routine” things we do every day, automatically and without thinking about them, was familiar. From brushing your teeth (you don’t want to stick your toothbrush in the tap water and then in your mouth. No, you really don’t) to using the phone, nothing is familiar, so you spend a couple weeks feeling very clumsy and awkward all day long, while you develop your new routines. Now, I can slip back into the known territory of our lives, at least until we head for Cajamarca.
The hot water in the shower worked for a week, now it doesn´t. It´s winter. Most of us are in the same boat, so we´re showering . . . infrequently. It´s the Peace Corps experience we all signed up for .