Today I am thankful for…

September 18, 2014

Today I am thankful for pineapple banana juice and the woman who sells bananas. The greeting of “amigita” when I walk up to her stand and the free banana she sneaks into my bag as she whispers “so you’ll keep coming back”.

I am thankful for high school kids. They really do make the best of friends when you are new to a foreign country. I am not just the gringa to them, I have a name… “Ms. Bruk-leen”. I don’t have to sit alone at the town fiesta because when I enter the room I am immediately surrounded by smiling faces.

secondaria students in Santa Cruz Cajamarca

I am also thankful for shoes. Shoes to kill spiders and cockroaches. Shoes to walk the dirt roads and protect my feet from the mud. Something many of the people I work with everyday only have one of and something that many of the children who play soccer after the school lets out don’t have.

January 27, 2015

Today I am thankful for nature. The rain that fills the rivers and makes waterfalls for kids to play in while their moms wash clothes.

river in Santa Cruz, Cajamarca, Peru

The beautiful mountains that make 6 hour combi rides bearable and have 100 shades of green spotted with humble homes. Homes of people who don’t know anything but the quiet life of animals, crops, and the mountainside that has been passed down for generations.

Andes Mountains Peru

Campo House Andes Peru

I write this with mixed emotions because I miss the warm familiarity of home with family and friends, but all the while I am pinching myself because I can’t believe I live in a town of 5,000 in the Andes of Peru.

I smile to myself when I walk down the streets and see old women just sitting on their balconies, watching… waiting to be the first to spot the latest chisme (gossip).

I smile when I knock on a door and the neighbor across the street appears suddenly to tell me the person I am trying to find is around the corner buying bread. Then they invite me to wait in their house, drink some tea, and hours later we are fast friends.

The reality of being an American Peace Corps Volunteer in a small town in Peru is beautifully frustrating! I don’t know what I’ll do when I return to Texas, to a city of 4 million, and no one knows me as I wander a street.

March 3, 2015

Something strange is happening. Living abroad in a humble community, budgeting and still barely making it pay check to pay check, going camping, days spent on buses… All of these little experiences are changing me in a big way!

I feel lost and found all at the same time. Returning to the states is going to feel like more of a shock than living in a third world country. I am learning my strengths and weaknesses.

Living abroad is such an eye opening experience and every time I meet a group of travelers who literally play music or sell food to get to their next destination, I have so much respect.

Apart from the value of a dollar, I am realizing that every dollar left in your pocket at the end of the day is an experience missed. I am so grateful that I found the courage to follow a dream and move abroad.

I can’t go back… change is forever pushing me forward. I can’t wait to see where the universe takes me!