Peru has made me prettier. I’m not talking about my weight loss or my permanent sun-kissed skin, although those are both great perks of the job. I’m talking about the wake up every morning smiling kind of pretty. The inner beauty and light that comes from a happy heart.
When I left for the Peace Corps 492 days ago my idea was that I was going to be so busy learning Spanish, working 24/7, and traveling South America. I had a 2yr, 5yr, and 10yr plan and Peru was just a small piece of that puzzle.
Little did I know I would find a home, I would feel at home, and start calling Peru home. That I would learn to campo cook using only the ingredients brought in by the farmers depending on the season, and I would become accustomed to always making a little extra to share with whomever I happen to run into.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would find actual friends or an amazing boyfriend. That we would sit around and listen to music in the park, or share funny memes in the office. That I would find myself crying at the funereal of a “grandparent” or celebrating a quinceañera sitting at the family’s table.
“Peru has made me prettier.”
Instead of living in a bubble of timetables and rushed schedules, I walk slowly and say hello to everyone I pass. Instead of eating alone with a book, I pick a table, ask if the seat is empty, and start a conversation.
“I am prettier because Peru is pretty.”
Things I do everyday are just imitations of the people around me. Learning to give when there is nothing left to give, calling everyday to check in so they know they’re loved, closing shop at noon just to make sure you can eat as a family. It is a simple and beautiful life we live here.
“Peace Corps has changed my life.”
My office is a high school of 200 without projectors, internet, and often times even without electricity… but with the most inbredible view of the Andes mountains and classrooms full of students eager to learn.
My office is an ancient municipality made of Adobe bricks that has been around since the Spanish invaded centuries ago. As I sit at my desk taking in the aroma of old wood floors, women enter in typical bright colored skirts and giant Cajamarquino hats asking for help to take money out the their bank account or loading up seeds onto the back of their donkeys.
My office is a musty Elementary school library with all of 6 bookcases. I prepare for class as little heads peek around the door frame waiting for permission to enter and give the “Miss” a big hug and kiss on the cheek.
My co-workers are amazing 5, 15, and 50 year olds who have the curiosity to learn and grow. In the end I learn way more from them than I will ever be able to teach.
Most of all I am learning to let my light shine and develop love for the world and people around me, and I am learning to recognize the light of the people who surround me every day.