Literally, 2017 started off on the wrong foot. On my third day back in Lima after a month at home in Houston, I was running by the ocean and sidestepped wrong, placing all my weight on my right knee. Three days later I was in excruciating pain from my daily walks to work and as it turned out I fractured my tibia and tore my meniscus.
I have now been on crutches for three weeks and have a month left, plus two months of therapy. Boy has it been a humbling three weeks! Being on crutches in a city where my daily commute to work involves walking 8-12 blocks and an hour on a bus made it impossible to go into work, so I have been working from home. Learning to once again appreciate solidarity like I did for two years in Cajamarca.
The first few weeks were very hard. Going from being an independent woman to needing help with everything from opening a door to preparing meals was very frustrating. Navigating my way through Peruvian clinics alone and trying to learn all of the medical terms in Spanish left me in tears on several occasions.
One of the first days I was home alone and starving I messaged a good friend, in tears from the pain and just all around low spirits, and he said to me, “Brooklynn if you need something, just ask! You have a million friends who would gladly drop everything they are doing to come help you. No one knows what you are going through when you hold it all in. We are your family in Peru and you do so much for others that now it’s your turn to let us help you.”
Talk about humbling… it was true. The only reason I was suffering alone was because I was too proud or self conscious to just ask for help. I had forgotten the first lesson I learned in Peru all those years ago, Peruvians (and as I am learning, Latinos in general) are the most hospitable people you’ll ever met. When they have nothing they will still give to others. Family includes friends and neighbors, and family is the most important thing that exists.
As I opened up to friends about what I was going through, the texts and calls and visits came pouring in. My co-workers have brought lunch a few times each week, Peace Corps volunteers passing through Lima have stayed with me and helped me with housework, my roommates have gone above and beyond to hang out with me and help me get groceries.
Last Friday the entire admin office at the non-profit where I volunteer, Sinfonía por el Perú, brought enough food to feed a small army and we had a fun BBQ on my patio. They felt bad that I am missing out on all the summer fun, so they decided to bring it to me! #thisiswhyilovemywork
On multiple occasions my friends have invited me to come hang out on their couches for the day and just chat or watch movies, so I have a chance to get out of the house. One really amazing friend even came with me to the clinic at 8am one morning! Almost everyday someone stops by just to give me a hug and every single morning I wake up to a million messages asking how I am doing and if I need anything. (If ya’ll are reading this, the messages checking in are greatly appreciated!!)
After two and a half years of loving and serving the people of this beautiful country, I am learning to let them love me back. Learning to accept that I am down right now and appreciating the unconditional love that the people around me are providing through acts of service and emotional support. Once again I am reminded why I love Peru.