Life has a way of getting pretty busy down here in Chimbote which makes it easy for me to forget to take care of myself. I need to remember that if I am to really take care of patients and be a good nurse, I have to take some time for myself. This past week was exactly that, and it was much needed. I was fortunate enough to be able to take a trip up to Montañita, Ecuador with my fellow CMMB volunteer, Amber. We left Friday morning and after experiencing the unreliability of South American airlines, ended up staying a night in Lima. After three months in our respective cities, Lima feels enormous and overpriced. Our dislike for the city grew as we overpaid (by Chimbote and Trujillo standards) for dinner, drinks, water and a pack of gum. The fact that we should have been sitting on the beach in Ecuador probably added to our bitterness. We made it to our hostel in Montañita Saturday evening after a short bus ride from Guayaquil and a picture with Ecuadorian Santa. Our hostel was gorgeous. Grass huts with a swimming pool, mosquito netting, a couple spiders and cockroaches for roommates and only a few minutes walk from the ocean. After spending three months in the Peruvian desert, I was in awe of all the green on the Ecuadorian coast. I hadn’t realized how much my environment affected me. Our week consisted of relaxing on the beach (even though it was cloudy), meeting some new British friends, hiking in the national park, La Machalilla, and eating a whole lot of food. While the week went by fast and just perpetuated my desire to travel all over South America, I feel like I will be much more capable of having a positive impact in all of my worksites after a little time to myself.
I would be lying if I said I was excited to come back to Chimbote after my trip. It was weird being at the airport, thinking that I was not going back home to my family and friends or on to a new adventure or vacation. Life can be tough down here and I am still adjusting to Peru (although it is feeling more and more normal every day) so I was not quite sure how I felt about coming back to brown, dusty and dirty Chimbote. Thankfully, I am not here for the beauty of the city (which is hard to see on a daily basis), but I am here for the people. I was reminded of this the instant I walked into my house and was greeted by my host family. We sat down for dinner and everything felt right and that annoying question that has a way of popping up every so often (“What am I doing here, again??”) took its’ appropriate place in the back of my mind.
I am not much of a birthday person (or a party person in general). Most of the time, I would be just as happy to sit at home with my family and friends, eat good food, chat or watch a movie. Unfortunately, that is not considered a very Peruvian birthday. My host family (have I mentioned how wonderful they are?) had a party for me, full of dancing, drinks, lots of food (we went on Friday to buy the two whole ducks and yet I was still shocked to see a duck head in the pot) and a great time with my Chimbotano family and friends. One of the things I continue to struggle with down here is the fact that I simply do not have the words in Spanish to express my gratitude to my host family. You can only say “muchisimas gracias” so many times before it starts to lose its meaning…
This week, I am thankful, firstly, for a host family who treats me like a daughter/sister of their own. Secondly, for the opportunity to travel. It is always humbling to talk to a local and realize that a vast majority of Peruvians will never have the chance to see their own country, let alone a different one. Most locals will go through their lives only seeing Machu Picchu in pictures and on TV. It definitely puts my blessings into perspective. Thank you, everyone for all the birthday wishes and your continued support and encouragement!
If you want to see some more pictures, click here. As a reminder, there is always a link to my pictures on the left under ‘More Info’.