Sierra Visit: San Bartolome

On Thursday, a group of us from Spanish class went to a small town, pueblito, called San Bartolome about an hour north of where I am living. Nestled up in between many mountains, the small sleepy town revolves around the school. We visited the school which also serves as the town’s park, health post and church. It was a taste of how potentially my permanent site will be. Here are some photographs of the experience.

Kids at the school
Kids at the school

San Bartolome Lookout Post Futbol Game San Bartolome Little pups Partido de futbol

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Simple Complexity – The end of Week 2

I awake at 5:30am to the early sounds of my Peruvian neighborhood slowly rising. It consists of the murmurs of hardworkers starting their days, the toss of the daily bread bag thrown over the fence, the barks from stray dogs, and the calming clanking of dishes in the kitchen, from my dearest host mother, Teresa.

Even though still mentally exhausted from the constant adaptation, it is hard not to awake with a hint of smile to this simple yet complex life I find myself living in…the simple complexity of beautiful Peru. So much has happened in such little time it is tough to unpack it all in a succinct manner, but I will give it a shot.

Last Sunday, 59 of us volunteers headed to our training center to meet our host families during our 3 months of training. We all waited like little puppies as the host families came in to claim each of us. My host mother, Teresa, who stands a foot less than me arrived and we greeted each other with a big hug and kiss. We then hoarded my huge bags into a tiny Peruvian moto-taxi and made the quick trek to my new home.

The past two weeks has been filled with many meals, Spanish conversations – or attempt at them, vomiting/diarrhea, futbol, dancing, hand-washing clothes, ice cold showers, vomiting/diarrhea (yes, it happened already), mercado shopping, cooking and long walks/run. My favorite moments have been interacting with many new beautiful people, both Peruvian and American, who will impact my life forever. My host family, the other volunteers, the PC staff and helpful Peruvian strangers on the street makes me thankful for the power behind human kindness.

Overall, adapting to the Peruvian lifestyle without the luxuries of my life in the states has been eye-opening. The modern luxuries I grew up with such as hot showers, washing machines, fresh tap water, dishwashers are now unattainable in my everyday life. Although it is challenging, I look around and am so thankful to be living in this house with this wonderful family and having once in a life time experiences.

This is the only the beginning of a beautiful crazy adventure.

The Paradox: Adios America, Hola Peru

This past week has been a paradox – a bittersweet goodbye and an uplifting hello. I left my home of 22 years and moved to Peru, which will become my home for the next couple of years.

The Bittersweet Goodbye

My last week at home was absolutely amazing. It was jam packed with my going away party, my dad’s birthday and many surprise appearances from some sneaky people.

The going away party was one for the books – filled with my favorite people, a great band, crazy hats and fireball. Special thanks to everyone who came and who traveled from all corners of the country for one last shabang – from California, New York, Wisconsin, Washington DC, Chicago and all over Ohio – I love you all and it met so much to me. Also props on the surprises Nick, Lauren, Kathleen and Hayley – you got me! The following day was spent celebrating my wonderful father’s (Big Jimmy) birthday by attending our favorite sporting event, an OSU football game. Even though it ended up in a loss, I couldn’t have asked for a better day with my favorite man.                                                             Sidenote: In the middle of singing the star-spangled banner, I teared up (loser…I know) as I realized I am also saying goodbye to my beautiful country, not just the wonderful people in my life.

And finally, Sunday was the end to not an only amazing weekend but a spectacular summer. The bitter part came with tears as I said goodbye to many people who have made such a meaningful impact on my life, but the sweet part came from their undying support of my new journey. Hence, the effect of a bittersweet goodbyes – tears and many of them.

The Uplifting Hello

The small sting from the goodbyes still hung around as I walked into the staging event in Washington DC. But it was quickly uplifted as I met the 58 other volunteers who are about to start this crazy journey with me, and will no doubt soon turn into my PC family. Everyone’s positive attitude and undying passion has truly inspired me even more as I begin this experience.

The past two days we have spent at a retreat center outside of Lima getting the overview of many aspects of Peace Corps and also getting to know one another. These are some of the most impressive and passionate people I’ve ever met. I can’t lie that I am also a little intimidated by all their qualification and experiences, and that I will be working within the same position as many of them.

It has been a great couple of days getting to know the other volunteers by connecting through Spanish struggles, laughing yoga, dancing circles, music jams, and how we all are bound to shit our pants during our service. Tonight, could not have ended the retreat better with many of us joining Peruvians dancing/singing around a large fire.

Overall, my first moments in Peru have made me anxious for what is yet to come. And yet another hello awaits me tomorrow. I am meeting my temporary host family that I will be living with for the next 11 weeks, and I am excited and anxious to meet them. All I know is that I have 3 brothers (ages 25, 21, and 12) and 2 parents, so let’s hope my broken Spanish makes a little bit of a good first impression on them! Wish me luck!

Until next time,

Jamie Lane

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FYI – As training starts I may not have as much time/access to Internet so if you need to contact me look below. Note the change of address from my first post – but they both work – this is the preferred one! Also, if you want to send me packages (Mama Hack – this is to you) ask for specific instructions and I will send them your way.

 Contact Info:

Mailing Address: all letters/snail mail welcome please!

PCT – Jamie Hackbarth

Calle Los Cedros 647

Chaclacayo

Lima 8, Peru, South America

Email: jamielhackbarth@gmail.com

Skype: Jamie.hackbarth

I also with be using viber & whatsapp within WiFi, so you can also text me via that. iMessage works too!

The Final Countdown: One Week

It has finally arrived! Officially, one week until I begin the journey of a lifetime with the Peace Corps in Peru. It has been one hell of a whirlwind this past year, from trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life after college graduation to deciding on following my dream. Once I received my Peace Corps invitation in March, I knew that my time was here to pursue one of my life goals and go on the most life-changing journey I will ever experience.

The amount of emotions I have experienced the past months, about leaving my beautiful life here in the states, have flip-flopped from happy to sad to nervous and everything in between. The main question I have received from friends, family and strangers about joining the Peace Corps is ‘Why?’. Here are the answers:

  • Thanks to my outstanding parents, I have led a wonderful privileged life full of love, education, travel, guidance, faith and everything in between. I have been extremely blessed, and they instilled me in early on the importance on giving back. Their amazing influence led me to pursue this opportunity, because I believe the best way to utilize my blessing in my life is by attempting to help others by sharing what I have been so thankful to receive.
  • I want to attempt to make a difference in a community or at least one person’s life, small or big, and inspire others to do the same by having a long-term investment within a public service project.
  • Be apart of something bigger than myself by challenging myself to grow in all aspects by breaking my boundaries and comfort zones as an individual by serving our country through this great organization.
  • Either confirm or disconfirm my interests in non-profit, public service and international work.

Thus, I will soon begin my 2 year and 3 month service as a Community Health Promoter. I fly to Peru’s Capital, Lima, next week to begin my 3-month extensive training with other volunteers within the health, environmental, and water & sanitation sectors. I begin living with a host family right away after a short retreat with the other volunteers. During my 8th week of training, I will receive my permanent placement for the next two years, which can be anywhere from the mountains, coast or amazon, and will then move to another host family. There are many unknown aspects of my working and living arrangements within the coming months, which is somewhat scary but has prepared me to go in with no expectations and be willing to adapt accordingly.

As the final days tick away, I will be cramming in getting everything together; as well as saying some very hard goodbyes to my beloved friends and family. Thank you to everyone who has helped and supported me throughout this whole crazy decision process. You all know who you are, and you all mean the world to me (also I will miss the hell out of all of you).

This is the first blog I have ever had and it is will be used to update family & friends of my times in Peru. I apologize in advance, as it may not be updated frequently due to limited Internet access. Please follow if you want to read what is bound to be some interesting material. Also feel free to contact me at jamielhackbarth@gmail.com if you have any questions!

Friends & Family – My mailing address for the first 3 months is:

Jamie Hackbarth
Cuerpo de Paz/Perú
Calle Via Láctea 132, Surco
Lima 33, Perú

Now let the Peace Corps journey begin :)!