Feliz Día de Amor!

Nothing says love quite like waking up to the murder of a big fat pig at 5:00am, and then eating its skin for breakfast. It was actually delicious as gross as it sounds…and that’s about as farm fresh as you can get, am I right?

On that delicious note, Happy Valentines Day and Feliz Dia de Amor to all my loved ones! I feel extremely lucky this Valentine’s Day, and somewhat spoiled with all the love I have both here and in the US. This year I have experienced many new and different forms of what ‘love’ is, and it has been rather refreshing. And here they are:

Soul food 

Everyday people show their love here with food. It is what they do here; they plant, grow, harvest and raise everything they put on their plates and are willing to share it with anyone they feel a connection with. Although I am living in extreme poverty, I never have been hungry; in fact, I am eating more here then I was eating in the US. Food is a sign of love here and they will pile as much on your plate to make you a little bit more ‘gordita’ (chubby), which is a term of endearment here. My Peruvian mom has successfully achieved this, as I have become a little bit more ‘gordita’ due to the massive amounts of rice – thus the community knows I am loved!

As I walk the streets, many people invite me into their house for a plate of food or give me a bag of 20 mangos to take home with me. An example of the love behind soul food was exemplified at my host grandmother’s funeral reception. My mom, aunts, cousins and neighbors cooked for 6 days massive amounts of food and chichi de jora (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicha_de_jora) to serve in honor of the matron of their family. At the end of the mass, over 100 people or more came to the house in which my mother and aunts served them all in rapid amount of time, and never even sat down to eat a plate for themselves. When I asked my mom, about this selfless loving tradition she replied saying that her grandma still had so much love to give and the best way to do this was feeding those who knew and cared about her. Quite a beautiful thing if you ask me – Nourish the body, and nourish the soul of yourself and others.

They have so little material wise, but are so willing to share their abundant amount of love with others…even with a strange white girl like myself. Food is the symbol of human connectedness and love, they share it to foster their hopes and dreams for themselves, others and their community.

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” Virginia Woolf

Casual cow leg hanging outside my bathroom, eaten later on
Casual cow leg hanging outside my bathroom, eaten later on

The long distance love

It is possible, and a beautiful relationship 🙂 with friends and family. I have not lived at ‘home’ in Columbus, Ohio due to college and travels in over 5 years, but I have formed many close relationships with family and friends in which the continued connection abroad makes where I am feel like home. The love of all of these relationships continues to flourish despite the distance, and makes me feel grateful for the beautiful unbreakable dynamic of a strong friendship and strong family dynamic. I honestly feel spoiled with love by the amount of phonecalls, letters, packages, peanut butter, facetimes, messages, and vibers I receive from those back home. It honestly means a lot more then I probably let on when I hear from you. Thank you so much for your support, and I am sorry for the lack of communication on my part. I am lucky to have such patient friends and family, and I just love you guys all so f**king much! See some of you in a couple weeks on my quick trip back to the US!

“True friendship doesn’t need daily conversation, doesn’t always need togetherness, as long as the relationship lives in the heart, true friends will never part. ” (cheesy, but I like it)

The best fam around
The best family around
Mi amigas mejores
Mis amigas mejores

Peace Corps Love

The bond formed between volunteers is hard to describe. We are all very different and obviously peculiar people that have set out on these crazy journeys, each with our own beat of the drum. Despite the differing background, we all seem to have some type of moral goal or compass overlapping with one another. The friendships that have formed here in such a quick amount of time are what get me through some of my toughest days. It is a hard thing to describe, but I have shared things with some of my closest friends here that I have not shared with others. We also witness each others ups & downs, and transformative journey while being one another’s support system down here. The things we cannot describe to other people back home, are understood with a glance across the table here to another volunteer. And that is Peace Corps love.

“Friendship isn’t about who you’ve known the longest. It’s about who walked into your life and said ‘I’m here for you’ and proved it’.”

Peru 24 Volunteers, killing it
Peru 24 Volunteers, killing it

The Selfish Love

I am in love with myself. Weird I know, and rather pretentious? Maybe… My friends know I am already rather confident, sometimes overconfident if you get a couple drinks in me. But I have been discovering my many many flaws, insecurities, and inner-conflicts throughout my time here. And I love them, because I get to work on ‘my ideal self’. So far my time in Peace Corps is a ‘self-improving’ time. I get to analyze my character, morals, values and change them through the long hours of solitude and strange situations I find myself in. And I love who I am now, but I love the transformative process I am going through even more.

 “We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.” – Max DePree

And that my friends is a little bit of refreshing love. Remember it is everywhere!

Happy 29th Anniversary to my crazy in-love parents, Big Jimmy and Little Susie! As I grow older, I can only hope I am lucky enough to find a relationship even a tad similar to yours! You are my heroes, big hugs and kisses flying across the seas to you!

Cutest couple around
Cutest couple around

Un abrazo,

J

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Published by

jamielhackbarth

Peace Corps Volunteer Peru

4 thoughts on “Feliz Día de Amor!”

  1. Dearest Jamie – You touch my heart with your inspiration and insightful words and love of yourself, your family, your lifelong friends, and your new peace corps friends and family. You are discovering love in so many new ways and this is truly God’s love working through you. Hugs, love and more love! Mom

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  2. Hi James,

    I really look forward to your posts and am continually amazed by the beauty of your words and the amazing gratitude you have for what you are experiencing in Peru. We miss you here but it is obvious that you are where you are supposed to be at this time in your life. You are so blessed to have this opportunity and the support of your wonderful family, I know that you know that, I am just so happy for you.
    Be safe and continue to inspire those beautiful children around you!! Love you, Mrs G

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  3. Hi Jamie, a few weeks back my husband Jay and I were traveling back to Wilmington, NC from a little trip out west and we were fortunate enough (blessed actually) to meet your Dad 🙂 Not many minutes went by before I was sharing with your Dad of our work in India…providing health care and education to the poor….of course that quickly led your Dad to also tell us equally beautiful stories of your work in Peru and the sharing of your most recent blog posting….what a proud Daddy he is 🙂 I have signed up to receive your blog postings….I look forward to following along in your amazing journey of service…..Blessings on you, Cokie Westfall

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