|By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-123-27.balt.east.verizon.net - 22.214.171.124) on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 11:23 pm: Edit Post|
My Peace Corps service in Tarapoto
Tarapoto RPCVs - Share a story about your Peace Corps service in Peru.
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When did you serve? How long were you there? What was your job? Where did you live? What's the funniest thing that happened to you while you were serving? Have you been back since you left the Peace Corps? If so, how have things changed? What did you learn from your service? What do you think you accomplished? What would you have done differently? What would you tell a prospective volunteer who is going to Peru?
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|By Alan Stanchfield (ca-arcdca-cuda1-c1b-231.arcdca.adelphia.net - 126.96.36.199) on Saturday, March 05, 2005 - 2:53 pm: Edit Post|
Here is my story about Tarapoto:
My job in the Peace Corps was to audit credit unions all over Peru. I was one of four volunteers who worked for a Peruvian government agency that sent us out on some amazing trips. In the middle of 1965, my Peruvian boss sent me to Tarapoto, a jungle town in Peru’s interior. I met a lot of interesting people and here is just one example.
In the evenings everyone hung out at the central plaza. One evening a Peruvian named Hugo approached and asked me for the time of day. He spoke good English and he said that he had twelve years experience working as a bilingual accountant for the American Petroleum Company.
I learned that he was from Callao, the port city of Lima. He had come to Tarapoto to visit his 92 year old grandmother. And he also wanted to establish a transportation company in Tarapoto. He wanted to buy and bring in four new Suzuki trucks that would haul goods from Yurimaguas to Tarapoto.
Hugo invited me to come along and meet his grandmother. She was very spry and talkative for her age. He told me that his grandmother was the “first lady” of Tarapoto. She was the wife of a local hero, a military man who was killed in the 1911 Battle of Cachita. She had been collecting a good government pension and Hugo wanted to borrow money from her to start his trucking business.
Hugo finally mentioned that he had already been in the trucking business on the coast. He had owned three International Trucks that had crashed and he had gone broke because he had no insurance.
Hugo then asked me if I wanted to go to a party that night. He said that the girls were very friendly and I said OK. We set out for the party that night, using a flashlight, since there was no electricity in the outlying barrios. We met two friends of Hugo along the way. We stopped at a bar for some drinks and then bought some bottles to take along to the party.
The party was packed with people. Inside, people were dancing to the beat of the local orquestra or band. Outside, people were standing around drinking, watching and enjoying themselves. In a back room, people were passing around large bottles of beer, emptying their glass with one gulp, and yelling “salud”.
The highlight of this party was the selection of the “Queen of Spring”. Throughout the evening girls had been selling votes for themselves. Large sums of money were collected and fierce competition raged among the sponsors of the various candidates. Throughout this performance, Hugo stood grinning, with his arm around his favorite candidate. He had totally forgotten about all his grandiose plans for a new trucking business.