Even though I’ve been in Arequipa for closer to two weeks than one, I’m still giving myself lots of leeway to settle in. A friend and I are in the process of nailing down an Airbnb to move into for the rest of our time here; Home Sweet Home has been a great jumping off point to learn the layout of the city and is well under-budget, but at the end of the day it is essentially a revolving-door of backpackers and short-term travelers, and we’re keen to find a quieter place.
This was my first full week at the school, but next week will also be a first–my first with the actual class that I’ll be co-teaching before taking over in July. HOOP breaks down their students into categories that roughly correspond to age and English abilities, which in ascending order are: Butterflies, Parrot, Panda, Koala, Monkey, Manatee, and Kangaroo. I’ve been matched with Panda, so to dispel any future confusion, when I refer to “Panda” or “Pandas” I’m talking about my class or students, who, in the US, would fall in the second-grade age-range.
Since my last post it’s been a pretty steady whirlwind of activity and processing–I’ve been meeting with the Academic Coordinator and learning HOOP’s teaching pedagogy, curriculum, and expectations, as well as practical things like classroom management and lesson planning. There’s also an adorable St. Bernard-mix dog who comes around lots of days for snuggles and pets–he’s not ours but the staff call him Commando and he’s our unofficial office-dog.
After these meetings, there’s an hour or two to recharge and get lunch, then it’s off to the school, and lastly home around 6:30. I’ve developed a dangerous habit of getting an after-work churro for the equivalent of 40 cents because the combi basically drops us off in front of a churro stand, and there’s something so satisfying about eating one and knowing that in the U.S. it would cost like $10 at Six Flags or $5 at a carnival for something I’m enjoying with Peruvian pocket change. TBD on if I develop any self-control on that front.
It’s been really interesting adapting to life post-grad as a runner. I think going abroad last year did a really good job of preparing me for the end of my days as a student-athlete. I certainly still consider myself a runner, but I don’t feel the nagging sense of panic and worry that I did when I first experienced life in another country without my team and daily practice/workout routine. Sure, I’ve put on a couple pounds since graduation, and sure, I’ll go for a run and probably be out of breath after three miles. But I’m really, totally, at peace with that. I’m enjoying being able to wake up and say “no” to running, because I’d rather enjoy a breakfast on the rooftop or try something new like yoga.
I’m enjoying going out to eat, impulsively buying pieces of cake to eat during work meetings, and dragging my tired butt out of the hostel at night to try salsa dancing, even though just a few hours earlier I was running around playing soccer during cancha time. Last night I split a bottle of wine with a fellow volunteer before going to a karaoke fundraiser for work and staying out past two. I’m allowing myself to think of these early days in Arequipa as a well-earned vacation from regular running, and trusting that it’s something I’ll come back to when I’m ready.