Volunteer Blogs

So Long PSF

Posted by in Blog | May 20, 2024

by: Angus MacRaild

I got called sentimental recently. It was a charge levelled in good humour by friends and it was in relation to the post I wrote about saying goodbye to my friend Rupert. About sharing some Old Pulteney 12yo with him during the moto ride to the bus station. You can judge for yourselves here. On reflection I think I probably am prone to sentimentality. It is hard not to be in the wake of such emotional circumstance. So these thoughts are very much in my mind this week since I left Pisco Sin Fronteras this Tuesday. I can’t promise I won’t be sentimental about it.

Thays and Laura, two of the hardest working friends I met at PSF.

I’ve often alluded to the difficulty in trying to sum up feelings about something like PSF. It is a life changing experience to spend time somewhere like that. At the moment it is still so raw and close that objectivity remains a struggle. I don’t know how my attitude towards it all will flesh out in the coming months and years, what will come to stand out and signify that overflowing four and a half months. A Tardisesque spec of time, with its hidden depths and corners stuffed so full of experience that it seems now scarcely real. The feeling of having awoken from a dream floats around me as I’m stuck here in Puno, waiting for a bus to take me the rest of the way to La Paz.

Maartje and Tim at the ‘Ultimate Ninja’ tournament.

However there are images, spectres in those dreamy visions that spring to mind. When I think of PSF I think of cement dust, I think of the shattering whine of circular saws. I think of warm beer and standing in line for dinner. I think of an old woman and her disabled daughter. I think of electric shocks in the shower. I think of impact drivers and run down batteries. I think of people crying under the weight of emotion. I think of maddened laughter and drunkenness. I think of sweat. I think of sunburn. I think of goodbyes. I think of a desert with many faces. I think of a young girl called Georgette, sent back to her mother in Lima without a goodbye. I think of wood. I think of wood reconstructed in a myriad of new forms. I think of modular panels and I think of earthbags. I think of hunger and of money. I think of my own family far away. I think of Stephen, Rupert, Laura, Alex, Thays, Maartje, Carson, Andrew, Frank, Lucy, Suzanne, Lisa, Dylan, Kathryn, Pete, Jimmy, Lynn, Robin, Christian, Anna, Brodie, Sabrina, Amanda, Tim, Ariel, Jack, Jen, David, Leo, Bevan, Mel, Kareen, Nessa, Coleen, Naveen, Heather, Patrick, Natasha, Kent, Leen, Will, Shannon, Alec, Quentin, Brian, Jaffa, Beccy, North, Eileen, Imran, Magnus, Kitty, Liam, Ross, Marley, Dakota, Claudi and many more.

Georgette, a young girl who lived on our project site for a while. She was seemingly allergic to good behavior.

When I left I gave into my own sentimentality and shared, yet again, a whisky in the back seat of a mototaxi with another truly great friend, Alex. It went down well over the fading sting of the previous nights Climax session. Myself and fellow long termer Laura left at the same time and were accompanied by Alex and Thays to the bus station. I’ve known Alex for the full four and a half months I’ve been at PSF. He is Scottish and we shared much common experience of Glasgow and its University. We were the only two Scots there for most of the time and made short work of expressing this through endless thematic banter. However we only just discovered in the last two days that we shared a mutual best friend and had met on several occasions over the past few years. Especially when we went paintballing together and attended the same ‘silly hat party’. We both agreed that it is indeed ‘a small world’.

I don’t know how I’ll come to measure PSF in the future, but this much I know for certain. I made the best friends I ever knew there and it was the best thing I did in my life so far. Bad things can only be undone and changed in inches, and with the help of many people better than me, I helped to change a few more inches. I hope the process continues beyond the borders of PSF, I hope the feeling of PSF is an infection that spreads, one that I’ll never shake as I continue that endless journey they call ‘growing up’. Maybe that’s sentimental, but I find myself without the presence of mind to worry about such things these days.

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