January 22, 2008 at 12:50 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Will you permit me to complain for an entry? The other day I was running with a friend, my usual route to and from the museum, and some punk kid rode by on his bike and grabbed my ass. By the time I had realized what had happened, he was too far ahead to cause any bodily harm, and the best I could do was: “you are very ugly!”, which is pretty lame. I’ve cooled down a bit, but I was near-maximum level of pissed off after that happened. I realize that it is a cultural thing; while I try to explain so some of my guy friends here (who are 100% respectful) how inappropriate it is that men whistle and comment on my body as I walk down the street, or verbally make known what they think or what they want to do, my friends tell me that if their female friends are walking past a group of men and they don’t say anything, the girl gets offended. Thankfully, all agree that what happened yesterday is completely inappropriate. With the cat-calls, usually I can deal or just ignore it, but yesterday was the proverbial straw; no matter the intention, sometimes it comes off as a blatant lack of respect. Pardon the ethnocentricity, but I’d take mind games, Sunday night football, and fratasticness over this any day.

To be fair, a lot of female volunteers who have since completed their service and returned to the states have said that they miss the whistles and cat-calls once they leave Peru, and they wonder why the men in the street in the states don’t find them attractive. Go figure.


Uh, did I dream up that earthquake last night?

January 17, 2008 at 4:35 pm | Posted in bugs, dreams, natural disasters | 1 Comment

There are tremors every few weeks here where you shake around a bit and maybe something will fall off the table but generally they don’t lead to any harm. Its run-of-the-mill for the Tucumeneans, but for me its always a little exciting. They generally happen at night when I’m in bed, and I’ve started dreaming about them. So it has gotten to the point where I never know if they actually happened or not, unless something got knocked down and is on the floor the next morning.

I have the weirdest dreams here sometimes. Usually I am back in my old life at DC Energy and everything is the same as it was except there is generally some new Peruvian twist, like adding ‘no?’ to the end of every sentence, or working in soles, or someone saying ‘Nice work, muñeca’ after I give a presentation. Sometimes I have dreams where I’m completely paralyzed; I’m lying in bed here in Tucume, wearing my same pajamas, and everything is exactly the same as when I went to sleep. Except I cannot move, I cannot talk, I cannot scream nor make a sound. I say to myself: ‘I must be dreaming’, and eventually I make myself wake up. Those only happen when I fall asleep lying on my stomach.

Occasionally I dream that it is unbearably hot, and there are flies everywhere, and there is cumbia music blasting at the break of dawn. I’m still waiting to wake up from that one.

Festival Preps

January 16, 2008 at 8:36 pm | Posted in dancing, friends, party, teaching, tourism | 1 Comment

The big party is about to get going here in Tucume. According to townspeople, men and women from all over the world to come and experience the joys of the Tucume fiesta. I believe this will be much like other Peruvian fiestas; religious undertones, children doing cute stuff, drunk people, cumbia ’till you drop, etc. I’m excited though, I’m going to be the co-MC of a concurso de Tondero, which is a competition of a typical Peruvian dance. I’m MC-ing with the same guy who did the Miss Inikuk competition; apparently I wowed him with my near-speechlessness at the last big event, and he asked me to be his co-animadora. Here’s hoping he doesn’t talk more about the English and the Native Americans.

I’m also helping to plan a “Noche de Folklore” with the Casa de Cultura (house of culture) which is coming up next week. We have invited singers and dancers from around the region to come and perform. Interestingly enough, most of the meetings to plan these events revolve around finding ways to fund them. Most of the groups who put them on are doing it, in part, to fund their own organizations. None, however, has saved up enough to actually prepare for the event, so everyone is scraping around for dollah dollah billz.

I started teaching my English classes last week and will go ahead and toot my own horn and say that I did awesome. Not to say that anyone learned anything, but at least we had fun. No, I do think some good Engreesh was learned by at least a few. I’ve also gotten started on a big and not-so-fun project that involves entering every sale the artisans have made over the last three years into a database to eventually be able to analyze their sales, their goods, their prices, etc. Oh excel, how I’ve missed you. I need the data soon to be able to get some potential financial backing, which is why I’m doing this myself. I hope, in a few months, to teach some excel to the artisans so they can continue on without me, because that is how I roll. It will make everyone’s life so much easier, and the museum just purchased a new computer that we can use which is helpful.

Yeah, so, life is good. It is hot here, and I have grown to love the cold showers. I still hate dogs, and while I usually still really like doing my laundry, sometimes I don’t like it. My dainty little hands get rubbed raw, but I continue to find it quite relaxing.

Happy Birthday(s) to my Nana and my Pammy— two of the most beautiful ladies I know.

Killing Flies

January 7, 2008 at 12:44 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I spent the last 45 minutes killing flies in my room. I’m on nine and counting; there are two still buzzing around, but if I didn’t sit down to jot this down and to rest, I’d probably have passed out from fly hunting exhaustion. Any-hoo, last night was something new for me. It’s touchy, so I’ll have to be delicate in my description. So here goes:

Drinking. In Peru. It’s a problem. It’s a problem everywhere I suppose. For one, families, specifically men/fathers, who don’t have enough money to feed their children, don’t hesitate to spend a sunday afternoon buying and downing beers. It’s cheap – at least, to most people reading this. It is 3 tall boys for 10 soles, which is about $3.30. That comes out to well less than a dollar a beer if you consider the normal bottle/can serving one gets in the states. However, money is money, and getting drunk does not equal giving your kids a good education, or a well-rounded meal. So there is the money factor, and of course the fact that drinking is also the cause of much of the familial (and otherwise) violence and sexual assault that occurs in Peru. Generally, unless I’m in a *very* comfortable situation, drinking makes me pretty nervous and I avoid it and people who are doing it.

I feel extremely lucky to live in a house where neither of my parents are drinkers. On the occasional birthday or festival they’ll drink. That is the exception to what is normal here, normal being ‘drink until you cannot stand up, with frequency’. Yesterday my Dad went out with a few of his friends for his birthday and was drinking. I went around 11pm with my sister and little brother to go bring him home. I wasn’t worried; he is an incredibly kind and good person, but, as I said, I generally try to avoid drunk men as a blanket rule. For the obvious reasons, as well as the fact that I can barely understand anyone who is speaking drunken slurred Spanish.

We get to the house and all of them were pretty smashed. One guy who is a friend of my Dad’s and comes by the house a lot kept asking me to dance, and I kept saying: “er, I don’t know this one.” So he starts dancing alone; ‘this is the girl’s part’, he’d say, and then dance some steps, ‘this is the guy’s part’, and he’d dance some more. It was 100% innocuous, and was actually pretty funny to see my Dad a bit sauced. We four (sister, brother, and I walked) (Dad stumbled) home. All of my fears, which I’d consider unsubstantiated given the type of person my Dad is, were immediately allayed. When we got home, my Dad stumbled into his bedroom with my little brother. He started talking about his childhood, and he kept saying (I’ll translate as best I can): “Son, I hope you never have to suffer the way I suffered, I want you to have everything I never had, I love you, I’m so proud of you, I love you”, over and over again.

It was, in a word, beautiful. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen (well, heard) in Peru. I know that sounds cheesy, and I guess the fact that it happened under the influence may take away from it a little. But you have to understand that my Peruvian Dad (much like my real Dad) is quite stoic. He is a loving and vibrant person, but isn’t the type to wear his heart on his sleeve. This was rare, and it was so moving. He did come from very little, a very poor life, and worked hard to be able to provide. Everything he has done in his adult life has been for his children, and it shows, though usually in intangible ways. Last night, for a short while, it was made explicit, and it almost made me cry (happy tears). Moments like these have unfortunately been few and far between for me in my months here, and its nice to know that now I’ll have something new to hold on to though the tough times when I’m fed up and frustrated with some of the customs or people here.

New Yeahs

January 3, 2008 at 1:28 am | Posted in dancing, food, music | 1 Comment

New Years made me realize how much I miss rap music. And all my friends and family. Mostly, though, rap music. Here is how NY goes down in Peru: at 11:48 you start eating grapes. Twelve, to be exact, one each minute up until midnight. So, you’ve got your countdown. Then, you burn a doll. People stuff clothes with straw and fireworks, paint or draw someone’s face on it (typically a soccer player), and set it afire at midnight. So, you’ve got your fireworks. Then it’s on to dinner, though first some people step out with an empty suitcase to take a stroll around the park. I don’t really know what the equivalent of that would be in the states. Dinner is a big meal, once again: turkey, chicken, or pig, along with panettone, empanadas and hot chocolate. Did I mention you are supposed to do all of this wearing yellow underwear? Yellow for luck, green for bling bling, red for love. Then you get to dancing and drinking (I got to dancing, no more) and this is where the rap music comes in. I’m sure he is, like, so 2007, but I miss a little Lil’ Wayne in my life. And a lot of T.I. I actually do like Peruvian music, but I miss my beats from back home.

So now it is 2008, which means I’m into my second of three calendar years in Peru, with more than seven months behind me. I’m feeling good, and understanding, now, why it is a two year commitment. You just can’t get anything done in the first few months because you are too busy trying to figure out what is going on around you. Seven of 27 months completed seems like a lot. That is of my total time in Peru. Four of 24 months still seems like a small dent if that, referring to my actual time in site. Time flies, or crawls, depending on whether its a good day or a bad day. But, at the least, I can always pop on my iPod and pump tha Carter to make all my woes seem far away.

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