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.


Come Visit Me, A Howard Original

December 2, 2007 at 10:05 pm | Posted in dogs, family, food, friends, horses, language, music, party, Peru, sick, tourism, travel | 4 Comments

(sung to the tune of Rod Stewart’s ‘If You Think I’m Sexy’…play the video, then follow along with the new and improved lyrics)


azucar, oooh


ooh ooh ooh


You sit alone, reading my weblog
Peru sounds nice, except the trash and stray dog(s)
The climate is dry, the food cheap and delicious
The culture abounds, for you Peru is waiting


If you want to visit me
And don’t fear diarrhea
Come on azucar let me know

The flight will be expensive
But then once you get here
Everything will be dirt cheap


To Machu Picchu, I cannot escort you
It’s far away, and I’m basically penniless
Northern Peru, to you has lots to offer
Pyramids, Ceviche, and a cute jewish curly haired spanish speaking guide

So hop a plane to this third world country
At last! you can watch me dance the festejo


If you want to visit me
And like eating rice
Come on bebe let me know

We’ll go horseback riding
And we’ll hike the pyramids
We can go surfing if you are paying!


There is ancient stuff here too
Not quite as famous as the south
Come on friend/relative/complete stranger
You might want to pack some diapers


(saxaphone solo)

(time to break it down)

We will pick fruit and eat it off the tree
Guanabana, Chirimoya, and other stuff you’ve never heard of
If it’s not rainy season, we’ll go to the mountains
Ride around on donkeys, and do lots of cartwheels

One other thing, you’ll have to remember
Carry around some TP because they don’t have it available in public restrooms

IIIIIFFF you want to visit me
And like being relatively tall
Come on azucar let me know

As a special bonus
You might get to feel a tremor
Ah, I see you are booking your ticket right now!


shuu gar

if you really need TP
i’ll carry around some extra
come on sugar let me know

really really really need TP! just let me know

(whispers): TP TP TP TP TP TP

(2x) I’ll bring the TP, you’ll bring the TP


Little Miss Inikuk

November 13, 2007 at 8:20 pm | Posted in dancing, family, music | 2 Comments

Friday was the ‘Miss Tucume’ competition. My sister Vicky was a contestant:

This year they changed things around a bit and incorporated a lot more prehispanic themes into the event. They called it Miss Inikuk, and the contestants had to give a short speech in Mochik which is an antiquated language of the region. Each girl also danced a short marinara and there was a ‘question and answer’ session which I think was fully pre-scripted. It was really interesting and cool and even though my sister did the best, she did not win, but we all had fun nevertheless.

I had been helping the municipality plan the event and they gave me the job of delivering gifts at the end. Before announcing the winner, each participant was awarded a small gift. I thought I’d just be handing the gifts out to the host from backstage, but 30 seconds before delivering them I was informed, arms full of regalos, that I’d be going up on stage to hand out gifts to each girl. So there I was with a heaping pile of boxes in my arms up on stage in front of hundreds of people. Of course the host takes the opportunity to chit chat with the gringa and my ability to speak spanish (or speak at all, for that matter) ran out of the complex and left me there all alone (well, with the gifts). I finally mustered up something along the lines of: “I’m so happy to be here, it was such a beautiful ceremony, in my country we don’t have such a complex and rich history of culture and traditions, I really enjoyed seeing the dance numbers and hearing the speeches in Muchik”. It probably sounded a lot worse than that though, like “me gringa, you dance pretty.” The host decided to delve into a little spiel about how the English came to America and wiped out the Indians and everything they lived for, while the Espanoles came and took all the gold but left behind a good chunk of culture. Okay, fair enough. I was already feeling pretty awkward and that didn’t help the matter. But, I survived and made it off stage to the sound of cheers which was cool. The next day walking around town I suddenly had doubled my number of friends, and by friends I mean people who yell ‘HELLO DANIELA HELLO HELLO GOOD MORNING GOOD AFTERNOON GOOD NIGHT I LOVE YOU OKAY BYE BYE’.

Such is life in my little town in northern Peru. All in all it was a really great experience. Enclosed is a short video of some sassy children dancing the Marinara. Enjoy and check out my photos on Picasa.

PS today is Alex Friedman’s birthday but I probably won’t post this until tomorrow or Thursday. What can I tell you about Alex Friedman? Sometimes when I say that name, people cannot tell if I’m talking about a girl or a boy. HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALEX FRIEDMAN!!! I hope you always remember the time we got so sunburned in Puerto Rico that little children would run away from us screaming when we passed them in the street.

A Very Charlie Brown October

October 8, 2007 at 9:47 pm | Posted in dancing, kids, music, pictures, teaching | 1 Comment

I finally took my camera out to the casario I’ve been working in. This week we taught German; we’ve been switching off every week, but I think next week when I get back from Lima we might just separate and teach both languages and then switch classrooms. We are going to try it and see how it goes. In any case, now I’m learning a little German as well as continuing with my Spanish. I put some pictures up of the classrooms on my picasa site, as well as some shots of a windmill where the town gets their water from. The windmill was broken when I took the shots and the town hadn’t had water for two days! They store some water in big trash-bin-like containers for situations like that so I believe that is what they were using. There was an anniversary last week so after classes there were some games and some dancing. I took a short video of the kids dancing, and it really reminds me of a Charlie Brown cartoon for some reason. How adorable are these kids:

I really am loving teaching out there. I also spent a few days last week working side by side with one of the artisans who makes pressed aluminum products, check it out:

!!!!! I made that! It may look easy, but it was all done by hand, the design, everything. No mold, no nothing – it was really difficult. If you look closely enough at the picture you can probably see a ton of imperfections. The artisan I was working with makes them perfectly and in the time it took me to make one, she made ten. It was a really great learning experience and I’m proud of what I made. The box came ready made but I stained and shined it to get it ready for the shelves. Then I pasted on the aluminum piece I had worked on. Then she gave it to me as a gift! So I have it sitting next to my computer right now as I type, to remind myself that I’m not all numbers and geekage.

Today I went out with Jessica to visit a farm of a nearby family; the sister of the woman she is living with. It was so incredibly beautiful, it almost makes me regret not choosing a more ‘campo’ site. It was so peaceful, calm, and natural. They raise cuyes, pigs, ducks, chickens, and grow rice and sugar cane. It was a family of 8, one of the boys passed away a few years ago, and of the remaining children, five were girls who all married and moved away. Now just two boys live there with their mom and they manage the farm. I think they have either 15 or 30 hectares, I heard both numbers. I didn’t want to leave! I do really love my site, and as far as work goes there is a lot more to do where I’m living now than out there, but it was still a revitalizing way to spend a Monday.

Tomorrow I’ll head to the museum to help the artisans pick out the products they want to sell at the fair on Friday and on Wednesday night I head out for Lima, where I’ll be until Sunday.


September 26, 2007 at 8:04 pm | Posted in friends, music | 2 Comments

Happy Birthday to my heterosexual life partner and mother of my two cats, Sonyell Howantolo.
Okay – so because it is your birthday, I’ll be the afro-ed, gold-chained fellow and you can be the girl. But just this once:

Top Ten

September 24, 2007 at 5:12 pm | Posted in food, friends, kids, micronegocios, music | Leave a comment

I did a lot of top ten lists in college with friends, though they were usually written late at night and sometimes under the influence (and unintelligible).

Nevertheless, thus far here are my top ten best things thus far about site:

  • My afternoon coffee. As long as I can keep finding that lone coffee vendor in the sea of people selling coca leaves, I should be good to go.
  • Warm and tasty breakfast drinks every morning including soy milk, or this thing called Champu which is made from corn.
  • Being able to communicate in Espaneesh.
  • Learning how to make the products my artisans make, so far wooden jewelry and pressed aluminum.
  • Going to events and being able to see over everyone’s heads (I’m tall here).
  • A tall glass of freshly blended papaya, pineapple, melon, apple, or orange juice for the equivalent of 16 cents available all morning long.
  • Making friends with all the little kids in town.
  • Learning how to cook deelish Peruvian food.
  • 98.9 FM, a Chiclayo 80s station that is like a non-stop, exhaustive, and super awesome Legwarmers set.
  • Salsa salsa salsa: all the dancing I could ever want.

    Create a free website or blog at
    Entries and comments feeds.