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



Yom Kippur: Part Dos

September 24, 2007 at 5:40 pm | Posted in family, food, Peru | Leave a comment

I broke the fast Saturday night with chicken, yuca, and a tasty ginger sauce. Not your typical break-fast, but it was still a good meal. On Sunday I headed out to Yanacoto to visit my old family. I managed to get on the wrong combi in Lima and it took me a good three hours to get out there (usually takes two), but I finally made it. It was SO. GOOD. to see my family from Yanacoto. I did not realize how close I became to them, or how much I love them, until going back and feeling like I was home (not as much as your home, mom and dad, but you know what I mean). I managed to see seven of the eleven Yanacoto families and they couldn’t have been more warm and welcoming and happy to see a familiar gringa face. They have new gringos now (or, aspirantes) but they miss our group so much. I spent at the least a half hour with each family which really ate into my time there but everyone wanted to know how all the volunteers of Peru 9 are doing in their new sites. The new volunteers seem to be settling in and adjusting really well which was good to see.

It was unbelievably hard to leave my fam and come back to Tucume. It is not that I am unhappy here, I guess it was just hard to come to a new country all alone, and really establish strong relationships with people and to then have to leave those behind. Perhaps when you are here, if you find such a strong foundation you really cling to it because it gives back to you the sense of stability and belonging that you left behind in the states. Back in August, when I was headed to site, I was expecting it to be a hard break. This weekend caught me off guard though – I was unaware I could come to care so much about a group of people in so short a time. I thought it would be a fun afternoon to come and catch up and have some lunch before heading back to site. It turned out to be too short of a stay and a teensy bit stressful because I kept checking the clock and willing it to move more slowly.

I suppose in a way it was a bittersweet trip because on the one hand I came to realize that coming back to Yanacoto was really like coming home, and on the other hand, shortly after making that realization I had to leave it behind once again. With time, I hope, Tucume can mean the same to me, and I have no doubt that I’ll be back to Yanacoto within a few months for another visit.

Where you at?

September 19, 2007 at 8:28 pm | Posted in correspondence, natural disasters, Peru, travel | 2 Comments

Per Alex Friedman’s request, I’ve enclosed a map that shows where I live relative to where the meteorite struck and where the earthquake was.

I’ve also put up my address on the sidebar so you can always find it with ease.


Blood Sweat and Tears

September 15, 2007 at 10:12 pm | Posted in deep (shallow) thoughts, Peru, sick | 1 Comment

Today, for the first time in my life, in person, I saw a dead body. I was on a combi on my way back from Chiclayo, the capital city in my department, about 20 minutes south of Tucume. The components unveiled themselves one by one; first, I saw a small crowd of people coupled with whisperings in Spanish from the people sitting to my left and right. Next, a motorcycle on its side along the road. Then, as if in slow motion, I saw the feet, legs, body, arms and finally the head of the unfortunate rider lying on the ground. As we rode past I surveyed the scene a bit better and it appears he must have collided with either the truck or the car that were also parked alongside the road though those had no damage. I’ll never forget how much blood there was, or how red it was. Glowing red – as if it were part of a movie. Between the sights, the stuffy combi, the combination smells of people who probably hadn’t showered in a few days and the reek of the produce that had been brought on board, it took everything in me to keep my food down. I picked up bits and pieces of conversation from there on out. People discussed what we had seen for another few kilometers and then the subject changed.

Sometime within the last year I was out to lunch with a friend of a friend who had spent a significant amount of time over the last few years living in the middle east. I remember little of the situation – where we were eating or who the friend even was – but I remember the girl we were eating with describing how quickly death became a part of life. I remember her talking about becoming comfortable with walking out of her house every morning facing the distinct and likely possibility that day would be her last, how that feeling became almost routine. When I got home today and was recounting to my host dad what I had seen, he simply shook his head and remarked how unfortunate that accidents like that are common on the Peruvian highways. I can’t say that statement surprised me, given how insane the driving is here. Nevertheless, I felt so strangely alone in that packed combi the rest of the ride and for the rest of the evening. I was in such shock and was wondering why other people’s jaws hadn’t dropped.

So, the obvious subsequent paragraph would relate the above to a place that starts with an “I” and ends in a “raq”, though given my current function, I will sidestep that discussion for now and just say that it is amazing what the human mind can accustom itself to given enough time and certain circumstances, and how alarming are the implications of what it means when death becomes commonplace. Will the dozen or so drivers who happened to pass by within a short time and happened to see the aftermath drive any differently tomorrow? Probably not, but perhaps I can always hope for one or two out of the twelve.

Half Birthday

September 10, 2007 at 8:02 pm | Posted in party, Peru, pictures, religion, tourism, travel | 2 Comments

There are two things I remember doing when I was little that seem really silly now (okay there are a lot of things, but I’m going to mention two): one is the way I used to say my age to the quarter of a year; I’m four and three quarters, or five and a quarter. Why do little kids do that? I guess it is because every month counts when you’ve only put a handful behind you. The other is I remember talking with friends about half-birthdays, and mine rolls around in December. I don’t know when these lost their significance, but they definitely were important for a couple of years there.

Do I have a point? Yes (not really). This weekend Tucume celebrated what would be equivalent to its half-birthday. Carlos the fifth from Spain sent a representation of the Virgin Mary to Tucume as a way of saying ‘thank you’ to the indigenous tribes for raping the people of their land and livelihoods. In any case, the Virgin arrived in February, so every year there is a HUGE celebration here in February, basically for the entire month, with lots of games and dancing and drinking and dancing and drinking. NOTE: If you are thinking of coming to visit, and want to visit Lambayeque and my site (as opposed to the typical trip to Machu Picchu), February would be a really cool time to be here. Anyways, we recently celebrated the half year anniversary with, you guessed it, drinking and dancing. What was lacking this time were the hordes of people that apparently show up for the big fiesta in February. I put up some pictures of the daytime and nighttime processions for you to check out.

Something I hope to keep with me always is the Peruvian ability, no matter the time of year, to find a reason to fiesta. When I first heard that there was a week long (as opposed to month-long) party to celebrate the *half* year of a particular event, it brought me back to those kindergarten conversations about half-birthdays and I chuckled at the thought. I’m digging it though, and I can’t wait for the next fiesta. My salsa improves with every baile.

Growin’ Up

September 3, 2007 at 9:31 pm | Posted in deep (shallow) thoughts, family, friends, kids, Peru, US of A | Leave a comment

Most of the Peruvians I’ve become friends with here have been under the age of 21. Emotionally, mentally, and otherwise I felt like a young adult back in the states, but here I’m still trying to figure out if that ‘age’ exists in a persons life. I’m referring to the time when you finish school and get a job and if you can afford it, an apartment. You are on your own to feed yourself, pay bills, and you can do with your time and money exactly what you want, and can be as responsible or irresponsible as you want. A lot of young twenty-somethings here already have a kid (or kids!). Depending on the socioeconomic strata in which they are living, (pre)teenagers start having babies as young as the age of 12 or 13 (this happens mostly in the jungle). But even in the more developed areas, people at 18,19, or 20 are having kids and it is not rare to start younger. I talked about this in an earlier entry and about the lack of sex education, but what I’ve been mulling over lately is more that period of time between graduation and getting married, settling down, and popping out young ones. For me, the last three years have been some of my favorites; I had a great job that I loved, friends that I loved, and for the first time in my life a disposable income. I want to live in a dozen different countries if only to see what people between the ages of 20-30 are doing with their lives. From what I remember in Italy, people live with their parents until their mid-late twenties and continue to study or get jobs. The break between life with Mom and Dad and independence is much more nuanced than it is in the states (Sonia, back me up on this).

From what I’ve seen in Peru, people get knocked up at a young age, get hitched, and the new family either moves in with the girl’s parents or the boy’s parents. The proud new parents and their babe all bunk up together. Depending on the economic situation, they will continue to bunk up until the kid is up to ten or eleven years old. I’m definitely basing this on anecdotal evidence and only a half dozen cases or so at that. My immediate list of contacts has spread outward starting with family members, and back in Yanacoto that began with a 20 year old boy, and here in Tucume it begins with a 16 year old girl. So perhaps this little investigation of mine warrants more time and effort. Aside from family members, I have had the opportunity to spend time with some of the older and more established citizens of Tucume, but those people are nearing retirement and have grown kids of their own. I’ve yet to tap the middle-ground, and it would be nice to befriend some people my age or even a little older, to see what we might have in common or what parts of our lives greatly diverge.

It is interesting trying to figure out where I fit in, or where I will fit in socially here in Peru. I purposely use the word ‘interesting’ as opposed to something with more negative connotations because, at least for the moment, I’m perfectly content strolling around with my 16 year old sister and her friends at night, or chilling with my 8 year old bro watching the Simpsons (pronounced los seensons). The beginnings of my community analysis here have uncovered that work is valued over education here in Tucume, and (I quote) that people live for the moment, for today and tomorrow, and not the future. So maybe all the people my age are working, or at home taking care of their kids? Today I have my first meeting with the artisan association I’m going to be working with and it will be interesting to see what the age/gender dynamic of the group is. I do think a lot of these questions will be answered as I spend more and more time here and get to know more and more people. Nevertheless, my short stay here in Peru has really made me appreciate the freedom and independence I was able to enjoy back in the states after graduating from school…not in the sense that I’m not enjoying myself, but more in comparison to what might have been had I been born here.  So, to all you yuppies out there, yup it up.

Get clean

August 5, 2007 at 3:46 pm | Posted in family, Peru, pictures | Leave a comment

First, I added a few more pictures of my enviromental charla and of some cuys (precooked) and of our group photo – note the supersweet bigotes. Second, before I head off into the sunset to discover my new site, I thought I´d leave you with a little tidbit about something I love here in Peru. The people in my neighborhood and from what I can tell, people all over, love to water their dirt. Every day my mom goes outside with a big bucket to water the dirt. If we are walking around town, for no reason that I can fathom she will stop in a particular spot (note: it is dusty EVERYWHERE, we live on a big mountain made of dirt and rock) and say, “what dust, so and so really ought to water their dirt today”. Another gem is when people go out in front of their house to sweep the dirt. They don´t sweep it off of a porch or stoop or anything, they just sweep the earth, to get rid of the top layer of dirt to get to the dirt underneath. Go figure.

I´m off. Mom and Dad and Steven and Michael, I hope you had a great trip! I love you and miss you and will try calling this week if I have a chance.

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