Chanukah Gift #2

December 5, 2007 at 11:58 am | Posted in food, sick | 1 Comment

When I was getting my coffee this morning in the kitchen, I looked down and saw in a big yellow bucket what I thought to be a live potato.  After a double take I realized, much to my dismay, that the live potato turned out to be two pigeons. I have between now and 2pm to come up with some reason why I cannot eat lunch today.


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


The Opposite of Fun

October 29, 2007 at 1:53 pm | Posted in food, sick | 3 Comments

I got the worst bout of food poisoning I’ve ever had in my entire life on Saturday night. I think the guilt lies with a plate of ceviche I ate earlier on Saturday.  The last time I was this sick was a night after a sell dinner at my old job, after an exquisite meal of escargot and stuffed quail at a fancy French place in DC. This time, however, I felt more crappy overall, but less guilty because I was only puking up $1 worth of food instead of $100. I don’t want to get into too many details, but it was a night of non-stop pain, no sleep, and I averaged six pukes an hour for about seven hours.
I’m much better now, whatever it was is finally out of my system. I learned my lesson. At least until the next time I’m craving ceviche.

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.

Would you like some cheese with that…

September 8, 2007 at 6:50 pm | Posted in dogs, espanol, sick | Leave a comment

It is not my style to use my weblog as a medium through which I can complain or get things off my chest. BUT, I have gotten several comments about wanting to know all the depressing, sad, or otherwise unhappy details of my life here in Peru. So, here goes (don’t judge me):

The noise for one: sometimes, I just want to have peace and quiet, but ever since electricity arrived (I’m guessing), stereos have been blasting Salsa, Nectar, or Grupo Cinco all day every day loud enough to make your ears bleed. If it is not the stereos, it is the dogs barking, or the chickens caw-cawing, or the horns blasting. Most intersections lack stoplights, so cars and trucks just honk before they get to every intersection – or pretty much non-stop. I still haven’t seen two cars arrive at the same time, but I guess whoever has the louder horn wins (?). Anyways, if you are thinking of joining the Peace Corps in Latin America, might I suggest an industrial sized box of earplugs – it is my most valuable possession here in Peru. I am 100% serious.

The language for two: I don’t think I ever posted the results of my final language exam. I was bumped up two levels again to advanced medium which is one spot below fluent (advanced high, then superior, or fluent). Hooray! I was really surprised and excited. So my Spanish is the bomb at present, but still, sometimes it is so wearing to speak in another language all of the time. Moving to Lambayeque meant (means) getting used to a whole new accent and new slang. Sometimes I get so excited about the stuff I’m talking about and I JUST WANT TO TALK IN ENGLISH, but no one understands it. Another bummer is sometimes I really feel like I hit these plateaus with my language level and it is frustrating to not be able to express myself exactly the way I want to. An additional gripe is the accent; now that my grammar and sentence structure is better, I’ve been trying to perfect my pronunciation with little success. In particular, words with ‘rd’ in them such as guardaropas or tarde are difficult for me to say. My little 8 year old brother always asks me to say those words, so I’ll say them and then he will point and laugh at me. This wouldn’t be so bad if the rest of the family did not also start laughing.

The efficiency (or lack thereof): things get done a lot slower here, and while in most circumstances I really am embracing this new pace of life, in others it can be frustrating. Case in point; I lost my bank card my first day in site (super smart, Danielle) and right away called the Peace Corps office to get events set into motion so I could get a new one. This was almost two weeks ago now, and I was told it would take up to a week to get a new one. I’ve called several different people and keep getting the same response: we’ll let you know when you can go pick it up. Grrr.

Lastly, and most important, the getting sick. I haven’t talked about this a lot in my blog, but since my site visit I have been having on and off stomach problems for almost a month now. It is not bad or serious, mostly just annoying. I’ll be fine for three or four or even five days, and then have between an hour up to an entire day of really bad stomach cramps accompanied by the big ‘D’ and the big ‘V’ (that is diarrhea and vomiting). Again it is not debilitating, mostly just bothersome, but I’m almost getting used to it. AND, it is definitely tapering off (I HOPE I PRAY!). I’m pretty sure what is going on here is there is something in the water that wasn’t in Lima, and I’m just getting accustomed to it. Such is life, but some days it can definitely be a downer, especially when I have to put on a happy face when meeting new people.

So, the worst it can get: I’m feeling really sick, and there are stereos blasting all around, and dogs-a-barking, and horns honking, and I have to explain to my Mom or whoever in espanol why I keep running to the bathroom (I guess it is a little worse if there doesn’t happen to be toilet paper).

Okay, now back to the peppy, fun-loving, dreadlock-growing* Peace Corps volunteer you all know and love!

*just kidding!!!

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