Thursday, March 31, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Things I miss in the US:
- Family and friends (goes without saying, even though I just said it anyway)
- Cream cheese
- Clocks on walls
- The concepts of random and awkward, for which there are no satisfactory words in Spanish
- Being able to express myself without thinking first whether I know the words to say it
- Catacombs (at Gordon)
- Playing guitar (I can do that here too, I just haven’t had a chance yet)
- My mom’s bread
- My favorite reading spots in Jenks
- Real milk (as in not evaporada or descremada)
- Pandora radio
Thinking about the things I miss also got me thinking about what a privileged position I really am in here and how grateful I am for that. First off, that even though I miss these things, I know that in a few months I will go back to them and that I should make good use of the time I do have here. I think about people who move permanently to a new country either by choice or fleeing something. They don’t have the luxury of knowing they will be returning to their comfort zone with the people and things they miss. I’m also grateful to have the financial resources to ameliorate some of the things I miss, like buying a bagel and cream cheese and having a computer for skype. I also have a great support system here of program director and classmates and my host family. I arrived with plans arranged and a place to stay, a way to get there and people to welcome me. I did not have to search for a safe place to stay or a job. I may feel frustrated sometimes with my Spanish skills and feeling like I communicate like a child but I have the benefit of having people who do speak my language if absolutely necessary and who for the most part are compassionate and encouragin listeners. I did not have to leave a good job and arrive in a new country where I could only get an entry-level low-paying job like many immigrants do. Overall I am very grateful for my time here in Peru and I plan to make the best use of it by trying new things and learning as much as I can.
Hasta la proxima
Hasta la proxima
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Picarones – fried wheat dough rings with honey – very good but very sweet
Tres leches – a very Peruvian cake which was also very delicious. I was a little afraid of the texture but it was excellent.
Peruvian cookie + peanut butter = win
Dinner one night: rice (of course), hamburger and sauce, green beans (of some sort) (And yes, I did eat all those green beans.)
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Today a bunch of us learned the basics, the ways and places to hit the drum and the festejo rhythm and a dance. We put together a whole song and recorded a video. Overall it was a really fun way to learn some more about the afroperuvian culture.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Background: Every time you ride a micro, when you pay you get a little ticket back. (Pay no attention to the number of soles it says you paid because it lies. I think the cobrador just rips off a random one.) One micro that I ride has quotes on the bottom of its tickets. I, for some reason, seem to get an inordinate amount of quotes from Mr. Sabina: see my boleto bar graph below. The stranger part is the actual quote. It says "Lo bueno de los años es que curan heridas lo malo de los besos es que crean adiccion," which translates to 'The good thing about the years is that they cure pain, the bad thing about kisses is that they're addicting.' Okay....what do the two parts of that sentence have to do with each other? Strange.
Hasta la proxima
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
You need to get yourself together, have a little chat with Peru and quit causing problems. It is not acceptable to keep me up all night. Enough already, or else .... I shall feed you only rice for the rest of the semester. I do give you credit for getting it together faster this time; keep up the good work. But next time, let's just not go there.
(Yep, sick again last night. But don't worry, I'm feeling better now. I knew I was better for sure when I was tempted to do the letter motions when YMCA came on in my micro. Wouldn't the Peruvians love that?)
Hasta la proxima
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
- cheery colored buildings interspersed with normal ones
- gorgeous sunsets
- always something new to see out the micro window
- music on the micros
- a big campus with lots of green space
- a big university with lots of class choices
- small cute deer on campus
Things I don't like about Lima:
- car alarms
- rush hour
- people smoking
- the severe lack of clocks anywhere (I think I have yet to see a clock on a wall)
- music on the micro when it's "Papa loves mambo"
- a big campus that I have to walk all the way across
- a big university where I can go all day without running into someone I know
- small but aggressive deer that want your lunch
Hasta la proxima
PS: This is by no means an exhaustive list, just some thoughts from today
Monday, March 21, 2011
To explain, at PUCP, extranjeros have the first week of classes to try out various courses and professors to see which we want to take, then we matriculate the next Monday. It's on a first-come, first-served basis so each year students have been coming earlier and earlier in an effort to beat the rest. I arrived at 6:15 to be number 17. By 6:30 there were at least double that many people. They were over 100 before 8. We then proceeded to wait until 9 when they began the actual registration. Always a fun way to spend the morning, eh?
I am officially registered for:
Etnografia Amazonica (Amazonian Ethnography)
Historia del Arte (History of Art)
Historia del Peru: formacion hasta el siglo XVIII (History of Peru before the 18th century)
Realidad Social Peruana (Peruvian Social Reality)
I think they'll all be good classes. And now I have lots (LOTS) of reading to do for them.
Hasta la proxima!
Sunday, March 20, 2011
It honestly surprises me how many people in Peru are working on learning English. It really shouldn’t, having studied linguistics and teaching ESL and learning about English as a power language, but it still does. I’m conflicted about this in several ways. First, I feel lucky and blessed to have been born a US citizen and to speak English natively. Second, while I believe bilingualism is an asset for anyone and learning another language can provide opportunities, I don’t think English as a global language will have all positive ramifications. When one language (or anything else for that matter) becomes prized above others so that those equally good others, each with their own benefits, are being rejected. It’s sad to me to hear about parents who raise their children to speak only English and not their heritage language. This is of course a touchy issue and everyone has their own personal reasons for choosing the languages they do.
The awkward part of this for me of late is when people ask to practice their English with me. I do want to help them because I am grateful to the many people who have borne with me as I learn Spanish. I do not, however, feel comfortable helping every person who asks me… like the bookstore employee, or the guy outside the bank. I feel privileged to be a native speaker and would like to help but am not comfortable arranging to meet random people I don’t know. But nor do I feel nice outright rejecting them. I’m not sure how to handle such requests (nor am I sure I’m expressing my thoughts on the whole topic clearly).
Thoughts anyone? I’d love to hear them.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Hasta la proxima!
Friday, March 18, 2011
The bubble tea was decidedly not as awesome. I wasn't fond of the 'bubbles' or the frozen strawberry compostion. I've been spoiled with fresh before.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
I got on my micro this morning only to hear Bad Romance by Lady Gaga going full volume, promptly followed by California Girls. Oh American music in Peru.
Did you know Peruvians are very courteous on micros? Far more so than Americans on public transport. People actually respect the seats reserved for the disabled/elderly/pregant/mothers with small children and will give them up for them. They will even give up other seats for them. I gave my seat to a little old lady this morning and felt Peruvian.
I made some Peruvian aquaintances in my classes today and at the meeting of a Christian group on campus. I look forward to getting to know people better. (Despite having to ask them to repeat themselves a lot. Hopefully that gets better too)
I saw an actual school bus today, as in actually yellow and said colegio, not a micro. Add that to the list of things I don't want to drive in Lima.
Hasta la proxima
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Things I would not want to drive in the streets of Lima (but have indeed seen):
- A cement truck
- An 18-wheeler
- A micro (of any shape or size)
- A tiko (little tiny crumple cars of death)
- A cart with furniture stacked 8 feet high and tied
- A little cube that looks like it came off a carnival ride called a moto-taxi
- A bus plastered with presidential posters and playing carnival music
- Pretty much anything, actually ;)
Hasta la proxima
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
It's true. I finally have homework again. Can't say I've missed it.
Yesterday we started PUCP classes and so far they are pretty good. Nothing struck me as WOW this will be amazing but I think the topics are interesting and they'll grow on me. It's still feeling a little overwhelming to have all my classes in Spanish and mostly with people who actually speak the language but overall I feel like I have understood the professors pretty well. One in particular was very welcoming and offered to help us with whatever we needed for the class. However, thinking in Spanish all the time is tiring so I am going to go finish my reading and go to bed.
Tomorrow I attempt to take a book out of the library and go to the fotocopiadora. (Actually, I already attempted this today but all the copies of the book were out. Who tells 60 students to share 5 books in two days? My new prof apparently.)
Fun fact of the day: Peruvians may walk slow (and I mean slow. I walk above-average-fast but Peruvians walk even slower than Gordon amblers) but they eat fast! (I am always the last one to finish at the dinner table. Oh well. I'm enjoying my food.)
Hasta la proxima
Saturday, March 12, 2011
I also bought a reading lamp for my bed. I have a loft bed here so my lazy self does not want to have to climb down the ladder to turn the light off after I've been reading in bed and just want to sleep. :D In my defense, the ladder likes to scooch the rug just enough to freak me out and think I'm going to fall.
My big purchase today was airline tickets. I will be joining some other people in my program in going to Arequipa for a weekend in April. They've already done basically all the planning but this was still a big thing for me. I've never bought my own airplane tickets, much less at a travel office speaking Spanish! It should be a fun trip.
Friday, March 11, 2011
Overall I’ve been very impressed with all the ways the program has prepared us for this semester. After meeting some other international students who just arrived and are looking a little lost on campus (I actually gave directions to some. In Spanish no less) I really appreciate having had some time to adjust and having Marion and Melvin to lead us. I’m looking forward to starting semester courses!
Next week marks the beginning of direct enrollment classes. Sort of anyway. International students get the first week to try out whatever classes we’re thinking about before committing and registering the next Monday. I’m thinking about Amazon Ethnography or Andean Ethnohistory, History of Art, and History of Peru before the 18th century or Peru in Modern Times. They all sound really interesting so it’ll depend on which professors I like.
Hasta la próxima.
PS: Yes, there’s a tsunami warning. It’s not supposed to be big. Plus Lima is on the top of a cliff. But we’re still not going to the beach tomorrow. So no worries.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
More fun things I learned in Wong:
- In Peru, they sell bread without the crust. Not all of the loaves, but there are whole loaves chilling there on the shelf naked, without their crust. How has this not made it to the US? I mean, I love crust on my bread, but I know a lot of people don’t.
- They sell llama jerky.
- They don’t know about what we call lemon in the US. They call their little limes “limón”.
I didn’t have my camera but other people took pictures. I will post some when I can get them from their facebooks :D
Hasta la próxima
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Ok, this story is really long, but I promise it’s good. My crazy micro ride home today:
First off, it was rush hour, which, like anywhere else, means lots of traffic and lots of harried people. I had to wait for awhile at la Catolica then finally got on the right micro and sat down. As we were going, the cobrador kept telling more and more people to get on, more got on than got off and soon all the seats were filled and there were 2 lines of people standing. There had to have been at least 10 people standing, and this wasn’t even one of the big busses.
Then, we got to a corner where a lot of people were standing. Way more than usual, I don’t know why. So the cobrador got off and stood on the corner, yelling the streets we were going to and telling people to get on. (They do this all the time but this guy was particularly adamant) He stood too long yelling and we missed the traffic light. People in the back of the bus started yelling at the driver to get going, saying that they had paid their fare, now they wanted to get where they were going so get moving. (More or less, possibly in less kind words) The cobrador keeps calling out, despite people telling him to get back on. So then, a passenger from the back gets off and gets in the face of the cobrador. Apparently he was unhappy with the micro and wanted to leave but wanted his fare back. The cobrador didn’t want to give it to him so the passenger wouldn’t let the cobrador back on the micro, thus causing us to miss the light again and have to sit through another cycle. (Of all the road rules they ignore, Peruvians actually follow traffic lights)
At this point the driver is yelling at the cobrador to get back on, the passengers are yelling in general and at the driver to just go and leave the cobrador, the crazy man is still blocking the cobrador and all the cars and micros stuck behind us are yelling and blaring their horns. And through all of this, more and more people from this corner are getting on the micro until literally, no one else can fit. Finally the cobrador gives the man back his fare (1 sol, 1 sol people! All this over 1 sol) and we go on but the micro is stuffed to the gills. When it’s finally my stop I almost miss it because I had to push though everyone. All in all it was a little bad, a little interesting and a lot just get me off this micro. I got home fine, no one fought (I really thought they were going to)
At least the good news is that I successfully related this story to my host mom in Spanish.
Hasta la próxima (ojala sin micro!)
PS: I want to know what kind of gas mileage these micros get. It’s got to be awful with all their stopping and starting and cutting each other off and slamming on their brakes. For that matter, I wonder how fast they wear out their brakes because they definitely are not of the speed up and slow down slowly to save wear on your car school of thought.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Same spot, different direction
Saturday, March 5, 2011
So, a whole big group of us from the program went out last night. We went out to dinner then to a discoteca. The disco was more fun than I thought it would be but still not something I need to do all the time. Here are some thoughts/comments on the night:
13 gringos plus two Peruvians is WAY too big of a group. Especially if we don’t know exactly where we want to go. We were a giant gringo noodle blob snaking through the streets. Hence the title; tallarín means noodle. It was still fun to get to know other people in the program better.
Outside the restaurant there were some street sellers, who as you might guess, are poor, often indigenous, often quechua-speaking migrants trying to make money. They are (sadly) fairly common but in this case there was a mom with a young child. The kid can’t have been more than 2 or 3. The mom was selling, then sent the kid up and down the line of waiting restaurant-goers. It made me wonder what effect that must have on a kid, to grow up walking amongst adults who only shake their head at you, not understanding the dynamics of it, only the rejection. And that’s in addition to already growing up in poverty and racism. I’m still considering this. It did lead to an interesting conversation with some other people.
Smokers + small room + me + already scratchy throat = bad news bears. It is more of a smoker’s culture here in Lima but so far it hasn’t bothered me too bad, except for last night.
Took my first taxi ever. I think we overpaid. We did negotiate down 10 soles though. But whatever, there’s room to improve.
Hasta la proxima.
PS: I took a school bus micro last night. It amused me probably more than it should have :D
Friday, March 4, 2011
So, a couple of you have asked what combis and micros are and how they work. Basically, as I understand it, micros are the public transport system of Lima. They’re buses, ish. The driver is called the chofer and the guy who collects the fares and yells out where the micro is going is the cobrador. There are lots of different lines and routes run by different companies (500 routes I hear). They do not have schedules or routes that you can look up, you go by the names of the main streets they pass which are painted on the side. Each one has a route but they don’t always follow it exactly depending on traffic and the whim of the chofer. They are differentiated by color, number or endpoints which are painted on the front. I have now successfully gotten myself to and from school on two different micros and I even recognize a lot of the route now.
When I said buses-ish, I meant that they are like a bus system but they’re not all actually buses. There are three main sizes: buses (think coach bus), coasters (pronounced coosters), and combis (think vw van size). They’re all different makes and models. I’ve even seen some school bus micros. But I have to say the funniest one was the ice cream truck shaped one. It actually made me crack a smile on the micro when I usually have my game face on.
Hasta la próxima.