Monday, January 3, 2011

New Years Eve

New Years Eve in Peru. I sadly feel like I missed out. In the morning, I went with my host sisters to church. It’s really interesting because I don’t realize it I guess, but my host family rarely leaves this little area of the street where all the family is, and for the most part they can buy everything they need here as well. So making the ¼ mile walk to the church was a big deal. And being that it was sunny, it became an ordeal. We had to take 2 breaks along the way to the church in the shade, and then once we got to the church we sat outside for another 10min break before we entered. Sometimes I get really confused about this stuff. Once we were in church I have come to realize that it is more of a social gathering then it is to truly attend mass. For one, they talk through the entire mass and eye up the other people within the church and then talk about them. And the kids just run wild and play in the aisle, scream, and be as loud as possible and no one does anything. And this goes on the entire mass. It’s very distracting and I cant seem to figure out why they even go, I think it’s more out of moral obligation then anything else.
Then, in the afternoon we came home to make a scarecrow. Apparently the tradition is that at midnight in Peru they burn these scarecrows that are dressed in old clothes and it’s burning away the old and preparing for the new. It was so weird to see these scarecrows all over the place for new years. My host family went out and bought fireworks for it too…I missed all of this which I will explain later.
Later in the evening we had dinner…or so I thought, we had a soup. But I was informed at midnight we would have a bigger dinner. My host sister has asked me earlier in the week to go to a quincianera with her in my site mates town. I knew a little of this was so she could see her boyfriend who was a godfather for the event. I agreed. She said we were going to leave at 10, so I got ready and was good to go at 10. I also had told BJ about it and text him saying that wed be on our way at 10. I should have no better…Peruvian time. My host sister comes by my room at 10 and she is just then going to get her shower. So….at 11 we leave. So there was a moto taxi waiting for us outside and my host sister had commented about something before we left but I didn’t pay attention, and I didn’t pay attention to the guy driving either. So we get to the quincianera, and I didn’t even bother looking for BJ because we were so incredibly late, and she told the moto taxi guy to wait for us and we’d be just a minute. I should have known she was up to something. Well we go in, find her boyfriend, then she darts off. So I am left sitting there and people are just staring at me. I am not as well received in that town because I am not their volunteer and they aren’t familiar with me.
Then, the beer and food started circulating, and as sick as I got after the last wedding I attended I turned them both down, not without a steady persistence from a man with beer. I decided to avoid it all I would go outside and wait for my host sister. The moto taxi driver came to sit with me….that’s when it hit me that he was at the wedding we were at the weekend before and he has a huge crush on my host sister and he keeps coming around the house to get her attention. And the only reason he drove us to the party was because of her! And here she made him wait for us while she spent time with her boyfriend. When I figured that out, I was really upset. He started asking me lots of questions about her, and if she had a boyfriend and all kinds of stuff, I felt terrible. Then, as time passed, he was wondering where she was, because she said we were only going to be a minute, and apparently she had promised to go to a dance with him that was back in our town.
So here I was when midnight rolled around of the new year sitting outside this party in a town I was dragged too because my host sister wanted to see her boyfriend in secret and she ditched me. And I am sitting there with this mopey 19 year old moto taxi driver with a broken heart. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was in Peru, it was a pretty crappy way to bring in 2011. Eventually my host sister found me, dragged me back in so I could watch her dance with her boyfriend one time and we left with the very sad moto taxi driver. I was even more sad because as we drove home, all of the scarecrows I was dying to see burned up were lying in the streets charred. I missed the entire thing! I was really sad. And the entire time we rode home in the moto taxi there was this super weird tension because the kid was crying, we even had to pull over for him to wash his face and get it together. And the whole time my host sister was making fun of him. I just don’t have much of a tolerance for that. This kid never did anything but like her, and she just totally used him and was a total bitch to him. It wasn’t fair. Then right before we got home she asked me lie to the rest of the family and tell them that BJ was there so they didn’t get suspicious of her. I felt horrible about everything.
When we came in the house my family was just finishing up dinner, and I got served alone after everyone, and then they all went next door to my host sisters cantina to drink and dance. I wasn’t really interested, my heart was broken a little as well, I just hate how the whole night had gone down.
My family dragged me outside with them, and I made an escape to make a pretend phone call that would end with me going in the house and going to bed. But while I was sitting there the inebriated nasty drunk neighbor came and got literally directly in my face and said to come dance. When I repeatedly told him that I was talking to my boyfriend in the US, even pretending to talk into the phone he just got closer. I got so incredibly angry, he just kept telling me that he wasn’t here so what did it matter. He was so close I almost just pushed him, and I started yelling, and once I did that he got the point. I have just had it, this happens constantly and it makes me so angry. NO RESPECT!!! So at that point, and it was 3am, I went to bed and left them to drink and dance until who knows.
I’ve never been a big New Years Eve person, but I was looking forward to being a part of their traditions, and I sort of felt like I got shafted. Usually I am not superstitious, but I really hope how I brought in 2011 is in no way a reflection of how the rest of the year is going to be!


Often I get emails or letters that ask about the food here…so let me tell you a little about the food, I’ll take you through a typical day of meals here in the valley. For starters you can pretty much guarantee that rice will be present with each and every meal, no matter the time of day it doesn’t matter there is almost always white rice. Plus, rice is grown all over the valley so it’s fresh, not that I am sure there is such a thing as rice that is unfresh. But the other day I did have the honor of sifting through the rice. I am really confused on the whole process of rice anyway, I am starting to learn. Once the tops of the rice are chopped off (it looks like wheat), they are laid out front of the houses on large tarps and it dries in the sun all day. The thing I’m not sure about is when it goes from looking like wheat into looking like rice. But I do know that when I was sifting through the rice my job was to pull out the ones that still looked like wheat. So I don’t get it!
Okay, so back to the food, breakfast usually starts with a fried egg and rice and usually this coffee drink. It’s not really coffee but I know it’s similar. Some days, if I’m lucky I just get bread for breakfast and I have some jelly I put on it. Other times I could have pasta with chicken for breakfast. This morning…I actually had boiled sweet potatoes and a fried egg and I thought it was a good breakfast.
Lunch is usually and almost always rice and chicken. And you would think that with all the chicken I eat that I would be so sick of chicken, but the truth is that I am always craving more and more….there is usually barely any meat to pull off the bone of whatever part of the chicken I am served so I am always wishing for more. The absolute best part of lunch is the juices. I have fresh juice everyday from an assortment of fruits. My absolute favorite is maracuya. It’s this hollow shelled fruit that has these weird globules of seeds inside and you put that part in a blender and it makes the best juice you have EVER had. Other times I get papaya blended up or guananbana which is a coconut looking fruit that doesn’t have a really distinct taste but isn’t bad. A lot of time, I just have lemonade made from limes. Sometimes they also make this awesome tea from orange leaves and I like that too. The other day I had lunch at my host sisters house, and she made juice out of these weird little tomatoes that are a little bigger then a cherry tomato but also resemble an apple. That juice was not so good, it smelled like something I shouldn’t be drinking, but I did it anyway.
So for dinner, usually it might be chicken and rice again. But sometimes I get chicken soap with some vegetables thrown in there. Or at night they go and get cheese and we have cheese and rice. The cheese isn’t like anything I can explain. It is made from cow milk and they make in their home, and it’s wet and just different. Most of like a cottage cheese texture but molded together. I actually like that dinner because the cheese just adds a little something. And my absolute favorite meal usually is avocado. In Lima I used to have mashed avocado sandwiches. Here, they just cut up the avocado and serve it like that and I always really like it. That isn’t as frequent anymore because apparently avocados have been hard to come by.
Their fancy dinner is this meal called green rice and chicken. And it is literally just that, it’s green rice (not sure what makes the rice green) and it is always mixed with carrots, and then chicken, and usually a lettuce leaf with a slice of potato and this really good spicy yellow sauce I have grown to love. No lie, that is literally the EXACT meal that gets served at all special occasions.
There are rarely snacks, but if there are, it’s usually a mango.
That’s pretty much it, it doesn’t vary too much, I think of all the fruits and vegetables that they have here they could get more creative and experiment, but not really. But I’m not complaining because I actually enjoy the food, I am losing weight so that makes me happy. The variety kind of sucks at times, but I actually look forward to some of it. I guess the lack of options will do that. And food is a huge deal here, they take so much pride in it even though not much creatively goes into making it.
So when I get the opportunity to go into the capital city for a night or two and I can pick my meal, usually we go to Carbon Burger (I know not a very Peruvian name), and they have really good hamburgers for literally the equivalent to $1-2 American dollars. Sometimes we go to the chicken place and get a giant chicken dinner and fries, that makes up for the chicken craving! And then there are the other indulgences that include a frappucino at the cool place we discovered or a milkshake at this really good ice-cream spot. Other than that I usually get some good bread for an avocado sandwich ( I do love those things) or I pick up some fresh fruit in the market for snacks.

Cinderella Moment

Tonight I had a little Cinderella moment and it made me laugh. Well I was on my way back from BJ’s town and I was riding in a moto taxi and it was dark out. And we were riding alongside some of the fields and all I could see on both sides of me were sparkles. For real…sparkles. These sparkles were from the millions of fireflies (or lightening bugs) that were hanging out in the field. It made me think of Cinderella and the fairy godmother transforming everything with her magic wand. And then on top of it, I was riding in a moto taxi, which for a moment felt like my carriage (or at times my pumpkin). It definitely made me smile to myself , mostly because I couldn’t be further from feeling like Cinderella since I was all sweaty from the heat, and my clothes and feet were filthy. I felt more like the Cinderella before the sparkles and carriage. But the whole thing was pretty cool, I’ve never seen enough fireflies in one place for it to look like sparkles in my entire life, but I loved it!

Thursday Night Tradition

So BJ and I have gotten into this tradition and we always get together on Thursday afternoons just to hang out. We’ve been trying to find little spots to go where we can hang out and not really be bothered with Spanish and all the other stuff. We’ve gotten lucky and found some really good spots. However, this week we succeeded on the good spot, just not so much on the secludedness. To have to say an “hola” or a “Buenos tardes” is no big deal, but this week, it was really bad. First, we had this lady come up, she was from a neighboring town that was actually quite far for her. And here we were sitting in the middle of a field, surrounded by corn and cows and yet she found us. At first she questioned us about where we were from and then asked us about Patricio (the legend volunteer who worked in my town over 2 years ago). Apparently Patricio had taught English is her town…which again is no surprise because Patricio was definitely a super volunteer. Well, the lady wouldn’t leave, even when there were lulls in conversation she just kept standing there staring at us, which was incredibly awkward. At times when their were lulls, she would again bring up how beautiful the valley is and whether or not we liked it. That was a question we probably answered at LEAST 3 times in the conversation. Then, she spotted BJ’s laptop and began asking “how much” questions. Finally, finally after being polite and cordial for very very long, BJ and I just decided to start doing work on the laptop and look really engaged in it. With some time, the lady got the hint and said her goodbyes.
An hour or so later, we were approached by an interesting looking gentleman, this guy didn’t wait for us to chat he just started going, and going, and going. We heard about the money his kids send him from lima, and the entire story as to how he told them to go, and how people always ask why he is so skinny and he always loses weight from walking so much, he named all the towns in the valley, he even talked about fruit at one point I think. I could tell that this guy was a little off. For one he didn’t seem to concerned about the 2 white people sitting in a field listening to music, it just seemed like he wanted to talk, and he had stuff to say and we were sitting there, it could have been anyone. After what felt like forever, he spotted BJ’s lap top and asked about it, and as BJ was answering the guy just walked away, and that was the end of it. It was kind of a funny end.

TV...the leading cause of heart attacks

So this week, I was informed that my host Dad was in the cemetery helping to dig a whole for someone who passed away that previous night. Apparently, the man who passed away was 38 and he died of something happening to his heart because he had just bought a TV and was so excited his heart stopped working. Yes, I was told this story in complete seriousness, it was hard to not have a reaction.
I commented that 38 was very young for someone to die of heart trouble, and again, I was faced with the grave explanation of the TV again. Sometimes I think I ask those kinds of questions just to be sure my Spanish wasn’t too rusty and I heard it right. Other times I ask those questions because I am so completely shocked at the justification I have to hear it again.
Later that night, my host Dad got all dolled up, and my sisters started coming down hard on him about drinking, so I just figured he was going to a drinking circle or something. Since it has been the week between Christmas and New Years I just thought there was continuous celebration. But apparently no, my host Dad was going to the viewing of the dead man. The way I understood viewings as well is that they deceased person is placed on a table in the living room for 2 days and people come and pay their respects at the household, this sometimes includes drinking in the same room as the body. This whole concept really disturbs me, because I live in the middle of nowhere so I know during this time the body isn’t preserved, and during the day, the temperatures can get incredibly hot. So I asked my host sister and answer I already knew, wouldn’t the body stink. She told me that yes, but probably not this guy because it was a heart problem. But another guy who had stomach issues and after he died his stomach was swollen and his nose had bleed, apparently he stunk really really bad.
This whole thing bothers me so much. How can you watch someone you love decay right in front of you. I think the hardest part of someone passing is the viewing anyway, and then to have that inside you house. It just doesn’t feel right. But it also allows me to see how different these people view death. I believe them having that person in their living room allows them a little more time to say goodbye, and their love and devotion helps them overlook the smells and the strangeness that death brings.
I was hoping to see the funeral precession, or however that works here, but as of today I haven’t seen it. I sure hope that it has happened because it has been 6 days since the man passed away. I am sure they have put him somewhere else by now.

Shame in my Belly Button

Although I have had plenty of episodes of not so great health since I’ve been in Peru, I don’t think I have had such a bad day as I did this past week. I am not entirely sure what caused it but I was miserable, throwing up, even had a fever. And it definitely does suck to be feeling sick in incredibly hot weather. But instead of being able to curl up on the couch or in my bed at home, I am in Peru and everything is different. For one, I had a good half of days laundry to get done, and at first that wasn’t so bad, I didn’t start feeling really sick until closer to the end. But then when I started throwing up and realizing I couldn’t keep any water down, I started panicking. I don’t think I would have worried if I were home. But I knew that it wouldn’t take long to become dehydrated if I couldn’t keep water down, and then if I became dehydrated, that meant that it would be harder to get up and get out of bed. And if I couldn’t do that I knew I’d be looking at being sick much longer then I ever wanted too.
Anyway, once my host sisters realized I was sick they made it their duty to not leave me alone. I was able to get a few hours rest in while they finished up laundry, but after that, they somehow thought asking me every two seconds if I was feeling better might somehow miraculously make me feel better. That didn’t happen! So since women here are incredibly sensitive about their food, my family instantly went into blaming the food and alcohol from a wedding I had attended a few days earlier. First they claimed all the cooking was done in the sun and that could have made me sick. If that were the case I would have been way sicker much sooner then that. Then, they blamed me not being used to drinking. That was frustrating because I am 26, I’ve obviously had a few drinks in my life. Besides I didn’t even drink enough that day to feel anything. And then I through out there that drinking out of the same glass that is their custom probably is what made me sick. They kind of looked at me funny when I mentioned that one.
Later, when I was up making myself some water, my host sister pulled up my shirt and put her finger in my belly button and claimed she was trying to feel my shame. Because apparently, having shame can make you sick as well, I tried to explained that wasn’t it. Then she explained to me that sometimes during that time of the month for a female they could have pains associated in their stomach, and she asked me exactly where the pains were. Again…I’m 26 and I think I’ve had my period more than a few times in my lifetime.
All that I wanted to do was lay in bed and hope that as long as I hydrated myself it would pass. However, my host sisters thought differently. The forced me to come and sit with them outside my room, and the entire time commented on how my face looked sad. Then they kept telling me that I needed to walk around because if I stayed in my room I would just become sad, and being sad would make me more sick. All of the insights are very valuable to my work here, but at the moment I just wanted to be left alone and not have anyone guess anymore about me and just lay in bed and relax and rest. They also kept trying to force me to eat. I would go to the table to oblige them, and then I’d take two bites, say thank you, and leave the table. I know they always like for you to finish you food, but if you are going to force me into something I already don’t want and said over and over again I wasn’t interested in eating, then you might get your feelings hurt when I barely touched it.
They also claimed that they NEVER get sick, and this was as my oldest host sister was sitting there looking absolutely miserable fighting a cold. When they mentioned she should visit the doctor, she said she had shame and that she would just take pills from the pharmacy she has in her house. I guess maybe being sick is shameful because they aren’t stronger. I don’t know…but I thought that was a poor excuse for not going and seeing the doctor.
Fortunately, I believe in part to my rehydration salts and lots and lots of water, I felt much better the next day and didn’t have anymore problems other then just feeling kind of week which took a few days to wear off.
I had the opportunity to talk to my friend Brittany who lives about 6 hours away in Piura Alta, and she told me that she had also been sick over the same time span I was and like me, she would NEVER tell her family again because they also had problems leaving her alone. They blamed hers on washing her Mango with COLD water. There is a myth in these areas that believe COLD makes you sick. This includes and is not limited too, cold water for drinking and washing, as well as the cold from your refrigerator, and ice-cream. So unfortunately Brittany has never heard the end of her terrible mistake.

A Peruvian Christmas

So Christmas has come and gone, and I thought it would be a very emotional day for me. However, it wasn’t so bad. It was a very fun few days leading up to Christmas. Although there weren’t any major differences in my community with regards to Christmas, very few decorations, no Christmas trees, no Christmas music, you could still feel that a little something was different.
My host Mom and little host sister and little host nephew all went to Lima last Monday to be with a very sick uncle. So that changed the dynamic around the house. The interesting part was that they took with them 2 turkeys, 3 pigeons, and 2 chickens. Watching them prepare these things for the trip was very interesting. The shoved the 2 giant turkeys into a small box and tied it shut, the pigeons went into an even smaller box and the chickens were put into a sack and tied tight and only their heads were popping out. It was really funny to see all these animals in our living room waiting for the taxi. When the taxi did come, it was already full, put they put the turkeys on top of it and tied the box down, and my host mom, sister and nephew climbed into the trunk of the station wagon and waved goodbye. It was kind of a sad day, but I think it will give my host Mom some relief, she’s been very upset and worried about her brother.
But since they’ve been gone, I feel like we have more family in the house then we did before. My oldest host sister Betty comes over a lot to cook, and that means her family follows to eat. As well as my older host brother Gavilan, he and his wife and two children have been hanging out a lot too. Their kids are really really cute, but the little one Nicole, is a handful. She is 3, and the only volume she speaks at is a scream, and she gets into everything. I had a packet of jelly out with my things and she sucked it dry, she also comes into my room and takes things, so when she is here I have to keep my door locked. The worst part is that when I am holding the babies she comes over and gives them Indian rope burn, and bites and hits them. The problem is that she is just so cute it’s hard to stay mad at her!
The day before Christmas Eve my host sister held a chocolada at our house. This is when they start a fire out in the backyard and friends and family bring over milk and chocolate and they use these giant giant pots to make basically hot chocolate. Then the moms fill there jugs with the hot chocolate and take it home and they drink that throughout Christmas. Apparently too, they usually have a little gathering for the kids and they get little toys and stuff too.
So Christmas Eve….here comes the fun part….I had been asked by a few people to take pictures at a wedding being held on Christmas eve. So of course I didn’t mind and I knew my host family was going to the wedding so it wasn’t a big deal. So on Christmas eve we went to the church in the morning for what I thought was a wedding. WRONG!! First it was a mass, and the church was crammed with people, there was no where to sit, no ventilation, and it was so hot. But I stood there and followed along. Once the mass ended some people left, and then all the sudden there was a mad dash to the aisle, because apparently that is where the families were lining up for the 17 kids who were about to be baptized. So that was an experience too. These kids screamed and screamed and screamed like someone was about to kill them, it was horrible. Then directly after all of that, the bride and grooms lined up for the wedding. There were about 10 couples who were getting married and they all lined up behind one another. The ages ranged from very young….to very old! The dresses and suits or lack there of were interesting! The vows and everything that is said at a Catholic wedding were identical, however, instead of repeating after the priest the bride and groom would just read everything out of a book. There was one sad couple that came up and the groom could barely read and he stumbled through the entire thing. What bothered me was that no one helped him, instead people in the audience laughed and talked about him. It kind of pissed me off. I live in a community where many people can’t read, and the fact that they aren’t nice enough to step up to the plate and help one of their own out really really makes me mad.
The other really interesting part of the wedding was the lack of joy and excitement. A bride and groom in the states are so lovey, and can’t keep from looking at each other or their hands off each other. At this wedding, it looked like it was painful for them to hold each others hands. And NEVER once did they look each other in the eyes. And when the kiss came….that was painfully awkward to watch from the outside. Not only did they not look at each other, it looked like it was their first kiss EVER…they went in for it eyes open the entire time and it was quick and then afterwards they didn’t look at each other nothing. And once they were married standing on the sidelines watching the next couple, the wouldn’t touch each other, look at each other or talk to each other. It was so so so weird. And I know for a fact some of these couples were new and others had been together for years and even had kids.
So afterwards, I was invited to one of the wedding receptions. We went to their house, and at first we sat in a circle lining the room. No one spoke, we had lunch and just sat there, this went on for about 2 hours. Then, someone went out and got beer. I think I may have explained before that drinking usually consists of one large beer bottle and one cup. Basically when I am handed the beer bottle and the cup I pour my own glass, pass the beer bottle to the next person in the circle, drink my glass, throw the last sip on the floor, and then pass the glass. Although I was planning on not drinking at my site, I have found it incredibly difficult to avoid these drinking circles at events like this. However, I have found the secret to them as well. For example, I drank pretty consistently from 2pm-10pm that night, but not once did I feel drunk. And this was because when the beer and glass were passed to me, I barely put enough beer in it to cover the bottom of the cup, then I’d take a small sip and throw the rest on the ground!
After this first drinking circle, the party moved outside, and that is where they had the couples first dances, and a toast, and more and more people showed up. They had hired a DJ to run things and they lots of music and more and more beer. I believe that people showed up too who were already drunk so that didn’t help. At one point I was sitting alone watching everything when this drunk man, probably in his early 40’s approached me. He was obviously inebriated, he moved his chair practically on top of me and was almost kissing my neck every time he leaned in to talk to me. He kept asking me to come to his house and how he wanted to show me his house. It was so disgusting. I was leaning so far away from him, and looking so incredibly uncomfortable, and people just looked at me. No one though to send me a rescue. Finally, he left. But things only got worse when the dancing started.
So dancing here is very very different than in the US. I am almost positive that after 2 years here I am going to become and awful awful dancer. The don’t really move, they kind bob around, it’s hard to explain. When I came to South America, I was looking forward to learning all those exotic Latino dances. I do believe they exist here in Peru, just not in my little valley! And the only dancing that is done is by invite only. No one gets up and dances alone or with friends, it is guy/girl only! So immediately the men from the rowdy drinking circle would ask me to dance. At first it was harmless, I would dance without touching them or anything, then there were a few who would ask me to dance and we would dance more formally where like I was holding their arm and their hand. THEN….there was a younger guy who kept asking me to dance, he was actually a decent dancer, but he was trashed and would basically try and talk to me the entire time screaming in my face, and then he started asking me inappropriate questions. I kept trying to put an end to it, and at first I let it all go. But then, he continued to ask me to dance, each time he kept pulling me in when I kept pulling away, and he would try and interlock fingers and put his fingers over my mouth. All the while asking me more and more inappropriate questions. I don’t know if I could have not looked any more uncomfortable, and I was just look at the people I came with, with this horrible look on my face. At one point after I sat down from dancing with him I told the women I didn’t like him and the stuff he was saying to me. And when he came over to ask me to dance again I said no, but the one lady pushed me too it. So this last time when I was dancing with him, he grabbed my head to yank it in close to his, I intercepted that deal really really quick and told him NO, and that he was bad, and I wasn’t going to dance with him again and that for the last time I had a boyfriend in the US who I love very much and don’t want another one. I still don’t think he got the hint, but fortunately many other guys asked me to dance after that one and he never got another opportunity with me.
I had a lot of fun dancing, I actually really did despite all of the garbage from the drunks. But there is one thing I was unsure of. The one really annoying guy I think is a local hottie, and the looks I got from the other girls made me really uncomfortable. Even though I think I looked totally disgusted when I was dancing with him, I still think the girls got jealous. Hopefully with time I can prove to them that I don’t want to steal their men…they can keep them!
So the feast we were supposed to have a midnight the night of Christmas Eve had been delayed due to the wedding festivities. Although I came home around 10-10:30 my host sister was drunk and fell asleep right away and my host Dad went back to the wedding to drink. So when my oldest host sister Betty told me we weren’t going to be having the big dinner I was relived that I could just go to bed.
So Christmas morning came around and at 8 am I ran outside to my special spot with cell phone signal and awaited the call from my REAL family back in the states. It was so great to talk to all of them. But incredibly weird that they were talking about the cold and the snow and I knew that my day was just beginning to warm up into the high 80’s or 90’s. Sometimes it’s really weird to think of myself as so far away. Alex was sure to remind me that there weren’t any presents under the Christmas tree. He is so good to me!
Later that morning we had the feast that we didn’t have the night before. I was happy, I thought it would be lots of crazy foods, but fortunately all I had was rice and turkey. And the turkey was really good actually. The men of my family had rice, potatoes, pasta, and turkey. So I’m kind of glad that I am started to be treated more like one of the daughters and they are laying off on the loads of food, I was perfectly happy. It was really nice though because all of the brothers and sisters and their kids were there around one table and it was really casual, I liked it. Reminded me a little bit of home…just in Spanish.
So….I had made a cake for Christmas. They had asked me to do it. And originally I was going to do it all from scratch, but when I saw how much that was going to cost me I lucked out and actually found a box of betty crockers chocolate cake mix at the super market in Piura. However, instead of icing I did by the Peruvian man jar Blanco (kind of like a thick caramel). So anyway, using this little interesting oven, I made this little cake. Well I pulled it out that morning after breakfast and my family just kind of acted funny. Apparently my host dad asked why the cake was black. One thing I didn’t realize was that they are NOT used to chocolate cakes. So I was a little offended when they were all hesitant about it and I really didn’t think they liked it. But apparently that wasn’t the case at all, they had NEVER seen a chocolate cake and were confused. They ended up loving it and since then have asked when I can make another one! So I was really excited about that!
The rest of Christmas Day was kind of dull, my host family scattered into doing chores and different things and I went to my room and watched Sex and the City 2 on my computer which I had been saving for a special occasion. Later during the day I went over to BJ’s town since we had decided we were going to celebrate Christmas together as well. He had found this really cool spot in his parents field where we could hang out and put out feet in the water. So we went down there, his family followed later and we watched them set the remnants of the corn on fire in their field, getting prepared for the rice growing season. I would think that this valley would be an instant place to start a forest fire with out dry everything is, but surprisingly they light stuff on fire and I don’t get it, but it magically goes out once it’s finished. Later with boredom, we ended up making boats out of whatever we could find and then raced them down the little river….that was actually really entertaining. Afterward, I headed back to my house. It was dark at this point and it was hard to believe that Christmas was almost over.
I have to admit that I really loved the simplicity of the day. As much as I do love Christmas at home and I cannot wait to get back and put up the tons and tons of Christmas decorations that I have accumulated and not had the opportunity to use yet, I still enjoyed how simple things were here. The children didn’t wake up to tons of gifts, they woke up to just another day and were happy for it. I helped my little host niece make bubbles and you would have thought I had given her one of those Barbie cars that you can actually drive. She was so excited and it made me really happy. I also enjoyed how all they expected for Christmas was turkey, and simply to be together, that was it. I liked that. That is the way it should be, and it’s shame that is takes spending Christmas with people who have nothing to understand that you don’t need anything more.