Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Culture Training Begins

This weekend I went to Lima, twice. The first time we went for class. We spent a day wandering around various parts of Lima asking questions in Spanish and discussing tourist attractions all in Spanish. It was interesting. I really like my Spanish teacher. Her name is Edith and she’s amazing. I enjoy spending time with her. Sometimes I feel like I’m really bad at this, but then I’ll strike up a conversation that I’m able to carry for awhile and think – maybe I’ve got this. We visited Barranco for the first part of the day. Barranco is a part of Lima that has a lot of Bohemians living there. We didn’t get to see any. They were probably all asleep.

Later, we went to the Palace of the Government to watch the changing of the guard. I’m not sure how I feel about watching such a Colonial practice knowing that the people of Peru were oppressed to carry out the ideas of their Spanish rulers. Although, I’m American – that’s like the pot calling the kettle black. It was just a little strange to watch. Lima’s colonial feel really is beautiful though gorgeous palaces and buildings that make you feel like you’re in Europe. At around 2:00pm we were allowed to go out on their own, and I hooked up with some other girls from the group and we had Pisco Sours and junk food while chatting about our adventures thus far. After we tooled around the city for a while, we headed back to Chaclacayo in a taxi. We made a quick 45-minute trip out of a trip that would have taken us an hour and a half (at least) by combi (bus Volkswagen type things).

I know this because the next day on a whim I was invited to attend a Peruvian National Dance Recital, but more on that in a second. I woke up the next morning way to early because my friend Sam and I wanted to burn off the junk food we had eaten the day before. We took an hour-long hike up the hill and visited some “ruins” just outside our pueblo. Now when I hear ruins and Peru, I think Manchu Pichu. Is that what we found? No, we found some drawings of a lizard in a hill. We went with our friend Vishal and his host family. We had a lot of fun but we took some very crazy climbs. We would literally scramble up one hill to have to free climb down into a ravine only to scramble up the next one. We had a good time though. I’m really glad I went. Plus, it was an excellent workout.

When I returned, Loly said that her friend had invited me to go watch her brother dance in Lima. I love dance (as you know) so I jumped at the chance. We traveled by combi for about two hours. Driving in Peru is crazy, and at one point I watched the combi driver scrape up against another car. It’s always an adventure on the combi. We did arrive safely, and I got to watch some very cool traditional dances and my friend MariCarmen and her brother Luis danced a number of dances with me. I couldn’t help but think I was the focal part of those dances because I was the lightest-skinned, lightest-haired person there. It was fairly obvious that the gringa (white girl) was on the dance floor. I had a blast though and got a couple of decent pictures. I totally want to learn how to do some of these very cool dances.

I didn’t take any pictures, but I did find the Peruvian version of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. They were these teeny-tiny, sparkly blue dresses, with hats on a string. Oh, how I wish I had those pictures. It was really a cool event. I’m so glad I was invited. Hopefully I can use these dances (which I learn them) with the kids that I will be working with.

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