29 mayo 2006

The Gates to "Mas Alla"

dear mom,

yesterday i woke up to drunks serenading outside my hotel window. don´t worry, though. they were singing to each other, not me.

thought one:
two borrachos below, close as lovers. arms around the shoulders, spilling both the secrets of the universe and their bottle of aguardiente (sugar cane drink). i should feel sorry for them, but they´re really funny.

what on earth is the appeal of drink?

then i do feel for them.... stupid college kids don´t need to be numbed from reality... miners who only see light going to and from the bowels of the earth every two weeks need SOMETHING. if they won´t look to Christ, i guess comical numbing is as good as it gets.

i did eventually sober up regarding them. a little boy, about 9 years old, came up to the two as they "walked" the plaza, arm in arm. "Tio," he said, "Tio, let´s go home. Time to go home... Mama´s calling..." taking the free arm of the older one, he steered and pulled, yanked and coaxed the pair around the corner and out of sight.

thought two: a profile of Romelio
i can´t tell you what i thought the first time i met him. not cause it´s inappropriate, i just didn´t make any great note of him. he was just another peruvian. just another brother of Amelia´s (when first meeting them all, they seem to be unlimited.) he was quiet. peaceful. slight frame, stoop shouldered. early thirties. black hair, intense eyes. soothing, somewhat hoarse voice.

one of the first things i remember him asking me was if i read much theology. i was barely 16, not into theology at all at the time. (not really "into" God period.) "ahhh... sometimes... every now and then..." (i had read something from My Utmost for His Highest a couple of months before.)

my true introduction was when i visited his church, located in a town called "La Punta," about half an hour´s drive from the house in Tambillo (you can see the town from the front yard), or an equal 30 minutes Peruvian hike straight up. my own brother was preaching, but Romelio conducted the prayer. singing and voices from inside the open door grew louder as i got out of the car and approached the turquoise adobe building. leaving the intense sun and insistantly cold breeze outside, i saw forms crouched before wooden benches lined up in two sections. men on one side (less populated), women and children on the other. people were crying. people were praying. loudly. whoa. i was sixteen. i didn´t know how to pray or cry loudly to God. these were going to show me how.

Romelio led the prayer, his voice cracking with emotion and echoing from the sound system with exuberance. He welcomed everyone and there was so much joy in his countenance i didn´t know what to think. He was not reserved or shy. He had that "peace dancing" quality to everything he said. Whoa... what an intense individual.

I got sick later on in that trip. Pachamanca is good, but it´s not friendly the following night. So I´m making trips back and forth from my room to the facilities, practicing my new praying skills, pretty "joy resting" myself. (Being sick´s alright when your in the middle of a conversation with your Father.) Nonetheless, i wasn´t well. But each time i blearly walked the short and cold trail under the star-sprinkled sky, i saw a light from the kitchen´s open door. a sitting figure was bent over the table, head in his hands, something before him. trip one (approx. 11:30 pm), trip two (approx 12:45 am), trip three (approx. 1:30 am)... i kept waking and somebody kept reading. not only was God with me, but Romelio was awake as well, keeping vigil in his studies. in my nausea crazed state, i thought, "gee whiz, when is somebody gonna tell that young man to go to sleep! he has to preach tomorrow and the cold night air is not good for him. he needs a cup of tea or something..." so i was distracted from my sickness and started praying for Celia.

of course, i didn´t know her name then, i just knew she needed to exist. they married last january, and she is on the heroette list. she´s from the jungle, where supper swims a couple feet away and dessert grows on the limb in front of you. she´s lived lately in Huanuco, "city of the eternal Springtime." now she lives in Huayllay, mining town, "white field" for ministry, and generally fridgid place. don´t tell me love is an emotion. love is getting up each morning and breaking the ice on the water barrel so you can make your husband tea. love is sleeping under 5 alpaca blankets and one more over your face in the room that also functions as your kitchen. love is kneeling on concrete floors in an almost deserted church as you pray for God to break cold hard hearts. love is smiling at your husband´s guests when you can´t feel your toes. that´s love. and that´s Celia. let´s pray for grace.

but she seems happy. Romelio doesn´t seem happy; he RADIATES happy. he´s crazy. keeps praying, keeps preaching, keeps inviting. keeps hoping. has faith. has faith. i dunno what faith is. but man, this brother does.

thought three: an armistice
i have made my peace with baños. i was going to put "bathrooms" or "restrooms" but the terms don´t apply. "toilets" doesn´t even quite work.

when i thought up this thought, my originally concession was "as long as they have four walls, i´m content." i have since acquiesed to a greater extent. all i need are three walls and a "wachiman" (err... "wachiwoman") to stand guard. so, three walls and a waste recepticle i´m content. clean and i´m ecstatic. a toilet and i´m spoiled. toilet seats are inane. (TP sold seperately.)

what a vulgur thought. apologies. but let´s just say i´m REAL PLEASED to be back in the Huanuco dream house after exploring the baños of the outer regions...

(here´s me and Reyna on the plains (las Pampas), baño Model 5672 in background)

thought four:
absolutely hilarious that someone as uncouth as myself should be in such a courtesy-rich culture. at least it´s not Asia, right?! but still... (bear in mind, again, this is observations from the middle of a very noble, evangelical Peruvian family. not sure how far it extends.)

exp: When you enter a room, you greet the occupants. "Buenos dias, hermano, buenos dias, buenos dias..." If you want to cheat, you can say "Buenos dias to all," but some sort of acknowledgement, especially of elders/superiors is required.

exp 2: when you haven´t seen someone for a while, you are expected to make physical contact: hand-shake (with a supporting second hand if you are close) for the males, hug and cheek (or air) kiss for females.

exp 3: you do not call others by their first name, excepting your equals. if you need to get someones attention, it is "hermano (brother) ______" or "hermana (sister) ______." "hermanita," literally, "little sister," is customary affectionate term of address.

exp 4: even in the wider culture, there are many titles for the English equivalent of "sir," "ma´am," and "hey you!" if you are addressing a child or unbeliever, you can use "amigo" or "amiguito(a)" as a more affectionate address. "joven" works for getting the attention of a young person. "señor," "señora," and "señorita" are standard formality. "madrecita," little mother, is a somewhat light address of an older woman, usually used by younger vendors. "Don" and "Doña" are super formal/respectful forms of address.

(street in Huayllay... a pueblo surprisingly clean and beautiful for a mining town. springtime nice in the sun (i got a sunburn). fridgid in the shade. HARSH nights... think: worst day of texan winter (below 32F), but minus any sort of artificial heating. "Huayllay is for the valient." no bugs or vermin though!)

thought five: peruvian exclamations (g rated) and common interjections
-"!úy!" =expression of surprise
-"!uáu!" ="wow" with a spanish accent
-"!chacháu!" or "!áchachau!" ="would ya look at that!" or "check it out!"
-"!carambas!" ="blast it all!"
-"!buíííí!" ="maaan hold up!"
-"oye, varon..." ="listen up, man"
-"¿chistoso, no?" =thick sarcasm, "oh, real funny"
-"que va a ser?" ="how on earth is that going to be?!" hardest to translate
-"ai de mi/ti/nosotros" = "woe is me/you/ us" only heard by those in close contact with bracy and benjamin tebbe
-"mira ve" = "look here"
-"a´i e´ta" = "alli esta" = there it is
-"pe" or "pue" or if you really want to get technical, "pues" = pretty much nothing and everything... "then" or "well," generally ends a sentance to add force
-"!Chau!" = phonetic pronunciation of italian "ciao" = good-bye, short term.

*the spanish equivalent of the english filler "um" is "eh," castillian (NOT canadian) pronunciation.

a pictorial thought or two or few:

how do you capture blue?

i keep telling myself i´ll get a photo that´ll be able to communicate these mountains. you CANNOT easily get depth or height in a foto, i´m finding out. beauty is, to a large extent, unphotographable.

Peruvian´s are incorrigible capitalist. They just lack capital.


Blogger Cada said...

You make me laugh and think at the same time. Great post,cool pictures, keep it up.

jueves, 01 junio, 2006  
Blogger berekkah said...

Hola amigo- be careful with that laughing and thinking at the same time... something might short circuit. ;-) give my love to all the family.

lunes, 05 junio, 2006  

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