27 junio 2006

Still more pictures! That´s it for June, I promise!

Of Machetes and Coca-coleros

dear mom,
I got my first machete wound this week! I was clearing out some grass for our garden. We´re going to plant lucma and granadilla and azucenas and culin and sundry other fruits, flowers, and medicinal herbs. don´t worry... it was just a scratch, really. scarcely warrented a bandaid.

thought one:
"God made us, in other words, to love us."

"We know, however, that the image of God within us is marred and defaced. Yet it is through community that God begins to heal that image."

"We only reach our full potential as human beings in the community of the Church. And it is in this regard that our culture’s emphasis on individualism is so misdirected, because it denies a fundamental reality about what it means to be human: we are truly ourselves only in community."
-Martin M. Davis
courtesy J. Kranzusch
thought two:
when i first arrived, my head just spun trying to compare, contrast, and analyze this place and the US... culture, lexicon, arquitecture...
then i got used to it. "accustomed myself" as they say here. i just live. happy, but not overly analytically. i worry, because how many good thoughts am i missing? and with the whole blinking world being a picture waiting to happen, how many pictures am i missing by my accustomedness?
thought three:
The Administration has reviewed my record and were horrified to find my shortage of bad habits. They said, "This simply must not do," and voted unanimously (sp) to up my quota. i present the most recent additions to my bad habit list:
we all know it and love it, right... holds your sandwich together... except it goes bally good with soup. and quaker. and quinoa. and coffee. and hot chocolate. and cheese. and... everything.
again, not typically the stuff bad habits are made of. but oooyyy... addictive. positively. goes with everything. and when there is a big plate of potatoes in beautiful purples and yellows complimenting the bowl of aji of rocoto (red peppers in lemon) at its side, it become a downrightly artistic experience.
3) LA COPA MUNDIAL (the world cup 2006: Germany)
by far the worst habit of them all. how did it come to this? it started with an innocent wikipedia article about the world cup and has ended with utter dissolution. we bought a map to locate the 32 often unrenowned countries that are competing. we walk around singing the dreadfully catchy theme song at the top of our lungs. (okay maybe not the top of our lungs... we have some pretty loud lungs... but it is pretty catchy.) we suspend classes when Brasil plays. (they are beautiful. it´s like a blinking dance to watch them...) ahhh futbol is LOVELY.
and the commercials...! there´s this one where this guy from 1946 is transported by a magician to Lima 2006 and pobrecito he´s wandering all over the place, scared to death. he´s looking hungrily into a pastry shop when he sees the reflection of BCP (banco de credito de Peru) in the glass. he pulls out from his suit a checkbook with the old fashioned BCP logo and goes in to find that the credit is still good! the bank teller shows him how to use the ATM card and he has such fun enjoying the goods of the 21st century with BCP credit. "BCP... good yesterday, today, and forever." it´s so nice. at the end the teller gives him a hug.
there´s another where this kid is hitchhiking... he jumps upon a big "Volvo" when it´s filling up with petrol, planning to get off at the next gas stop. except the truck keeps going and going ("look, sister...! there´s the plains of Junin, remember?" and "hey Franklin, there´s Ticllyo." spoken like true well-worn travellers of a highly centralized country. one road to lima is all you need, right?) anyway, the poor kid is in the back, looking forlornly at every service station they pass. Primax Petrol is just that good.
Then there´s the Coca-cola one... which is terrible, but funny. a catchy song about how everybody in Peru is drinking Coke (set to the same tune as a recent US pop song)... the housewives, the "unmentionables" drying on laundry lines, the ceviches, Ronald McDonald, the cds... the best part is when they say, "the Coca-coleros" and show this rotund unmistakably Peruvian man vending Coca-cola at a sporting event. you see... "cocaleros" are the farmers in the jungle who raise coca for narcotraffickers... it´s just too clever...
Then there´s the one exhorting every true Peruvian to buy more Cristal beer because with such effort they will be supporting the effort to bring Peru to the Cup four years from now. "A million hearts can´t be stopped." My comrades explain: apparently, all the national players are rich bums who party too much to become good players but whose parents buy them places on the teams. so Cristal is launching an effort to go looking throughout the provinces for the best players and then train them so that Peru can enter. i think the last time Peru made the Mundial was in the ´70s. I´m almost tempted to contribute to The Cause. plus they give you this cool little rubber bracelet in red and white if you buy 2 bottles and add a sol more. and the kids in the commercial look like they´re having such fun...!

26 junio 2006

More fotos

Melarvina the Magnificent
Originally uploaded by larebe87.

Of worth and Mila

thought one:
Vale o no vale...
Is it worth it or not?

It being...

-or clubs
-or money
-or education
-or church
-or work
-or life...

Is "it" worth time, energy, money, myself? asked a billion times a day by a billion (or 5.5) billion souls.... or not asked, even worse.

here, people live right in front of your face. they don´t have the decency to stay inside their houses to exists. right smack dab in full vision, making me ask, is it worth it or no?

...not of my own life. of theirs. beautiful girls... beautiful. laughing at boys who will destroy them without even realizing who they were. children, beautiful, playing in the streets while their childhood escapes them. turning into men... standing, sitting, walking, working, waiting... all the way to their death. what´s worth it?

what´s worth an hour and a half? what´s worth 70 years? what´s worth your youth?

what´s worth $60,000... or twenty... or one sol... what´s worth YOUR soul?

thought two: a profile of Melarvina
Mila left today.

I didn´t realize it until I asked her if she wanted to go to the internet with me. "No hermana... i´m going to Tambillo."

Oh, when will you be back?

"I´m staying..."

So, I´m sad. I have said good-bye more times in the past 2 months than in the past two years. They´re generally temporary... a couple of days or a couple of months absence, but i clinically note that they all hurt.

Uyyyyyy! presence is precious but MAN. okay... saying goodbye is another entry for another day. back to Mila.

Mila has the single most infectious laugh i have ever heard.

(Rosalvina shakes her head... "These girls (referring to the Terrible Four, giggling up a storm in the kitchen) don´t laugh at all. Oiii... how Mila used to laugh. She doesn´t laugh anymore either. She used to be terrible. At she didn´t just laugh at men either... she laughed at me, she laughed at Abel, she laughed at Mama Nila, at Papá... terrible.")

Seriously great laugh. I´ve worked very hard to learn to compose myself and laugh silently... on the inside... in humorous situations. No go with her at the table.

The other day, a certain sister was with us for dinner. Somehow the talk shifted to marriage. A brother remarks how "there´s nothing sadder than a house without a woman. saaaad. how sweet it is when a house is made beautiful by a woman. that´s why my wife won´t work." all the men at the table agree quite seriously. i´m like, "ohhhh, man" and look at my soup, trying to think serious thoughts.

someone makes the comment about "how bout the man and woman take turns making the house beautiful..." quickly vetoed. "how´s a man going to work all day and come home and cook?" and the convo moves on.

the only problem is i look at Mila.

now, i dunno if she was thinking what i was thinking, but forget it... there was no stopping us. i dunno WHEN was the last time i laughed so hard. soooo funny. whew. really funny. you had to be there... everybody just kinda looked at us. it was great.

mila is my chocolate partner in crime. we like chocolate, we´ve decided. melted, mixed with cinnamon and cloves and Leche Gloria and served with bread. yes, we like it very much.

mila has cooked for the duration of my trip. breakfast, lunch, and dinner. just because she was there and somebody needed to cook.

she´s going back to Tambillo, where the sky´s are almost purple with blueness and half the world´s related to your kin. i dunno what her plans are.

"i´ll come back and visit," she says... "you´re going back to Tambillo, too, aren´t you?"

yeah, i will. no problem.

just presence.

24 junio 2006

More to come... visit those that aready are!

Geranios y tulipanes and other stories of real life magical realism

no thoughts today... just words:

I am alive, I am happy, I am well fed, I am "en victoria, aleluja..."

I am nineteen.

One year away from "ya no adolescente... PURA adulta." amen.

I have good news and I have bad news.
The good news is that i have lots of lovely pictures taken in stunning lighting. (I love peru via digital cameras. copious amounts of gratitude for the generousity of Hermano Steven Holmes. gracias gracias, a million times gracias. my girls (vain little things) send their "gracias"es as well.)

The bad news is that they´re coming out really dark on the compu and i fear they can´t be seen.

carambas, i must "thought."

thought one: of magical realism
there´s this trend/style thingee in postmodern literature, namely that of the latin american variety, called "magical realism." basically, the author mixes realistic fiction (or autobiography) with way far out supernatural stuff or jumps in time and place. weird. it´s an interesting idea, but from the little i´ve read, the "latin american" authorship usually secures that the actual content is way too vulgar for my little monja soul.

so that was almost irrelevent. the relevant part is this:

now i understand why latin american writers right that stuff. (the magical realism part, not the vulgarity.) it´s cause they blinkin´live it! seriously. there is the oddest mix of reality and super-reality here that´s just... interesting.

so i could say, "superstition," or i could say "ignorance" or whatever, but the fact is that for them, there are NON natural happenings in real life, and they have to try to put that into words.

example: "Such-and-such a sister was walking along, the only one converted in her family, alone in the cold, feeling like maybe she shouldn´t be going to preach that night. She heard steps behind her, and when she turned to look, she saw a joven (young man) about 23 years of age.

´Buenas noches´ she says... ´Buenas noches,´ he replies. ´Where are you going?´

´Ah... up a ways to preach in La Punta.´ she says.

´Good... it´s good that you are going to share the Word with the Church. Don´t be discouraged, keep on preaching what is true... God sees your work, it is not in vain.´

She looks back at him in surprise, but no one is there."

example two:

"One day, Hermana So-and-so came into church during prayer, bringing a cup of water for the pastor or something. Everyone else was praying, but she looks and sees this white haze around the pastor´s head as he prayed up front.

´Queeee?´ (Whaaaat?) she thinks

She steps back outside to see if there´s a fire or something. The night is clear and dark; there is no fog.

She looks back inside, rubbing her eyes. Still the cloud remains. She takes the water to the front, then takes her seat and begins to pray. When she opens her eyes, the cloud is gone."

So here I am, American as all get out, being related these events over breakfast or lunch or coffee. I usually say "mmmmm?" and am postmodern enough (!poder!) to suspend all judgment. What do i know? I wasn´t there. They were. They have their reasons to make such claims. They are not crazy. They have no reason to lie.

example three:
"One day, my father was sleeping and he heard Cristal, the dog that never barks, barking with all his strength. He ran outside and there was nothing.

´Someone´s going to die,´ my mother said.

The next day, Tio Raul down the road drank IncaKola after working in the field all morning and his heart exploded. My mother says that it was his soul walking around that woke up Cristal the night before.

Sister, do you believe people´s souls walk around before they die?" Calín asks me, with serious big brown eyes in a serious little brown face.

"Well Calin, I´ve never seen them..."

16 junio 2006


Fear the Monja´s Stare....
Originally uploaded by larebe87.

14 junio 2006

thought one: from The Monja´s stare...
women´s lib would have been impossible without corresponding technology.

they were just too valuable to be liberated before the anemities of the 20th century.
before, one couldn´t buy a dish washer, microwave, washing-machine, or Lean Cuisine... he had to marry one.

off subject, but did i mention that Dr. Garcia won? yeahhh! non-anarchy for 5 years (we hope!)

thought two:
"The basic idea behind the metaphor of "filling" is that the Holy Spirit is an all-pervasive presence in the lives of those who have believed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In other words, nothing is beyond the purview of the Spirit's attention and influence."
-J. Kranzusch

thought three: the Peruvian soundtrack to life
one of the principle delights of this delectible place is how you get a real, live soundtrack to virtually every place you go. maybe it´s the same in the US, and i just don´t notice, but here it´s inescapably intertwined with all memory...

it started with Phil Keaggy´s Lights of Madrid tape in the deck of Lenin´s Corrola "esteishon" on my first trip here. 10 hours in the Andes, slightly nauseaous, with classical guitar animating it all. everybody everywhere always ("generalizing, i´m making a generalization," as mila would say) has a radio going. sitting in the grass in front of the house in Tambillo, somebody across the mountain lends us the sad harps,voices, and panpipes of huayno to accompany our UNO game. in Huanuco, the shops pulse with reggaeton, and American/Puerto Rican rap/carribean import. the restaurants serve up salsa. on the streets, a marching band laments somebody´s passing. from the patio in Tambillo at the right hour, you can hear the Evangelical call to pray float up: strong singing determinedly amplified across the town. some thoughtful body at an internet cafe places a speaker outside the window to share the tunes with the passersby.

...and the musics so unequivocally PERUVIAN, even when it´s American disco in a taxi. the air puts the Andean trademark on the soundwaves, i think. it´s all sad... all desperate music. mouring, even the trumpets... the beat´s the same as somebody plodding up his millionth mountain trail, or starting his taxi for the upteenth morning. electronica from an internet cabina interweaves with the Huayno music video on the television.

what a country.

thought four: a profile
let me tell you about one of the foremost deejays in this mix, a joven named Franklin.

(actually, his name is Stalin, but he doesn´t go by that. the origin of his middle name, "Franklin" is somewhat dubious but is probably in reference to FDR. he is, by the way, Lenin´s brother and the 2nd born of the Soncco Trujillos.)

he´s eternally associated with sound... either talking, singing, or within a hearing radius (meaning half a mile) of a stereo. we always know when Franklin´s the first one up in the house, ´cause our sleep is soon accompanied by the Latino praise songs or Andean choruses... (for being such a courteous culture, they sure don´t have the same norms of sound courtesy...) yesterday, a group of us got up at 5 to run. i´m trying to be all subtle about it, worried about waking the whole house, when the sound system in the living room starts showing its skills. it´s franklin, greeting the morning.

he is a mover and a shaker. (i would say a hustler, but that has mixed connotations.) he does not sleep. he eats very little, usually while talking on his RPM (cell.) he does that a lot. a more sociable chap you have never met.

oh yeah, he´s saved. for real. which always fills my soul with delight and rejoicing (redundant, but i´m making a point). there is a story of when he was "new," and a friend of his wanted to borrow some clothes. the guy wasn´t too well-off, so of course Franklin´s like sure thing... until he hears that he wants them to look alright for an upcoming fiesta. oh no no no no... "My clothes are HOLY! they will NOT be used for unrighteousness..."

he´s a good guy.

very chill, too. my first trip, about 20 of us are loaded into the back of one of those big trucks they use for construction in the US. (here it´s called a big taxi.) we´re going to the river for a picnic, the road is unpaved and the ride is a little on the rough side. Gary leans over to Franklin and remarks, "sounds like a screw´s loose!" franklin looks around, nods his head, "yeah, probably."

the girls were showing off their english the other day at the table. franklin tells them to take advantage of his english skills while he´s around. "hey franklin, i bet you don´t know how to say ¿cómo estás? in english!" "ahhh... pay close attention: how are you?" ("i taught you well," says Marisol, little imp.)

"then what does "open the door" mean?" Yimy asks.
"please, girls... ´abre la puerta.´"

the girls think for a second. "alright then, how do you say ´apaga la television´ (turn off the television) in english?"
Franklin smirks, "apagashun la televisashun."

beat that.

thought five: grammaticks to un-uncouth me
In blessed English, when we want to address someone, we use the second person subject pronoun, YOU, pronounced, "yu." Spanish (or Castellano as it´s called down here) has two forms to address someone: USTED (pronounced "usted") and TÚ (pronounced "tú"). usted is for important or unknown persons (formal) and tú is for friends or inferiors (informal).

you get used to them, generally. except in my life, i´ve mostly spoken spanish to friends and children. my "usted" hasn´t gotten the exercise i need. so i have to consciously analyze when to use usted and conjugate the verbs to fit it. (no i´m not whining... i like spanish)

the problem is when to switch to "tú." if you meet someone new, you use usted until... when? (they don´t teach you that.) what generally happens here is that with people to whom you want to show both affection and respect, you use the "usted" as a direct address and the tú form of verb conjugations. bad grammar, but useful to fit the practical application of courtesy.

now that was very drawn out, but grammar´s cool... really.

thought six: patience having her perfect work...
The other day, I waited 3 hours for a ride that didn´t come. (and it wasn´t even my own.)

Me and 2 of my girls walk to the end of our road at 6:45 am to wait for Damaris´dad to pick her up for the weekend. I start off cool. Yeah, waiting is so in my bag. Got this one down. ... until 45 minutes later.

then i start getting American... hello... ride... where are you? (Damaris tells me he had said "seven or eight...") alrighty then. impatience, slightly peeved. i pace.

...until an hour and a half go by. then i start getting chill. whatever... it´s a saturday. we don´t have classes. i can study after lunch... Lenin and Franklin drive by, going into town for the day. "If he doesn´t come in 10 minutes," they say, "go home. it´s not worth it." Awww... but Damaris really wants to go home to Tambillo for the weekend.... we can wait a while longer.

Reyna walks up and waits with us for a while. now it´s almost festive.

after two and half hours, i don´t even care whether the truck comes or not. i can wait till i´m dead and it´s all good... we sing a little bit. buy fried potatoes from a vendor going by... Reyna and Marisol offer to go home and bring us some quaker and coffee for breakfast. cool...

Reyna comes back at 10:15ish, tells us to go on home. "Ya, Damaris? Let´s go. We´ll go into Tambillo next week..." alright. we go home, eat quaker, bread and coffee and have a nice rest of the morning.

At about 2, Damaris´s dad calls. He came by at 11 (you can´t blame someone that has to depend on others for transportation, especially south of the equator) and would be going back at 2:15ish. we go wait. a little bit no más. i bring my Bible and notebook. it´s all good.

05 junio 2006

!Visítame, por favor!

Sombra means shadow
Originally uploaded by larebe87.
More fotos... 3 pages of them....