Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Unexplainable Beauty and extreme poverty

Let´s see, where did I leave off...
On Saturday night, Miranda, Juan, Simon and I went to a Mexican food place. I had, ummmm... tamsomething but it was very good and we had sangria for good luck! Then, we took a taxi to the shopping centre so that I know how to get there. I found an adapter for only 30 cents, yay! I also bought water but I didn´t read the con gas part and it was carbonated. Well, lesson learned. I would like to say that I fit in really well here because people are so clumsy!! Juan dropped his water and it spilled all over his backpack and all his things! More instances to follow...
Miranda and I went back to the hostel for our last night. She went to buy earplugs at the pharmacy but I had to help her ask for them. Oh! I forgot! At 5 in the morning my first night in Cajamarca I was woken by yelling, honking, and stamping of what sounded like a massive riot right outside our guesthouse. Needless to say I was a little concerned, but I didn´t open the window to look outside because that would have drawn a lot of attention to myself, being that it opened to a little balcony overlooking the main square. The next day I found out it was the police and the police in training parading around town! At 5 in the morning! Good grief! They were so loud!
Okay, so Sunday my alarm clock failed to work. How terrible is that!! So, Juan came knocking and I was not ready. I pulled a 5 minute record speed packing and still made it to my host house in plenty of time. I said bye to Miranda and I honestly wonder how she will like Chiclayo. She never seemed very happy to me. I thanked Juan for all his help with finding me a place to live and turned to my next adventure!
The family I am staying with is extremely nice. Luis is 8 and it was his birthday on Sunday which was really cool. Anita is 12. They both speak some English, and Luis speaks it very well. They learn at their school, which I think is the best one around. We went to San Marcos on Sunday which is an hour from here, and their Grandfather joined us. He is so jolly and friendly, pointing out the names of places to me all the time! The scenery was gorgeous. It actually choked me up, I probably would have cried but that would have been ridiculous and my host family may have been worried. Anita threw up on the way there, so at least it´s not just me getting sick. The kids are so sweet. They stopped a couple of times so that I could take pictures. I will post some when the internet at home is back up. I am at an internet cafe right now. San Marcos is quite pretty, and when I got there it was cow and bull selling day. They were about 1000 people in this mud square and livestock everywhere. It was totally chaotic! Awesome! They bought me a popsicle or lollipop in Inka Cola flavour. Yummy! Luis and Anita showed me the Church, which you aren´t allowed to take pictures off but it was quaint. We went for lunch at this little cafe with very promiscuous pictures of women all over the walls. I´m not so sure it was appropriate for the kids, but when in Peru... There was so much food!!!! I had corn first, which is with every meal here. Then, they brought out hen soup. The most massive bowl of hen soup you have ever seen. I was just getting through that and very full when they brought out more food! A massive steak, rice, and fries. The look on my face must have been priceless. I hate leaving food and didn´t want to be rude, but I couldn´t eat it all. However, most of the family did! A popular dish here and Anitas favourite food is Guinea pig. I don´t fancy it much but I will have to try it sometime. After supper we went to meet my host father´s friend who runs a pharmacy. He had 2 sons and a daughter. His one son was 17 and I placed him at 13. I think, from what I understood, that he is quite sick, something to do with his blood. He was very friendly though and spoke some English, so he took me and my host mother on walk through the streets of San Marcos. I saw a massive pig being pulled by a rope, loads of cows, flocks of sheep, goats etc. in the streets. There are dogs everywhere, lots of them are mangy though and viscious. I take my lead from the kids here though and they giave them a wide berth. Also, on Sunday, we went to Paucamarca. This is a tiny village up in the Andes of extreme poverty. Such extreme beauty and extreme poverty sitting side by side. It is quite possible that the people had never seen a white person before. I don´t know, but I attracted a lot of attention there. Well, I attract a lot of attention everywhere, being white and female, but the smaller the community the more so. The people said ¨look, another kind, another kind¨ and ¨blanca, blanca¨ (white) and ¨gringa.¨ I get people calling me gringa in Cajamarca too. It´s not very nice really. The roads in Paucamarca are nothing more than mudbaths. You can´t drive on most of them. The mosquitos are bad there. The people seem unhappy. It is very sad. There are roosters on the roads. I think that the Grandfather knew people there, but we couldn´t find them if he did. That evening when we returned to Cajamarca, two friends came over to celebrate Luis´birthday. I gave him a ball saying Canada which he loved, and I let my family here pick some of the bracelets I made. They loved them so much, which is awesome! Luis played the Guitar for me a bit. It is odd because Luis and Anita know the words to a lot of English songs. Luis is often asking me what words mean so he can understand what he is singing. Anita loves the Jonas Brothers and Zac Efron. The Jonas Brothers are going to Lima and she really wants to go but it is way too expensive. Luis wants to go to Santana, which I get the impression might work out of him. That night I thought we were only having birthday cake, but no!! They brought out supper, some corn potato fish thing with onions. I was in shock, I was sooooo full from lunch still I was not sure how I was going to each any at all. I ate half and then said I´d have the rest for breakfast. The Dad thinks I am on a diet!! This is more food than I have eaten in my life. We had red wine which was very strong to celebrate his birthday. You won´t recognize me when I return because I will be a whale!! The male friend of the parents that came played the guitar and sang songs for Luis and we even sang happy birthday in English. He blew out the candles and had two left so I said ¨dos novias luis?¨ (two girlfriends) and everyone thought that was very funny. I had to go to bed at 10:30 because I had been up since 7 and had done so much, I was practically falling asleep on the couch haha.
Yesterday I was up at 6 because I had to be a ICPNA at 7 to observe. I still wasn´t hungry at all but I had to struggle throught breakfast. Oh! I forgot! They have a maid. It is really weird because she is 18 the same as me. I made my bed and cleaned my room and the mother came in and said no no no no no, I am not allowed to do anything. I am not even allowed to wash my own clothes. It makes me uncomfortable to have someone my own age do my chores. She is married and has been for 2 years. Wow! Her name is Irena and she is quite sweet, but she speaks no English. I know that she is paid well but I still don´t like it. Simon introduced me to his class and I met all his students. They are awesome people. After observing I went back to the host house. The mother is the supervisor of the schools in the part of Cajamarca experiencing extreme poverty. She is an awesome person. She took me with her to the inspect the 4 classes. It is another world to Canada. It is even another world to downtown Cajamarca. The roads are muddy and very uneven and full of water. It is dirty with garbage everywhere. The schoolchildren are so sweet. With my pathetic Spanish I went around to each table to introduce myself and meet the kids and ask them how they were and if they liked school etc. The children at 5-8. Some kids are very obviously sick. It is so sad. There is a program where they get breakfast 3 days a week and the government sends food too, but it is bad. A lot of the kids are sick, and if you saw the milk you would understand. It is very lumpy and sour. My host mother inspects the food and gets new food in and tells them what is okay to eat. She sings songs with them and all the kids love her. She is so charismatic. All the schoolkids here wear uniform. They look very smart, it is nice I think. To get to some of the classes you had to wade through mud and bugs etc. There are toilets outside that everyone can see. I didn´t take pictures because I think it would be an invasion of their privacy. It is sad because those kids don´t have any kind of future or opportunity really.
Yesterday afternoon I went back to ICPNA to get my schedule and observe more classes. Observing is not very fun after a while! I got my schedule and books. I had 9 books, so I am going to develop muscles carrying them. So, I guess I will be a muscley whale ahahahahaha. For the first week, starting May 4th, I have 7 and a half hours of classes a day and 8 and a half on Saturday. That is an insane amount of work because the preparation is huge and I have to find time outside of that. I have to anticipate the questions they could ask me in Spanish too, so that means even more work. However, there are no classes at ICPNA this week as today is their finalk exam day. So, I do have lots of time to prepare. However, from Thursday to Sunday my host family are taking me on a trip with them to this place 3 hours away beginning with S. Hmmm, I wish I could remember what it is called! I love living with them because it gives me so much more opportunity to explore the country around here.
Yesterday I met a mathmatical genius guy who is studying English because he has a grant to get his master´s in America. We chatted for an hour waiting for ICPNA to open (apparently nobody here can give you the correct time to be at a place). He is the first agnostic person I have met here. I was told to tell people I am Christian because otherwise I could get into trouble. Being Agnostic is not so bad but if you confess to be athiest you are in big trouble. It is majorly offensive to the people here. He was really interested in my views of how the earth began and even though his English is limited and my Spanish is limited we managed to talk about these deep topics, which I think says a lot about people. I think Mr. A would have a great time talking with this guy. I am crap at telling how old people are here, I had him placed at 21 and he is 26.
Well, I had better get back to my family because I only said I was going to the bank and they may be worried. I don´t know. The internet doesn´t work at my house.
Thanks for keeping track of me! Have a great day!
p.s. The second pic is my host family in the gorgeous Andes. Please excuse my dreadful hair in the first pic. Recognise the shirt Brandy? :)


  1. Recognized it right away! So glad you took it and are wearing it!
    You rock lady! Keep having a blast.

  2. I've been explaining Africa in the same way.. a mixture of beautiful, and heartbreaking.
    I laughed at the stuff about not being able to tell peoples ages... the person that was bussing us around, looked 20-25. Apparently he was 32!