Monday, May 4, 2009

I have an unnaturally large head...

My room in Celendin.

The hat is just resting there.
The housekeeper in Celedin mushes up the food.
apparently! None of the hats in the store in Celendin would fit my head. So now it´s a big joke that my head is massive. Hahahaha. Celendin was awesome. It´s so different from Cajamarca, and I think I prefer it. It´s smaller and everyone knows Luis and Rosa as Luis was a doctor there for 3 years. It´s not that small though. I had a lot of typically Peruvian food there, but not Ceviche. I´m not a fan of uncooked meat, and it´s probably not a good idea for my health to eat it. The drive to Celendin was about 4 hours, but it seemed really fast. There was so much gorgeous mountain scenery to look at, it´s not even remotely comparable to the very dull drive to Winnipeg in Manitoba. Peru has little surprises everywhere, and if you pay attention you will see waterfalls and streams that otherwise you would miss. I love how unspoiled the beauty of Peru is. It isn´t crawling with tourists, in fact I didn´t see any people who didn´t look Peruvian the whole time I was away. Today I saw one white person but he was old and didn´t seem to be 100% all there. I really like that the Peruvian cultures are so dominant here and things generally aren´t in English and Chinese as well as Spanish. It seems much more genuine. It also means I have to always be practicing Spanish which is great, but I´ve been here almost two weeks and it seems like my Spanish is still dreadful. Oh well. It gets really tiring having to concentrate so hard on what people are saying all the time. I called my family last night and it felt so weird to speak English so fast!!
My first impression of Celendin, honestly, was one of anxiety because everything seemed so poor. However, over the next few days I saw that it really wasn´t so poor. Granted, there were poor parts but people just don´t seem to care about the exterior of their homes. The paint can be peeling and they can look dreadful, and then inside can be totally gorgeous. I´m so used to people being so concerned with how things look on the outside that it surprised me that people here only care what things are like on the inside. Honestly, I think the Peruvians have it right. My bedroom in Celendin was actually a cell phone store. I had been wondering why there were posters advertising Movistar all over the walls, and then yesterday Luis´s brother came to move all his cell phone stuff back in. I didn´t mean to cause such trouble!! But apparently it was nothing.
Luis, Ana and I went for a walk the first night in Celendin, and Luis asked me, all full of innocence, what is f*** Gemma? I was so shocked I almost walked into a lamppole. I said Luis, I am not explaining that to you, but it´s not a good word in English. He thought that was hilarious.
There are dogs everywhere in Celendin. The first night I thought I was being bitten by mosquitoes, but apparently it was a flea. So that´s really nice. I actually really love Celendin and I hope to go back sometime.
Every place here, no matter how small or big, has a Plaza de Armas, which is essentially the central meeting place. It´s really awesome because everyone goes there to socialize and just hang out. All the Plazas I have seen have had a Church right across the road too. There are always one way streets in a square around it. In Cajamarca, mototaxis and Combis aren´t allowed in the Plaza de Armas because they are too loud.
In Celendin I got to ride in a Mototaxi! Twice! It was AWESOME! Canada needs to have some, I could start a Mototaxi business. Although it would only work for the summer. The driver thought I was crazy because I was so excited about it. Rosa, Ana and I went around the plaza in one and then yesterday we went to the bakery in one. I found out that Rosa´s daugther`s name is actually Ana (for short) and they call her Anita because they add ita to people they love. So now they call me ¨hey-ma-ita¨ which is nice but sometimes I dont respond because I am not used to being called that, so they have to say it two or three times. Hahaha.
Apparently I look like Rosa´s daughter, and also similar Anita. A lot of people asked if I was Rosa´s daughter when we were in Celendin, even though I am so white. I am not even a little bit tanned, naturally.
Rosa and I went to JoseGalvez, which is the town she grew up in. She showed me her school and I met 4 of her sisters and 3 of her nephews. One of her nephews is crazy. He is 8 and was so enthusiastic to see his aunt and I. I really love how affectionate people are here. Boys aren´t ashamed to hug and kiss their mothers and sisters on the cheek openly and frequently. Little Luis always comes to me in the morning for a kiss and is always hugging and kissing Rosa. It is sweet. Anyway, Rosa´s nephew Rodollo came and gave us big hugs and wet kisses on the cheek hahahaha. I enjoyed meeting Juan because he is 16 and therefore closer to my age. He is very serious though. We went to JoseGalvez twice and the second time we travelled around to a place called Sucre and to a mini zoo and a graveyard. At one point we climbed through a barbed wire fence into a greenhouse area and they stole flowers to take to the graveyard. I don´t know, maybe they know the owner of the greenhouse and it was okay but I thought it was a bit odd. There was this massive plain of land in the valley we looked down on, and Juan asked me what I would do with the land. When I said take pictures and dance he thought I was very silly. He wants to build an airport there because he wants to be a pilot or an engineer. Honestly though, I think it would be a shame to industralize such gorgeous scenery. Also, I don´t know that a whole lot of people would travel to JoseGalvez, which is comparable to Rivers in size. However, what do I know about it, perhaps it´s a great idea. I think I only saw him smile once. Rosa says he and his brother are extremely intelligent. His brother gave me this beautiful rock for a present. I was touched, it is so lovely, I have it in my room. At Rosa´s sister´s house we had hot chocolate, but is is very different from in Canada. It is pure chocolate grown in Peru. The first day I had it with milk, but the lady told me the custom is without milk, so the next day I had it without. It was so rich, but yummy. We also had bread made in Celendin and pineapple jam. Yummy. On Saturday when we went to the mini zoo I saw a parrot and some other animals from the rainforest. It was quite cool. We had to wait for abut half an hour to take a taxi back to Celendin. There were no cars on the road on the way back.
On Sunday there is a market in Celendin and the streets were packed. It was quite literally fantastic and I had a blast smelling the smells and looking at the wares. No cars are allowed down the roads, only mototaxis, so it`s safer walking than usual.
Luis had a lot of patients in Celendin so he worked a lot. He is very proud of being a doctor because he studied at the best school in Peru. There are posters advertising his clinic all over Celendin. He is very proud of his Ultrasound machine.
Gas here is so expensive! It is about $1.70 a litre! Bread is quite cheap though.
On Friday and Saturday I got to play football or soccer with Peruvian people. It was so much fun. At the start there was only Luis, Luis, Ana and I so I thought it would be a pretty dull game. However, we picked people up on the way and by the time we got to the pitch there were about 14 of us in the car and more met us there. I didn´t play that well on Friday, but on Saturday I scored a goal! (granted, the other team had pulled their goalie, but still). It rained a bit and was very hot while we played. My face was bright red by the end which they all thought was hilarious. With their gorgeous brown skin they didn´t even seem tired. One guy had a bad nosebleed. I don´t think it was my fault, I hope not anyway! His name was Alex and he laughed at my red face for ages. Hahaha.
On Friday I met a couple of mountain peasants who, if I translated right, wanted to meet me because they had never met a white person before. They were super nice.
Most of the time here I can forget about my race, but when I go out into the street and people stare and stare, or sometimes stick out their tongue, or sometimes smile in welcome, it is very hard to forget my colour. I don´t have a problem with curiousity, but living in primarily white countries I haven´t encountered rascism towards myself before. Its a really interesting experience and surprisingly even when, occasionally, people look at me like I am dirt, it doesn´t bother me. They don´t know me so when they look at me they see only white people, and their anger is directed towards us. I know it might seem odd, but I can see where they are coming from. Countries like Canada and England send money to the governments of these countries that need it, and the governments are so corrupt. The government programs are limited in their numbers and usefulness. Really it seems like countries such as Canada don´t care, it´s more of a having to seem generous type of deal. If they actually wanted to help the poor people, they would need to send money to the grassroots, to trustworthy people like Rosa who want to help and are doing what they can. I know it´s not going to happen, and obviously I am making a huge generalization, but it really helps nobody when the government is skimming off the money.
I met loads of Rosa´s friends in Celendin. The Godmother of Rosa´s children gave me a gift of handmade crafts from Celendin. The people are so generous. Rosa bought me a little box that says Celendin too. I am so overwhelmed by people´s kindness.
There was a housekeeper in Celendin too, but I was allowed to do my own cleaning there which was nice! I watched her crush up the chile stuff in the traditional way of the Incas. Very cool!
On the way back from Celendin both Ana and Luis were sick. I felt nauseous but I did the nostril breathing Miranda taught me and I felt better.
This morning I had my first 2 classes, and I have five more starting at 4. I think I did a decent job, although one of the students asked me to slow down for tomorrow. Mind you, she was 20 minutes late so it´s natural that she had some problems understanding. The classes were mixed, ranging in age from 13-40. My second class only had one boy and I was sorry for him because he seemed a little uncomfortable. He participated well though. When I told my second class I would only be teaching them for a week while their teacher was on holiday they were very upset and asked me to stay. I take that be a sign that my class went well. The students are very intelligent and I whizzed through my plans for two days in only one. Mind you, the classes were tiny. My first class only had 3 and my second only 5, which helped with the pace. I have no idea how many students there were supposed to be. Simon dropped in to say bye because he´s leaving today, and he said it´s normal for the beginning of the week to have small classes. One of his classes was only 6 the whole time so it´s okay I guess. Today I have 7 and a half hours of teaching. I have spent about 15 hours preparing for this week, so its a lot of work, but I had fun this morning. I am not so sure abut the childrens classes this afternoon though. They will be hard for me I think because they don´t speak any English and they probably won´t be as patient as the adults.
Last night we went out to eat at about 9. I was ready for bed but if you are me and want to say no, you say yes anyway not to be rude. I actually had this really good lasagna there and some Peruvian things beginning with t. The waiter was really odd. He had a weird way of creeping over the table and and eying everyone up. No one else though it was weird though.
Maybe I´ll use the rest of my time to try and load some photos. This afternoon I am off to the gym before my classes at 4. I ate so much this weekend, although apparently I ate nothing.
Thanks for checking and leaving comments, I love reading about how you are doing and knowing that you are well. I hear this Swine flu thing is in Canada so take care!


  1. Yes people are starting to freak out because there has been a case of Swine Flu in Brandon, but its nothing to worry about.
    Hope your enjoying yourself, nice pics,
    <3 Katie (whos also still white)haha
    p.s its supposed to snow on friday :(

  2. And Hey-ma-ita...realizes the sad truth about foreign aid! It's really pathetic isn't it?! I am glad you are having an awesome time. Your classes sound like they are going really well. I am really happy to hear that there was only one boy in your second class actually...yay girl power!
    Text book drive is full swing and I am a little overwhelmed with all of my helpers being away for the summer, but as always, I'll handle it :)
    Love the updates!

  3. Snow!! Wow!
    There are no male teachers at ICPNA now that Simon has left!
    Glad to hear the book drive is attracting lots of books!

  4. Hi, these are really interesting. will try to get a wireless dongle and take laptop to grandad so he can have a look as well.

  5. That would be awesome! Thanks! My love to you and the family and Grandad!