The content of this webpage, and everything associated with this webpage, is independent of the Peace Corps and the United States Government, though I think they should read it too. This blog solely reflects the experiences and observations of Jake DeBerry.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A few 'firsts-of-many', and some pics

I don’t like updating the blog this quickly, simply because I wouldn’t want to bore you, but I had a few ‘firsts of many’ over a very short time span and I would like to share, since I think you would find them interesting.

Yesterday was the day of a huge project for Peru, their census. No public transportation, few stores open, not much to do. Hoping it was open, I began walking to the local restaurant that has a ‘menu’ (a 3 sol/1 dollar lunch, always soup and a plate of something after, the soups are amazing), it was around 1pm. As I stepped out my door, I noticed Senora Carmen, one of my neighbors struggling to pull a motorcycle from her house, so I asked if she needed help, which was happy to receive. On the other side of the motorcycle is her husband, very drunk. After moving the motorcycle, I tried to escape, but her husband starting talking to me and I was doomed to spend the afternoon drinking for a couple reasons.

Three interesting things occurred during the Sunday afternoon:

First, some background information: A Padrino means Godfather, and it’s a big deal here in Peru. There is a ceremony and a big fiesta afterwards. The family usually cooks a bunch of cuye (guinea pig) and there is a lot of booze. In fact, anytime there is any sort of religious event, birthday, anniversary, etc, that’s an excuse to drink. For example, I have no idea why a 5 year old’s birthday party needs to last until 4 in the morning, but it does. Don’t argue, just accept, right?

After spending about an hour drinking with this guy, he asks me to be the Padrino of his 11 year old son. I just met this guy, although I’ve spoken to his son and wife a few times over the past month.

Then we go inside to talk with everyone and he announces that I am going to be the Padrino, of Richard, my soon-to-be godson. That’s a reason to drink more! The old grandmother starts talking to me and all the other ladies in the room gather around to talk also and they all agree that I have pretty eyes. The grandmother then tells me that I should leave a child with her granddaughter so that child could have pretty eyes also! Her granddaughter, involved in the conversation, immediately turns red (I probably did also). She doesn't say I should dance, or date, or marry (which are all normal requests now)...but to leave my seed. Awkward? Yes.

About an hour after being told to 'leave my seed', someone else asks me to be the Padrino of her child, who is about a year old. I don’t know how to say no, so I said, sure. More drinking!

Below is an example of how meetings go down here. You probably already know what is coming, so I’ll keep this short. But first, a few pictures:

- A would-be beautiful river flows through my town. It's difficult to see there, but that's all trash. One of my goals to is to enlighten people about the beauty of garbage cans and landfills that are not the river.

- It's not a fiesta unless there is a bullfight! Yes, the guys dress in women's clothes, it adds to the entertainment. Especially in a 'machismo' culture.


Soon to be more ouch...

So the meeting: this last week, we had a meeting scheduled for Thursday at 3pm. Knowing I would be the only person, I showed up at 3pm. The next person showed up at 3:30…then the next at 3:50. By 4:30 pm, we had 8 people out of 18. No meeting that day.

The meeting was rescheduled for Saturday at 5. Once again, I show up at 5pm…solo. I walk out to the main street and run into someone who says that the president of the association is at the local watering hole. About 5:15 I see the vice president stumbling down the road – chat with him for a few minutes, turn down the offer to drink about 5 times and he tells me others are passed out because they’re a bunch of women and can’t drink like he can.

About 5:30 a few others show up with me on the street corner. One of the more outspoken guys (drunk also) says the president is refusing to come to the meeting. There is a fair coming up (good opportunity to make money), no one has worked in a month at the center and there is nothing to take to the fair in less than a month. This is when everyone looks at me and asks me what they should do.

Since I’ve been there for a little over a month and do not know enough to tell people what they should do, I attempted to thwart the decision making to others. That didn’t work. Now I see the president of the group up a couple blocks so I tell the group to hang on, I’ll go talk to him. He is drunk and chewing coca leaves and helping someone build an adobe house. A house for “hockey”, which is the inside joke referring to sex but anytime someone out of the loop asks what hockey is, we say it’s a sport over ice. Those who know find this very, very funny. He tells me that he’s the president and he didn’t call the meeting. He doesn’t even know anything about it – which is contrary to what others say. Nothing is happening there, so I politely turn down booze and coca leaves and go back to the other group. I tell them no meeting is going to happen and that I will speak to the president (don't know why they won't) and I will call a meeting, will go around to everyone's house to let them know when and where. Of course, I will emphasize punctuality and we are NOT on the 'hora peruana'...but who am I kidding, I'll bring a good book.

Thanks for reading!


Blogger Tiffany in Peru! said...

Jake that made me laugh so much. I cannot believe you agreed to be the padrino of TWO kids.. you are going to be broke, dude! Anyway, very very funny.. and hey, maybe you can turn ¨leaving your seed¨ into a small business project! It is kind of like prostitution, unless you opened up a sperm bank. Just some thoughts..

October 23, 2007 at 9:22 AM


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