Wednesday, June 30, 2004
First day at school today. Had an average of only two or three students in each of my four classes, all of whom arrived considerably late. These students are the really keen ones – apparently students generally opt to miss the first few days of the 18 day cycle of teaching. And to think I had regarded Tito’s perpetual tardiness as a character flaw! An extreme casual attitude bordering on acute apathy seems to be inbred, a complete polar opposite from Japan, and thus a little tough for me to swallow. Nevertheless, if I can try to avoid getting my knickers in a twist I am sure I will really enjoy teaching here. It’s nice to have boisterous Latino students who will actually say boo to a goose. Plus, my crop of students seem promising; I was particularly pleased to note a student by the name of Nimrod de la Cruz Gonzales will be joining us. Let's hope someone tells him about his name before he embarks on travel to an English speaking country... but I'm afraid I just don't have the words to express.
Friday, June 18, 2004
Have decided to squeeze some employment into my busy routine of forcibly picking things out of the dog’s mouth and emailing people who live too far away from Peru to be of much use to me at the current moment. I was thus very pleased when the Instituto Cultural Peruano-Norteamericano (ICPNA) offered me a job on the spot when I went in with my CV. I don’t think too many qualified and experienced native English teachers drop by on a daily basis. Had a chat with an awfully pleasant American bloke who is the Academic Director, he said he has been waiting a year and a half for his working visa to come through. He has had to make changes to his teaching schedule to go down to Lima (an eight-hour drive) three times so far, each time only to be told to come back again later. Looks like I’ll be choosing the ‘working illegally on a tourist visa’ option then.
Saturday, June 12, 2004
Cavorting With Witches
We four arrived, as arranged, at 10pm last night, and magically squashed two not insubstantially sized witches in the back of the two-door with Perla and Glavis before heading off down some bumpy mud lanes to a farmhouse (closely pursued for the entire 15 minute drive by the head witch’s racously barking dog, which I took to be a familiar). It was pitch black when we were ushered into a large walled enclosure for animals (complete with chickens, ducks, pigs) and seated next to the altar. On the altar were arranged various objects; a row of upright wooden poles, Jesus on the cross, bottles containing oil and flower infusions, semi-precious gems, a Buddha, a deer horn, and the ilk. The ceremony began with much chanting and stamping of feet, and the noisy inhalation of a substance contained in seashell vessels through the noses of all four witches. A Catholic prayer was said. After this, we were each required in turn to stand in front of the altar, and drink an infusion of herbs which had been specially brewed to clear our stomachs. It was, by far, the most revolting tasting concoction I have even been required to imbibe, and after violently retching several times I was mercifully allowed to leave some in the bottom of the glass. Stomach churning, we were then required to kick and punch the air, as if assaulting the negativity with which we are plagued. Upon returning to my seat, I began to feel even more queasy. However, I found that the starry sky had assumed a most intriging aspect; I suspect the infusion was mildly narcotic. We had to wait whilst the others went through the same thing, which was intensely boring because it was so dark that we couldn’t make of much of the action. Whilst I waited I meditated on all the different Buddhas I have seen, and the temples I have visited, which was nice. The next step was a kind of exorcism by an enthusiastic male witch, who vigorously rubbed a stone all over our bodies, whilst cursing our negativity and worries, before whipping the air behind us with a switch. During this procedure, the head witch discerned various things about us; I was most surprised when she noted that Tito and I had recently had a car accident (it was very minor, and so we hadn’t told anyone about it), and that I am scared when Tito drives too fast. She also said that I sometimes wake in the night with a start, and that I need alot of sleep, both of which are true. Apparently, I am seen to have a good aura and friendly nature too. It was fascinating to hear the things she knew about us. She accurately discerned so many things that I was left in no doubt that she is psychic. The ceremony wrapped up after four, long, chilly hours with a benection for Tito and I, as the witch knew that we are currently concentrating on making our relationship stronger (hey, who isn’t?). Everyone clapped as we waved our hands in the air and danced together while being orally sprayed with a perfumed alcohol from the mouths of several witches. Charming! We got home at 2:30 in the morning. I slept like a log, but later we all had some serious diarrhoea, thanks to the tea. Whilst this all sounds quite strange, we are feeling a lot lighter in spirit today. So many people coming together with powerful positive intentions can hardly be a bad thing, can it? Personally, I think that we humans understand so little of this world that we’d better keep our minds open to the possibility that we may find truth in strange places! I am off to get my cards read as soon as possible... but I can tell you I’ll be saying a polite, but firm, NO to any offers of a brew at their place...
Friday, June 11, 2004
Things have been a bit strained round the house recently. Tito and I have, frankly, had a massive dose of culture-shock. It’s hardly surprising, seeing as we have gone from a society as anally retentive as Japan, to one as slack arsed as Peru. On top of that, we have a cash flow problem, no privacy, and live with my in-laws. This sounds like a recipe for disaster, but with it only being just over a year that we plan to be here, we are trying to make the most of the experience and simply enjoy ourselves. After all, we don’t have to live forever with the corruption, cancelations, and cash coercions of Peruvian society. I think it is really important that I understand Tito’s country and get to know his family, and of course learn Spanish. Peru has so much to offer, culturally and geographically, in spite of the poverty... the country has often been described as a beggar seated on a bench of gold. Tito’s family really are great, too, they are extremely understanding and open-minded people. Whilst living with a big family, four generations together under the same roof, is not many twenty-something’s idea of a good time, it does have a lot to commend itself. You can’t afford to be inflexible when living with nine other people who all have different ideas as to where the salt should be kept. However, there have been some bad vibes and discord in the house this week, and Tito and I have been on a total emotional rollercoaster. So this afternoon Glavis suggested that Tito visit her cousin, who is a ‘bruja blanca’ (white witch). He came back quite upset, as the woman had done his tarot cards, and the reading said that his aura attracts a lot of negative energy because people tend to envy him. This so affected him because his late grandmother, who was also involved in white magic, always used to tell him the same when he was a little boy, and quite frankly, it’s true. Tito has a taller stature and sportier body type than the average Peruvian. On top of that, he has an easy-going, friendly nature that automatically makes him popular. Furthermore, the economy in Peru is such that people truly believe money = happiness, and here we are driving around in a highly noticable sports car, and generally just looking blatantly loaded. (As an aside, that’s a commonly believed fallacy!). We turn up at the supermarket looking like some kind of glamorous superstars, yet purchase the cheapest possible bread, the on-offer milk, and the decidedly unposh ₤1.50 Peruvian wine. Nevertheless, we do attract envy, and not just due to the money thing. We look like we have choices and opportunities, and last, but certainly not least, we look truly madly in love with each other. We are bloody lucky, and we know it. Anyhow, the point is that this is all serving to weigh down Tito’s aura; thus a ‘Florecimientos’ (Flowering) ceremony has been prescribed for tonight at 10pm. I have agreed to accompany Tito, Glavis, and Perla, but am slightly concerned about the prospect of cavorting with witches after dark... even if they are white.
Friday, June 04, 2004
We are really enjoying having little Wanpi Two. Today we took her to the beach for a run, it was lovely and sunny (as it is virtually everyday in Chiclayo), but also quite chilly and windy. Wanpi is still very little and cried pitifully to be picked up as she chased after us, terrified. So, erm, it was more fun for us than her, then! What really puzzles us about the dog is how she utterly scorns puppy chow, yet devours plasters, onion skin, fluff, you name it. She also turns her nose up at the clean water we give her in a dish, but is happy to drink any random liquid she finds on the floor, such as condensation from the fridge or puddles around the toilet. Perhaps it is just the pleasure of being self-sufficient. She is certainly contrary – if we shut her in our bedroom she whines to be let out, but more often than not, when released will turn straight around and go back in voluntarily. Dogs really have the meaty end of the bone in the dog/human partnership, I reckon.