Thursday, January 27, 2005
Shall We Do It in the Country? Or Perhaps in a Group Session?
Erm, still not sure what's going to happen with the wedding. It's so strange to find that things will likely only fall into place a week (or less) before we get wed. Peruvians do not plan ahead, so nor can we! Believe me, I've tried, but all our careful plans have fallen through. This a state of affairs that South Americans have to live with, and I can tell you firsthand that it's absolutely agonising. Tito and I are thoroughly peed off with the contrary bugger in Chiclayo Municipalidad who wants the Spanish document in English and the English document in Spanish... ie. he'd like a nice, hefty bribe, please and thank-you
. Thus, we are looking at getting married in a little village just outside Chiclayo called Pomalca. It's quite nice, rustic and quaint. The problem with that option is that I would be the first gringa ever to get married there and thus the Mayor wants to throw a party for us! They want to go all out and put the story in the newspaper, but Tito reckons if we get any more attention he'll end up with a gun to his head. So, ah, no then. Another option which everybody keeps suggesting is a group wedding. They are held relatively often and a couple can be wed for only 50 soles, if they don't mind sharing the ceremony with dozens of other couples, that is. I find the concept of this almost too tacky for words, yet I suppose it would make rather an amusing anecdote... and, well, it really is quite unarguably convenient.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Determined to get on with life, we have been trying to proceed as if we were normal. Tito just went into the 'Municipalidad' (City Hall) to get some more stuff sorted about the wedding. It's turning out to be a total nightmare! The certificate which we got from the British Embassy, Lima at a considerable expense of time and money is just not acceptable to the little bigwig in the Municipalidad, it seems. ¿Por que? Well, because it's written in Spanish. They don't believe it's the original certificate, even though it bears a great, massive stonking shiny red seal that has emblazed upon it in no uncertain manner 'BRITISH EMBASSY, LIMA'
. They'd like it in English, they said, with a verified translation. I have just got off the phone with the Embassy. The lady who issued it has assured me they print it in Spanish to assist
Secondly, my original Canadian birth certificate which my mother has just sent me from England is likewise unacceptable. It needs to be verified by the Canadian Embassy in Lima. I have contacted them, but am terrified that this will require another trip to Lima. We simply cannot afford this after the robbery. Tito's just paid out to get another passport today; thank god they didn't take mine. Stay tuned... it seems my life has indeed turned into a soap opera! Or maybe some kind of wildnerness escape adventure - can Vanessa and Tito make it out of Peru alive?
Monday, January 24, 2005
We've Been Robbed
As I sat in the internet cafe on Friday night, the thought occured to me that nothing particularly exciting/interesting had happened lately. I couldn't think of anything terribly compelling to blog about, and so made an entry about some funny names I've noticed recently. Then Tito came in, half an hour before I was expecting him. "We've been robbed and they've taken everything!" he said. "The money we've been saving for the wedding?" I cried. Yep. "The digital camera with the photos of our 12 months of Peru?" I sobbed. Yes, that too. My jewellery? Our mini-disc players???
We sped off home and were devastated to find that yes, they had indeed taken it all. Only a couple months before we plan to leave Peru, and they've got basically everything of value that we own(ed). The family's two televisions, a video player, and Tito's passport, too. Tito's sister, Perla, had come home just as the robbers were leaving; they'd pushed past her with a box of our things to get into the getaway car. She got good descriptions and the license plate number, but we don't have high hopes. The police here are useless.
We are absolutely gutted; but I think the worst thing about being robbed is the initial check... compiling the list. The "They've taken my alarm clock, too, the f**kers!" and the "Where's that beautiful silver watch I got for my 21st birthday?" type moments. After that, you just accept it. There'e nothing we can do, everyone's safe, it's not our fault. It's just a shame that this has happened a)right before we get married b)at a time when we've, frankly, had a string of awful bad luck that I've been trying not to moan about, and c)at the only time in my life when I haven't had insurance.
Determined not to let this get the better of us, on Saturday I bought an itsy bitsy bikini, some sangria, and off we went to the beach in the Celica with our doggy. People can envy us even more, if they like, because they just can't damage our relationship. They can't stop us. I pick up my wedding dress on Wednesday!
Saturday, January 22, 2005
Let's Snigger at People's Names
1. Boy in my class called 'Angel de Jesus'
2. Girl in same class called 'Darling Leydy'
3. Boy in Monika's class called 'Roosevelt'
EXTRA: My future niece is called 'Celeste Cristal'. Sounds pretty in English, doesn't it? But it Spanish, it translates literally as 'Light Blue Glass'. Worse still, she is named after her father's favourite football team, Lima's Cristal. Guess what their team's colour is? You guessed it - celeste.
Thursday, January 20, 2005
Life's Little Details
Often, people say to me "Ooo, you're sooo brave, I could never live abroad." To which I never know quite what to reply... erm, living abroad is not a special super power, and of course they could do it if they wanted to. Life is basically the same everywhere. You wake up, have breakfast, go to work, come home, eat supper, go to bed. I suppose the things that are the hardest to deal with about living in a foreign country are simply the details... if you move away from your home country you'd better be flexible about the details. I think I'm extremely flexible, but the details still do my head in sometimes... for example, here, I wake up in the morning and need a pee. I find that the loo is occupied by one of the many family members, and so I am forced to fall back in to a restless, full-bladdered doze. I hear the occupant exit, and hasten to open my door, only to find the next in the queue has entered... It's a tricky process. After I eventually gain access to the toilet, I'll have breakfast - that won't be the rice and seaweed I was accustomed to in Japan, but maybe some bread, black olives and avocado. I go to work here, just like anyone else. But I've never before had to travel by the 'collectivos' that function as Peru's public tranportation system (old chugging Dodges with 6 passengers plus driver, or small Japanese made Ticos with 5 passengers!). You get the picture...
Sunday, January 16, 2005
I'm Getting Married Soon!
Tito's gone to Lima this weekend, and I'm sad and mopey and lost. He's gone to the British Embassy to pick up the 'Certificate of No Impediment' which will allow us to finally get married. We want to get wed pretty soon, a rather low-key affair with the main reception to follow back in the UK. Here - just me and Tito and the beloved Celica. So yesterday I went shopping for a wedding dress in the central market (classy bird, me). I think I'm going to get a very simple, floor-length strapless gown in a striking iridescent violet-blue. Yes, seriously. Not very traditional, but very me
. Nice with silver strappy sandles and lots of iridescent sparkles... ahh, Crystal Barbie, how your memory lingers. Anyways, it will match nicely with Tito's fabulous white suit. Last night I went to a disco so that I wouldn't stay up 'til three watching soppy movies that make me cry, as I did on Friday night, but it didn't cheer me up. It reminded me of being single, of being leered at by horrible blokes, and of bad, sweaty, stinky uni clubs. All I could do was think 'Ooo, if Tito was here, we'd have a laugh dancing to this' and fantasize to myself about seeing him walking towards me. Upon seeing my miserable chops I was advised "Your finance isn't here, so you need to take advantage of that!" by a friend's 18 year old girlfriend. HA! But really, I'm reveling in the misery. I miss that man so much, I'm glad I know how much I need him, love him, adore him. He is my motivation and my inspiration. And... We're getting married sooooon!!!
How cool is that?!
Friday, January 14, 2005
1) In Peru, they have no equivalent for 'Ms.'. Furthermore, they seem to find the concept of it quite laughable.
2) By law, your birthday is a paid holiday. You automatically take the day off.
3) Peru is apparently the only country in the world where Coca-Cola has a serious rival. Peru's own 'Inca Kola' (which is flavoured with the traditional 'Hierba Luisa'
) vies for the leading position.
4) The most popular swearing phrase seems to be 'Concha tu madre' which translates as 'Clam of your mother'.
' (guinea pig) is sold in the butcher's section of all supermarkets - dehaired, of course.
By request... to Kim, who relishes all the little random details!
Do you know CUM?
Benzaemon's hilarious blog about life in Japan has inspired me to re-relate this wonderful episode of miscommunication from my past... it still makes me giggle every time I think about it.
"Do you know CUM? C-U-M?" asked Mr. Ishijima, a member of my weekly English conversation class, as we chatted over coffee in a local family restaurant. The other members of my class (5 rather conservative middle-aged businessmen) looked towards me expectantly. I choked back a snigger and put on my best 'I don't, as yet, have any idea what you are talking about, so please extrapolate' face and tilted my head to the side (typically Japanese gesture of incomprehension). "CUM SHAFT" he elaborated, making some indecipherable gestures. The others nodded in agreement, and murmured "cum shaft", still waiting to see if I know it. At this point I exploded into completely hysterical, helpless laughter. The businessmen viewed my state with some concern, and tried more desperately now to make me understand. "OVERHEAD CUM" they shouted at me, making vigorous overhead cumming gestures with their hands. Mr. Takano passed me his fan and a glass of water in concern for my health. "DOUBLE OVERHEAD CUM" explained the exasperated Mr. Ishijima, now more than a little confused. That made 7 of us... Finally, I ask them to look up 'cum' in their high-tech portable electronic dictionaries. Mr. Lucky Rice Field's (that's what the kanji for his last name means - my terribly witty nickname for him) dictionary cost over a hundred and fifty quid - and does in fact contain the word 'cum'. He flushes red, starts giggling, and passes the dictionary around the table. The rest of the class dissolve into nervous, also slightly hysterical laughter, when they realize precisely what they have been bellowing at me. Turns out they were talking about D.O.H.C. shaft engines, or some such nonsense. The 'C' stands for CAM, not CUM...
After that things lightened up considerably. The class even felt comfortable enough after that to ask me what noise a poo makes in English when it falls in the toilet. (plop, obviously). Japanese is very onomatopoeic, and has at least 2 sounds for this, one being 'pocham' and another being 'boton'. Guess which word describes small pieces of poo and which the heavy log!
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Good as New
Just went to Modelo market to get the zip on my handbag, my glasses, and my ripped yukata robe repaired. If there's something that Peruvians really excel at, it's fixing things, sprucing things up, and making them look almost
like new. For completely new zip and the installation of said, I paid a mere 6 soles (less than a quid). And I was delighted to have a new hinge fixed to an arm of my glasses for a trifling 3 soles. I'd been feeling down since I broke my lovely new glasses - they'd fallen off my face when I glanced down. As my sight is so appalling I had unfortunately stood on, and crushed, my specs as I searched for them. Anyway, everything here is used and used and used again. Interesting how the countries that make the least waste only do so out of necessity... everyone's dying to over consume, they just can't. The nice thing for me is that I can leave clothes I don't want here without the slightest guilt, rather, it will be charity. A totally different story to when I left Japan, and found that absolutely nobody wanted my stuff, and that they didn't even have
second-hand clothing stores!
Saturday, January 08, 2005
Back to Reality
I was right... my great, chilled-out state of mind brought about by beautiful white beaches, tasty sea creatures and being with Tito for 12 whole days didn't last long. I'd like to bitch about the fact I developed nasty allergy symptoms immediately upon entering the vicinity of Chiclayo, that I only have one class at ICPNA this month (which means my total monthly earnings for January will be about 65 quid), that the construction workers stole all my white-board markers and put my classroom into great disarray, or that I only finally got paid for December today. But I won't.
Instead, I'd like to share a little traditional idiom which I feel sheds a fair bit of light on the Peruvian mentality regarding reproduction:
'Babies are born with bread under their arm.'
Brilliant! Peruvians - fear not starvation! Have a(nother) baby!
I can't stop thinking about the tsunami. Every time we are trying to relax on the beach I can't help but ask everyone 'what would you do if you saw a huge wave crashing in behind you?'. It's particularly horrible to contemplate because Peru does not have a developed coastline, ie. there would be no stairs to climb, no concrete to cling to. So we would perish, just like the multitudes did in Asia. Words can't express.
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
Feliz Año Nuevo
*One must be sure to write the little squiggle above the 'n' in 'año' or else the meaning changes to 'Happy New Anus'.
Ahhh... back to (ab?)normality after four days and four nights away on the various tropical beaches of Tumbes and Piura, on the most northerly coast of Peru. What can I say? We are totally broke, but after a pretty nasty family argument in the house (details upon request - it's better than an Isabel Allende novel) we were gagging for just a tiny bit of privacy. I decided to splash out and take 100 pounds out on my credit card. At times like this I really do love living in a poor country. My measley 100 pounds translated to 600 soles - which paid for travel of 500 kilometres each way (granted - on a cronky old 70's greyhound, but still), fabulous seafood feasts, mucho booze and entertainment for 4 days and 4 nights for the BOTH of us!
I now have the best, well, to be frank, the only tan of my life. I feel relaxed and happy and madly in love and considerably less narky. Works starts tomorrow, so I'd better enjoy this while it lasts!