I haven’t written in awhile because this month has been busy! So many different things have happened since my last blog post. I will try to do my best to talk about all of it.
Firstly, I attempted to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with my friends here. It’s a funny holiday because, although the 5th of May marks the victory of the Mexicans over the French in a battle, it honestly isn’t celebrated in Mexico. The holiday is a US creation. Why do we celebrate a battle between Mexico and France in the states? That’s cultural mixing & blending for you. I attempted to teach my Mexican friends how to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but it honestly is just hard to do. We had a fun night out anyways.
I have done a lot more with my host family this month as well. Several cousins came into town at different points, so there were lots of family events. One of my “cousins” lives in Canada and she came back with her husband and friends. With this part of the family, we went to Hacienda Mamacona, a place where they show off their caballos de paso (a peruvian breed of horses). It was neat to watch typical Peruvian dances and see the horses. Look up “La Marinera y el caballo de paso” in order to watch videos of people dancing with the horses. After the buffet lunch there, I went with the Canadians to the Pachacamac ruins that were nearby. Because the Canadians didn’t speak Spanish, we had a tour guide in English and… it was a disaster. I realized in this moment how much better it is to travel when you know the language. Although I do not understand everything whenever I take tours with my friends (in Spanish), at least I have the opportunity to hear more information and more interesting information.
A week or two later, a cousin from Switzerland came into town. We had several family dinners with him. One night over dinner, the family discovered that I could sing, and then requested that I learn a Peruvian criollo song for the next family gathering. One of my “uncles” (more like a great uncle, I believe) is semi-famous for playing creole guitar, so at the next family gathering, all the family came together and sang Peruvian classics together from memory. I sang my piece at their request (and several other songs), and we had a grand time. It reminded me of pickin’ and grinnin’ in the US, just a different style of music. I felt weird singing in front of them, because it wasn’t my family gathering and I didn’t want to take it over, but they all kept requesting that I sing. I think I was viewed as being part of the entertainment. They get together and sing fairly often, but they don’t always have a different voice in the mix. My host sister has videos on her phone that I haven’t gotten from her yet.
My favorite Peruvian singer, also a Peruvian classic, is Lucha Reyes. While you’re looking up caballos de paso, give her a listen as well.
We finally had midterm exams… at the same time my friends in the US were completing finals. This past month has been the first time that I actually began to truly miss home. I wanted to be done with classes too. I wanted to eat “normal” food, whatever that is. I wanted to listen to “normal” music. One night I was sitting in the apartment of my chilean friends and we started to watch funny chilean youtube videos. One of my friends that was Mexican didn’t really understand the videos either (they were full of chilean jargon) and it made me miss being able to sit around with friends and have little things like that in common. However, I realized that in order to be less homesick, I just needed to get myself more busy with more people and already I have begun to feel better.
This past weekend, I went hiking with a group of people that I play soccer with occasionally. The group was about half and half Peruvians and foreigners. It was absolutely beautiful. We hiked to Rupac, which some people call “the machu picchu of Lima” (Lima being the province, not the city) and camped up at the top. I always wonder why people wanted to carry stones all the way up a mountain in order to create their town, but then whenever I watch the sunset, I kind of understand why. The valley around Rupac is pretty cool too because when the weather is right, the clouds gather in the valley and you can only see the tops of the mountains coming up out of the mist. The countryside of Peru is rich with different types of geography… every trip I take away from the city, I kind of don’t want to come back. It’s just too beautiful in the countryside. Also, the altitude didn’t affect me this go around, which is always nice.
Right now at the university, there are “las interfacultades” or, the sports competitions between different colleges within the university. I really love the way it is set up: every facultad has it’s own color, mascot, cheerleaders, bands, etc and have teams for a variety of sports. Unfortunately, there are not women’s futbol teams and I don’t really see myself playing any other sport, so I’m not personally participating (there are women’s futsol teams, but this requires much more ball control than what I personally have… I prefer to run and pass the ball for longer distances). But I have watched a few games and cheered on my friends. It’s pretty neat to see how the whole university is involved.
My time here is over halfway up and even though I had a point of homesickness, I do not really want to return so soon. All the more reason to do as much as possible here in my time remaining.