27 November 2009

todo cambio


yesterday was Julton's birthday. he likes to remind me that I'm a month -older- than him. that one won't go away will it? i figured not. he sleepily turned 24 yesterday. i had been trying to plan with his sisters, something special for him. it was hard! first i had to lay down my own inhibitions because i am shy and prefer to stay away from crowds, but he likes the big group stuff. so... a birthday party it is we planned. and oh we had a plan. well. yesterday morning i began making the cake... and later in the day went in search of movie tickets and tongue depressors. okay we had a plan for the tongue depressors, we were going to have everyone write words about julton on them, then use them to make a picture frame later for a big group pic we were going to take. well that plan bombed when i found out that i could only buy a pack of 5 HUNDRED for 30 soles. granted thats only 10 dollars, its been a year since i was in the states and hearing 30 soles sounds more like a weeks worth of transportation or about 7 and a half lunches, sooo the tongue depressors didnt make it to the party. and... the movie i was planning to take him to didnt start until the day AFTER. and the icing didnt set quite right on the cake, and the people going to the party were late so i had to keep julton occupied in the street for another 30 minutes... which is quite difficult if you realize he only had 1 hour of sleep at work in the hospital the night before.

but it was all worth it. we ate cake and i dont think anyone noticed the icing... and i shared with julton my birthday gift- i made an uber cheesy video ( which i could NOT have done without the help of my friend Katy ) of pictures, with an uber cheesy song if you translate it into english. but they like that kind of stuff here, so it went over well. ive included for your viewing pleasure some photos that i put into the video, and the song... although the actual video isnt there, i thought that might be a little too much cheese for you. so im sparing you. but you have todo cambio by Camila, a photo we took during a "hurry ive got food for you at the emergency door, so you can eat lunch then run back to work" moment, a very creative heart julton designed from the hormigas (ants) we ate one night "who else in the world would make you a heart from ants?? who??" he asked..."and then eat them!" i added in my mind... and a picture from the first day we met. sweet, huh? :)

im 24, hes 24, christmas is coming, his internship is almost over, and we are approaching noramalcy. one day eventually we will finish a night early because we are just old and not because hes tired from working 36 hours the day before. one day... somewhere.... out there.

looking for paradise

i want to share a video with you, i think its beautiful. i think its so beautiful how she sings in english and he in spanish, then in the end she sings pieces in spanish and he in english. i first saw it on a food blog i like to read. im figuring out little by little about her story, she writes about food, God, and a mix between United States and Spanish culture, perfect for me. you can visit her blog at http://spaininiowa.blogspot.com/

the kind of wrinkles you get from smiling for years

that was my first impression.

today i was making the journey from trujillo to huanchaco, one of my friends is getting married tomorrow and their wedding rehearsal was at the beach tonight. so the first half of the ride i spent in the aisle nest to three school kids, with both hands wrapped around a bar just far enough above my reach that i was on my tiptoes. i still don't understand why the bars are so high in the buses. i feel like im pretty average peruvian sized or even a little taller than some, i feel pretty normal here. but i can barely reach the bars! how do they do it?? well, halfway through my ride the bus cleared out and i found a seat in the back next to a sleeping grandpa and a woman holding an anxious baby. and thats when i noticed her. she was sitting across from me, on a huge bag of rice that was probably hers. contently riding along with her feet outstretched and her hand on a bar keeping her from flying into my lap for the next 15 minutes. it was hard not to stare. you know, those times when you are sitting straight across from someone andeverything in you just wants to look at them. and if you studied psychology you really just want to sit and study them for the rest of the ride. each time our eyes met she would smile, and the wrinkles would gather in the corners of her lips and eyes. the kind that come from years of experience smiling and years of experience in the light of the sun. she wore no jewelry but a sun charm on her silver necklace. somehow it reminded me more or a teenagers style charm and i quietly wondered what the story was behind her wearing it. it looked like the only piece of jewelry she wore, and like she wore it everyday. like a wedding ring. i started to wonder about the rice, about where it was from and where it was going. maybe she was going to sell it in the market the next day, or maybe she was taking it home to her family. probably a months worth of rice, although you would be surprised, rice goes quick here. she looked like a country woman, her boots and jeans and floral print pearly button up sleeveless shirt and yet she lived on the beach, at least from what i gather. and how on earth was she going to carry that rice off the bus??? okay the money taking guy would get it off the bus, but what is she going to wait at the bus stop for someone? surely that rice weighed twice her weight.

every time i ride a bus i think about things like that. i like to study people, and you never know who you will see on the bus. try to imagine their stories. public transportation may be uncomfortable sometimes, but it sure is more interesting. and thats what memories are made of.

21 November 2009

jump the rope

the guys young and old talking over motorcycles -getting their hands dirty or just admiring the rest, babies being walked around the park by their proud mommas, grandmas watching from their spots near the doors of their homes as they sit and crochet, at least two games of volley going on on both sides of the park and kids mimicking each game nearby, young girls and guys playing volley, kids running around on scooters or chasing them, juice boxes, neighbors keeping talley with a piece of chalk or brick on the sidewalk of the game, jump rope, nets thrown across streets to play volley, widows open and watchers from the windows, the buying and selling of that evenings bread, music and laughter, mazamorra morada, arroz con leche, preteens half flirting half beating each other up...

all a part of the neighborhood i spend time in twice a week. practicing my volleyball skills, my jump rope skills, and just getting to know a community.

soltera casada viuda divorciada
con hijos sin hijos no puedo vivir
con uno... con dos... con tres...

in case you happen to find yourself playing jump rope with some spanish speakers... try to wow them with this rhyme.

17 November 2009



i caved.
my dear and trusted splash has been disappointing me. we bonded several times over me taking in a huge stuffed and spilling smelly laundry basket and leaving with a seemingly vacuumed packed bag of clean clothes. they saved me from entering the world of washing the clothes myself... and since we have a washer but not the proper conditions to set it up it remains in its box not washing anything but collecting its appropriate dust... it saved me from washing my clothes by hand.
but a few trips ago our relationship started to come to an unhealthy end.
tags. with numbers. and staples. TWO staples on a pinky sized tag attached anywhere on your clothing even if you tell them not to, which if you dont remove immediately i promise you that you will find inconveniently another time. i had a discussion with the storefront lady that calls me July in a way that sounds more like Gillian which confuses me incredibly. but the next time they were there again... just waiting to start holes which would tear fabric and ensure a one day unpleasant and embarrassing experience after continued happenings. what happens if you leave the little green stapled tag into your clothes? when you get your clothes back you find a purple one accompanying it but in another place. my final straw? the last time that i went, then found dust bunney lines and fuzz all over my clothes. i said goodbye. actually we are working on it... and by working on it i mean they will probably still be seeing my jeans. but today it began. the long journey into washing your clothes by hand. and learning that you need to wake up early to get to the water before it runs out for the day. at least its cheaper. 1.80 soles buys me my bar of soap. the rest? all in my arms ha.

you know what stinks? washing all your socks then dropping them on the dusty top floor where the line is which doesnt have a roof. THAT is unproductive.

since jeans are trecherous to try to wash by hand... i think splash might still get a little business from me, i havent completely decided yet. but as for now... im spending my mornings with a bar of soap.

07 November 2009

i (wont) take a feather with that

i have an issue. okay im not alone in this... gillian and i both have issues.

you see theres this thing about chicken. lets start from the beginning so that you get the picture:

if you have before or are now living in the states this first picture is obviously a set of three chicken breasts from ...well anywhere. for those of you that have not lived there.... this is chicken breast. from the store. it comes like this, i promise. nicely cut, no bones, just slit open the clear wrap give it a rinse and you are good to go.
for those of you not living in the states, for my friends living in peru.... this next picture is a normal 4 sole bag of chicken (breast). for those of you that do not live in peru... this is what happens when you want to buy a chicken breast at the bodega down the street. you go in, you ask for a chicken breast... then this gets handed to you in a bag. if you look closely you will find stray feathers... neck... innards... all that good stuff, somewhere under there is a chicken breast.. somewhere.
i feel i have accustomed (jeje.... gotten used to) pretty well to a lot of things that are different for me about living here. but i have a feeling that theres one thing thats just not going to change for a while. picture number two... it just grosses me out. it gives me the heebie jeebies. even more than the herbal drink on the street that kind of has the texture of hot boogers. it might have something to do with me being a vegetarian for the past 7 years but i think it has more to do with the fact that i was babied by yellow styrofoam cling wrapped deboned de everything chicken for the 16 years before that. (16 years of normal meat eating plus 7 veggie years = 23 + my recent birthday in the year i started eating meat again! agh!)

okay. so heres the story now that you have the background.

gillian and i both get creeped out over the chicken skin... feathers.. neck... and well it doesnt help that we just dont know how to cut it. we could decide to buy all of our chicken from tottus.. which is about a fifteen minute walk (a store kind of like a target or walmart?) to get chicken breast that is plastic wrapped with the bone... but who would do that when you can walk 3 minutes down the street and get fresh (i hope?) chicken for a lot cheaper.
well.. weve been working on this game plan. discussing about if its okay to ask the guys to cut off all that stuff for us. and we have been running into a wall. you see there are these 3 guys that work in there that are getting used to have girls from the united states around so we kind of keep our distance in the first place... last week or so gillian went in with the mission of asking the 'butcher' to cut it up.... but then backed out last minute because the butcher that day was the creepy eyed guy with the sketchy tattoos. hes got these eyes.. that as gillian puts it your just not sure if he thinks he flirting with you or hes planning how to kill you. he and i have actually come to a silent bond over our tattoos, or so i tell myself and i dont really see the killing part but he is sufficiently creepy. that day gillian brought home chicken that looked like picture #2.
now lets advance to this week. yesterday was my turn. i was pumping myself up as i went into the store... went to get my daily broccoli (they practically hand it to me when i walk in... im pretty sure im the only person that buys the broccoli) then i went to ask my question. and just as he was weighing my broccoli and the work chicken (or pollo) was about to come out of my mouth... she walks in. and by she i mean the 14 year old in her school uniform that knows exactly what she wants and is loud and how much is this and how old are these and give me some chicken quartered and blah blah blah. what happen? my already small bubble of courage... deflated into a bubble of goo. you cant do anything with goo. so what did i do when i looked at him? i said chicken breast and took the bag he handed me of picture number two. with a look of defeat i walked back home.

but the story doesnt end there.

oh no.

when i got home and explained what happen to gillian she looked at me grinning and said 'you should go back'

what did i do?

well after i took that picture and studied the chicken for a few minutes planning the first cut and holding my breath i found myself in the street with my bag o' chicken. making my neighbors believe im crazy as i was in the zone. i was pumping myself up and working out a story in my head. what happens when i imagine situations in my head? facial expressions. yeah.. i was talking outloud to myself walking in the street with the facial expressions to match.
my plan was to calmly and respectfully as the guy what his name was first.. then use his name as a sign of respect to then as him a favor. what really happen went something like this...

(me... out of breath from walking and shaking from nerves) hey
him: hey
me: silence..hmm... whats your name?
him: hmph... (look of surprise and satisfaction... turns slightly to the side looks away smiling giddily and... ) gibberish lakdjflahf (in a small voice i couldnt hear)
me: (crap whatd he say?) what?
him: hmph... (look of surprise and even more satisfaction... turns slightly to the side looks away smiling giddily and... ) gibberish lakdjflahf (in a small voice i couldnt hear)
me: (okay whatever) look.... i need a favor... this is going to sound strange... but... well... (and i plop the chicken on the table)..... look i tried to cut this and i just cant. i cant do it. can you help?
him: oh.. oh yeah
me: (YES!!!!finally!!!!!!!)

i got home and found out from my friend jamesson that a girl in peru just doesnt go around asking boys what their names are because they will think that you are flirting with them even if all you are doing is asking them what their momma named them. so i left a starry eyed butcher in the store that im probably going to have to deal with next time i want broccoli (because i eat more broccoli than chicken) and im secretly hoping tattoo guy starts working more often than soft speaker. but i got the chicken cut up perfectly and was completely content with the poppyseed chicken casserole recipe that gillian came up with (thanks for the poppy seeds mom!!!) for it.

05 November 2009

simon says ask

and who is jack??

its good to be teaching again. i started another class today with some students i had in the past, and as we were discussing "jack of all trades" one of them calmly looks at me and with his lower intermediate english says "and who is this jack?" "oh and you know that game? who is simon?"
"and why do i have to do what he says?"

i think the look of puzzlement on my face and my awkward smile without many words was probably enough of an answer for him.

that happened today in the same class that a woman walked into their computer office to ask them if they sold chicken. pollo doesnt even look like computadora ... i dont get it.

"Yuly! kathia viene a las 6!!!!"

thats what i heard from my 2 year old friend mois today as he wheeled up to me on his plastic pedal 'motor' car to tell me that my 17 year old friend kathia was coming back at 6 oclock.
...in that moment it was 6:13.

ha! then he told me the numbers 1-10 in english before he wheeled happily back across the park. his mom tells me that he started speaking and walking before he turned one, i believe her. he also sings michael jackson when its on the radio. cant you just picture a two year old curly headed kid singing "BILLY JEAN ISH NO MUH LUUVA" yeah, hes for real. no, hes not up for adoption, hes got an awesome and loving family taking care of him and supplying him all his michael jackson needs. and when hes willing, im going to be around to encourage that interest in english. i'm so thankful im still around (living in peru) to experience being a part of this kids life. his familys for that matter. i dont know how i didnt know what i was missing.

a month or so ago remember when i told you all the gory details of my volleyball fail? it was a super fail. but i kept going back. i felt that pull, you know that feeling? something whispering into your decision making cells 'just go' so i just went. that first time kathias mom asked me when i would be back, i figured it was because they wanted to make fun of my volleyball skills lack of ability to send the volleyball anywhere near the right direction. but i was wrong. a couple days later i went back like i said i would (and i heard someone say "look when she says she will be here... shes here!") we struggled through a game of volley... and after kathias mom invited me into the house. we at some 'pudding' which is more like a cake made out of lots of milk sugar and bread.. and popped open an inka cola that im pretty sure they sell and dont often drink. and we just enjoyed each others company while the girls were doing their homework. a few nights later i went again but no one was playing volleyball but i got the experience the joy of mois' company.

ive been going back a couple times a week since then... today there was a more than serious game going on on the other side of the park that i did not even dare to enter, especially since i didnt see my friend. so i hung out with her 9 year old niece instead and her two friends.. and learned that ive got a long way to go to learn how to jump some rope. some kind of electrical cord at that, whatever it is we jump... ive got some skills to find. quick, cause the 9 year olds show me up. they sing some kind of song about being married being single blah blah blah 1 2 3 .. i dont know how it goes. i'll get back to you on that one.

i saw angie's (the nine year old) mom after not having run into her in a few months, and she invited me over for some aji de gallina (one of my favorite dishes!) one day soon... im going over to meet up with angie on sunday morning because shes going to accompany me to church then i accompany her to sunday school.... kathia didnt come back before i left but i'm sure i will see her very soon. (she and angie called me the other day to very excitedly sing me happy birthday... it was a great moment, possibly the best of the day)

overall how have i been lately you might ask me?
ive been doing really well i would reply. and thats the truth.

03 November 2009

holes and threads


Dear Karrie:

Remember how you had to force me to buy these pants? I remember looking for months with you for a pair something like this... and probably after getting really tired of hearing me say that "they dont make them for me" we found this pair... that fit better than others... and even though I fought it... they wound up in my shopping bag. Well now... like what 3 years later? They are my favorites. They are my comfort jeans. My Saturday jeans. Why Saturdays? Because I don't have to teach on Saturdays (you know the whole image thing). But there is youth group on Saturdays... so... the youth group crowd probably thinks its the only pair that I own. ha

Today's not Saturday (it's Tuesday) but I'm wearing them... cause I cancelled my night class because of a day long migraine party in my head. Thus the continued use of the name comfort jeans. And every time I wear them, I think of you. So I think of you every Saturday... plus the spontaneity of today.
I also think of you every time I look at the Mere Christianity book that I borrowed from you and forgot to give back then moved to another country thus lessening the odds of return. Although I'm pretty sure you have another copy now, my goal is for that book to make my suitcase weight limit at Christmas this year.

Dear Karrie: I miss you.

light my space




this milk... in various brands has become one of my best friends... we started our relationship over the fact that there was no half and half on the shelves of the local any grocery store around. i was disappointed until i noticed that everyone was using evaporated milk in their coffee.

a little unrelated but still on the subject of milk... the year before i moved to peru i was drinking pretty much solely soy milk. im not really sure why. i had nothing against real milk, but i liked the soy. well, after arriving here in trujillo and after some time i realized that i had unknowingly haulted all milk drinking whatsovever with the small exception of the milk in my coffee. to add to it the yogurt is drinkable yogurt not spoonable yogurt... the cheese a little less of a variety... so i got picky about my yogurt and my cheese and realized that i wasnt getting any calcium. that habit has slowly fixed itself as i have become a fan of the fresh cheese (its a litle like feta) and am in love with mantecoso cheese. i also got used to the whole yogurt thing and the local bodega guys nearly hand me a bottle of vanilla when i walk in because i get it so often. the milk on the otherhand took me a while to fix. i realized i wasnt drinking milk because i just didnt like it. it has a lot of preservatives in it and just a strange taste. buuutttt... with time... i met leche de baca... the cow milk. isnt all milk cow milk you might ask me? no i reply, not all milk is entirely cow milk. so i made friends with this lovely lady on a street corner who sells fresh milk each day, and i buy my milk from her... boil it down to clean it.. and im drinking more milk now than i think i did my entire life. its good. im still not sure if shes one of the ones that water down the milk to sell more, but if she does i cant tell.

back to the evaporated... ive been spending more time with Julton and his sisters lately around dinner time and lately theyve been drinking a lot of milk. i hadnt seen the process of the milk into the cup until one day when i got the milk for dinner too.... and realized.... that it was a cup of hot water with some evaporated milk thrown in... and practically a cup of sugar if you are Julton, or normal amount you would put in your tea or coffee for the rest of us. i think my mouth fell open when i saw the girls add the milk to hot water, id just never seen that or drank it before.

im a fan.

yes its my new nightcap.

no, i didn't have a nightcap before, but thats not the point.

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