Friday, July 9, 2010


It is very strange to live somewhere when you only understand 60% of what is happening around you at any given time. And, actually, 60% may be pushing it somewhat. I think a more reasonable estimation would be 45%...

And I speak some Spanish. But the longer I’m here the more I realize that I need to learn. And even the words that I know, the words I say or hear hundreds of times each day, even these words have the nasty habit of slipping out of my head when I need them most.

A few weeks ago, my mom had told me that we were going to have a relaxing Sunday afternoon.She said that I could rest, catch up on homework, sleep all day, that we had absolutely no plans.So imagine my surprise when she came into my room and, in rapid Spanish, told me something to the effect of “Bess… need to wear pants… leaving… thirty minutes… are you coming?” She shared a lot more details with me but the only thing I understood was that we were leaving and I needed to wear pants.

I reluctantly changed out of my comfortable, Sunday shorts and got ready to leave the house.When it was time to leave, we packed into the car and drove to… a gas station. I correctly guessed that this wasn’t our final destination but was concerned as I watched my mom, sister, and niece climb out of the car I was in and get into a car with my brother-in-law. I was now driving “somewhere” in a car full of family members I did not know.

And we drove. And drove. Into the sierra. Around hairpin curves. Passing cars constantly.Speeding up. Slowing down. Through switchbacks. Playing chicken with the other cars.

Remember when you first got your driver’s license? And you thought you were invincible and accidents were impossible. So you drove a little faster than you should have and took curves a little quicker than you should have. That’s how Peruvians drive… all the time.

So we drove. For to two hours. We drove into the beautiful, sunny mountains and arrived in a tiny puebla. I didn’t know where we were, I didn’t know why we were there, and I didn’t know what we were going to do. I took some pictures in the main plaza with the people I didn’t know while we waited for my family to show up.

We then checked out a few restaurants looking for… something. We even sat down at one restaurant but then left that restaurant too, apparently unhappy. I soon found what we were looking for when we sat down by a street vender who was selling cuy.

Cuy is guinea pig. There isn’t a lot of meat on a guinea pig. The meat is pretty slippery and it’s difficult to get off of the bone. It’s pretty good, though. I don’t think I’ll ever be craving cuy but it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever eaten.

After lunch, I met some of my brother-in-law’s family. It turns out that the town we were in was the home of most of his family. Who knew? Actually, I probably would have known earlier if I actually understood Spanish.

Then we left for a hike. Well, I thought we were going for a hike but instead we drove to a cemetery. We walked around the cemetery for awhile (my favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon) and then took a seat on some benches. And then my uncle and brother-in-law bought some beer from a guy in the cemetery and started a drinking circle (an intense and ritualistic practice in Peru that deserves a whole separate entry). So we hung out in the cemetery, talking, listening to music, and – in the case of my family – drinking.

Why? I will probably never know.

Right before we left the cemetery, I asked my sister how old my half-brother was (20 it turns out). She told me to just ask him myself… in English. So I did and he answers back in perfect English. Because he lived in the United States for five years. He speaks English.

I had spent the whole day in absolute confusion. Following my family around like a sad, lost puppy just hoping that someone would feed me and then bring me home to bed. I had absolutely no idea what was going on. All day. And the whole time, Omar spoke English…

In more recent news, I'm currently getting over an upper respiratory infection that kept me in my bed for two days. The PC doctors were great and hoooked me up with some antibiotics as soon as I called them. Also, next Friday my group of 10 PCTs will be going to Piura for a week of Field Based Training. So that's what I'm looking forward to right now.

Some pictures:

Me and my sister at the cemetary
My host neice
The mystery town
Some of our training materials
Melissa, me, and Kim at Norky's a broasted chicken restraunt... delicious


Caitlin said...

The unknown can make things more exciting sometimes! Although it'd be nice to have someone translate stuff sometimes, too.

I miss you Bess!

Aunt Mary said...

Hi Beth, You're last entry about feeling like a lost puppy was hilarious. You are a good writer. If I were you, I would keep Omar close by since he knows English! We miss you.

Becky said...

Beth. I cannot believe you ate a Guinea Pig. A cute little Guinea Pig. My roommate (in college) had a pet Guinea Pig named Thor. I loved him (most of the time - except for when he was hiding under my bed and pooping or chewing on my phone charger cord).

I love you and miss you!