El Gringo Idiota

The highway that passes through Zorritos. 

It’s 5am in the morning, the waves crash on the beach to my right as I lay on my bed, and the race that stops my nation has come and gone while I was sleeping.

Fortunately, the mosquitoes seem to be somewhere else but it may be that the glow of the laptop will tempt their return. It is a worry. The mozzies seem to like me more than the others, and given that I  am currently in a mild malaria and a dengue zone, a dice rolls every time another itchy dot shows on my skin.

I have repellant and I’m using it more, but I would say that the type I have is most effective within two hours.

So I currently stay in Zorritos, a small village along the highway. As my Kiwi neighbour Guy, who does the same course I do, points out in my last blog I described Peru as a ‘small fishing village’. I was obviously referring to Zorritos.

It’s a small place, and tourists are almost unheard of unless the surfers wait for transport on their way further south to the surfing city of Mancoura. It means we do stand out, and we are looked at, but I’m assured this is a safe place, and that this is curiosity and not a sign of bad intentions.

My Spanish is terrible and I do rely on the limited skills of Guy to get me by sometimes. I know “please”, “hello”, “goodbye”, “good morning”, “good afternoon”, “very good”, “gringo”, “apples” “thank you” and “El Robo” (as in the dog steals your breakfast if you’re not careful) and this is usually enough to get me by. I also keep “idiota” in reserve to use soon (as in El Gringo Idiota/ white man is an idiot). Sometimes “how much?” also comes to me, like when I asked for potatoes (in English) at the markets.

A laneway near my accommodation. This is not the Peruvian flag. This is the Ecuadorian flag as we are close to the border. 

Also doing the English teaching course along with Guy and myself is a Canadian named Barbra, who witnessed this exchange and bailed me out .

Chris: Potatoes! (points at them). Cuánto cuesta? (How much?)

Spanish lady: ?????? ?????? uno kilo. (translator comes to the rescue. “1.50/S.”)

Chris: For what? One? That’s expensive.”

Translator: I don’t know. Ounces?

Chris: Kilo! Si!

Spanish lady: ??????? ?????????

Translator: We are from Canada and Australia.

Chris: (looks at Spanish lady’s daughter sitting nearby bearing witness, and in the driest, roughest Aussie accent…) G’Day mate.

(Everyone laughs. Tension breaks).

Spanish lady: ??????? ???????

Translator: What do you think of it here in Peru?

(Chris stares blankly at Spanish lady for two minutes trying to find a word I can use. Muy Bien (Very Good!) would work but I forget I know this phrase). Perfecto!

So anyway, this is all good fun.



I’m now in Peru

Peru.jpgI have been staying in Peru for the last two days. It is a small coastal fishing village in the north and so far I am loving it. There is no tourism here and so the photography is authentic.

I know next to no Spanish and so some of the conversations I have had have been hilarious but I’ve gotten through it mainly because some people do know the important English words.

I still don’t know how to roll my Rs. Every time I say Gracias people laugh.

Crab on beach.jpg
A crab on the beach. These crabs are quite large but sense when you are coming. A collection of them had gathered around a dead dolphin. I stayed in one spot for a minute and this one came out of a hole behind me. 

On Friday I flew from the Brisbane airport and travelled through Auckland, Santiago, and Lima airports. By crossing the time zone I travelled in one lengthy day. I left at 8am on Friday in Brisbane and arrived in Lima by 5pm, Friday. This is in local times.

In Lima my next plane was cancelled. That freaked me out considering I could not understand Spanish and didn’t know where I could go to stay the night, but the airline supplied a hotel room and a taxi right. It felt great to rest.

The people in this town are friendly but they stare at white people. I believe the magic self derogatory word to get me through a conversation with humour is ‘gringo’.  If I can master one phrase a day I will be happy.