A Scorpio’s Reflections on Peruvian Life

  1. It’s been a year since I moved to Peru. Seeing the Facebook memories from November, 2017, is giving me perspective. This helps give me confidence. A year ago in Mancoura, I was wrestling with the pronunciation of ‘Gracias’, ‘aqui’, and ‘pan’. Today, I wrestle with the usage of ‘estaba’ and ‘estare’. 
  2. The dogs here are surprisingly very well behaved.
  3. It was easy a year ago to think about coming to Peru and the adventure and escape that awaited. But at some point I have to return, and I have no way to do so easily. If you sell everything including your car, and leave your job, and go overseas, it seems romantic, but at some point in time you will have to begin again when you return. 
  4. The best cakes I have ever eaten were in Peru. Peruvians know how to eat sweet foods. 
  5. Intention is always misunderstood in a foreign country, no matter what you do and how hard you try. This is the part where loneliness really affects you. 
  6. Manners are important. The worst thing you can do to block yourself from the surrounding Spanish world is to respond with ‘no entiendo’ when people attempt to explain something to you. And people don’t really know how to respond when you cannot speak enough words. 
  7. The same issues of bigotry, hatred, racism, xenophobia, and even nationalistic pride exists on both sides of the world. But even ignorance of the countries surrounding your borders also exist. I couldn’t believe it when a few people asked me if I was Venezuelan. My first reaction was shock. “How could you think I am Venezuelan?” That was bigotry. Then I realised that people really don’t know the countries outside of their borders. Then I realised that I am the same when it comes to countries outside of Australia. I guess I just assumed that in South America everyone was more interconnected. So I started researching on BBC the countries outside of Australia. I began with New Zealand, where I learned there is a river that legally has the same rights as a living person, and then the island nations that made it very clear to me how much the Americans during the Pacific War influenced the emergence and awareness of such places. 
  8. It’s easier to see the faults of a system when you’re the outsider, the stranger. But then you realise those faults exist at home too. 
  9. Today my students asked me questions about where I lived, and somehow I googled myself in class, and showed them either photos of myself, or photos I have taken. Then they saw a Youtube video of me boxing a Pacific Islander 40 kgs above my weight. This man ended up becoming my housemate. Then I showed the students a video of camel racing. They loved it. And that’s when I realised, I have lived a full life. I knew that already. I guess it’s just that I desperately want others to recognise that. For a moment, these kids did. And it made me happy, and made me feel respected, and made me feel that these kids were seeing a new exciting world beyond the one they had been taught about (the United States!). 
  10. The more you learn, and the more you want to learn, and the more enthusiastic you are about what you learn, the more you want to express yourself. I’ve tried to do it on social media but people don’t seem to like it so much. Self-expression is important but if you are learning far more than you are used to in a short space of time, maybe self-expression should be private for a little while until you’ve truly developed. 

 

10 Amazing Moments in Peru so far

on mountain.jpg
If I squint maybe I might look like my fictional hero: Tintin, boy reporter. I’d have to squint a lot. Well, I do squint a lot.

“Oh here we go,” the most cynical readers might think. “Burnzy is doing the top 10 posts already. He must be running out of ideas.”

But actually, I have way too many ideas and stories because the inspiration here in the Peruvian mountains is incredible. I can describe to you the details in the heights. I could describe to you every detail walking from the main square to my hostel and make it sound like I’m in a fucking carnival. I could share the hundreds of photographs taken of a tragic mass graveyard and analyse in detail my thoughts on God I considered while staring hard at a glacier for half an hour – undoubtedly bringing with it insanity and snow glare.

There are deep and meaningful blogs I would like to write but given I’ve spent an entire afternoon in a bar drinking alcohol it’s probably appropriate to write a topic that’s safer than love, and women, and life, and death, and religion, and dreams, and the aspirations of being the next Ernest Hemingway.

It’s also good from time to time to reflect on the positive. And so, what I give you this time around, is a summary of the incredible moments that have defined me since I made it to Peru two months ago. And you know something? I’m going to be challenged to come up with 10.

That is good.

In no particular order I give you:

1) Dancing with the Peruvian Elderly. 

There was a night in Zorritos. During this time at a nearby hotel a bunch of elderly guests were dancing. I happened to visit the bar at the time, and uh, one thing led to another. Soon, while wearing a mask the elderly women half my height were sharing the dance floor with me. I was learning the foot work from those watching from the sidelines – who could only teach me with hand motions rather than with language. This was an incredible moment. There was no agenda (which there might have been if these women were 50 years younger). It was just the innocence of a dance.

I was exhausted and sweating by the end. I couldn’t keep up with these ladies.

Shut up. No. I didn’t get laid. Although…you know, as weird as it is to write it…they would have taught me a thing or two.

2) Teaching children the time

I remember teaching young students the time in English. They were rough, mischievous, bored, and into their third hour of lessons when I was teaching them sections of the clock. And yet through physical activities and hand motions I found they were having a lot of fun.

At the end of the lesson, even though the beginning of the football game against New Zealand was about to start which would define Peru’s chances of entering the World Cup, they remained patient, shouting the times that I gave them through hand gestures. This was a powerful moment. They learned and they wanted to.

3) Swimming with Turtles

There’s a moment where you’re swimming in the water and a giant turtle’s head pops out of the surface so close you could breathe on it. It stares at you from the side as it continues swimming….and then it grins.

4) Christmas Fireworks

Before I fell asleep I was shitty that I was spending Christmas alone. And then I was startled by cracks of fireworks exploding in all directions. As I ran out to the balcony all my negativity was blasted away by colourful explosions across the foothills.

5) Dancing with a girl my own age

That’s even better than dancing with the elderly. I can describe one dance in vivid detail; sparkled eyes and laughter at my ridiculous dance moves. Then there are other dances with other girls which were hilarious in that they were awkward (they were all awkward but the first one at least was cute awkward), and those were fun too. Dancing is fun! Why should there be bad dancing and good dancing, only dancing where you enjoy yourself.

6) Seeing snow for the first time

I spent ages on a bus which took me almost to 5000 metres above sea level and I walked the rest of the way to a glacier. It was snowing. It stung and hurt and while unpleasant I loved it.

snow.jpg

I tried building a snowman and then I took my shirt off with a couple of other blokes who were on holiday from Lima.

7) Shouting ‘Cooee’ from a mountain

Trekking 10 kilometres up a steep incline to 4450 is a struggle but worth it when you stare at a lake in the shadow of a glacier. I watched it from a nearby high point which also overlooked the town of Huaraz in a valley 1400 metres below. I shouted ‘cooee’ from the top and I could hear a harsh echo call around twice. There’s some sort of spiritual wonder to hearing your own sound return to you from the heights – transformed and gravelly like an aggressive crow.

8) Showing Quechua kids photos

I can’t take the credit for this one, but when the tour bus broke down and a very kind Senorita gave some nearby children Oreos, they wouldn’t leave.  When cars would pass they would wave cheerily and I joined in. Soon I showed them the photographs I had taken (of them and of the world around).

DSC_4612

I soon learned what one of the boys liked just by the reaction from the photos and soon by what he was saying I was learning a sample of a type of Spanish-Quechua dialect. He loved motocabs and loved-loved-loved flags. He wasn’t a fan of Catholic churches. I helped him take a photo from my camera.

9) Watching a ‘remake’ of Thor: Ragnorok

I visited a school I was to teach at and the students were doing presentations of a sample country. These three countries were America, the UK, and Australia. As I walked into one of the classrooms for a presentation of Australia I was treated to a small play of Thor: Ragnarok, mainly of the battle between the Hulk and Chris Hemsworth’s Thor. Loki the ‘mischief maker’ was a very vocal student and I soon met him again the following week when I had to do a presentation in a class.

10) Finishing the next draft of my manuscript

I’ve been working on a book for four years. It has nothing to do with Peru and could have been done elsewhere but I completed the next stage this afternoon – and there’s something special about that.

And there you go. I came up with 10. And there were plenty of positive memories spare 🙂