Sunday, September 6, 2009


It's a drizzly Sunday morning as we enter the 4th week of service in Lima. It's amazing. I'm loving it.

The last two weeks, we've been going to language school in the morning and returning for Ciudad in the afternoon. The first week was cool, and I really liked the review that it gave me. That weekend, the kids left in the afternoon to go visit families, so we had some time to ourselves to go exploring/eat more typical Peruvian cuisine/allow the tourist gringo part of us to show. We went down to Miraflores, one of the "Municipalities" in Lima (barrios/neighborhoods/what have you), which is a pretty happening part of town. Very cosmopolitan, some nice parks, right on the coast...very pretty, very fun. The coast is really beautiful. We saw it from much higher up, but even so. Anyway, we met up with Br. Hugo, our local coordinator, and had dinner at a small little place. There are a lot of foods to try, and we got started. I can't remember what kind of chicken Alyssa ordered, but it was a typical Peruvian fare that tasted very good. I got Lomo Saltado, which is very good (but, as you might guess from the name, very salty). Br. Hugo got Cebiche, which is terrific: fish served cold, prepared in a sauce of lemon juice and onions. Seriously, very tasty. Tania tried fried Cuy, which is....guinea pig! I don't know if I could ever eat dog (a mental image of my golden retriever pops into my mind, and more or less makes me want to cry), but guinea pig was delicious. The skin was a very interesting texture, and the meat was very good, if not...well, small. It's a creature the same size as a rat, after all. We then went to Barranco, an artsy sector that is very cool (and also with a nice ocean view) and tried Picarones, a fried dessert with a pumpkin batter. Delicious, with an interesting anise syrup on it.

While I'm on a food kick, I tried one of the popular Peruvian fruits: Charimoya. Google it, I can't explain it. We had no idea what we were buying at the time...we just had a hankering for avocados (and dude, the heck with California avocados with apologies to Californians out there, but they were the biggest and some of the best avocados I've had), saw another green and oddly-shaped fruit and had at it. Very good. Mark Twain thought it the most delicious fruit on the face of the earth. Not entirely in accordance with him, but it is quite tasty. Also, though it's not a fruit, per se, I tried a drink called "Chicha Morada," made out of purple corn. It was actually really good. Just don't spill it: it would make for some nasty stains.

Anyway, second week of language school was also good, but I have been sick. I essentially lost my voice, and still have a chest cold and lack the ability to sing in falsetto, meaning that I cannot entertain the adolescents with my renditions of Billy Jean or Beat It. This is not necessarily bad, but being sick is a drag. The air pollution doesn't help. We've been taking taxis everyday to Miraflores, as our neighborhood is pretty far...Miraflores is south-central, and San Juan de Miraflores is north-east. Anyway, traffic in a huge city boasting a population of 8 million+ people is...well, ghastly. Lots of car exhaust. Makes it difficult to recuperate.

Another challenge this second week was just realizing how totally inept I am. At one time, I'm impatient with these reviews, because the arrogant part of me remembers that I learned this stuff. Speaking it normally and knowing the rules for writing essays are very different, though, and I know that, but Mr. Arrogant isn't happy to admit it. At the same time, I'm just in awe as the realization drives its way deeper into my thick skull that Spanish is its own language. I mean, I gathered as much, but I really understand that it's a foundation and byproduct of culture, with a whole mindset, a history, and I know only the scarcest bits of it. Also, I may be able to talk about cohabitation in broken Spanish, but if I want to convey to Vargas at dinner that my food slipped off my fork, I don't know the verb for "slip". I don't know many, many, many things. It's amazing. Lots of gestures, lots of circumlocution, and lots of making a fool of myself. It's gotta happen, yeah? It's good.

I started reading a version of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" that's in Spanish. I thought it'd be a good way to pick up on verbs and vocabulary, since I remember many of the details of that particular book, but then I had to question its authenticity. In Spanish, you should never say, "Yo estoy embarazado" if you're a guy and feel embarrassed. It's inadvisable to use "embarazada," as well, ladies. See, it's a false cognate: In Spanish, that means that you're pregnant. The adjective to use would be "Avergonzado/a". So when on page 70 the book described Cedric Diggory as seeming slightly pregnant, I had to start wondering about the validity.

The title of the post has to do with my mental state, which is a little bit less interesting than what's been happening (unless you're me). This past Wednesday was my mom's birthday, so I sent her a gift and called her using Skype. She was in New York, having helped Stephen settle in at NYU (aw, he's a freshman), and chilling with Dad in Manhattan for a little mini-vacation. It made me sad that I wasn't there to see Stephen move in, to wish her happy birthday in person, won't be able to do the same for Dad, Steve, Grandparents, and other things. It wasn't demoralizing, but it was a "bummer" moment. I was listening to some music that always transports me back to late summer/all of fall back in what seems another world: senior year of high school and freshman year of college. The weather is very different, and I love the crisp of fall, the crunch of leaves, the transformation of ponds and rivers from (generally) pleasantly cool to ice water, the smell of mist and green in the morning, the mingling of the colors of the leaves and the green. Also, I just had a flashback to summers past, and it was beautifully bittersweet.

"Repotting" because it's the same thing wherever you travel: when a plant moves to a different pot or soil, it generally leaves some tendrils of its roots in the native soil. The connections are...undeniable and not going anywhere. And it'll be the same when in a few months I have to say goodbye to this place. I'll miss it. Never thought I'd miss DC my freshman year, and I was missing it last summer. It's cool, though, I like missing people. Motivates me to a) stay in touch and b) get more involved with the folks here. I just felt a moment of really liking the kids today. I've kinda felt it before, but it was a lot more pronounced this morning. So...without further ado, that's where I'm headed. Stateside, abroad, wherever you are, God bless, God speed, and much love.


  1. Reading this, especially your musings on "repotting" warmed my heart more than you know. It's definitely come to that bittersweet/really missing people phase, and I am trying to figure out the best way to cope with it. And music totally takes us there in that way that makes us smile and ache in the same breath. You're right, though -- that longing is a GOOD thing. It is just a reflection of how permanently people and experiences have marked our hearts.

    I'm so glad that you are loving your time in Peru thus far. I have no doubt that you are making and will continue to make a wonderful impact on those kids.

    Sorry to hear that your sick -- mainly because of your inability to recreate the greatness of MJ in falsetto. I'm thinking we might need a skype date when your voice returns so you can entertain ME with that as well. :)

    Well, I'm off to continue lesson planning since I begin teaching tomorrow! You are in my thoughts and prayers, and I'm looking forward to the next entry.


    Much love,

  2. MichaelBeard! (Yes, all one word, and with great enthusiasm)

    I'm sorry to hear that you're sick, but cheer up, old chap... most colleges are predicted to close a la norovirus thanks to the swine flu, so you'll be the healthiest guy around! My Opus sweet is just planning to hunker down and eat Campbells soup and never come out again the moment the first case is sighted...

    I'm so happy to hear that you're enjoying yourself! Tambien, me alegre de que estes aprendiendo el espanol demasiado rapido... me das esperanza! (Hoy estoy solicitando viajar a Espana en la primavera... podemos escribir en espanol juntos!) Sabes que mi amigo Luigi es de Miraflores, ?no? Es chistoso verte escribiendo las mismas cosas que el me ha dicho... como la comida FANTASTICA, (?ya has probado las "chocotejas"? son chocolates divinos...), la contaminacion (el me dijo que la mayoria de los ninos peruanos sufren de el asma....), el invierno, etc etc etc... alegrete! el verano viene! el verano viene! :)

    estas en mis pensamientos y rezados... tu y los otros CIEN CUA-adores que estan en el extranjero. la outreach de castidad es en manos buenas (y no en las mias!)... y tambien esto vir. no te preocupes, mi amigo... CUA todavia te ama!

    lauren joyce :)

  3. Hey!

    That food description made my mouth water.. now I've got to try some Peruvian dishes.

    I understand the reminiscing on freshman year.. I've been feeling the same way, since my sister's now a freshman (also at CUA). It was a crazy moment for me when I was helping to move her into Flather, and it suddenly hit me that I was finished with college. It went by so fast. We had an amazing 4 years though... zero regrets, and plenty of great memories!

    Anyway, feel better.. I'm sure you will continue to have some incredible experiences. Soak up every moment!

    Sarah C.