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Published: December 27th 2007
Some interesting observations about Peru.
They all think the world thinks they are lazy and all thieves.
They dislike, and distrust, other Peruvians to the extent that they will not allow them into their houses. It must be a lonely life for the Peruvian to categorically refuse any Peruvian friends.
Panpipe techno is a must-hear. It shall be introduced to the UK music scene very shortly, I promise...
I have, again, spent the last few weeks being a team leader here in Ica, an hour south of Pisco. I haven´t returned to Pisco for what feels like a lifetime, and indeed a lot of the people I have got to know have now left to be tourists once again, so there are yet more new faces, new Johns and Emmas and Toms and Daves to meet. I´m beginning to become a little guarded about my group of friends. I think I shall form a club. At the moment it´s called the Cristal Club (in honour of the beer we have come to know and cherish, of course). We also have, amongst our little group of UNICEF classroom builders, a Diarrhoea Club, a Meat Club (for those vegetarians who really
should think twice about coming to South America and getting on any sort of high horse), a Fruit Club for those wishing to avoid scurvy (though possibly contract giardia), a Toothbrush Club, a Porridge-Made-With-Milk-And-Not-Water Club, and a Meeting Appreciation Club. There are far more, but I´ve since forgotten them all; needless to say, a certain amount of both Pisco and Cristal has been consumed during the conversations where we have initiated these societies. We might even go global. Watch out Facebook...
As for work, it´s been a hard few weeks, and in fact I´m due for a week-long break in the coming week. I never knew that running around buying potable water, replenishing strawberry jam and locating tea-towels in the city would be so challenging, but the challenge was posed and I took it up with fire and passion, and yes, succeeded to bring contentment and happiness to my little community of hard workers down here. In the meanwhile, I have spoken a lot of Spanish and that has improved exponentially, especially when I´m working on site and can boss some Peruvian workers around to cries of "Chanca! Chanca! Mas fuerte!!" (Compress the earth harder, bitch! Who´s the Daddy
now?! - this is a literal translation by the way).
Amongst the easier tasks has been representing Hands-On at the inauguration of some classrooms we finished at the beginning of last week. So I arrive at 12.15, expecting banners and balloons and possibly some beer, and am greeted in sort - by posters saying "Thank you UNICEF and Human Rights" (not quite sure who Human Rights are, but damn did they do well putting those poles in the foundations) with no mention of HODR or our sunburn and blisters from working in the desert for 4 days straight. There were refreshments of sorts, though, consisting of a singular Ritz cracker and a glass of Inca Cola to sustain me as I blessed the classrooms. Yes, Blessed. " En el nombre del Padre, del Hijo, y del Espiritu Sanctu. Amen", while waving a smelly herb dipped in Holy Water and spraying it around the walls with teacher watching. I was also asked for what I wish for each of the classrooms. Number 1 - Happiness. Number 2 - Happiness and Health. Number 3 - Happiness and Health and Luck. Number 4 - Ditto. Number 5 - Ditto. Number 6 -
Happiness only (I had forgotten, in the space of 3 minutes, what I had previously been saying). And Number 7 - Happiness, Health, Luck, Lots of Beers and a Happy Marriage to the teacher. I hope they got the joke. It´ll serve me right for only learning 4 adjectives in Spanish and over-using them with remarkable dexterity. This also resulted in a marriage proposal (the fourth so far...) and being begged for visas by 3 of the seven teachers. That happens more often than I like to mention and it still makes me feel uncomfortable. As cowardly as it is, I play the Gringo card and look confused and suddenly my ability to comprehend Spanish vanishes, as do the supplications for work permits.
I have also recently taken to eating Anticucho (though that may be spelled wrongly). Cow´s heart, on a stick, with a spicy, peppery, deliciously Moho Picon-like sauce for those folks who frequented Italica will remember. Absolultely wonderful, tender and risk-takingly exciting. And as yet, not a fully paid-up member of Diarrhoea Club, though I think I might give the Anticucho a rest for a week or so.
But I´ve been far removed from Life In
Pisco, which appears to have turned into Hell-Hostel. Talks of bed-wetting antics ("only had a few beers, not enough to make me drunk" - make of that what you will), expulsions, petitions, and mutinies. But this is all second hand, and probably not interesting to you since it really is just us gossiping in Ica, a bit sore we´re out of the loop and the highlight of our day is a trip to the local laundry, which - trust me - is possibly one of the biggest thrills I've had.
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