Bingo, Shucaqui, Likes and Dislikes
Que tal? Happy fourth of July! Or I guess it’s a little past that.. Here in my site, we’re also celebrating. But it’s for our patron, the Virgen Carmen. It’s a Catholic thing. The whole town of Leymebamba is having their Patron Parties for about two weeks, where there’s parades, nightly Mass, sporting events, knitting/cooking competitions, and a big town dance. Although as I’m writing this, I’m just sitting and watching Mi Pobre Angelito 2, aka Home Alone 2, with my host sister. I never realized as a child, but it’s an honestly disturbing movie. This kid is a sociopath.
We’ve reached the season of bingo in my site. The different fundraisers – chicken parties, pork parties, donut parties – seem to come all at once, and bingo is the same way. But this isn’t the bingo that they do in nursing homes. Well, actually, it is exactly the same bingo. But it’s done instead at your local discoteca, while dancing and drinking heavily, until 5 in the morning, when you likely can’t tell a “B” from an “I”. All for a good cause, of course. I only lasted until about midnight at one of these, before they had called a single number. They think it’s hilarious that old people play bingo in America.
Water Committee Meeting
In small towns of Peru (less than 2000 people), the water systems are maintained and operated by voluntary committees elected by the people. This system can work very well or very poorly. One of our jobs as Peace Corps volunteers in small towns is to help these committees function better (or, at all). But, until this past week, I had not actually met with a single one in my district. So, what joy when the committee of 2 de Mayo invited me to their meeting. Peruvian towns are often named after dates. I went first to introduce myself, explain who I was, and got the usual blank looks. But luckily, this guy I knew who runs our museum was there, and he was like, y’all have to use this opportunity! This girl is doing this and this and she’s willing to help you! Then they were like, oh, damn, what can you help us with, when can you come back? It was so awesome. So we had another meeting in like 3 days and only a few of them showed up, but it was still good. I learned a lot about them, and feel like I can help them. A lot of things here in Peru look okay on the surface, like, you don’t see kids walking around dirty and naked or people starving, but then you look a little deeper and there’s still a lot lacking. For instance, I’m about to start a program of teaching hand washing to young kids with the health center workers, but now I have reasonable doubt that even the people at the health center wash their own hands. There’s a lot of conscientiousness here, but not a lot of action.
Andy, my site mate, and I celebrated the 4th of July with the kids in our Catholic youth group. We made them some American food, like hot dogs, macaroni & cheese, punch, and chocolate chip cookies. I had been dying for some chocolate chip cookies, but didn’t know how they’d turn out with the salty butter and cane sugar. I also had to mash up these blocks of chocolate with a rock to make the chocolate chips. But they came out incredible. We also did a tug of war (where they almost broke the rope), showed them our past lives in America, and taught some dances like the chicken dance, the cotton-eye joe, and the cha-cha slide. Overall pretty cute event.
I encountered another strange custom that I wanted to tell y’all about. My neighbor came over to our house with a headache, and she asked my host dad to heal it. He then proceeded to begin massaging her head forcefully. He then pulled pieces of her hair, also forcefully. He then blew on her scalp. And finally, he spit twice on her head. At that point, my face must have revealed that this was abnormal, because they looked at me and everyone started laughing. They explained it’s called shucaqui, and headaches happen because you’re ashamed or embarrassed of somebody, and you have to do the shucaqui to get that shame out. So.. yeah. Who knows? Next headache, we’ll see.
And finally, I wanted to share with y’all some things I love/don’t love about Peru. I will try to put pictures with some of them at a later date with better internets.
Things I love about Peru:
the way people say “ba!” as an expression of surprise
mayonnaise. on everything.
seeing really funny/ugly chickens everywhere
putting your official stamp on things
overly sugaring every beverage
the public transportation system of little vans taking you everywhere
these big handmade hats people wear
obnoxious bright neon flyers for concerts
women carrying babies in their shawls everywhere
people playing volleyball on rocky patches of dirt, in flip flops, with nets that consist of one string, with half deflated balls, and still killing it
whole communities hanging out together on Sunday afternoons
women knit some sick stuff
the sense of pride people have in their little pueblos
how you can see the rain from far away (in the sierra anyway)
dance parties in people’s living room/kitchen/bedroom
Things I don’t love about Peru:
having to put toilet paper in the trashcan not the toilet
having to bring my own toilet paper to public bathrooms
lack of dental hygiene
general lack of English language
the line at the bank
widespread practice of line breaking
lack of change at many businesses, and the disinterest of store attendants in making change
there’s only like two songs on the radio (but they’re really good)
most things on TV
the question, are you used to living here yet? I just haven’t thought of a good way to answer that.
the way people are served food in order and in quantity depending on their status. I don’t like that my host family still gives me a bigger glass than everyone else.
how people seem to do things by custom, and not by whether it will actually earn them money. for example, most people grow potatoes, so the price is way low and they don’t get that much. and every other house has a little storefront that sells snacks and drinks and whatnot
how people running for office will paint the whole front of someone’s house with their advertisement
the phobia of the cold, including cold drinks and bare feet
Okay, that is all for today! I miss you all a lot… and I hope you are all succeeding in those things you are doing! Bye for now!