Christmas time is so different here. It pretty much just started two days ago. People finally threw up lights on a few buildings, trees in a couple of windows, and started singing Christmas songs left and right. Also, hot chocolate. So much hot chocolate. A Christmas party here is called a “Chocolatada” and consists of barrels of hot chocolate and mountains of these fruitcake-like desserts called Panetón. I am drinking hot chocolate as I write this. The best hot chocolate on earth - made with fresh cacao from the jungle. Happy Christmas Eve. It's a hot one out today.
I have been told that phones won't work well right around now, due to overload, and that international is practically impossible. They say even Skype will be pretty unreliable. So I write my blog to say hi and happy holidays and I miss you and everything else.
I have been having a pretty fantastic time. I got a deck of Uno cards in our volunteer White Elephant gift exchange in Chota last weekend and now my family is thoroughly addicted. Also, we have really taken up cooking together – the really do like stew, though they think it is INSANE to ever leave skins on potatoes, and chocolate chip cookies are a hit, even if there was no butter in the market that day and the margarine made them melt everywhere. So we are spending a ton of time together, which is great.
I am learning jerga (slang) now and also a lot of Peruvian jokes. And seriously, the jokes here are worse than the ones my father tells at home. I think I have finally crossed a line on my Spanish and am able to speak pretty easily with most people. I am getting more friends quickly now.
Jose: How do you say frijol?
Jose: How do you call a bean with a capa?
Me: With a cape?
Me: A superbean?
Jose: (Laughing HYSTERICALLY) How did you know that???
I am still not sure what happened in that conversation. I think it was a joke that somehow crossed the space-time-translation barrier.
Pretty much all of my plans for summer classes got canceled, so for a minute there I had absolutely nothing to do for the next three months. When they kept telling me that almost everyone moves to Chiclayo for the rainy season, they meant it. My town is about to go ghost town for a while. Makes it hard to teach kids when they are just not here... And even my artisans don't work for the break season. Just no one does. So I am using the fantastic old Peace Corps fallback of clubs. People do like clubs and I can always use the clubs to get things done. Hiking club, running club, and youth business club first. And it would be great if anyone wanted to send me a hackysack, Or three. Then I could combine hackysack and juggling. That would be a huge hit.
I have one big idea, largely dependent on the coolness levels of the new mayor who starts January first. I have my hopes high for an awesome relationship with the new Municipalidad team, with full expectation for a crushing. But I am developing proposals of community-wide projects we can work on together. Fingers crossed. Then, I really hit a lucky break when my best friend, Jose, who is a one of the big shot docs around here, was approached by a woman looking to start a non-profit and wanting him to be the head doc. He – it turns out – knows a local gringa with a degree in Non-Profit Management, an extreme surplus of time, and who will work for FREE! So, hopefully, I will be helping these nice people write business plans and set up an ONG here in Santa Cruz. Finally, something that sounds interesting and fun, with cool people, that also covers the Peace Corps strange desire to have me work in business. I am just not a business-y person. But I am most definitely a non-profit-y person. I went to college to learn exactly how to not make money and have proven extremely successful in my field so far.
The other night, I was hanging out with the kids from the Fiscalia (I am unsure as to what would be the American equivalent, but it was essentially a bunch of District Attorneys and Forensic Medics) and they were preparing their skit for the Fiscalia Xmas party. It was a song a dance routine to a rap version of a Peruvian Christmas song. I then went with Jose to the internet to try and help him download it for them to play in the background. It turns out there are very few people in the world currently seeding any rap versions of any Peruvian Christmas songs - actually, zero. Shocker. Anyways, I did find it on YouTube. So this is my Christmas present to you. And this is what my friends were half-drunkenly dancing around and learning. They are awesome. And I have had this stuck in my head for DAYS. Si me ven, si me ven...
I love you and miss you all. Feliz Navidad. Today, cooking all day – I slept in and missed my chance to kill the turkey (tears). Then Christmas starts at midnight. At midnight, we eat and open presents and everything else. It's just like what we always tried to talk our folks into when we were little. Looks like in Peru, the ingenious plan of every child has won. Tomorrow everyone just keeps partying. At any hour of the day, today and tomorrow, everyone is rotating between attending mass and drinking and dancing in the plaza. Oh, Peru.
(Oh, and I tried, but they were right. Internet sucks right now, no photos for you.)