Thursday, August 6, 2009

Guadalupe Bits and Pieces

Marjorie and me. I look pretty pink in the first one, but check out her peace sign. It's her favorite pose. Isn't she cute as a button?

Watching Force-G, the guinea pig movie, with Christopher (9), who is watching intently, and Marjorie (4), who is also watching, but not very quietly. She exclaims to me, "Mira, un cuy! Miiiiira, dos cuys! Estan saltando!!!!!"

Chris growls intermittently, tells her "callate!", shhhs her. She shhh-es him back, just as seriously, a small finger to her lips.

After about five minutes of this, Chris puts a hand against his forehead and asks, "Jessica, do you have any aspirin?"

"Why do you need aspirin?" I ask him.

"Because Marjorie keeps talking and it's giving me a headache."

"No, I don't have an aspirin," I tell him.

"Well do you know where one is?" he asks.

"At the pharmacy!" Marjorie chimes in helpfully.

He growls, and sighs, before yelling at her: "Maaarjoriee, caaaallate!"


"I have to go downstairs," says Marjorie.

"Why?" I ask.

"The cuy have long nails. I am scared."

Chris and I both tell her they have tiny nails, it's okay.

A cuy is on the screen. She points to it, eyes wide and mouth open, "Ya ves? (you see?)"

We are shaking our heads and I am trying not to laugh at her four year old fears because it's not nice or respectful, but it's difficult.

Her head burrows into my chest, before it peeks out to inform us, "And their teeth! They have big teeth, verdad?" She tells me to open my mouth, adds her fingers to my teeth, demonstrating the length.

"Cuy are tiny! And cute!" Chris tells her.

But Marjorie is not convinced. She scampers out of the room.

We walk to the cemetery on Tuesday, three different generations. The kids run around the cemetery, which is different from any other I have seen. Nothing is buried in the ground, there is no green grass or ordered lines of crosses. Instead, it is crumbly and reminds me of bird houses. Some of the graves are in gated rooms, big enough for families to gather inside in rememberance. There are elaborate tombstones and statues, standing proud on platforms. The kids climb on them and no one admonishes them. The women share the flowers they have purchased from the stand outside (roses, rosemary, babies breath) and touch two fingers to each graveplace, then crossing themselves. Tears gather in tired eyes and the kids ask to see "Tia" or "Abuelita." They are sober, but there is still a lightness that exists.

I teach Marjorie how to say "thank you" (or, shank you, as she says it) and "you're welcome" but she uses them at all the wrong times. The kids' favorite phrase is "Oh my god!" which they pronounce the way religious kids spell it, "Ohmygaw!" Stefania's cousin taught her "mouse poopies" when what he really meant to teach her was "boca de caca" or in English something like poop-mouth. I go so far as to let her know mouse means ratoncito and mouth means boca, but after that she's on her own.

After 5 months, I finally got my hair cut. In Guadalupe. For the equivelant of 1 US dollar. It looks great. Probably one of the best hair cuts I've gotten and my first experience with side-bangs. I was nervous to get a haircut in Peru because many friends have recounted their haircut disasters: uneven sides or having way too much cut off. Alice took me to her friend's mom's house, where you sit in her living room/hair salon on a rolly office chair and she does her work. I was scared, but I just kept breathing and smiling and envisioning a flattering, beautiful haircut while I sat in the office chair, and guess what, it happened! It's longer than it looks in this picture.

Cholo, Mama Juani's son, has a bakery underneath the house. Even three floors up you can smell the bread and yeast, activating, rising, baking. The smell is comforting, nourishing and soft like the dough the bread is made of. We eat the bread, crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle, with eggs, olives, avocado, butter, and tea. At each meal we have canela and clavo (cinnamon and clove) tea. I have a fondness for canela y clavo. We eat plates of rice and delicious salads, duck and chicken and carne. Fried bananas (which I love), fresh-squeezed and blended fruit juice, soups and cancho (a type of corn that is baked until it is crunchy and seasoned), ceviche. Alice (Raul's daughter, who lives in Olympia but is here for the summer) and I talk about foods we miss; mashed potatoes, we both agree. The next day, for lunch, Sonia (Alice's mom) made them for us. What a sweetheart. I am lucky.

The women sit in the living room, embroidering pillow cases with butterflies and roses while telanovelas (their stories) play. I try an follow the plot, but it's difficult. Sonia offers to teach me how to embroider. I might take her up on it tomorrow, but what I really want to learn is how to cook. These women have such huge souls, mama, caring and open. There are always family members or friends in the house, at the table. The saying mi casa es tu casa is alive here. They share their table, extra beds and rooms, smiles, joy, and laughter. Peru has a very "invitame" culture, from "invitame una cerveza" to "you are invited into my house." The doors at the Ramirez house are, literally, always a bit open. Maybe this is because of the Guadalupe heat, but I like to think they have other reasons.

No comments:

Post a Comment