Yes, folks, it's Semana Santa in Peru, which means that the museums are free, the churches are open to the public, and las Gringas Altas shift into high Religious Touristry mode. I bought my own palm leaf art work from a nice lady outside the local church, which features a gold Barroque altar, and she let me take a picture of her work.
On Friday, Rachel's parents arrive, and we all hop in a bus and take an overnight ride to Ayacucho, where they have the biggest Semana Santa celebration in the country. It promises to be both claustrophic and exciting. The Saturday Night Vigil is supposed to be an all-night party, complete with fireworks at midnight. Take heed, all ye North American churches: if you blow things up, they will come.
Left to right: Diana, Erik, Megan, Rosa, y Juanmanuel. They are so great.
Happy birthday, E! Happy birthday, Dad!
2. I'm taking a workshop with Yuyachkani this week. It has been really great and is deserving of several posts. That will come. I will only mention that yesterday I saw a traditional Peruvian Resurrection dance that featured a mostly-naked Jesus playing the spoons (well, a similiar instrument, to be fair) and wearing a single rainbow-print glove. Who knew that Peru was so queer friendly?
3. It looks like Maleto is going to stay with us indefinitely.
Is it possible that I'm just looking in the wrong places? Is this related to a national aversion to iced beverages? (Most people here go for water, juice, and soda at room temperature. Rachel tells me that I need to stop being such an imperialist and adapt my drinking habits, but I really love me my cold beverages.) I must remind myself that British people don't really go for iced coffee either, and I survived just fine in London.
Now at the two week mark, I'm starting to get my life in order. I'm doing a workshop with Yuyachkani next week, and my Spanish class started last week. It's through the Language Institute at the Catholic University, where Rachel is studying, and right now I'm taking a class on Peruvian culture. Since it's only four weeks long, it's basically Peruvian culture for dummies, but it's a lot of fun. And my class is pretty diverse-- we're from Bulgaria, Brazil, China, Germany, and the US, which is great, because we can't cheat and speak to each other in our first languages. Another great thing is that we are going to learn how to make cebiche (raw seafood marinated in lime juice). Om nom nom. My mother will be surprised to hear how much I like cebiche-- I shunned fish for years, which was a stupid thing for a Seattle kid to do, but what's done is done-- but seriously, folks. The cebiche here is unbelievable.
Life in Pueblo Libre is lovely. Rachel and I have moved off of the roof and into our new room, which is blue and orange and bright. I really love my roommates here-- they're all artists of various kinds and are a lot of fun. They run a space called elgalpon.espacio where they mount and host all sorts of performance and installations and classes. Good stuff. This week I've been taking a course on Performance in Latin America, taught by Augusto Del Valle, a philosopher and art critic. Some of it goes over my head-- my Spanish is getting better every day, but I wish I could understand everything now-- but the course is interesting, and it's good to study performance from a Latin American perspective. In the US (with SITI and with other friends), I had been discussing the postmodern performance that stemmed from the work done by Judson Dance Theater in the 60's. It's good to learn about flash points outside of my North American framework-- the Biennials in Cuba in the late 80's and 90's, the show in Medellin in 1981. Del Valle has also talked a little bit about how the specific political contexts affected performance in each country (i.e. how did performance in Argentina under the military dictatorship differ from performance in Peru?), but either he didn't choose to discuss these ideas in depth, or I missed something major. Anyway, I'll learn more, I promise, and then I will try to organize my thoughts to say something other than, "Wow; performance is interesting." But that will be a job for another day.
Oh, you want to see another picture of Maletó, do you?
I thought so.
It’s hard to believe that I’ve only been here a week. It’s been something of a roller coaster. I spent a few days feeling like a child every time I tried to speak Spanish, which was pretty hard. It didn’t help that this city is intimidating when it comes to public transportation (more on that momentarily), especially when one is only semi-lingual. Back in
BUT. During my course with SITI Company last month, Stephen reminded us again and again to throw ourselves directly at the obstacle rather than try to go around it. So, that’s what I’m trying to make myself do with this particular obstacle: I’m starting Spanish classes tomorrow, I’m trying to talk as much as possible, and I’m becoming a master at using the Combis to get around this huge city.
Combis! They are an anarchist’s ideal form of public transportation, and I love them. Combis are little busses or sometimes vans that speed up and down most of the major roads in
To conclude: First week in a new country = (unsurprisingly) hard. Combis = fantastic. Maletó, the Peruvian Perro = still wonderful. Here are some pictures! You can click on them to see the full-sized image.
Maletó. I mean, really. How can you not love this creature?
A blurry picture of the casita (little house) on the roof where I've been sleeping. It's really pretty nice, except for that green light bulb. But Rachel and I move into a new room this week, and I'm ready to unpack.
The view from the roof at sunset. Not bad, eh?
More to come soon...