Apr 18, 2010

Total Fun

Well, things are progressing toward moving back to the States. Slowly, but all things happen in their own time here in Peru.

I took Celeste to the vet to see what was required for her to get a health certificate. Oh. My. God. At first, the vet said it would cost about $150 for everything. Then things changed. The well-cared for, healthy dog that he saw just a few months ago suddenly was down on her weight and needed the most expensive dog food on the market to get her weight up, which he just happens to sell. And she suddenly has fungus all over her body - that's why her hair is falling out; nothing to do with the fact that she's shedding in her regular shedding schedule (twice a year, in spring and fall), and I must buy these expensive anti-fungal treatments, which hejust happens to sell, of course. Oh, and what about a crate? If I don't have one, he'll be glad to order one for me, at a cost of $400, plus $50 for the mandatory "disinfection of crate" cerificate. Holy Crap. I watched his eyes light up as he punched in numbers on his calculator. If I take all his advice, we'll be approaching $1000 dollars to take Celeste to the US. I think this is a scam. So....

I said okay to the fungus treatment. Maybe I don't know everything there is to know about Peruvian dog fungus. But I draw the line at $400 dog crates and dog food made of gold. If the crate is actually that expensive, I'll give my money to someone else and not give the vet the satisfaction of getting my entire paycheck. We're going to visit the airport this weekend to see about that mandatory crate disinfection certificate that the vet is planning to charge me for. All the airline wants is a health certificate and proof of rabies vaccine. That's all the US customs wants. That's all the State of Wyoming wants.

I've never seen anyone be so blatant about gouging a customer in my life.

And I gave my notice at work this past week. It was a sad, tearful thing for me, much harder for me than I anticipated. The administrator Told me that I was wlcome to return to teach at any time and that my record as a teacher was stellar. The academic head promised me a letter of recommendation and a statement of work for my resumé. That was very nice.

And now, I have to set about getting some things sent home and deciding what goes to the states, what gets sent to Omar's family in trujillo, and what goes in the trash. We're having gangs of fun here!

Apr 4, 2010

A Drylander's Easter Holiday

Easter this year wasn't exactly like I thought it would be...in some ways, that's a relief and in others, it's a bummer. One of the bummer things is that Omar isn't here, so I'm lonely and spending a lot of time on Facebook, bothering my friends and family while I wait for the work week to begin. One of the good things is that I get to do whatever I want. One of the ways that it's a relief is that there's no one else's stuff pushed on me.

Usually, we go to Fanny's house. Fanny is Omar's cousin, who lives in Ica. They have a bed & breakfast inn there and we usually try to throw our holiday business her way when we can. In fact, nearly all the family does. Usually we would arrive first in our car (which was a minivan), oblivious to the fact that the rest of them were following (or maybe it was just ME who was oblivious to that fact.) Then a day later, two carloads of people - aunts, cousins, nieces, and nephews - would arrive, all jammed and crammed into one single vehicle. How they managed it year after year without someone dying of asphyxiation or being crushed, I'll never know.

So, anyway, during La Semana Santa (Holy Week), this entire family only eats fish. That's a whole week of fish for breakfast, fish for lunch, and fish for dinner. Fish, fish, fish. There's usually fried fish for breakfast, ceviche or fried fish for lunch, and fried fish for dinner, with the more martyrous older ladies picking at fish heads, tails, and fins and declaring them delicious, while the others consume the choice parts of the fish. It's usually at this time that I choose to go vegetarian. Watching someone picking the eyeballs out of fish heads at breakfast or just before going to bed gives me nightmares.

I'm notoriously a drylander. I won't go to the pool on my own - I have to be forced. I don't enjoy swimming and a trip to the beach only entices me to play in the sand and get my feet wet. I don't particularly enjoy the scent of the sea. It smells like fish to me. I do like sea shells, but only if they don't smell like dead fish. So I guess it all comes down to not really being a fan of fish. So during this Easter week, I explore other food options that aren't in conflict with what most people here consider proper. At Fanny's, I ask for bread and butter or avocado with tea for breakfast. For lunch, I can handle ceviche one or two days, but for the other 2 days, I usually ask for potatoes and salad. Dinner is usually similar to lunch. Eyebrows are usually raised at this. I've noticed that unless one specifically asks for vegetables, they are usually not given a starring role at any meal.

During the time at Fanny's we usually go to the fish market in the evening to help her pick out fish for the next day's meals. This market is right on the pier where the fishing boats come in with their catches, so sometimes you have to look sharp to avoid stepping on an escaping crab or the gull that is in hot pursuit. There are also processions on Good Friday that start from the church (I think) and carry the image of Christ and the Virgin Mary through town, returning to end at the same church. It's quite an amazing sight. The streets are closed for the processions, and people line the streets and pack the Plaza de Armas in hopes of getting glimpse of the spectacle, with the devout following throughout the entire route. And in the morning, the men and boys usually go fishing while the women stay in the house and prepare the fish and the rest of the food for the day's meals. After that chore, I usually read in the garden, which is huge and green and filled with pink and purple blooming buganvillia trees, or play with the dog. There's no Easter Egg hunt, no Easter basket, no Easter Bunny. Wah.

All in all, it's a nice week, filled with interesting things to do and see. At the end of the week, we pack our things to head home. It's at this time that it's usually announced that Aunt So&So has gained so much weight by eating too many fish heads that those who originally packed into the one car can't possibly fit into it for the 4 hour ride home. And being the good boy that he was raised to be, Omar usually offers seats in our car to those who would have been at the bottom of the pile in the other car. It's in this way that family members subtlely take advantage of one another. We never refuse. We would never consider refusing...unless there were fish heads brought as an after-Easter snack.

This year, Omar's in Trujillo with his brothers, so Celeste and I are on our own. No sign or scent of fish here. It's still been a vegetarian week, and keeping in mind that I don't bake in this heat, here are a few quick and easy although probably not peruvian things on my menu:

For breakfast:

Fried Granny Smith apples
Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
Miso Soup
Fried zuchini squash with new red potatoes, onions, and tomatoes
any above served with hot black tea

For lunch:

Twice cooked yellow chili peppers stuffed with bread crumbs, cheese, and onions
Fresh lettuce/tomato/cuke/carrot salad with lime juice and salt
Fried eggplant with cheese and fresh tomato/red wine sauce on french bread
Spicy tomato soup with shrimp and lime juice (okay here's a nod to the sea, but only a nod!)
any above serves with lime water or cebada

For dinner:

Anything from the first two menus, freshened up with ensalada criolla (shredded onion, marinated in lime juice and salt, with fresh mint leaves added at the last moment)

- O - throw it all out the window and have...
Pear and apple slices with good bleu cheese and a small glass of dry red wine...My favorite!

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter! This year my Easter is different than I thought it would be. I've had a week's holiday, which was great, but today I'm here with Celeste, and O is in Trujillo with his family. He left on Friday and will be back on Monday. It is a visit with dual purpose. He's there to check on the purchase of the house that we are helping with, and to see what is happening with his father. He left late Friday, promising to take pictures of the house and whatever is happeneing in Trujillo, but I see that he's left the camera on the desk where he put it while packing his back pack. Hmmm.

So, because I have nothing more interesting to show you, here are two spindles that I recently acquired:

Mahagony and paduak wood top whorl spindle

Reclaimed ash top whorl spindle.

This spindle maker uses only wood from old furniture that might otherwise be left in the landfill. I think it's a great idea to recycle and reclaim wood and other materials in this way!

And, I'm working on a funky crocheted skirt. Deep green, the top of it is mesh, ad the bottom is...well, the bottom part, I'm still working on. It's a process of evolution. I've experimented with several options and ripped out each one. I've got one more option in the works and if that one doesn't work out, I'm thinking about a whole skirt of crocheted mesh work, with maybe some beads on the lower edge to give it some weight. And since I have the camera, I should be able to put up some pictures of it later today, when I have it all figured out.

Apr 2, 2010

My Gansta Boys

OMG, I had two wannabe gangster dudes in my Basic 1 EFL class this month. They wore their pants down far enough that the crotch was around their knees, ball caps shoved down around their ears and pulled low over their faces, and gesticulated like they were some bad dudes from the 'hood as they slouched and strutted across the room, mumbling some unintelligible blabbing aimed at intimidating their classmates. They scared the crap out of me for a couple of days. Then, I made them take off the hats before coming into the class room and told them that in MY class, we are ladies and gentlemen (damas y caballeros.) AALLL of us. Things went along pretty well for about a week, and then they began to act out in class again.I couldn't figure out what they wanted or why they did it. One told me that "THEY" would kill him in the street if he didn't keep up his act. That ambiguous "THEY" reared its ugly head several times over the course of a month. All I could do was to tell them that "THEY" were not in the classroom, so this crap they were pulling wasn't acceptable. Change it or get out.

I found myself speaking pretty directly to them. Heh, that's one thing about the English language, American English in particular, that people in other countries find rude. But, hey, these two bad boys needed to hear it straight. I had to tell them today that their low grades were directly related to their behavior in class. It's very difficult to listen and participate in a meaningful way when you are spending all your energy and attention in acting like as a**...well, you can fill in that blank.

When students receive their grades, the teacher is expected to give some kind of explanation for the grades and some advice for improvement in the next cycle. I really dreaded giving these two their grades, but they were surprisingly accepting of their scores. One actually passed the class, although he thought he should have been at the top of the class. The other didn't make the cut, and felt kind of bummed out. I explained again that if he could have simply come to class with the idea of learning something and participating like a gentleman instead of some kind of baby gangster, he could have passed right along with his peers. It was really pretty sad to see the effort that he put into his final oral exam, and then to know that he was going to fail in spite of that one single last-ditch effort.

I wish he'd have put that much effort into his daily participation. He could have been great.