More Random Thoughts After a Lazy Afternoon in Peru

Almost immediately upon publishing my last post, I felt the unfairness of leaving it there without a follow up on a more positive note.  Here is my coda, written tonight after an afternoon spent reading in my hotel room here in Casma.  When I am sick, I like to read.  So it was VERY helpful to me today to be able to spend some time reading a good novel all alone in my own world.  I didn´t even have any guilt about this break, as M. and JK. also chose to take the afternoon off!  We are all feeling done in by the heat, and there is no work we can do on a Sunday here.  No transportation to take us up to any villages until tomorrow. So here are five more words for you, with shorter explanations only becasue we are going to dinner soon….

Chivalry.  Hospitality. Ingenuity. Friendliness. Hope.

Chivalry. I have been quite astounded at the chivalry of our Peruvian grad students, M and R.  They drop everything if they see you need help and do all they can to make us gringos comfortable. M ran (literally) back to a restaurant where we had lunch today to look for JK´s hat, which ended up being in her daypack after all.  R always carries my stuff, even when I can handle it.  These guys are true gentlemen. They look after us so well!

Hospitality.  In Huacuy, in the middle of nowhere at 7,000 ft., Fonso asked me if we wanted lunch.  We were trying to do a quick install there of a vaccine fridge (with solar panels) but such things are never quick.  He mentioned arroz, so I figured it´d be a little rice and that´s it.  Instead, an hour later Fonso came back and told us the meal was ready.  He had prepared not only rice but an onion salad common in Peru and a main dish made with ¨Anchovies¨which are really large sardines stewed in a sauce of tomatoes and spices.  He showed us the can of anchovies, and it was a food subsidy can, not for resale.  In other words the equivalent of our government-dispensed cheese. He was sharing with us his government issue food.

Ingenuity.  Every time I turn around, I hear a story about some Peruvians who figure their way out of a jam using ingenious methods.  They know, so often, better than we how to do something.  We give them carefully drawn plans for a pump house and they make it in a way that it will ACTUALLY work!   They know how to do much with little.  Reminds me of what Grandma told me of her family on the homestead.

Friendliness. The internet cafe guy, Roberto, I think is his name, came running down the street the day we arrived back in Casma and gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek.  He is the one I wrote about earlier who was speaking to me and whom I did not understand.  We had such a nice chat that first day after I was done blogging and was waiting for mi amigos, that I became HIS amiga.  Every time I come here, the women at the kiosks on the sidewalk yell to Roberto that his Amiga is here!

Hope. Yes, hope springs eternal in Peru. Hope that living conditions will get better.  Hope that the gringos will be able to do the impossible and possilbe alike.  (No pressure there.)  Hope that if they keep working, they can make a life for themselves filled with health and love and all good things.

Amazing how spending the afternoon reading helped me change my attitude so completely….  I was reading (and finished) Thornton Wilder´s The Bridge of San Luis Rey, which takes place in Peru. And I will say right now that it is an excellent book, well deserving of its Pulitzer Prize. It´s short, so I was able to finish the whole thing.  And it deals with themes I care about: love and grief, big questions like why certain things happen to certain people.  Reading it today gave me the larger perspective I needed.

My compadres are ready to go eat now, so I will just leave you with one quote from the end of the book: ¨But soon we shall die and all memory of those five will have left the earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten.  But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them.  Even memory is not necessary for love.  There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.¨

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2 Responses

  1. “…the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.” So true, no matter which mountains you are climbing.

  2. Yes, Linda, I thought of you when I read those lines…. The bridge is love.

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