yesterday i went to meet moises, a juggler punk who is friends with aprille and who happens to live just a block away. when i saw this heavily pierced and tattooed little peruvian punk with the biggest smile i´d ever seen i thought, finally, i think i might have found the way to get over my peruphobia and actually connect with the locals! a couple of his friends were there and invited me to come out with them. i figured it´s either that or go back to the hostel where i´ll do nothing, or take them up on their offer and discover a side of the city i´ve been trying to find - obviously i went with them.
elisa, ketty and rodrigo (who used to live in montreal in a theatre!) are malabaristas, jugglers, and what jugglers! contact juggling, mendalas, poi, claves, trapeze and stilts even. they took me to an artist space about 2 blocks away from plaza barranco, a beautiful old colonial building with large courtyards, workshops and a stage set up for trapeze and those neat pieces of cloth that people use to suspend themselves in the air. they were all practising with eachother and exchanging moves and techniques - i can´t juggle to save my life, although i´ve tried, so i sat and watched in awe for a few hours until one of them passed me a plastic contact ball to practice with. and then ketty taught me how to do mendelas, which has similar movements to poi but is done with large pieces of cloth, it´s very suave, fluid, i really liked it. it inspired me to want to buy some juggling stuffs (because it´s just sooooo much cheaper here) so i can practice when i´m in the middle of nowhere in patagonia by myself. the mendelas came pretty easily whereas the pelota is really hard, but when i actually managed to make it move in my hand i was so happy i started to dance around like the drunken, easily excited fool that i am.
they were very patient and open, and for the first time since i got here i felt like this is what i came here to see. i ended up staying with them until 4 am, and when i went to leave elisa handed me a beer and said "no te vayas!!".. i took the beer but left anyway cause i was beat, but they invited me to go back to the space tonight for a juggling show. i thanked them for the invitation and being so kind and generous despite the fact that i´m a gringa but they assured me that i wasn´t and that i had a good vibe about me so to come back whenever. i managed to walk the 5 blocks back to the hostel without being frightened that anyone was going to attack me, and passed out in my hamac promptly upon arriving - i pay for a bed that i don´t use, i sleep in my hamac in the courtyard every night, and the hostel´s pet kitten usually curls up with me.
moises told me about a punk squat in the centre that i´m dying to see. i want to see how peruvian punks live! he´s probably not up yet but i hope i can go there with him today.
there are some wonderful people in this hostel, but a lot of them are here to surf, party, and get laid, which isn´t at all why i´m here.. they don´t really exchange much with the locals, other than bodily fluids of course. i´ve never really hung around backpackers as generally when i travel i either stay with friends of friends of a friend, or in squats, and they do have a certain level of westernism that they bring with them. what´s the point of going to peru if it´s to get drunk with other foreigners in the backyard of a hostel? or basing your travel experience on which city has cheaper booze, easier girls and a better nightlife? some of these people have been all around the world but know nothing of any of these places they´ve visited other than the obvious tourist destinations and monuments. i was talking with an american girl about experiences in egypt and then a few minutes later i overheard her say she´d never been to africa -- HI EGYPT IS IN AFRICA YOU IDIOT. at the risk of sounding like a pompous asshole, if you´re going to brag about it you should at least get your facts straight about where you´ve been.
i really do think a big part of my paranoia came from their hesitance to do anything; and because i don´t want to go out alone, i´ve barely seen the city. but now that i have met peruvians who i actually connected with, i think i´m going to try and see more of them so i can learn about how they live.
one of the girls, ketty, she works as an anthropologist in la selva with indigens, studying the way they live, how they educate each other, their symbols and mysticism. we talked about it for a while and it seemed fascinating, with what i could understand of it with my mediocre castellano. i had really interesting conversations with them about the street children and poverty after i told them i wanted to go into social work. i might be on the other side of the world but certain things are always the same despite cultural differences - in montreal it´s heroin addicts shooting up on the street in broad daylight and the crackheads who live on my corner, in lima it´s 5 year old children sniffing shoe polish and smoking pasta. same shit, different pile. i really had excellent conversations (even though sometimes i was struggling with the language barrier) with them and i´m happy to have been able to meet them, it opened my eyes to a side of lima i didn´t think would exist.
it´s so hot right now, i´d say at least 40, and the sun is beating down so hard i´m in a slight vegetative state right now. i got my first sunburn here, really badly might i add, just by being at the beach for an hour and a half! we must have looked like something else down there, wading through the (filthy) water fully clothed with a 2$ bottle of champagne wrapped in a yellow plastic bag in our hands.
saturday night there´s something called the freak show, with suspensions and stuff, i might actually be able to get suspended myself! that would be so so so great, it´s something i´ve wanted to do for some time now!
i´m going to get a 20 cent ice cream now and take in some sun, this time i hope i don´t burn to a crisp.