Birthdays and bad luck
Thanks to everyone who has sent me b-day wishes--- it is great to be remembered, and as most of you know, since i am a schmaltzy schmuck, I do genuinely appreciate the gestures! :)
My birthday was actually quite fun, and my officemates took good care of me. The day before (Wednesday), we had to stay in the office late cutting out letters, etc... with some local teachers, and so they pulled out a chocolate cake and a bottle of Coke (strange combo i know, but apparently not too strange here--- not bad really. Didn't miss the glass of milk as cake here seems rarely to have icing on it)
Thursday (my birthday), I was spoiled a number of times. Angelica, a woman who works in the office, gave me a pair of dolls dressed in local clothes--- actually very nice. For dinner, Oscar and Alida took me out for supper---- as they are quite reasonably timid about my eating anything too crazy (my stomach still doesn't really work very well), we went out for a feed of pollo a la brasa, or grilled chicken. Delicious (and without feet or a face--- a step up in my books!) :) We also tried a dark beer, which was actually sweet--- Leah, you would be very disappointed in the dark beers here! :) Oscar and Alida also gave me a very nice sweater as a gift (I think they think i am not dressing warmly enough...).
After dinner, we went to a local bar where we said we would meet a few other people later that evening. Unfortunately (or fortunately, as we shall soon see), not much was happening yet, so we decided to indulge Oscar's deep passion for singing and head across the street to the karaoke bar.
Okay--- so i have never really been to a karaoke bar--- reason number one for me to giggle a bit at the whole thing. Secondly--- i haven't really had the opportunity to READ the lyrics to some of the plethora of incredibly cheezy songs that are sung here. Thirdly--- Oscar takes his singing of said cheezy songs very seriously. Let me tell you, this was a recipe for what I like to call "laughter disaster" (kind of like Battle Royale, in the sense that it was craziness of epic proportions...) I won't go into too many details, but suffice it to say that my favorite song of the bunch (that oscar sang--- and there were several) involved the protagonist taking a picture of his cheating lover, dissolving it in a glass of beer and then literally drinking his love away..... seriously. I'm not joking. I love it.
So after hanging out there for about an hour, we headed back across the street to the local bar which, while not packed, was hopping a bit, and the local band was playing. They were really excellent--- lots of local tunes, great rhythms, some amazing harmonies. Iliana (a teacher and good friend of Alida) showed up with a friend, and my newly-met american guy (David--- yahoo english!) and his "brother" (he is staying with a host family) stopped by, and we had a great night. Bottles of calientes (that herbal mixture combined with alcohol--- we chose the traditional peruvian Pisco), lots and lots of dancing, several birthday announcements of congratulations and leaving at almost 2am. Fun fun! (Luckily, I was not required to be up at 4am for the trip to Huancayo for meetings---- that was left to poor Alida and Oscar--- have not yet heard how that went for them... yikes!)
So all in all a great time, and I was well looked after. However, despite this positive love fest of happy birthday vibes, I still have to report that I do not yet have an apartment. Seriously. I am about to rip my hair out i am so frustrated with this whole process. All anyone can say is "ooo... it's very hard to find anythign here...". Yes, thank you. I have noticed. But could you maybe HELP ME??? The apartment i have been waiting on for two weeks continues to be "almost" done, as it has been for the entire two weeks (as before, it is still missing the toilet, water hookup, and front door. It finally does have glass in the windows--- some progress i guess is better than nothing). I have tried to look at other places but no one ever shows up for appointments, or the apartments have a llama slaughter house I have to pass through to get to my door (I am not joking--- it was rank). So the beat goes on, i am still a prisoner in my stupid hostal, and there is nothing immediate on the horizon. There needs to be WAY more help with this, or some scouting needs to be done and something potentially arranged in advance of a cooperant coming here. (In case CUSO is reading this... which they probably aren't...)
Otherwise things continue on. The strike has unofficially but FINALLY let up, and classes are supposed to resume on Monday. We shall see, but everyone is hopeful as many projects have been delayed by this strike. There are some managers coming from EDUCA Lima this week, so i imagine there will be more meetings, etc... Still nothing concrete at work, aside from organizing the heck out of the office. Not at all rocket science, but better than nothing, right? I might be giving some english lessons to the english teachers here, but in the vein of peace and conflict--- potentially interesting, but i have been quick to say that I will NOT be teaching english for my two years-- i need to be doing more than that. Otherwise, I have contracted a nasty cold so have been pretty quiet this weekend, which is fine since i am stuck here again by myself. Nice to have met the american guy finally--- i imagine we will hang out some so we can get some english in occasionally.
So that is the update for this week. Continues to be an experience of fun and positives, as well as frustrating negatives (mostly the ongoing apartment stupidness). But what can you do? Ride the wave. Hope all is well with everyone, and keep in touch!