Hello beautiful readers!
Been a few days since my last post, no? (Try not to show your relief too much, now.) As copiously mentioned in my last post, I did indeed have that test on Monday. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but let’s just say I’d rather not dwell on it until I receive my grade (and as such have been vigorously determined to study harder this week).
However, in the midst of my re-focused studying, I still managed to experience a thing or two this week…I’ll limit them to three big ones, I suppose. 1) First real taste of Lima nightlife, compliments of…my university?! 2) Visiting the campus of another of Peru’s biggest/literally oldest universities 3) Busdriver smackdown!
Are you ready for this action-packed post? Can you even HANDLE this level of excitement?!
…Ok, probably over-hyping it a little bit. Anyway, let’s get on with it. Wednesday night, there was a bit of a…well, I guess you could call it a party (?), or perhaps a “mixer” for international students here in Lima. Yes, Lima, not just from my university. It was hosted at a bar in Miraflores called the English Pub (located on Calle Atahualpa) and I think there were 3-4 different universities represented in all, but as the majority of exchange students go to La Católica/PUCP, I recognized quite a few faces.
My presumption here is that this bar throws the get together to boost mid-week sales, because A) They certainly wouldn’t close off the bar on a weekend and B) Why else choose a Wednesday night?! However, I only have one class on Thursday which doesn’t start until 10 AM, so I felt reasonably guilt-free in going. I headed over with a Norwegian friend, who from now on I shall refer to as The Model (because, you see, that is what she looks like…I wish I were joking.) who happens to live within like a 5-10 minute walk from me. The get-together officially started at 9, but we have CLASS until 9 and then The Model wanted to get dinner first, so we didn’t actually arrive until 11ish. Luckily, when there is beer to be had, college students tend to linger, so we seem to have arrived at the height of the action.
The English Pub is pretty much decked out as you would expect, heavy wooden beams everywhere and some English jokes on signs. I liked it. However, I’ll go ahead and say that no matter how you decorate it, you can’t take the Latin vibe out of any place in Peru–the music, when not from a mix of American songs, was all live Salsa or Bachata. I was REALLY happy, because people were dancing…and I do not mean the American Bump & Grind, my friends, I mean there was a shocking amount of salsa dancing (or at least more coordinated free-style movements than one usually finds in college bars) going on for a room that was, by and large, filled with white kids. 😉 I’ve really, really been missing ballroom & latin dancing, which is my biggest hobby at this point in my life. I didn’t have the opportunity to dance while in Jordan, nor the money to pay for lessons this summer, so this was my first chance to dance in FOREVER. Luckily, The Model knows a little salsa and a little bachata, so we danced together–I was the lead, so unfortunately no super-fancy moves happened (What? I’m used to following!) buuuut if she’s game, I’m totally up for learning more lead steps so we can break it down in the future. 🙂
(Oh, as you may notice, none of these photos have anything to do with this night/post. I wasn’t really interested in hauling my gigantic Canon to a bar…having a purse ended up being annoying enough as it was when I wanted to dance. However, Thursday was remarkably sunny, so I decided to take some photos from our balcony!)
Overall it was a pretty good night. I met a looot of other students, several of whom I have classes with but just hadn’t had the opportunity to really talk to, and some from completely different parts of the world like Germany. I also learned that no one knows what the hell you’re talking about when you say “rum and coke” in Peru…here, they call it a Cuba Libre. And alas, at this particular bar it cost 18 Soles or about $6.87. Which, really, is about what it would cost in the States…I’m just so used to everything being uber-cheap in Peru that I was hoping alcohol would be too…alas.
Thursday morning I spontaneously woke up at 6:30 AM with no alarm, which makes little sense considering I arrived home at 2:30 AM. But hey, who am I to argue with not oversleeping or being late? (Alas, as the morning dragged on in class, my attention span waned and my eyelids grew a little heavy.) As part of aforementioned class (Social Reality of Peru) all students must take part in a group project.
I hate, hate, HATE group projects. In this case I am ONLY grateful for it in lieu of having to do a 25 minute presentation solo in front of a class of native Spanish speakers. But, obviously, I’d just rather not have the presentation at all. In any case, my group chose the topic of Student Movements in Peru, also comparing to other Latin American countries.
Cool topic, yes? Yes. I agree. However, I really wish we hadn’t picked this one. By “picked” I mean, “came up with”, because it wasn’t on the list of topics to choose from. This means that, while it is an interesting subject to study–really, it is–it means doing EXTRA research and studying outside of what we already have to study for class, and doesn’t pertain to any exams like the listed topics do. I know for the Peruvian students that’s probably not a big deal, but I’d really NOT like more work than necessary at this point, thank you very much.
Also, my group is kind of going-way-over-the-necessary. Most groups, to my knowledge, are doing the readings, making a powerpoint, and divvying up the subjects. My group seems dead-pan convinced that we need to do interviews, including with students who are part of current movements in Chile and Argentina. Again, very useful and interesting, and I hope we get a good grade, but…extraneous effort. However, this DID lead to a field trip of sorts down the street from La Católica to the University of San Marcos, the oldest university in all of South America (also, unlike PUCP, a public university).
Immediately, the ambiance was completely different. La Católica is quite wide open, with (mostly) short buildings, open grassy spaces and wide walkways, students chatting happily everywhere. The University of San Marcos, however, feels much more closed in and impressive. The buildings are extremely large, and feel even more so because they’re all so vacuous–high ceilings and gigantic lecture halls. Honestly walking around felt almost like ambling through a deserted city, although there were students present. Even the trees were of impressive heights, easily two to three times the size of those at PUCP and much closer together. (Once again, alas, I was camera-less!) All of this created a much more enclosed feeling, and when we wound our way into a quiet courtyard, asking around to find out where we could locate some politically active students, we were directed to one young man sitting on some steps. Honestly, the way in which we found him combined with the place made the whole deal seem kind of sketch and secretive.
But then…this subject sort of is. I’ll probably elaborate on this more when we’ve got more information, but the loose facts are like this: Peru used to have a pretty active student population, back in the 70’s and early 80’s. However, then comes the guerilla terrorist group Sendero Luminoso, who spent the late 80’s and 90’s massacring the countryside and even committing acts of terrorism and murder throughout Lima (including one shooting accident on the campus of PUCP that killed several students in the 90’s.), and shortly after the President Fujimori who managed to repress Sendero Luminoso, but very much at the cost of certain liberties for civilians in general. I won’t go into tons of their detail right now, but essentially the Sendero group rose up from an academic institution, and since then anyone associated with academic movements sort of gets branded with terrorism. Protests are forbidden on both San Marcos’ and PUCP’s campus. It’s a very, very delicate situation…and technically not over, as many members of Sendero Luminoso have evaded capture and are still “out there”, though their leaders have been caught & violent activities stopped.
Anyway, this random kid we happened to meet was absolutely chock-full of information, though not in any particular student movements of his own. However, he promised to talk to some friends of his so that we can do more formal interviews in the future.
Mini-adventure number three starts on my way home from the university. I was on a micro, as per usual, when a candy vendor happened to hop on. This is a pretty regular occurence–vendors (often children) of candy or cookies or what have you will be allowed by the controls of micros to hop on, announce their wares, and walk up and down the aisle once or twice and hop off a few stops later. However, while I’m not sure exactly how this started, the driver of my bus seemed to be sincerely displeased that this vendor had joined us for a stop or two and was berating him as he got off a few stops later. The vendor then responded (most of which was too fast for me to catch except a few very rude phrases) and got off, but our busdriver was so incensed he jumped out of his chair, got off, and chased the vendor to the other side of the bus yelling at him. He then started back, but the vendor followed him, and pushed him into the bus, proceeding to throw down his backpack of wares and preparing his fists to duke it out while the busdriver was flailing his arms screaming.
The control of the bus then calmly stepped between the two, putting a hand out in front of the vendor. The driver got back on, yelled a few more obscenities out the window, and we continued on our merry way.
And such is life. 🙂