Number of People with Nothing Better to Do

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Integrating is hard.

Tuesday was a national holiday celebrating some battle or patron saint or something. I never got a good bead on what we were celebrating but a day off is a day off and I wasn’t bombarded with mattress sale commercials. Government entities, schools, universities and some businesses had the day off and there were military parades in Lima showing off the fleet of new Chinese tanks the Peruvian Army just bought (get your shit together Northrup-Grumman). It was also a day of first communion for the children in my area. I’d been invited to go to the farthest annex in my district to celebrate the occasion but didn’t end up going. Just as well – my back was sore from lying in bed all day Sunday sick and being crammed in a little car with four other people bouncing up and down on dirt roads for two hours would have been la muerte. My site mate was going to a 1st communion celebration in my neck of the woods so I tagged along.

We went to a house in one of the annexes in my district. The house was kind of rustic with plastered adobe walls, a dirt floor and a thatch roof but after a couple of hours sitting around a Peruvian drinking circle and shooting the shit it felt like home. We had a nice “catered” lunch delivered in to us in a large pot with a wheelbarrow. My stomach was still a little dicey and I was reluctant to eat anything from a wheel barrow but damn was it good. The menu included arroz verde con pollo (chicken and green rice) and Papas a la Huancaina (sliced potatoes covered in a yellow, spicy cream sauce).

After drinking a few more beers, we all packed up and headed down to the river for a dip. There was a nice deep pool with shade and a sandy river bottom so we hung out in there, continued drinking beer and had little contests to see who could hold their breath underwater the longest. The kids ran around and caught minnows.

While I was sitting there in the river, I wondered what I would have been doing at 2:30 in Chicago on a Tuesday afternoon. Probably sitting at my desk, worrying about hitting my sales goal, fretting about Christmas shopping, and freezing my ass off heading to the El to go home later. Despite the jacked up back, the touch and go intestinal situation, and uncertainty of what exactly I’ll be doing here the next two years, I was happy life brought me to this place, hanging out in the Rio Grande with my site mate, Loco, Conejo, Negro, Pablo and Beatriz and all the kids.


  1. I was wondering as I read this - is this one of those strange south American water holes that has the strange worms that get up in your junk? I would have been worried if I were you - I don't just jump into any pond without knowing what kind of wildlife and vegetation I will be dealing with. Of course, a couple beers always makes things a lot easier :-)

  2. good question. that would explain the burining sensation during urination. wait. no it doesn´t.