Number of People with Nothing Better to Do

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Corner Store

The general store on the corner.
Inside the store.

Don Manuel - one of my favorite people in Rio Grande (when he´s not selling me cheese that tastes like acetone or filled with worms)

Most days around midmorning when it’s already hotter´n hell out, I run down to the little general store at the entrance of Rio Grande to drink an ice cold Inca Cola and shoot the shit with Don Manuel (Chino), the owner. Don Manuel worked his whole life as a miner, saved his money, and when it came time to retire he came to Rio Grande with his wife to buy a little store and enjoy their retirement. He’s a widower now and has been in the Big River for quite some time.

He’ll tell me stories of his time working as a miner (which are not as harrowing as I would have expected them to be) and tell me how it was back in the day under this dictator or that dictator, what it was like during the Shining Path days, about when times were good, why Peruvians are jodido (screwed), etc.... You know, shit that old retired men talk about over coffee at McDonalds at 6:30 in the morning. Other mornings he’ll complain mildly about how it sucks to get old and how his dick doesn’t work and will look at me with a mischievous grin as if to say - this is your future son.

This morning as I was drinking my Inca Cola and Don Manuel was shuffling around doing stuff. I noticed he had a bunch of signs hanging on the walls like some back woods Texas dive bar. Here are some of Don Manuel’s words of wisdom:

¿Porque prefiero una chela que a una mujer?
1. Porque no habla.
2. Porque no asa.
3. Porque es rubia de verdad.
4. Porque está dispuesta a saciarme.
5. Porque es económica.
6. Porque es rica a toda hora.
7. Porque no tiene papa.
8. Porque mientras mas fría es mejor.
9. Porque la puedo compartir.
10. Porque es fácil de conseguir.
11. Porque puedo estar con varias al mismo tiempo.

Why do I prefer a beer to a woman?
1. Because it doesn´t speak.
2. Because it doesn´t give me shit.
3. Because it´s a true blonde.
4. Because it´s available satisfy me.
5. Because it´s economical.
6. Because it´s delicious anytime.
7. Because it doesn´t have a dad (there was no accent so it could have also read Doesn’t have a potato or Doesn´t have a vagina – we´ll stick with dad).

8. Because the colder the better.
9. Because I can share it.
10. Because it´s easy to find.
11. Because I can be with many at the same time.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Decisión 2011 – Part II

Keiko & Ollanta

Well here we are a couple of days after the Peruvian presidential/congressional elections. And the winner is… well there’s not one yet but the field of 10 has been narrowed down to two – Ollanta Humala and Keiko Fujimori. Here was the breakdown after the Sunday’s 1st round of voting with 90% of the votes counted - Ollanta “The good soldier” Humala- 31.7%; Keiko “I’m not a dictator like my daddy” Fujimori – 23.3%; Pedro Pablo “El Gringo” Kuczynski – 18.8$; Alejandro “El Cholo” Toledo – 15.4 % and Luis “El Mudo” Castañeda - 10%. The remaining five also rans totaled up to about 1%. And the APRA candidate… Zero point zero. Mr. APRA – fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life. The 0% is due to a colossal APRA failure for not fielding a candidate despite a fairly successful run under the current Aprista president.

Brief recap of the two remaining candidates – Humala is the nationalist candidate who is promising a redistribution of wealth and has ties to Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of Bolivia. Fujimori is the daughter of a former corrupt dictator of Peru who is promising… well, I’m not sure what she’s promising other than not being a corrupt dictator like her dad.

Six months ago Nobel Laureate (and failed presidential candidate) Mario Vargas Llosa boldly predicted that if it came down to the run-off between Humala and Fujimori it would be like choosing between cancer and AIDS. Since, he supported Toledo and asked PPK and Castaneda to back out of the race less than a week before the elections. Now gets to make that choice. Some respect his right to state his opinion. Others believe he should shut his mouth stick to writing books about military cadets and circle jerks.

Now it’s time for my APOLITICAL bold prediction. Keiko takes it on June 5. Keiko might give PPK a call and offer him a high level position in her government in turn for his endorsement (how about a PPKeiko mascot – a little furry chinita?). Not that PPK supporters care about any of that political maneuvering - they´re young, savvy, and educated and will be physically, mentally and spiritually unable to vote for Ollanta. So all PPK votes go to Keiko. Where do the Toledo, Castaneda supporters go? Who knows so we’ll split them evenly between Keiko and Ollanta. And how about we give the 1% that the other also-rans garnered to Ollanta. The blank votes should be factored in somehow but I have no idea how so we’ll just throw them out (I never said I was a political analyst and I’m horrible at math).

So that leaves us with Keiko winning the election with 54% of the votes and Ollanta in second with 46%. Factor in the Win Williams margin of error and God’s sense of humor and the Peruvian presidency is pretty much free game. My opinions as to who I would like to see win are as worthless as balls on a priest so I’ve omitted them from this post.

The folks in my town of Big River are speaking of picking the lesser of the two evils. Why does that sound so familiar? Oh yeah – that was my choice in every US presidential election since at least 1988.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Decision 2011

Mock presidential debate during language instruction in training.
I played the roll of Jaime Bayly, a local author, TV personality and presidential candidate.

Disclaimer - The Peace Corps is an apolitical organization and I as a Volunteer am not allowed to participate in any political activities or support any kind of political party (nor do I want to for that matter). I’m writing this entry as a general information item that you might be interested in. I have my preferences but since I can’t vote down here, my preferences are as worthless as tits on a bull and can only make my life more difficult. So I´ll keep them to myself.

The Peruvian presidential, congressional and Andean Parlaiment elections are coming this Sunday. There are ten candidates in the running but only five that really have a shot at the actual presidency. Here’s the way it works (as I understand it). Voting is mandatory. If you don’t vote, you have to pay a fine. If a candidate wins over 50% of the votes this Sunday, they will become the next Peruvian president serving a five year term. If no candidate wins 50% of the vote, the top two candidates earning the most votes advance to a run-off election sometime in May.

Here’s a brief recap of the top five candidates in the polls as of this Sunday (3-31-11).

Ollanta Humala (27.2%) – He’s a former soldier, a nationalistic candidate, and has been associated with President Morales in Bolivia and President Chavez in Venezuela who recently called him a good soldier, whatever that means. Mr. Humala lagged in the polls up until a couple of weeks ago when he surged ahead. When he passed everyone else in the polls, the local economy got jumpy, stockmarket dipped (or plunged depending on which newspaper you picked up) and the US dollar strengthened against the Nuevo Sol. All the other candidates have been piling on since (which is what they do to whomever is ahead in the polls).

Keiko Fujimori (20.5%) – A congresswoman and the daughter of the ex-president/dictator of Peru Alberto Fujimori who´s sitting in jail for crimes committed during that whole Shining Path thing in the 80´s and 90´s. She attended college in the United States and the folks here have been wondering out loud who paid for her education. She recently got married and had a kid. Of course the million dollar question is will she pardon her father and let him out of jail if she gets elected.

Alejandro Toledo (18.5%) – El Cholo. Was the president of Peru prior to the current president and has a Peace Corps connection. When the Peace Corps was in Peru during the 60’s, a Volunteer lived in Toledo’s house up in the Sierra. The Volunteer later reportedly help get him into an Ivy League school. Toledo brought the Peace Corps back to Peru in 2002 after they were kicked out by some dictator (Velasco?) in the 1970’s. He did come by the Peace Corps 50th Anniversary celebration at the US Ambassadors House. I didn’t have a chance to meet him nor even see him. Reason being, apparently he’s really chato (short).

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (18.1$)– El Gringo. PPK (pronounced pe pe ka). Here’s what I’ve heard but have done zero fact checking. However, since I’ve posted this on the internet it automatically makes it true and correct. His parents left Poland during World War II to escape that whole Nazi thing and he was born here. He’s tall and white like a gringo and speaks slow and methodically with just a teeny bit of an accent like a gringo. He’s married to a gringa and up until last week, he had citizenship in the United States just like a gringo. He’s the favorite here in the town where I live and has made a big push the last couple of months. His mascot is the large furry edible rodent…PPCuy. If it walks like a gringo and talks like a gringo…

Luis Castaneda (12.8%) – Mr. Castaneda is the former mayor of Lima and apparently all the Limeños think he did great work there. They call him El Mudo because he’s run a pretty quiet campaign but he’s piping up a bit now, maybe too late. I watched him on one of those midday talk shows (the ones with the hot scantily clad latina girls) and late evening variety shows (the ones with the hot scantily clad latina girls) and he seems to be a pretty likeable guy with a good sense of humor.

Alright - I will throw in my two cents after all. If I were Peruvian I would vote for Jaime Bayly!! Unfortunately my favorite presidential candidate, Peruvian author and TV talk show host is no longer in the running. What’s he up to these days? He got canned from the TV station here in Peru over a contract dispute, broke up with his Argentinian (?) boyfriend, knocked up a 20-something year old “bad-girl” author, and moved to Miami.