Good people I have met in Peru
My last days in Peru, sitting on a beach in the small town of Pacasmayo thinking of the people I have met in the last three months and getting distracted by the people, mostly families, around me. I love the way they play. There is a young father next to me helping his young children (maybe 2 and 4) dig the proverbial hole in the sand. He is having as much fun as they are, digging and fetching water from the sea. No pressure, just being together. Now Mom and Grandma have arrived with food.
The water is cold, but some venture out past the waves where the water is still shallow. This is surfing country.
During the first month while travelling with Eduardo, we had some good guides of all ages: from early 20’s to an erudite man in his 60’s. If I were to judge Peruvians by their guides I’d say they are polite, reserved, and proud. When required, they can be authoritative. I didn’t hear much humour from any of them.
For the most part, our Airbnb hosts have been welcoming, rather quiet, helpful, but not imposing.
Sometimes, Peruvians can be quite loud, but I have never found it overwhelming, except for their continuous honking of car horns. Reminds me of Cairo.
I have been lucky to know some Peruvians more personally. In the café where I was volunteering, there were two charming young people helping out.
The young man, I will call Daniel, usually works on cruise ships six or seven months at a time. As a bar waiter, he makes very good money. He is helping his family and has bought a modest home for them; he has sent his three siblings to post-secondary studies, and helps with his niece’s education.
It was his mother who invited me to spend the weekend at their farm. It was a pleasure to see her in the country with her family and animals. They live in a large three bedroom adobe house with a dirt floor. Their humble generosity impressed me. I wonder how many Canadians invite foreign visitors into their homes. This is a picture of her granddaughter.
The young lady at the café was very attentive towards me. Almost every day, she would bring me a fruit or some little gift. She was a good worker, in fact she had two jobs to help finance her university education. Here she is visiting her Grandmother.
At the school where I have been teaching English this past month, the teacher are an interesting mix of people. There is the coquette who tells everyone all her problems, the handsome gentleman who practises his English with me, the loving grade six teacher, the exhausted grade one teacher. We meet every day in a lean-to beside the food kiosk and sit on tiny, old chairs during the break. Teachers in Peru are generally underpaid for the work they do. They earn around $400 a month. A primary school teacher usually stays with the same class from grades 1 to 6. She/he will teach all the subjects. They have great influence, therefore, over their charges. The principal at this school drives a small motorcycle. He works both shifts: primary classes from 7:30 to 12:30, and secondary students (in the same classes on the same little chairs)from 12:30 to 6:30pm. He also takes courses on the weekend. When I asked him if they paid him double, he just laughed.
The one thing that is remarkably different from Canada is the number of children you see everywhere. Peruvians are very family oriented. We regularly see children and teenagers walking with a grandparent. Families often consist of three generations. And like everywhere poor people usually have more children than their wealthier neighbours.
At the school assembly this past Wednesday before the Easter weekend, many mothers of our students came to the celebrations. Most brought preschoolers with them. Babies are carried in a cloth on the mother’s back.
The children at this primary school are fairly lively (undisciplined, in plain English). It is often challenging to teach them, especially as classes are large, usually around thirty students, and for some unexplainable reason, each class gets English, all three 45 minute periods, once a week. That adds up to 2hours and 15 minutes. I challenge anyone to devise meaningful, fun classes in a foreign language for this amount of time. Pedagogically it would make more sense to see them three times a week for 45 minutes, but I can’t convince anyone of this.
The only other volunteer at the moment, is Micha (Profesor Mica). He is a loving, cheerful person. The children adore him. Everyday they run to meet him and shower him with hugs. He is also a good flat-mate. I was lucky to find him and his organization, LCQC (lcqcperu.org).
My Spanish teacher, Rita, is a wonderful person. Her paternal grandfather was Japanese. Her mother, now in her 80’s was a teacher. All their children are professionals. Rita is a very strong woman and a great language teacher. She has a 16 year old daughter who is the centre of her life. They have a loving, cheerful relationship. I will miss them.
This is my last week at the school, then a few days in Lima before heading home. Back to my comfy home, family and friends!