Tuesday, December 21, 2010

...aji is a miracle food!

My title really has nothing to do with the general theme of this post but I had to put SOMETHING. And it's true that I love aji. That red hot flavor goes with everything and is absolutely delicious! If the food is good it accents the flavor and makes it even better, if the food is bad it's a fixall solution. Ahhhhhhh how I am going to miss you my dear aji!!! It's a bright red sauce made from special rocoto pepers called aji verde. Rather ironic I know... still haven't figured out who in their right mind would name a red peper "aji verde." But it doesn't matter because I love it!

Anyway, here's the news from my last three weeks...

I am officially a high school graduate! (for the second time :)) I think I am probably one of the only people in the world who can say they have graduated two time in six monthes. Once in the US and once in Peru. Once in Spanish and once in English. Once in the lovely purple gowns of WHS and once in the all white garmets of Santa Rosa de Lima. I literally felt like an angel with my white cap, gown and of course glaringly pale skin. haha The entire process was surprisingly familiar despite the fact that it is a private, catholic school in South America. We all lined up and marched into the auditorium with the traditional graduation music. Of course I was in the very back of the line because, well it was by height. When we got to our seats we remained standing for the national anthem and the school song in Spanish and then AGAIN for the english version. I can tell you that when we finally sat everyone was quite happy to rest their feet. I don't know if its a passing fad or a cultural thing to make up for the lack of height, but everyone down here wears HIGHheels! The rest of the ceremony was fairly standard with a student speaker, words from the principal, presentation of the diploma, passing of the little ball on the cap and of course tons and tons of photos. The student speaker did a great job combining funny comments with nostalgic memories with words of wisdom. This graduation means a LOT to my classmates and just about everyone was crying by the end of his speech. There is a deep connection and a lot of memories when you are together for 11 years... Which is why I feel so special to be included in the Promo of 49- San Juan de Macias. They made me feel part of the group from the very beginning and I will always appreciate that. For example, the principal wasn't originally going to let me graduate but my friends and teachers convinced her that I deserved to wear the robe and walk side by side with my classmates. And, when we put the plack on the wall with the 75 names of the promo, my name was included!!! Now my name will remain forever inscribed on the walls of Santa Rosa de Lima. I can come back in 20 years and show everyone that I really did go to school for a year in Peru :)

I think I mentioned before that I have been taking a native dance class for the past 10 weeks with a friend from school. Every Tuesday we would go to the center of Lima to dance for three hours and learn two tipical dances- Caporales and Diablada. The studio where we were learning is called Brisas de Titicaca and is actually a fairly prestigious school of dance here in Lima. Anyway, last Saturday was the final presentation. It was a HUGE event where they sold entrance tickets and served food and we were the cultural entertainment- a demonstration of 20 typical dances with live music and colorful costumes. We danced in front of an audiance of 500 and I must say it was rather nerve racking! They put a new floor in two days prior and despite our best attempts to gain traction by pouring Cocacola on the bottom of our shoes it was a bit of a disaster. One lady even fell during the first dance it was so slippery... But overall in was a very fun experience :) I got to put on two incredibly elaborate costumes and paint my face with about 500 pounds of make up. This alone was quite the experience. If it weren't for all the help from my new friends I would never have been ready on time. In Caporales we wore three different skirts, two blouses, long fake braids wound in with yellow ribbons, little hats and lace up high heels. YIKES! The hardest part was definitely dancing in heels but getting those braids securely attached was a close second. And in Diablada my costum was even more complicated if you can imagine. There is a fight scene between the devil and the angel and this time I literally got to dress like an angel. :) I had a huge head piece, wings, a spade and armor. Plus the high heels again. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Another new experience was Prom in Peru. Yes it's a big deal in the US but it is NOTHING like prom over here. There is only one dance in highschool over here, and that is Prom. To start with we arrived in limo. A group of 14 of us all met up in one friend's house and we arrived at the hotel Melia with style. Now the limo turned out to be a bit of a ripoff but that doesn't matter, we still went in limo. I can say that my first (and probably last) experience in a limo was riding through the streets of Lima Peru. :) The main problem with the limousine is that the company told us it seated 16 when it was really a limo for 10. Oooops! We were packed in there like sardines in a can with two kids sitting practically in the bar and one across the laps of the others. jajajaja And they didn't pull out the red carpet or serve champain like advertised. But it doesn't really matter because we still had a ton of fun sticking out heads out the sun roof, blasting music, and stopping in all the gorgeous parts of Lima to snap photos. When we arrived at the hotel we got to make the big entrance with more pictures, music, bright lights and an anouncer naming each couple. There was even a bubble and fog machine for effect :) It was held in one of the super fancy ballrooms where you find 15 utencils on either side of your plate and have no idea what to use first... Anyway, we spent the next 8 hours eatting super delicious food, drinking pisco sour (not me), and dancing dancing dancing. That is one of the best things about peruvian parties is that EVERYONE dances! And legit dancing too. Salsa and cumbia and of course the popular american music as well... One of my friends is excellent salsa dancer and I was able to follow his lead and actually dance!!! :) Yayyyyyy I must say I was quite proud! jaja We finally left at about 5:30 in the morning and my friend and I slept until 2 the next afternoon! Woooooooow!

It's officially the first day of summer today. And boy can I can feel it! The sun is out with super strength and on my run home today I almost died. (not really... but I was very, very sweaty. jaja) I can already hear the beach calling my name and now that it's summer vacation I am ready to hit the water. As I sit here in shorts and a tanktop, I can see the advantages to Christmas in the summer... :)

Which reminds me, MERRY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! I wish you all the best and hope you have a fabulous 25th with lots of friends and family and good food. I'll be thinking of everyone back home and just imagine I'm giving you a big huge peruvian hug! :)

Lots of love from South America,


PS. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the lovely care package from home! I have already started making my way through the GIANT bag of chocolatechips (yep, Costco sized :)) I spent all day yesterday in the kitchen baking and took cookies to my friends at school. A little bit of US holiday spirit and a new experience for them!

PPS. I had a lovely visit from some Wenatchee folks (the Dappen family and Vicki Monreal) the other day and got to play tour guide :) It was great to see those familiar faces again and speak english for two days and best of all I didn't feel like a giant anymore. Yayyyyyyy! Thank you guys for a GREAT visit! :)

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