Saturday, April 11, 2009

Primera Pasqua en Peru

Oh my goodness. So this is Holy Week. In the Catholic Church—at least here in Peru—this is a huge deal . Every day there is a different traditional soup for lunch. Beginning Thursday, you can’t eat meat. Really the no meat thing could start on Palm Sunday, but that gets expensive. Fish is ok though—just not the other meats. Anyway, all week there’s parade type things as they move the images around. Everyone is a little excited and in a good mood. The theft rate is higher this week, so I didn’t bring my camera with me on my adventures. You’re just going to have to use your imagination.

Thursday, Andrew was giving his testimony at his church in Umacolla. So, although I really wanted to go see Jesus Christ Superstar, I didn’t know where it was going to be….and I did know where Andrew was going to be speaking, and really, he’s more important anyway, so Wendy, Callie and I decided that after dinner we’d go support our brother.

Dinner. We had Arroz con Leche (rice pudding), mazamorra morada (a deep purple, super thin, hot jello type thing with lots of cooked fruits), and a creamy brown blob resembling chocolate pudding with coconut flakes on top. This was served with pan dulce (sweet bread).When I asked why they only eat sweets for dinner on Thursday and Friday, mi Abluela responded “Because we can’t have meat and we need the calories.” I have a sweet tooth, but this was a bit much for dinner. And mi Abuela would not let me be done with 1 plate. No, I had to have 3 plates because I needed the calories since I wasn’t eating any other foods. I practically rolled out of the house I was so full of sugar.

I walked to Callie and Wendy’s so we could catch a cab together to get to Andrew’s church. When I got there, they were still eating their dinner/dessert. Their host mom invited me to sit at the table and join them. When she offered me a plate I kindly responded that I had just finished dinner, but thank you very much. I was just early to get the girls. Well, that saved me from one course. When she took the girls’ plates, she returned with 3 more with chocolate manjar cake from heaven and apple pie Peruvian style. Oh my goodness, if I was sick before, I was deathly ill afterwards. I was taught to eat what is set before me, and although I was sooooo full, I had to eat it anyway. It tasted very good….but I think that I would have liked it better on any other day.

We finally got out of there and booked it to the church. We had a sweet taxi driver who let us sing loudly to Queen—We are the Champions. Fun stuff (it made me think of two things. 1. Daddy had a stuffed animal beaver that sang that song, and 2. Katherine loves Queen). We got to the church in time for lots of Spanish preaching—might as well have been Chinese for as much as I understood…but then again, I was in a diabetic coma, so I couldn’t pay attention anyway. After the sermon, Andrew gave his testimony. He did such a great job!! He had translated it into Spanish and spoke with grace and confidence. I couldn’t have been more proud of my brother.

When we left the church, we decided since there was the 4 of us, we’d just walk home. I love to walk in this city! And because I was on my sugar high, I had plenty of energy (and useless calories) to burn. We walked down the street, pushed a stalled Volkswagen Beetle out of the road (good deed for the day), crossed a bridge, went up some stairs, and eventually came to Plaza de Armas. There were tons and tons of people there! I’ve never seen it so packed. We walked through the Centre, and saw that the Cathedral was open. Callie and I had learned in class that morning that there was an image of the Devil in there and we wanted to see it. So, we convinced/dragged Andrew and Wendy with us to go see. We thought the Plaza was full; the cathedral was tight enough to body surf. We were quite tempted, but then figured that it was probably irreverent.

As we oozed through the cathedral, Fathers with magic wands dipped in Holy Water and splashed the crowd. Being the girls we are, Wendy, Callie and I squealed with the realization that the water was wet when it hit us. Hahaha, we were lucky to be near people who were enjoying our first time to be blessed in this way. I kept my eyes open wide in case I could get the water in to my brain in order that I learn Spanish faster. It was as exciting as Disney Land!!

When we emerged from the church, having contracted the scent of B.O. and Holy Water, we had the privilege of watching a choreographed fight to the ‘Rocky’ theme song and ‘Eye of the Tiger’. It was fabulous!!! The two men were wearing giant square oven-mits and it was very matrix. So cool!! Callie and I decided that next year, we’ll put on a fight in Puerto Maldonado. Her song is “Beat It” by Michael Jackson, and I’m going to be fighting to “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from Mulan. Fitting I think.

After the fight was over, we began the final mile home. There was a person dressed up as Spider Man, and I was about to say hi when he threw this ball at me. I squealed, but it was like a yo-yo thing and hardly got close to me. I felt a little blonde after that….

Friday. Most Catholics fast for breakfast, but knowing that I am not Catholic, my host mom gave me rice pudding for breakfast. I didn’t complain. I love that stuff!!! Especially when I don’t have to eat 3 plates of a million other calories too.

Most business and government establishments had Friday off as a Holiday-It’s Good Friday you know. But school was going to be offered today for anyone who wanted to come. Since next week we’re having retreat, we all decided to go ahead and go. We need to master Spanish anyway.

For lunch, I came home to Fish soup. It had camaron in it (similar to crawdads…), corn, potatoes, orange fish eggs, kidney beans, carrots, and a fried fish fillet. Mmmmm. When I make soup, that’s the combination I want. Nope, that was a lie. Hahahaha. As weird as it sounds, it really wasn’t that bad. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not something I’m going to request for my birthday dinner. But I didn’t feel like I was gagging every bite down either. The orange fish eggs were interesting. I wasn’t supposed to swallow them, just chew them. I needed to crush all of the little white balls (eggs), and then take the crushed substance out of my mouth. The camaron was different as well. They were whole—their eyeballs and antenna things were there and everything. With these, I was supposed to put the head in my mouth and suck the brains out (no joke—it was an awkward feeling because the antennas kept tickling that hangy ball thing in the back of my throat).

Callie and I went to an Easter service at my church last night and had a great time fellowshipping with our Peruvian Church Family. Cristobal Correa spoke, and I love it when he speaks. He speaks clearly and slowly, and is really easy to understand. He and his wife will be the directors of our school in Iquitos. I’m so thankful that I get to know them now!

Tonight, we’re having a mini Easter celebration with the Smiths. It will be the first of 3 Easter’s that we will spend together. I’m excited. We’re having French toast!!!! Nothing says Christ is Risen like French Toast:) And tomorrow, after church, the Extreme Team is invited to share Easter Lunch together. It will be a wonderful experience.


  1. Oh Olivia! I am so excited to live with a family who ignores some of these food related traditions...I could not suck the brain out of anything:)

  2. I think you are much, much braver than I could possibly be - in every way. You are doing just great.

  3. How fun!!! Sound like a great day! Good for you eating all the new stuff. I love you .love Dad

  4. Oh I love it when you update your blog! I can just picture you telling us all about it. Love you so much,Mom

  5. You make me smile, Olivia!

  6. Oh my Olivia - if I ever get to come and visit - I'm bringin a suitcase of my own food!
    Thanks for sharing and giving me a word picture of what you guys are experiencing.