I have found that I have struggled with wanting to fit in and just be another resident but I know that I will never be anonymous completely and I like that. I have lots to offer and while there are things that I have become accustomed to and things that I have adapted to since moving to Peru, I am and always will be an American first. I have a perspective that is different and that is OK. I am Amy first and foremost. Honestly, at the core of every human we are love and light but we live in a world and with minds that necessitate defining ourselves with different groups, cultures, countries etc. I believe we are all constantly evolving and learning from our experiences and defining who we are on a daily basis.
Now, for some random anecdotes.
I was on the bus coming home from a meeting with Cristina about music education things. I got on a bus to take me home and was fortunate to find a seat. I pulled out my book and I started reading. I was reading Bel Canto at the moment. It is a very good book. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good thought provoking and emotional book. A few minutes later the seat next to me opened up and an adolescent girl sat down next to me. She eyed my book and quickly decided to pull out a hard bound original copy of "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins. (Seeing people read original books is always exciting to me since they are not common. For a great article on the publishing industry in Peru check out this article) It put a smile on my face because every few minutes she would look over at my book. I could feel her want to be recognized that she was reading a book in English. She was excited and it was really obvious. I didn't say anything to her during the ride but when I got up and she let me pass I said thank you in English and she smiled at me. It made me wonder where she got the book and if it was for pleasure or for a class. Part of me really wishes that I had said something to her. Next time something like this happens I will say something. I have been much more reserved when it comes to talking to random people since moving to Lima which isn't necessarily a bad thing because in a city of 9 million, one has to be careful. However, chatting with a teenage girl who is reading the Hunger Games is not likely to get me into much trouble and it may have made her day to have some practice speaking in English. You never know what you might miss out on if you don't speak up some times.
Yesterday I was on my way to give a violin lesson and there was a guy in a mini truck who stopped and asked a couple next to me where the via expresa was. The kids didn't know. I chimed in with directions. The guy was thankful and off he went to find the via. I like feeling like I can help out. He didn't expect me to know since I am a gringa. I like that I have an element of surprise but most of all I like feeling like I can do something useful to make someone else's day or experience better.
I was on a bus on Javier Prado not too long ago and a male and female hopped on with a boombox. The guy pressed play and started rapping. The girl picked up with a 24 bar rhyme or so. They spoke about their situation and Peruvian life. It was actually quite good. I handed them a sol I had in my pocket. I have nothing but respect for people who get out there and try and utilize the talent they have to make a sol or two. That is something I see here all over the place. Due to the lack of formality when it comes to selling things, you will see all types of people on the street selling everything from candy to maps of Peru. I actually bought a Peru wall map from a guy roaming the lanes when we were on our way to Chosica for a day trip. Marco told me that the guy who owns the restaurant just outside the villa started as a vendor on the street selling bread and empanadas. He eventually opened up his own restaurant and is doing quite well for himself. Anyone can open up a restaurant that sells menus from their home. You run some health risks by eating at these places but you also get to eat a delicious Peruvian dish for a very economic price. There are days when informality frustrates the hell out of me and then there are days when I see how it allows for more opportunities for people including myself. Heck, I probably wouldn't have been able to have my first job teaching English in Cusco if it hadn't been for informality. There is an important balance to be found and I am still working out how I feel about all of it. I will keep writing about it as things come up.
I am off to combat the gray skies of Lima winter with a run to the beach. I hope everyone has a day full of observations and appreciation!