Did you hear Ringo Star is getting married in Peru? No, not that Ringo Starr, just someone who shares his name. It’s not uncommon in Peru for people to have famous names. There are probably a hundred Michael Jacksons and John Lennons in Peru, a famous person’s name used as a baby’s given names. I’m told there are even kids with names like Exmen (X-men), just for something famous.
The thing about it is, perhaps the parents just liked the name or maybe they thought a famous name would help their child in life. Peruvians place a lot of value on names. There are many ethnic influences in Peru and people tend to think they know a person by their name. Huaman, Quispe? That person must be Quechua (native Indian). De La Vega? Surely s/he’s a descendant of the Spanish Conquistadores. Then you have European names, Asian immigrants and so on. In Peru babies take both parents last names, so if someone’s last name is Perez Wicht they must be half Dutch and half Spanish right?
Of course if you know your family history it may be correct to make those conclusions but Peruvians take the last name identity much further. A politician runs an ad, many people right away draw a conclusion about who that person is and what they will stand for in politics based on the person’s last names. The university here publishes a list of kids who are accepted every year and it’s a local sport in Cusco to start rambling about which ethnic groups are the most favored or intelligent based on the names of the kids who got into the university. Same for names of business owners, crime reports in the newspaper, etc etc. Peruvians often think they know the “type of person” by the last names.
But it’s all bogus.
I flew down to Peru a while back with an ex FAP pilot. He was a real war hero but doesn’t act like one. He said: “I know my names but that doesn’t mean anything. There are so many influences in Peru, we’re all a big mix.”
Certainly for most people in the big cities that sentiment is true. Here’s why last names don’t mean as much as many Peruvians would like to think: babies take the first of both parents last names.
- If “Carlos Kennedy Mamani” marries “Raquel Vanderbilt Condori” their kids will be “Robert Kennedy Vanderbilt” or “Mary Kennedy Vanderbilt” and make no mistake about it, many people will think kids with those last names must be really really special.
- But if “Carlos Mamani Kennedy” marries “Raquel Condori Vanderbilt” their kids will be “Robert Mamani Condori” or “Mary Mamani Condori” and sadly be judged as just another Quechua kid.
Same ancestry with the names in a different order and the kids last names are entirely different. What’s in a name? Not as much as some Peruvians would like to believe.
* * *
As for the “real” Ringo Starr, back in the day some people said he wasn’t all that good of a drummer, compared to the likes of Keith Moon or John Bonham. He once responded to that saying something along the lines of “look at the guys I was playing with, it wasn’t about me or big impressive solos”.
While we’re on the drums, so you don’t have to sit by the radio all month waiting for it
As long as they are wearing long sleeves and skirts below the knees. Those wearing shorts must wait outside.
Missionary churches in Peru are typically far more conservative than their counterparts in their home countries. We went to a baptism last weekend, in a Catholic church in a poorer part of Cusco. I had never been to this specific church before and didn’t realize the church has mostly missionary clergy and nuns. All gringos in other words. The baptism was a group baptism for about 40 kids (ages between 1 – 10 maybe), with a concurrent/additional Confirmation service for about 60 or 80 kids from the local school. The entire service was 4 hours, uninterrupted. They saved the baptism for the youngest kids (less than 3 years old) until the end.
4 hours uninterrupted in church with our Brianna Nayaraq. Wanna know how that went? Nah, I’ll spare you the details.
A while into the service I stepped outside with the baby. Upon entering the church again, a boy of maybe 7 years old ran into the church alongside me. The nun who was guarding the entrance stopped the boy and pointed to the dress code sign beside the entrance: “You can’t enter wearing shorts.”
A few minutes later, inside the church building, a nun walked by a grandma with her 6 or 8 year old granddaughter. The little girl was wearing a sleeveless shirt. The nun asked the grandma to remove her coat and cover the child with the grandma’s coat.
Just in front of us 2 kids were playing, they couldn’t have been more than 3 to 5 years old. Suddenly one of the boys fell, hurt his head and started to cry. His mom picked him up and he stopped crying in no time. Not soon enough though. One of the patrolling nuns – who looked like she was in charge of things – quickly approached the mom. A Rosary in one hand, with her other hand she pointed the mom with her crying baby towards the exit door.
You thought she was coming to see if the crying boy was ok?
I sat through it all because we were invited by friends. Alright, you got me, I sat through it because there was food at our friends house afterwards. But I can’t get over how many of the missionary churches in Peru are so conservative in their “tribal customs”. Forget the Scriptures, I’m no Bible scholar but none of this is religion, it’s control.
Women who belong to a missionary church are typically required to wear heel-length skirts or dresses. Strange when “our” religion requires women to dress a certain way in the name of God, it’s a beautiful thing but when another religion does the same it’s discrimination?
I respect the so-called Mormon Church in that they work the same way in Peru as they do in their home of Utah. But the church we visited was a Catholic church and they operate in a way that would at best be considered lunatic fringe and at worst illegal in the home countries of those gringo nuns and priests. Make no illusions, many missionary churches here have a large following only because of strategic decisions (invest in nice buildings in poorer areas of town) and because of their centuries of built up wealth. Ironically, much of that wealth was plundered from the so called “New World”.
But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Luke 18:16
One day an Alchemist working for the Good Creator was doing some experiments, dabbling in this mixing with that. Kaboom. Things didn’t work out as planned. The Alchemist wrote a detailed report for the Good Creator, 43-101 compliant, many pages of detail, temperatures, pressures, formulas and conclusions. He sent his report up to the Good Creator.
The Good Creator called down to his Alchemist and asked “What does this all mean?” He said sorry we’ve been real busy here with the war in Syria and that situation with De Bruyne in Chelsea, really don’t have time to delve into the details of the report. Would appreciate if you could explain in layman’s terms.
The Alchemist responded: “It’s about gringo and Peruvian genes. I suggest they not mix because the results can be very unpredictable.”
The Good Creator sent the report down to his geographic department with a sticky note:
“Take care of this.”
A while later the geographic department responded that they had implemented a fix. The gringo genes would be placed well above the equator and the Peruvian genes below the equator. There would be an ocean and a big jungle in between the two. Most of the Peruvian genes were placed on top of a big old mountain where they would not likely mix with others.
And the Good Creator saw that it was good.
* * *
Seriously, our girls are little bundles of hellraiser. I should have read a book about parenting. I waited until I was 35 to have my first baby so I had plenty of time. I read lots of books, about knights and cowboys and wars, of course. I read “1984″ and “Catcher in the Rye”. Books about computers and airplanes. Never once thought about reading a book about parenting and forget about it now, no time.
I mean, we don’t have any real issues. I’m not talking juvenile detention here, only that some days it seems like every other parent is a better parent than me. Everyone else’s kids are easier than ours. So it seems.
- When it’s time to eat, other kids sit at the table and eat nicely. Ours make a mess, barely eat when it’s time to eat.
- When it’s time to sleep, other kids say goodnight and go to bed. Ours never go to bed until we do, and the baby who was sleeping good as a newborn now wakes up 5-10 times every night. Her older sister used to wake up 3-4 times a night until she was 14 months old.
- When it rains, other kids put on their coat and try to stay out of the rain. Our Brianna will go out of her way to jump in puddles of water and make a big spash.
- When it’s time to do homework, other kids follow instructions. Brianna turns every task into a Picasso. Same for the walls in our house.
“Brianna Nayaraq”. Nayaraq means “who has a lot of desires”. Should’ve known I guess.
Patricia does believe in the whole mixing of genes thing. She says her friends who married gringos all have wild little kids. We had to take a blood test before getting married here in Peru, to test if “we were compatible” and we’d have good kids. Sometimes we talk about going back to that clinic and asking for our money back
In all seriousness I’m not complaining. We have 2 beautiful, healthy girls and that’s all I could ever ask for. They’re healthy, happy and growing. I am fortunate enough to be able to provide them a decent home, pay for private school (for the oldest) and a maid who cooks like Gaston Acurio.
But am I the only one or do you sometimes wonder, why does parenting look so much easier for other parents?
* * *
As for the story of creation…
They say Eve tempted Adam with an apple but man I ain’t going for that, I say it was a pink Cadillac.
The Boston Red Sox won the 2013 World Series last night. Strange how the North American sports refer to the winners of their big leagues as “world champions” when their league only spans the US and a few Canadian cities but that’s a subject for another day.
It’s the Red Sox 3rd World Series win since 2004 and also their 3rd since 1918. Did you know the Red Sox didn’t win the World Series for 86 years between 1918 and 2004 because of the Curse of the Bambino? I remember after the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, a Yankee fan made a sign that said something like:
“Hey Red Sox fans, there was never a curse, your teams just sucked for all these years!”
Like those Red Sox of days past, the Peruvian national soccer (futbol) team has been long suffering, the last time Peru qualified for the World Cup (Mundial) was 1982. Peru suffers badly for their national futbol team, as Otto rightfully says, you people up North have no idea just how big of a deal futbol is down here in South America.
But to the point of that Yankee fan: perhaps those Red Sox teams were bad for all those years because they believed in the curse. They had a culture of losing. Similarly, I would make the case the Peruvian futbol team is bad because they believe they are supposed to be bad. Peru has this sort of feeling of national tragedy anytime their team takes the field. The coaches, the players, the fans have been disappointed for so long that they don’t want to get their hopes up high.
You won’t win if you don’t believe you can win.
Don’t get me wrong, no amount of delusional bravado could make Cienciano beat Barcelona right now (or ever?) but at the top of any professional sport, the teams are so competitive and differences between teams so small that you must take the field believing you can win, or you simply won’t. A winning culture matters as much as talent does.
Peru has a lot of talented futbol players but when they give up a goal or fall behind you can usually see the team packs it in right away. The fans are worse than the players. Watch your Peruvian friends on Facebook when their team gives up a goal. You don’t think it matters, down a run with 2 outs in the ninth, the difference between 40,000 fans hoping and praying or 40,000 people heading to the exits saying “we’re losing again might as well go home now”.
Look at the Miami Heat in game 6 of the 2013 NBA finals. The league had started to roll out the trophy to give to San Antonio with only a few seconds left in the game. Miami got some lucky bounces but if those players didn’t still believe they could win, they would’ve never chased down those loose balls, made those second shot attempts.
The good Belgian soccer teams of the 1980s, they had to know deep down they weren’t as talented as some of their opponents but they always believed they had a puncher’s chance. They played very strong defense and had a goal keeper with the character of a Jack Russell terrier (ie. you’ll have to kill me to get past me). They knew they didn’t have the best talent but as long as they kept the other team to a big goose egg, all they needed was one goal to win. The best team doesn’t always win, the team that scores the most wins.
There’s probably a lot of reasons why Peru’s futbol team doesn’t play up to their potential. The national organization is weak, the agents take advantage of the players, the players are reluctant to play for the national team for fear of getting hurt and then being left on their own, etc.
Frankly it’s a bit of a thankless exercise to be a player on Peru’s national team. On top of all the other stuff, Peru has a sort of weird pretentious prude attitude: the players constantly end up on Magaly TV when they go out drinking or partying as if it’s a big scandal.
It’s the culture stoopid.
Somewhere in 2004 the Boston Red Sox shook the curse and started a winning culture. Peru won’t have a chance to go to another Mundial until Peruvian players, fans, coaches and media all start to believe the team can win and the culture becomes a culture of winning.
* * *
Hey Otto, remember when Belgium beat Argentina in 1982?
Belgium is supposed to be have a really good team for the 2014 Mundial but here’s a few things you should know about their qualifying group:
- 3 of the countries in our group didn’t exist when I started high school.
- 2 of the countries in our group are only countries when it’s time for futbol, the rest of the time they’re part of a Commonwealth. Or something.
I almost forgot, today is the central day of Señor de los Milagros.
Papi! Wake up. We have THE THING at 9:30!!!!
Erggh? The thing?
No, not that thing. THE THING!!!
Now I’m half awake and it dawns on me. THE THING is today at 9:30!!! But wait a minute, I try to explain to mamacita linda that it takes 10 minutes to get ready for the thing and another 15 minutes to actually get over there, so I don’t see the big deal with sleeping in another half hour.
But papi, it’s THE THING! We’ve got to be sure we’re ready!
“The thing” was our interview with the director of the new school where we are planning to send Brianna next year. Getting your child into a good school in Peru is a big deal, it’s hard to convey just how serious parents stress out over getting accepted into a good school. We had our interview with the director this past Wednesday and next Monday we find out if our goose was accepted. Before the interview we also had our psychological evaluation on Tuesday.
Both parents and the child. Think about that for a second. A 4-year old must pass a psychological test to get into pre-school. And then me. I quit a job at a Fortune 500 company to go live on top of a mountain in Peru but some girl with a degree in psychology thinks she can figure me out in a 23-question multiple-guess test and a drawing of a person in the rain? I smiled and went through the motions but the Peruvian faith in these psychological personality tests is just mind boggling to me.
I don’t stress out over getting accepted to a school but most of the other parents do. The psychological test was administered to a group of parents and kids, in the group was one of our friends. Like many parents, our friends were applying to various schools, hoping that their kid would get into first grade at this or that good school. While we were waiting to take the exam, Patricia asked her friend “How did the other interviews go at your-first-choice-school and your-second-choice-school?”
Our friend went SSSSSSSSSSSSSH!!!! “Don’t say that so loud in here!!!”
I laughed out loud and said “I’m telling the director this is our first and only choice but you people are just hedging your bets!!”
Our friend nervously giggled back and responded “I’m telling him at least we actually live in Larapa” (the name of the neighborhood where the school is – we live a bit on the other side of town).
All through the group of waiting parents, parents who overheard us horsing around nervously looked up, in their minds undoubtedly going over the perceived weaknesses in their own case for enrolling their child.
Is my child smart enough?
Will my baby do good on her entrance exam? Will she remember how to spell her daddy’s name?
Is my child cute enough?
Do I make enough money?
Are we Catholic enough?
Will they find out about my brother who drinks too much?
Did I buy a nice enough gift for the administrator?
The director at this school didn’t go anywhere near questions of this nature and insisted the school doesn’t discriminate against anyone. I talked to him about their other schools in both the ritzy part of Lima and another in a poor area of Lima, and I believe they are sincere in that respect or otherwise I wouldn’t send my goose to this school. But I know in other private schools these kinds of questions were/are routinely asked.
Silly me, I thought every child should have the right to a good education.
Getting into a good school is a big deal here in Peru because the public schools are said to be very bad. Class sizes in the public schools are at least 50 kids to a class. Even some of the private schools have large class sizes. The private schools can be expensive and typically fill up fast, there is only a short timeframe during the year where they accept applications. Most of the private schools are Catholic schools. In days past some Catholic schools wouldn’t accept children of single mothers or parents who were not married by the Catholic church but now I believe most accept anyone as long as the person respects the school’s religious vocation.
We’ll find out on Monday but I have faith. Wish us luck!
Just wanted to share this, it’s nice to work from home
I occasionally get emails from people looking to move or move back to Peru, asking me about jobs in Peru, jobs for expats, things like that. I taught English (ESL) for a while, that’s a popular occupation for expats, but here are some other options you might consider for jobs in Peru:
If your main qualifications are that you are young and cute: You should be able to get any and every job that you otherwise may or may not qualify for. Think airline pilot, bank teller, customer service, etc.
If you are tall and white: Look into news anchor or any other type of TV presenter.
If you like to die young: You have many options here, consider driving or mining.
Say you are an auditor: Tough choice here. Morals or jobs. One of Patricia’s uncles has held a number of positions in municipalities, he’s also run his own ONG. He’s done quite a few contract audits for municipalities and – of course only his side of the story – always found all sorts of incompetence and corruption. The audits were usually something like a 3 month contract supposed to turn into a full time job if he did well. Our uncle still sounds surprised yet laughs at the same time that he always rooted out corruption and incompetence and was then politely thanked for his services, never to be asked back.
If you can sleep while standing up: you are a perfect candidate for a Peruvian security guard. That isn’t to belittle those poor guys but only to say they work ridiculous hours for low pay and don’t seem to get any breaks. They’re on their feet 12 hours a day. A little secret about cutting through bureaucracy at the typical Peruvian government building: ask the security guy where to go, which line to stand in, what the process is for the tramite you are doing. They don’t always know but very often they do. Many of the security guards work for years and years at the same building and are very knowledgeable about the process inside, they can really help you avoid standing in the wrong line for 20 minutes. Sometimes they’ll point you in the wrong direction but most likely the security guard will be more helpful than many of the goverment bureaucrats inside. Get past the “label” of security guard – we like to label people don’t we? – treat the person with respect and chances are you’ll get through the bureaucracy faster and less painfully.
UPDATE: If you were looking for more serious info about jobs in Peru, I have found good candidates on Computrabajo Peru. This is also the site where Patricia found her last job.
Today’s the first day back to school after the 2 week “winter vacation” of the schools here in Peru. The “winter vacation” coincides with the Fiestas Patrias (national holiday) the end of July. After two weeks of sleeping in, our Brianna wasn’t ready to wake up on time for school this morning but papi knew just what to do. For some reason Brianna has been totally enamored with the Beatles’ song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” so when papi was checking his early morning emails (and that pesky CSRF_TOKEN that keeps appearing on my work but that’s another story) I cranked up the volume on my laptop and hit “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” in iTunes.
Listo, Brianna wakes up, goes of to jardin and papi now has 4 blessed hours of peace and quiet in the house! Thank God and Profe Shirley!!!
Anyway, our Brianna is NOT the girl with kaleidoscope eyes. She has beautiful big brown eyes just like almost all the Cusqueñas. When Brianna was born some of Patricia’s friends and family could barely hide their disappointment that she wasn’t a blonde blue-eyed baby. They just expect any gringo baby to be that way. I may be tall and sexy but I’m not blonde blue-eyed myself so I don’t get why they expected my baby to be that way
However, our second baby, Claire Josephine, was born with blue-ish eyes like her papucho. Most of the time the baby’s eyes are blue-ish gray-ish like mine but sometimes they appear more green or beige. Heck I’m a middle-aged white guy I don’t know more than 6 or 8 basic colors (fuchsia what’s that?) but the baby’s eyes are some undefined blue-ish color. Even on an RGB color chart I couldn’t nail down the exact color. Our baby’s eye color changes with the light or her moods I don’t know but she really has the kaleidoscope eyes like the little girl who John Lennon said inspired him to write the song. (the drug references are supposed to be secondary)
The point of this rant on colors is that people in Cuzco treat my baby like a goddess because of her eye color. Very few Cusqueños have light or blue colored eyes and whenever they see somebody who does have blue eyes, in the view of your average Cusqueñian, the blue or green eyes define that entire person, that person is better and more beautiful than any other. Almost to the point that it annoys me, like my oldest daughter is OK no mas but the one really came out good is the baby with the blue eyes.
People stop me in the street to check the color of my baby’s eyes. I was at the market the other day with the baby in the stroller when two teenage girls stopped me:
“Sir, please stop, wait one moment.”
They said it in a very serious voice like perhaps my baby was getting ready to fall out of her stroller or something. I stopped to check the baby but one of the girls stuck her face in the stroller and with a look of approval turned to her friend “Yes she’s got blue eyes.”
UPDATE: Kind reader Kristin passed along this link about genetics of eye color: How blue eyed parents can have brown eyed children.
I took Brianna to a birthday party last weekend. I’ve been to probably 10 or 15 birthday parties with her now. Especially since she’s been in “jardin” (pre-school) she gets regular invitations and we usually try to go. I’m a regular, even some of the clowns that usually work the kids’ parties know me, they call on me when they need a tall doofus to participate in their act. They know by now I’m usually up for anything. At this last party I was the helper when the clown did his balloon tricks (ie. make things out of balloons and do a little sketch).
Some of the moms (other moms?) at the parties know me too, the regulars. And then there are the working moms, the professionals, the ones who hardly ever have time to go to a party with their kid. Those moms are usually all Nervous Nellie when the clown calls on them, or they are beaming with pride when their kid plays in the party. The moms who come to every party, they’ve pretty much seen it all before. They still enjoy seeing their kid at a party but they’ve seen most of the magic tricks, they’ve danced “chu-chu-ua-ua” and “gangnam style” 200 times before. The “regular moms” are sort of tuned out, they chat with their friends, wait for the chicken and the cake. Even during the “hora loca” the “regular moms” still shake their booty but they’re just sort of going through the motions.
Until the piñata.
There’s no more going through the motions when it’s time to “rompe la piñata”. Not for the moms who have been to 20 or 200 parties before, not for the moms who are taking their kid to their first party ever. When it’s time to “rompe la piñata” all the moms get up, grandmas are rolling around on the floor, mothers are stepping on their own kids, anything and everything just to get that plastic helicopter or jojo.
Have fun at your next party!