Missed connections

I had a birthday last week so we had a small party at the house with family and friends. If my grandfather were still with us he would’ve said something like “God willing, you’re about halfway there!”

I’m a pretty traditional party food guy – the pizza and wings type – but this time around we’d decided to get Chifa for our guests, Peruvian style oriental food. Mamacita Linda called in a big take out order to Chifa Status and my brother in law and I set out to pick up the food. The restaurant was busy so we sat down and had a drink waiting for our order.

A large group was seated at the next table. The group consisted of about 12 or 15 young men and one beautiful young girl. The men were all dressed alike in black leather jackets and the girl also dressed in black. The men all acted confident, almost cocky, as if they owned the place. Rarely any of them made eye contact outside their group. I started to get a bit suspicious. If you’d ever been to a restaurant owned by the Italian mob in NY, you’d expect the mob family to look just like the group of young men I was seated next to. Was I seated next to a gang? Or maybe not? Peruvian gangs don’t exactly get dressed up to go out to the best Chifa in town. The guys all looked confident and slightly cocky but didn’t look they were up to anything.

When one of the guys got up I had a chance to look at the design on the back of his black leather jacket, and the words “Rosita de Espinar.” Wait, what?! All these guys were wearing “Rosita de Espinar” jackets. And I’m her biggest number one gringo fan! So 12 guys with one girl, the girl has to be Rosita de Espinar right?

Unlike me, many middle class Peruvians would rather die than to be caught listening to Peruvian folkloric music. Me, on the other hand I’ll go nuts playing air-banjo, air-guitar, air-drums and air-anything else in the car when some Peruvian folk music comes on the radio. With the kids all yelling “change the station you’re embarrassing us!”

Now I wish I could tell you I ran over, got a picture and an autograph from Rosita de Espinar for my best birthday present ever but I didn’t 😦

I couldn’t believe this group of guys who – save for polyester pants – could’ve come straight out of “Saturday Night Fever” were a group of Peruvian folkloric singers. Frankly, I wasn’t even sure if the girl was Rosita de Espinar. I’ve never seen her perform live or seen her pictures other than where she’s always dressed in traditional folkloric costume promoting her shows. Here she was all cosmopolitan, the girl in black dressed to the hilt, looking nothing like those folkloric images. In fact, she’s much prettier in real life than in the pictures where she’s in costume.

Right about this time the group started to leave and our food was ready so we left as well. We got to the house and of course Mamacita Linda was fully understanding of my idiocy:

“What do you mean you didn’t know if it was Rosita de Espinar??? Do you think 12 guys with Rosita de Espinar jackets are going to be hanging out with Dina Paucar or Lady Gaga? You missed your chance you big idiot!!!”

Hey Rosita, come back and have Chifa with us another day, my kids would love to meet your musicians!

One thought on “Missed connections

  1. I just stumbled across your blog today and I am thrilled at the possibility of gaining more understanding of Peruvian culture. I did read your story and it has a familiar ring to it. Ten years ago, I met my husband online, 3000 miles away. Please excuse my interruption of your blog with my request for help.

    Several years ago, while on an airplane, I met two Peruvian helicopter pilots (in training). Though their English was weak and my Spanish similarly so, we became fast friends. I attended their graduation, playing official photographer of the event for their family members, who could not be there. They returned to their jobs in police aviation but we have continued an online friendship since then. I plan to visit them next year in the Lima area and will be staying with them so I have no worries about travel safety but I do have concerns about the language barriers. Gaining a simple understanding of everyday expressions will be helpful. Such as your use of Mamasita Linda. I see Linda used often in referring to people. Is that a common term used for family member?

    I also would like to gain a better understanding of the religion as my friend often pays tribute to her god. Lights candles, has a picture of him on the table, etc. if you can share any understanding of this, I’d be grateful. My friend is from an affluent family, knock out gorgeous, but pure of heart…not vain at all or prude at all.

    My introduction to Peruvians is that they are warm and generous people. I hope you don’t mind if I follow your blog to learn more about them in preparation for my trip.

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