To preface, it may be just innate to my disposition, but I end up in odd/strange situations on a regular basis. It’s like I attract weirdness. And the added element of an entirely different culture only serves to increase the frequency of these occurrences.
That being said, here is a list of things I think are small events that might be construed as entertaining or just plain unusual.
1.Rapid Engagement: Within my first couple days of arriving in Cusco, I accidentally told my family I was engaged. Words (in the same language) that mean one thing in one country don’t always mean the same in another. Lesson learned.
2. Who’s Tupac?: Early in my time in Peru, my host brother told me his favorite rapper is Wiz Khalifa. I almost cried. I countered his declaration with a list of songs and rap artists he should listen to, none of them from the late 2000’s. I hope his mom doesn’t kill me when she finds out I showed him pre-family friendly Ice Cube.
3. Smile pretty for the camera, Doll: One day, I was with a friend of mine walking around the main square, known as the Plaza de Armas, which is constantly bustling with tourists. As we walked along, a young man approached us and asked us to take a picture. My friend consented and took his camera. Both of us thought the guy wanted a nice photo with his group of friends, but instead, he put his arm around me and smiled. My friend looked at him questioningly but took the picture anyway.
As he walked away laughing, my friend and I just stared incredulously.Here we are in a beautiful city, full of beautiful, historical places and a fascinating diversity of local inhabitants and this guy takes a picture with me. The blonde(ish) tourist. Next time, I’m charging like the women and children in traditional dress, carrying around lambs and walking alpacas down the street (Ya, that’s a thing. I think it’s called take your alpaca to work day).
4. English in the hands of the young and brave: So while my housemate and I have had some hilarious moments with my host family, two stick out in my mind most vividly. And both involve my 14 year-old host brother. And the English language.
- The first was a quiet evening at the dinner table (and by dinner I mean bread and tea…not dinner) where my family and I were talking. My brother makes a joke in Spanish and then in a peculiar voice says “Just Kidding!” in English. It’s hard to describe the intonation he used, but it was hilarious. My housemate and I cracked up, so my host mom was immediately convinced that he had said a bad word in English. For the next 15 minutes, in the sternest voice you can imagine, she demanded a definition of the word. This only added to the hilarity of the situation and no one answered her because we were laughing too hard.
- The second occurrence was another evening when we had been discussing the musical talent in my host family. Everyone on my host mom’s side can play an instrument and sing. My host mom turned to her son and told him that they needed to put him in singing lessons so he could be really good by the time he got to college. My host brother, who loves American rap and hip hop, proceeded to ask her, “Why? So I can sing, (expletive) the police?” My housemate and I about died of laughter. Luckily, this time my host mom didn’t ask what he had said.
5. Spanish: It’s harder than you think: For about a week’s time in class, my friend and I constantly mispronounced Spanish words accidentally. This may not seem so terrible because, Hey! we’re learning and we just need more practice, right? Well, that would be true if it wasn’t for the fact that our mispronunciations lead us to curse in Spanish. Literally every single day that week, one or both of us would say a bad word in Spanish. It became such a common occurrence, it almost seemed planned. The words ranged from mildly inappropriate to about the worst insults you can possibly say in this region. I swear Mom, it was an accident!
6. Want Jesus, look for donuts: So, I had been looking for a church to attend for several weeks. I had been to the masses and several of the cathedrals in town, which, by the way, are gorgeous, but not having been raised Catholic, I lacked the context to understand everything that was going on. I had received a flyer for a local church, so that Sunday morning I went to look for it. After searching for about an hour, I came up with nothing. Slightly dejected and desperate for coffee, I decided to look for a cafe where I could just read my bible in peace. I walk along the street and spotted a sign for donuts. I thought, “Yes! Donuts! This will solve everything!” and crossed the street to enter the heavenly donuts shop. The store owner apologized and said they were closed for a bible study, but asked if I’d like to join them. I found out later they’re the same denomination as my church. But I never did get those donuts… I guess, sometimes, when you want donuts, you find Jesus instead.
All the lovely pictures I’ve borrowed (I took them from sites, but those sites don’t tell me who they took them from…the endless cycle): engagement ring- http://www.bestbride101.com/tag/engagement-ring/, Ice Cube: http://michael.fivis.net/post/206099239/ice-cube-then-and-now-via. Kristen Wiig face: http://images5.fanpop.com/image/forum/175000/175326_1344920957222_full.jpg. English: http://byilmaz.edublogs.org/2012/04/09/my-learning-english-process/ Puss in Boots: http://defeatingthedragons.wordpress.com/2013/06/19/shameless-self-aggrandizement/ Jesus and donuts: http://www.crunchyroll.com/pulse/jesus-dunkin-donuts-34318