With Hal Johnson and Joanne MacLeod

This entry is a bit on the tardy side. All weekend I was finally feeling inspired but unluckily it rained on Friday night so the phone and internet in house have been out for days. Its kind of nice because it gives me the illusion that I’m roughing it a bit (poor me with running hot water, ample food and cable TV). Some little things are missing or different that I would have thought.

Mantequilla de Mani (good old peanut butter) is sneered at here and very expensive. Luckily when I mentioned my craving my house mom produced a jar of real american Skippy that had been left behind by a previous student. I wonder what I could get for that on the street!

Milk doesn’t come in the cold, bagged form. Warm boxed or condensed and canned. That I can’t say I miss too much although it means cereal is a bit unrealistic and toasters are as rare as clean taxis (cab drivers) ie. I haven’t seen either.

More than missing things here there is so much that just can{t be purchased or brought back to Canada. Where will I get my cocaine in Canada? On nearly the same level a very popular icecream here Locuma. It is hard to believe that soemthing so wonderful and sweet can come from the pulp of a nasty looking squash-like flora. I will not miss the warm papaya pulp for breakfast.

Now for a culture break. The Peruvian culture consists of Spanish colonialism and, as appears at first glance, indigenous Incan subjugation. However, if one looks a bit deeper it is something else entirely. The strict Catholic church has been infiltrated by the culture and beliefs of the incas, often at the time without its knowledge. Por ejemplo, it is common in paintings in the grand cathedral for there to be subtle changes to reproductions of European works like human forms in the shape of mountains. Interestingly, when the incas were put to carving the priest’s chambers they put voluptuous naked women just under the arm rests of the chairs to stabilize what they believed was an imbalance in gender. One has to give them props for sneakiness. Even now Catholicism is often a front for their true beliefs. Tucked behind a door of the grand cathedral is an energy stone taken from a local mountain. Many indigenous people visit the church to tip the stone and feel its vibrations believing that it is a form of cleansing. As with Christian tradition many festivals here were first ‘pagan’ but converted by the Spaniards. For example, Corpus Christi. The locals used to take out their mummies and parade them around town each year in a great festival. Seeing this heathenism the Spaniards converted the day into one carrying representations of Christ’s body. THe locals said thanks and stuck the images alongside their mummies and continued on their way. Another example of ingenuity: they had a sacred mountain which they completed pilgramages to which were subsequently forbidden after the arrival of the westerners. Not to be outdone they began claiming to have seen the form of Christ at the mountain and lo and behold the pilgramages resumed, Christian style. THe interesting thing is that today many Catholics still prostrate on that mountain unaware of the history of the ‘sighting’. Next time you accept a tradition just because maybe take a minute to find out where it came from. For next time: the big oops of Wiracocha.

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