domingo, 2 de enero de 2011

Greatness comes in small doses

Another year has passed, we move into the sci-fi sounding 2011-the future is here! Briefly, a Peruvian New Year is not complete, with yellow undergarments, the burning of old clothes (to start fresh), and fireworks-loud ones. I will mention, the countdown did not happen on time-things are usually late, "La Hora Peruana" strikes again. But what I really want to get to, since it is a New Year-the beginning of what will be a full 12 months in this country-follows.

Favorite things about Peru: The giving nature of the people
Peru, being a country experiencing much growth and still lacking many basic services in the rural areas is at times difficult to traverse in regards to transportation, daily tasks, work productiveness, but all this becomes tolerable thanks to the Peruvians themselves, the majority of whom, whether city or rural folks, will go to great lengths to invite you to events/food, converse, even a roof over your head, making the experience of living in this country a fulfilling and enriching experience. Without this level of hospitality and generosity I don't believe Peru would have the same attraction to tourists, volunteers, even industry in coming to this diverse and multi-layered country.
Next:The Mountains
Like the ups and downs that life provides, the mountains reflect this undulation in their peaks and valleys. There's an understanding created by the forces of wind, rock and water that we are small parts of a greater whole, of a landscape that can be both fierce and forgiving, it generates a respect for nature, community and self. While there may be inconsistencies-the deterioration of values due to outside pressures-a level of pride exists even in the youngest of generations that comes through in the way people share, work, and carry themselves. Above all I am learning to be patient with the life process, whether waiting for a meal or a combi; mountains are rarely in a hurry.
Next: The Food
There's a practice called mindful eating where you really take your time with food, taking small bites, chewing slowly, experiencing the flavors. While never having been to Asia or even a Buddhist retreat of any kind, I can see the Zen in the way people eat in Peru. Slowly, small bites, no rush, it is inspiring to an American who can't wait to finish chewing so I can stuff another spoonful in my mouth. Preparation of food is also slow and methodical, the easiest route is not always taken, sacrificing a longer process for results. In the mountains much of the cuisine is labor and time intensive, whether it is barley soup, guinea pig, or boiled potatoes with chili sauce, it is done right with care and consideration to tradition.

There is much more to discover in Peru, in my work and travel, in friends, but so far this offers a taste of the best this region has to offer. Come visit.


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