There’s a park and a playground near the place where I lived where I was a kid. Near the playground there’s a amphitheater. Really cool one. I can’t even count how many times was I thinking how many dope things could be done there every time I was walking by. My whole live (and as my mom likes to say – I already reached the age of Christ) I saw this amphitheater used the way it was suppose to be used maybe three times. Twice on a Children’s Day (1st of June in Poland) and one time because of the 700th hundred celebration of establishing the Bronowice district. And since this jubilee took place in 1994 I think it shows pretty well the level of amphitheater’s utilization. But why do I bring that up? Because this place helped me discover the biggest difference that I noticed so far between the people of Peru and people of my home country, Poland.
In district Miraflores there’s a pretty neat park, where people meet up and do a park type of things. They walk, they eat ice cream and they buy things they don’t need from the shopping booths around. In this very park there’s an amphitheater, same in every aspect to the one from my childhood except one thing. It is in use. Constant. Or rather systematic. Every night, that I went there I was hearing music and singing coming out from circle of concrete. Every time practically all the seats have been taken by the local seniors who listened with interest and care to challengers performing their favorite songs. Giving it the second thought however, the word challenger does not fit here to much. The challenger is the person that needs to challenge someone or something. A daredevil that needs to prove that he or she has the guts to do something special and be ready to be judged by the crowd. In Peru no one judges. Not a single person from the crowd commented or gave a bad eye or a biting smile. One time when my date was more than an hour late (yup, in Latin America they really have very liberal approach to punctuality) I sat with the grannies, to listen to tonight’s repertoire. The first performer was a young guy, more or less twenty years old with his interpretation of the latino love song. And he was singing bad. So bad that no matter if it was Shakira or Iglessias I wouldn’t have a clue cause it would sound exactly the same. While the young dude was singing I was looking around to count how many faces full of compassion, how many ironic looks and how many phones recording the bad performance will I see. And I saw none. Nada. All the people were looking at the boy with positive emotions marked on their faces, clapping rhythmically to the music. Amable. That’s the word that I’ve learned during my first week in Lima. It can be translated as nice, polite, friendly, caring. And most of the people that will allow you to get to know them is exactly like that. All the volunteers that I was living with were really good kids and I felt good at home living with them. But I know as well that the people that I will miss the most from my Peru chapter of life will be the locals. People in Lima don’t care about the convenciones. Because they don’t need to. Few people, that I have met here asked me if I like to sing. I said, that I don’t sing because I have a terrible voice. In Peru this answer doesn’t make any sense. They did not ask me if I can sing but if I like to sing. Many people here told me that they sing. Every time I was wondering, how can it be that this nation is so musically talented? Now I see I was confused. Same thing about the dance. Most dudes here will tell you they dance salsa and raggaeton. Up till the moment when I went to a club with them I though that Peru is the homeland of professional dancing machos. When we found ourselves on the dancefloor I realized that the abilities of the Peruvian guys do not exceed the skills of the polish chicos. The only difference is that in Peru the guys does not need to drink five shots of vodka (or pisco) first and they are more willing to dance with the girls then with I-dont-really-know-who-am-I-dancing-with-I-just-boggie.
I liked Peru. No doubt. That being said I need to add that Peru is not the corpo-person lost paradise. Sure, the photos that I posted during my trip here were all nice to look at. During my last month in Peru I was lucky to travel, and enjoy my time with beautiful people. Lima however is not the best place to live in. It’s gray, it’s overcrowded and it’s definitively not safe. For hundred amable people you will find one bad man. And in the city populated by more than 9 million citizens it’s not a small number. I want my Latin America story to still last for a long time, but on the same time I know (and I advise other careless gringos and gringas) that it’s necessary to stay conscious and all the time. If you want to meet amazing people and be present in there lives for some time, you need to remember that you are not at home, but on the other end of the world when grass is greener but where the bees may sting harder than you could think.