Saturday, May 1, 2010

The place I left behind me

I’ve been in Chiclayo for 22 months and am dealing with my first real case of homesickness. Perhaps it’s because of our upcoming visit to the States but I don’t think so. I’ve adapted fairly well to customs in Peru. Most of the time I ignore what I would call the petty annoyances. For some reason during the last few days they’re overpowering; making me aware of what I left behind.

At my former home in Wisconsin’s north woods I controlled the environment. Here, the environment controls me. Lately I can’t seem to shut out the taxi and moto horns; the ice cream vendor’s bicycle horn; the guy pushing his cart while calling through his bullhorn “Buena palta!” (Good avocados!); the newspaper vendor shouting”La Republica!, La Industria!, El Comercio!”; the woman yelling “Tamaaaaleeees!” at a volume I thought impossible for the unaided human voice to attain; the bible readers who refuse to stop ringing my bell because saving my soul is their priority for today, and the never-ending phone calls asking for “Briiam” who used to be Brian but Brian is apparently not a cool name for a rapper so now he’s Briiam. That’s pronounced Bree-am in case you’re interested. I actually enjoy getting to the phone before he does so I can say, “Briiam?...sorry, there’s no Briiam here” and hang up. He doesn’t like that. He thinks I’m not cool. And of course there’s the music…the ever present music, that I can hear right now as I type this coming from 3 different directions. Also the chickens cackling and the roof-top dogs barking. Can’t forget to mention them, cause’ they never forget to serenade me.

I didn’t have any of that in Wisconsin. I had ¾ of an acre of peace surrounded by woods. I had birds and deer and foxes who ate out of Maribel’s hand, and chipmunks and frogs and raccoons and bears, none of whom ever once tried to sell anything to anybody that I know of or felt compelled to save someone’s soul. They never asked to borrow money, though they did frequently visit in the hope of receiving something to eat. They didn’t offer to shine my shoes every two minutes, nor did they ever shout or play music or call my house asking for Briiam. I had a fire pit where I could sit day or night and cook or just watch the fire and never see or hear another person, that is until Maribel joined me, which I didn’t mind at all.

My house was my fortress. No one ever rang my door bell without first being invited, and on the rare occasion when the phone rang it would actually be someone I wanted to talk with and who had something of substance to say. My special place inside the house was in the family room on the right side of the sofa near the open patio doors. I did my reading there, and when I wasn’t reading I’d listen to the birds during the day, and the frogs, owls and the wind in the trees at night. Most nights I didn’t bother to lock up or even close the patio doors. There has never been a break-in or anything outside stolen that anyone in the area has heard of.

I like living in Chiclayo. I have never regretted the move here. I’ve had occasional twinges of home sickness before, but this one is really tugging at me. We don’t own that place anymore so there’s no possibility of returning to it. But we’ve got lots of photos…and memories.


1 comment:

  1. Tom, you are homesick!

    That is one of the reasons I am re-evaluating, two, three and many times us moving to Peru.
    On our last trip, and after just a few days, my husband was already missing the tranquility of our town. It was so hard for him to fall asleep or just rest or read with so much noise. He still cannot comprehend the total disregard neighbors have for each other (car alarms beeping, dogs yapping, music from the neighbors at crazy hours, etc).
    To be fair, our home is on 1 acre in NJ.

    Our Indian neighbors (who own a restaurant in town) threw a big fat Indian wedding last summer in the afternoon. They pumped up the volume and not even 15 minutes later they were asked to tone it down (either by their neighbors or the police). That would not happen in Peru.

    I am sure after a visit back to the USA, you will charge your batteries and miss all the warmth of the Peruvian people and the kindness of your friends.

    Let us know if you are planning to be in our area!

    Take care,