I arrived in Lima, Peru on Friday the 24th (of June, 2011), with a big orange women’s travel backpack and a floppy leather laptop bag filled with books I probably should have left at home. The whole ride I practiced Spanish with a kind Portuguese school teacher who lied and told me I was very good and absolutely prepared to get around Lima on my own. My taxi driver Rodrigo met me at the customs exit with an enormous whiteboard bearing my whole name in cursive.
I tried to speak in Spanish; he spoke back in English.
In the week I’ve been here, this has become a theme.
So has the question of why I am here.
Why am I here? See the link above if you’d like; it’ll give you an idea of the program I am attending.
But as soon as I say “I am here to study the relationship between art and politics” I feel like I am lying. I’m not lying, I am here to study the relationship between art and politics. But those aren’t my words.
I’ve always wanted to go to South America. But why? Because its South America.
But what to do in another country? I guess study the relationship between art and politics.
At the University we are taught to have the most open of minds. We are aparently being trained to lead countries and inspire everyone to do their best in the world and love each other. We have the answers.
And so when I arrived at my hostel I put my things down and immediately walked out into this new culture with my head high, in blue velcro shoes, looking everyone in the eye as if to say: “I’m here from another culture and I am going to have a positive cultural interaction with you!”
Stares Stares Stares.
No one understood my Spanish.
After a block I felt like dying.
So I bought a pack of cigarettes (I don’t smoke anymore, but I did for a long time.) Then I lit one. Then I realized what I was doing. So I tried to give my cigarettes to someone who was smoking.
Stares Stares Stares.
I left them at a public phone and went to drink beer and speak English at my hostel.
My friend (who was with me, thank Jesus) and I spent the next few days navigating Miraflores (the more touristy district in Lima) and the surrounding districts, things got to be a little more comfortable.
Why am I here?
Well, here are some things I am interested in applying to this “study of the relationship between art and politics.”
I am obsessed with issues of:
1. The Theatre.
2. Gay Men and their culture.
4. My Feelings.
I’m not sure if this is good or bad. I do know that it’s probably the reason I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder when I was younger. (But who isn’t?)
Jorge Miyagui is an amazing print artist and painter who is one of our instructors on this trip. His work reminds me of me being 5 and 80 at the same time. He is the cool looking guy on the left in the picture (the cool looking guy on the right is Mauricio Delgado, you can/should visit his blog by clicking on the picture), and gives me the one-arm-around-the-back-while-walking-hug when we talk and I try to speak Spanish, and has introduced me to El Colectivo Contranaturas. I met with them the other night.
I spoke Spanish to them. They replied in English.
And once I told them that I wanted to combine the study of the relationship between art and politics, theatre, gayness, spirituality, and my feelings in an academic project, they told me to go do more research.
On the history of social movements. Go figure.
But while smiling and talking loud and flipping scarfs and kissing hello and goodbye. And with hugs and promises of more kissing hello. So I have a really good feeling about this.
And my traveler’s diarrhea is getting better!