He who does not know foreign languages does not know anything about his own. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Kunst and Alterthum
I love Spanish class. It´s true. My roomates make fun of me because every day after I return from class, I have all these stories to tell…and I guess I always start with the same phrase…¨Today, in Spanish class…¨and then go on to tell my stories about our teacher, Jorge and all the things he does and the stuff my classmates say. I really can´t help it though, because I find myself (usually) very excited to be learning and improving my Spanish.
On Wednesday all of Cusco was preparing for a strike to attempt a message to the government about the prices of natural gas. Apparently in Peru, the government exports the natural gas first and then sells the remainder to the Peruvians, resulting in a very high price compared to surrounding countries. In Peru people pay about 150 soles or more (approx. $50) per month where in Brazil they pay about 40 soles per month. The people here buy their gas to heat the stove and showers and etc. No one uses gas heat for the house, more common is a wood stove.
So, one of my classmates suggested that instead of having class on Thursday, that we attend the strike. Our teacher asked if we would be making signs and what they might say. Each person explained how they would put something on their sign about ¨provide for your country¨or ¨stop exporting gas¨and other related topics. However, one classmate said he would write ¨¡Salva el cuy!¨ on his sign, which means ¨Save the Guniea Pig!¨ Everyone laughed because here in Peru, guinea pig is a common entree at most restuaruants, along with Alpaca (similar to a llama). Of course, we soon realized that our classmate´s sign would be in contrast to the entire position of the strike, since if the Peruvians had cheaper natural gas, they might end up cooking a LOT more cuy!
I also enjoy my tandem practice with a native Peruvian who is working on learning English. We meet an hour every day to practice. At first we would sit at Maximo Nivel and talked about our lives. Then after a few days, we started going outside to either walk to a plaza or sit and watch a parade or get ice cream or something. It was a nice way to practice!
Nick taught me about the history of the city, talked about his impressions of the people in Peru and also taught me some ¨sayings¨. For example, in Cusco one must be very careful when crossing the street, as the chances of getting hit by a taxi or bus are very high. More than once I have been crossing a street while the sign showed ¨walk¨and a taxi came around the corner and almost ran me down or multiple taxis would turn in front of me, leaving me stranded half way across the street. Nick said that the word for this is: criollo (cree o yo) and that it basically translates as a me first!¨ attitude that was initially represented by Spainards in the coloniel times.
Another saying that Nick taught me is:
¨Sielo serrano, cojera de perro, lagrimas de mujer no hay que creer.¨
Sielo serrano means¨middle sky¨. In Peru, Cusco is in the middle because it is between the coastal and jungle regions and one never knows when it might rain, cojera de perro means ¨the limp of a dog¨and it implies that sometimes a dog is limping and you can´t tell if it´s real. Then finally, lagrimas de mujer means ¨the tears of a woman¨ and speaks to the idea that women cry at the drop of a hat. The last part no hay creer means ¨there is no way to understand.¨ The saying basically means that a lot of things in life are very unpredictable, especially women! How funny and how true.