Social situations…

In the last week we´ve been to a going away party and 2 birthday parties (one of which we hosted at the house since there were 3 birthdays last week).  The rate at which parties is occuring is definitely not normal the JVs here assure us.  But some interesting social notes for you:

1) Peruvians always greet everyone in a room when they enter.  They do the same when they leave.  If a man is greeting a man they will shake hands.  If a woman and man are greeting they will kiss on the cheek.  The same goes for woman greeting woman.  It is a very friendly tradition and makes for a much more inviting experience. (Think about all those parties you´ve been to where someone walks in and you don´t know who they are and you aren´t introduced to them…and then you have to talk to them…it can be awkward.)  The only awkardness comes when you kiss instead of handshake.  After a day here I had mostly met different women and become accustomed to kissing as a greeting.  And so we were walking into a man´s house when I went for the kiss instead of the hand shake.  It made for an awkward greeting and experience, and for a brief bit of time I was referred to as Señor suave…fortunately that did not last. 

2) Most Peruvians at parties have wine or beer to drink. Es igual…we do the same thing.  The difference is how they drink it.  There is typically only one or two bottles of wine or beer open at a time and there is a glass associated with each.  The glass is about the size of a double shot.  Most times you´re in some sort of circle or something similar, and the wine/glass combo is passed around the circle coming from your left and moving to your right.   

If you´re standing next to a man you will pour yourself a glass and pass the bottle.  Then you are welcome to take your time sipping your wine, or you may drink it more like a shot…both are acceptable ways of drinking your wine.  You then pass the glass to your right. 

If you are standing next to a woman you first ask her if she would like some wine. (Women don´t pour for themselves in Peruvian society and a man is expected to ask if she would like some)  If she wants a glass, then the man pours her a ¨moderate¨ amount of wine.  If too much is poured people will question your intentions with the woman…like ¨Oh, oh..are you trying to make her tipsy??¨ But if too little is poured the woman may scoff and be upset at the amount poured.  So you pour a ¨moderate¨ amount. 

On the whole, things here are going well.  It feels like an immersion trip for the most part and not like I´m living here.  Some of that is due to the fact that I´m not actually living in Tacna; I´m moving to Andahuaylillas in 3 months…and some of it is due to the fact that all we´ve been doing is meeting people and learning things and trying new foods.  But in time that feeling will disappear. 

A little outline of the next few weeks: visiting all the sites the Jesuits work with in Tacna this week.  Moving in with my host family on Saturday where I will live for the next 5 weeks.  Starting next monday I will be spending a week at each of the placements Jesuits work getting a feel for their works.  I´ll be focusing on campus ministry and pastoral care aspects of the sites since that is close to what I´ll be doing in Anda come Feb.

Thanks for reading!  Will write more soon…
Also, if you´re interested in getting more information the blogs of mi compañeros are along the right side of the page…