So after showing up at SETELA a few weeks back intending to help out the Bible School students with some cleaning, we ended up involved in a potato harvest!
Its been somewhat of an unhealthy month here at Casa Kofoed-Nielsen. No sooner had we completely recovered from last month’s collective family stomach issues than we started suffering from a collective family cold. We are just getting over that now and hoping we can stay healthy for a while. Fortunately Elisabeth has been the least affected by both of these illnesses though she has been somewhat extra fussy. This led to a rather difficult incident on Sunday morning where the ONLY thing that would calm her down was me (feverish and exhausted and only wanting to be in bed) having to get dressed and sit outside in the (hot) car with her. That was pretty tough.
Overall Elisabeth keeps getting bigger and more fun! She had a kind of unfriendliness phase lasting a couple of weeks where if anyone approached her she would say ‘No! No!’ loudly and turn her head away which was a bit awkward when sweet little girls wanted to say hi to her. Fortunately she is over that phase now and is back to her normal smiley self who waves at random strangers. They generally wave back if they notice her, but sometimes they don’t and I always feel so sorry for her! Her latest obsessions are keys (trying to put them in the keyhole) and trying to work out where on the computer USB cables and headphones should be plugged in. She’s also finally started to eat more significant amounts of actual food (as opposed to just breastmilk).
We’re now on Week 4 of the Bible School – its all been a bit disrupted because we started off with eight students, then another five came, and another I think three more are supposed to arrive later. I have to say it makes everything a bit more confused, but choir-wise the five new students (all from Ecuador) are a great boon as they are very energetic and two of them have been in choirs before! This is quite a big deal as Peru is not a very singing-y culture – they have no singing or any kind of music lessons as standard in schools and choirs aren’t a big part of the culture, so its really good to have some more backup. I don’t meant there is no musical tradition at all here because there certainly is – one hears some really cool-sounding Andean music often in busses etc, but it seems really sad to me that its not a part of the schools. Anyway, one of the good things about having more energetic people is that the others will tend to follow them and feel more confident themselves. I’m a firm believer in just about everyone having natural musical ability in them somewhere, so I feel most of what I’m trying to do with the choir is developing that and bringing that out, and having other people in the choir to follow along with (rather than just me singing from the front) is great.
Saturday before last we also randomly got involved in the great SETELA Potato Harvest, so look out for pics of that next post!
Don’t worry, the trip to Emergencia (Accident and Emergency) was me and it wasn’t life-threatening, just rather painful. We got back from church and I was getting ready to prepare some food and was cutting some stuff with the kitchen scissors when I suddenly, randomly, made some kind of mistake, or the scissors slipped, or SOMETHING, and I ended up cutting the tip of my left little finger quite badly. I’m generally speaking a fairly low-key, put a plaster or steri-strip on it and it will be fine sort of type but there was quite a lot of blood and quite a lot of pain and i could see it was a deep cut and after doing some yelling and crying (I had to get Samuel to take Elisabeth away as my sensitive little toddler got all upset when she heard I was upset) the internet told me that I should see a doctor if the finger was going numb, and it was. After a little more faffing around a very very kind neighbour went with me in a taxi to the hospital.
It was the hospital where I had delivered Elisabeth, so fortunately I was already on their system. Fortunately because in my hurry (and pretty bad pain) I had forgotten to bring any ID with me, vitally important in Peru. Fortunately a combination of me already being on the system and the very kind neighbour having her ID covered it, so they took me inside to a bed and then said I would need stitches. They tend to overmedicalise things here, but it was a pretty nasty cut and I also thought I needed them. So they then gave me an injection which was supposed to be somehow painkilling, in my butt. I learned later from the itemised receipt that it was adrenaline…this explained why I felt jittery… Then I waited a bit more – feeling a bit dizzy by this point, and then a surgeon came and smothered the whole finger in antiseptic stuff, gave me a small local anaesthesia injection (which was lovely because the pain went away!) and stitched it with four neat little stitches. I had to go back next week to have the stitches taken our – it took four minutes, I could have easily done it myself, and it cost 100 soles. So a good tip for all of you would be – take your own stitches out and save time and money, should you ever be so unfortunate as to end up with stitches
In other news, we had a holiday last week – we didn’t go anywhere, just had a ‘staycation’ which was nice as we hadn’t had a proper break since last summer. I got a lot of sewing done which always makes me happy! Our holiday was somewhat marred by the fact that we had four days without tap water. It had been raining every day here for several weeks, which rather messed up our laundry system as we are used to continual bright sunlight to dry our cloth nappies. However last week apparently heavy rains in the mountains had caused a ‘huaico’ which I think would be translated as something like destructive landslide or mudslide, which had messed up the water treatment, system meaning that the majority of the city of Arequipa was without tap water. The water company was supposed to send round lorries with tanks, which they did eventually but you didn’t know when or where they coming, so the whole thing was a bit of a fiasco. I started ‘following’ the water company on Facebook as they kept posting updates about when we would have water and where the tanks would be, etc, but not only was their information often inaccurate but they kept talking about how we should not waste water, which to people who haven’t flushed their toilets for two days is frankly insulting. So I’m not really their biggest fan right now.
In other news, Elisabeth is now practically running, still in a somewhat staggery way, and has finally started to feed herself with a fork. She can do it much faster with her fingers but prefers a fork – I think because its what she sees us doing. She’s always up for a challenge!
– If you visit someone’s house in the evening, there will be candles lit. Any shape, colour, or size, but definitely candles.
– You can wear bright contrasting colours on a normal day if you like, but you will be the only one. Scandinavians tend to favour greyish tones.
– Same for dangly earrings and other eye-catching jewellery.
– Christmas means you start baking cookies at the beginning of December.
– Christmas songs not infrequently contain references to ‘the North’ or specific Scandinavian countries.
– Not only do you struggle to understand them, but they struggle to understand each other even if they are from the same country!!!
– All children are blonde. Different shades of blonde, but all blonde (this of course includes my own little semi-Scandinavian).
– If you ask people to give you their old glass jars, they will all be coffee jars (true story. OK there was one Nutella jar. The rest coffee).
– Liquorice is the new chocolate.
– All ladies pull out knitting at any social gatherings, which means that:
– All children at some point appear in a hand-knitted garment, often chunky all-wool with earthy tones.
– Delicious home-made bread will appear at some point at most social gatherings.
– Placing toppings on aforesaid bread is not just a means of eating, it is both a science and a fine art.
– Special events generally produce a fascinating variety of different types of braided hairstyles on the ladies.
– Tea is a sort of strange niche drink. Coffee is where it is at. But…
– If someone invites you round for ‘coffee,’ you will get so, so much more!
I love you my Scandinavian friends!
In this post you will read the first genuinely funny language mistake that either of us has made. There have been a few misunderstandings and slipups (like the time I asked at the meat market for huecos (holes) instead of huesos (bones – I wanted them for making stock), but nothing too major. Until last week… we had a nice Peruvian couple over for dinner who were friends of a friend in America and turned out to be the landlords of people we know (all rather complicated but goes to show its a small world after all). We didn’t know anything about them so were going over the basics – how many children do you have, where do they live, etc. They said they had three adult children, one in one city, one in another, and one en el cielo (in heaven – ie he had died). I understood this and was starting to express sympathy, but Samuel, who had asked the question, misremembered the word cielo for the word sierra, which refers to a particular geographical area of Peru. So his response was “Oh, ¿donde en el cielo?” – ‘where in heaven?’!!! I had to quickly point out what they had actually said – cue great confusion on his part and gracious explanation on the part of the couple. Fortunately they were very nice and understanding and we talked later about their son (he had very sadly died suddenly and unexpectedly of some kind of aneurysm in his early twenties) – obviously I would not be sharing this as a funny story if they had broken down in tears or anything like that. A small but important difference between the two words.
In Denmark and Norway they celebrate Christmas on the 24th so as I wasn’t ill then we celebrated with the other missionaries in the morning – we had a small church service and then we ate traditional rice porridge (basically like unsweetened rice pudding eaten with cinnamon sugar, butter, and raisins. There is traditionally an almond hidden in it and if you find the almond you win a marzipan pig. They had several almonds as it was a large group, and I got one of them! They had got someone to bring marzipan pigs all the way from Norway so I’m really looking forward to eating that as I love marzipan and you can’t really get it here.
Christmas was unfortunately somewhat of a flop as after the missionary Christmas celebration on the morning of the 24th I was struck down with a rather nasty stomach bug (very unusual for me). So I spent Christmas weekend in bed and a couple days afterwards mostly in bed. Actually I had been feeling increasingly tired and run-down before Christmas so in some ways it was quite nice to have a rest, especially as I was tired and a bit queasy-ish but not feeling really awful. I’m fully recovered now and fortunately Samuel and Elisabeth were fine.