Home Is … Where?

I returned to Peru on Monday after a two week visit to the States.  The trip was exhausting, but great.  I attended my friends’ wedding in the North Woods, crammed in dates with as many family and friends as possible, ate and drank at many of my favorite Milwaukee establishments (Distil,  Lalli’s Pizza, Kopps, Harbor House, to name a few) and shopped for my list of random items.  My first morning home I spent an hour in Walgreens and was giddy from all the choices I could make when buying sundries. Thank goodness my retail excitement had waned by the time I hit Target later in the trip or who knows how many hours (or dollars) I would have wasted there.

But as I suspected would occur when I set off, I returned to Peru feeling adrift.  Not unhappy, just disoriented.  In Milwaukee, I was in my comfort zone – I was surrounded by people who know me well, had my car, knew where I was going, spoke the language, understood the customs and enjoyed all the comforts of the U.S.  But I don’t have a home there.  In fact, over the course of 12 nights I stayed in 5 different places.  I was a visitor, which felt odd given that I was in the city of my birth and my hometown for most of my life.  Toward the end of the trip, I was looking forward to being “home” in Peru, with my routine, house, bed and, of course, Matt.

But back in Peru, I remained unsettled.  I had to readjust to the dust and litter, the crumbling sidewalks, the stares on the street and the language barrier.  But there was also the familiar: Matt, our house, the mountains, the route from the airport, the egg vendor who asked where I had been.  We don’t plan to live in Peru forever, but we also don’t anticipate returning to the U.S. after we leave Peru.  I have one foot in each place, without being committed to either.  I have asked other expats where they feel their homes are or when they felt the U.S. was no longer home, and the responses varied.  Some feel the U.S. is always home, others say after a few years or a few moves they felt that each new place was home.

In order to combat this discombobulated feeling, I decided to make Peru more homey, even if our time here is limited to a few years.   To that end I have been on a shopping spree to finish outfitting our house with some of the miscellaneous items that we hadn’t bothered to get around to buying, such as a second guest bed (we are open for visitors!), a lamp, couch pillows and a coat tree.  There are a few more items on the list but I am not going to delay due to the uncertainty as to how long Peru will be our home.

Bottom line: my heart will always be in Wisconsin, even if my home is elsewhere.

Back to the Baños Bash

The party has continued all week here in Baños, and every day we are surprised by the latest happenings.  More vendors arrive daily although the newcomers have brought cheap clothes, jewelry,  kitchenware, shoes, hardware etc. as opposed to the nice craft goods the initial vendors have.  The town has been unbelievably crowded and tonight some of the main streets are closed.  The party is currently rocking, and the music will likely last until at least 2:00 am.  We went for about an hour earlier tonight after a function at Matt’s school, and the band was a lot of fun.  The crowd is drunk – very similar to a Wisconsin church festival – and several people offered us beers as we are a novelty.  This guy also was trying to get Matt to trade hats (he didn’t) while his drunk friend insisted on dancing with me.  They drove 6 hours for the festival.  I didn’t ask, but I suspect they will be sleeping in the square tonight.

photo (2)Matt and his new friend.  And hat.

At some point this weekend there will be fireworks, which are launched from these rickety structures.  Actually, many of them aren’t launched, rather they will wildly spin on the structure.  It is really cool to see although a bit mind boggling to have fireworks set off in the middle of town.  The first time we saw one of these structures, we thought a float was being built.   It is unclear when the fireworks are, but I am sure we will hear them. 🙂

 Earlier in the week, I came upon a scene that appeared to be a product expo of some kind.  New tents suddenly appeared on the perimeter of the square and contained booths with what appeared to be regional products, including cuy, flowers, corn, potatoes, beans, textiles, and honey.  There were crowds of people taking photos and some booths were giving out literature (not to me as I clearly wasn’t the target audience).  Nothing was being sold at that time although later that evening I saw one or two of the textile booths selling their wares.  I couldn’t stay long as I had to get to my volunteer gig, so I didn’t exactly figure out what was going on.  Most impressive were the different varieties of potatoes and corn.

It is very difficult to find good pots here as they are either small or flimsy, so I went native with this one from the fair.  For $16 the price can’t be beat so I didn’t even have the heart to barter.  I made chili in it today for the Green Bay Packers party we are throwing on Sunday – tasty!

Traditional pot

Traditional pot

I finally had my churros.  A few nights ago, Renzo’s Pizza, one of the vanishing restaurants that Matt has wanted to try, was open for the first time since we moved here, so we went there for dinner.  It was horrible – the crust was okay and toppings were fine, but the sauce was some awful brown sauce.  We couldn’t identify the taste, but it was bad.  I really miss Lalli’s Pizza in Wauwatosa!  So as a consolation we stopped at the fair for churros.  They were delicious.

The fair lasts through Sunday, so I am sure we will check it out again this weekend.  Who knows what we will find!