Just a few days from the border now, a level of sadness hits me every day as the racial overtness is harder to ignore. As I pass through a village, nearly everyone stops what they're doing and stares at me with silent vague intensity; someone invariably and anonymously barks 'grin-go' with ire, and often then spits. From every car or truck that passes, a sullen shout of 'grin-go'. Here, the term simply means 'white person', and clearly used as a racial epithet by many, though not all, people. This is added to the general nonverbal communication devices such as whistling to get my attention (as if I'm a dog being called to come), banging incessantly on car door or tabletop, and most irritating, wailing on a car horn. Could they really hope that once they're hailing me so rudely - and never with a pleasant smiling 'hola, señora, buenos dias' - I'd have any interest in a conversation. It tries on one's patience and has become more aggressive as I've traveled northward. Few people will utter a word to me until I offer a greeting first. Still, I manage to ignore the morons and find cheerful and better mannered people to banter with every day and haven't had any difficulty in finding accommodation every night.
Even I am surprised at the distance I've traveled in nearly these 6 months. I don't know yet what the total distance will be, but I've been figuring that the border with Ecuador will be about the half-way point. I estimate that I've spoken directly with somewhere close to 8,000 people since I started this pilgrimage, not counting the impossible-to-know number of listeners to the various radio stations I've given interviews. In terms of global population, it's nothing, but in terms of the efforts of one little pilgrim, it incrementally contributes to the betterment of the world, no? And what a great adventure I'm having in the process. The world needs more pilgrims.
One amusing comment on my northern Peruvian sojourn... the ending 'bamba' on many of the placenames signifies something like 'town' or 'ton' in English placenames and is used so commonly paired with other onomatopoetic syllables that it's utterly confusing to follow conversations regarding directions (which, of course, I have to have every day). Piscobamba, Pomobamba, Cajabamba... My frustration totally evaporated when I passed a village called - and I could never make this up - Shitabamba. Laugh out loud.