Saturday, February 23, 2013

Day 163 It's a jungle out there...

Funny how in one day months ago, I rose up out of the beige desert and into the green high Andes, and now, in one day, I've dropped down out of the green high Andes and into the green lush jungle. Passing through some unknown altitude, I hit a wall of humidity that made my hair curl so fast, my hat fell off.  The change in vegetation, birdsongs, and crawling insects seemed to happen over a single ridge.  There'll be no more shivering under a mountain of heavy blankets at night.  And, bonus, among the new verdant vistas are coffee and cocoa trees.  How fascinating the world is by foot.

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.

7 comments:

Amy R said...

Hello! And thinking of you, walking along...as I drove back and forth across the metro area. Ugh. 2 1/2 hours of car time in one day...

But I'll be honest, I would be scared stiff if "gringo" was addressed to me in such ugly tones.

ksam said...

Bless for this pilgrimage..one lone small pilgrim moving with peace thru a huge world. Leave a wake of peace behind. As your moving north now, obviously we'll all have to just increase our prayers for you..to match perhaps your footsteps? :-)

John Zorn said...

Yes we find knuckle dragging racism everywhere. And no doubt the racists do too. Serves them right!

I did laugh at the village name and it reminded me of two villages I came across in Romania - Turda and Cunta. Yes, I'm afraid so!

I liked how you said you always met some nice people - usually we remember only the cretins, which is not good.

As the Gaelic song says "Step you gaily, on you go/ heel for heel and toe for toe!".

Caminante, no hay camino.......

gracefilled fool said...

continuing to follow your pilgrimage... marveling at what clarity in mission means for success... prayers and blessing during this changing time for Roman Catholic Christians world wide... continue to walk well

Michèle Dextras said...

I am in awe of your determination. It is not just pilgrims that make a difference but anyone who on whatever journey they may be, foot, bicycle, car, bus, whatever, smile and greet those they meet along the way. It is really hard to ignore or grumble at a smile.

Sheila Phelan Wright said...

Amazing that you keep that open spirit alive for anything and everything good. Glad you are in coffee and cocoa land. The world needs more pilgrims - all sorts of pilgrims everywhere. I'm with you.

Sheila Phelan Wright said...

having a hard time proving I'm human here. Thinking of you all the time.No gringa loca shouts?
The world needs so many more pilgrims thinking of you always.