Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Peruvian People

I've been meaning to post about the best part of Peru: the people!

We all know first impressions aren't everything, but if they were, I'd want to spend all my time with Peruvians. They are friendly, warm, inviting, laid-back, family-oriented, fun, and sweet. The family running La Posada Atahualpa even let us hijack the hotel lobby for a play one night. I think they enjoyed the snippets of Spanish as they laughed at us, piscos in hand, from the bar. Never before had strangers made me feel like laughing at myself as much as they did. (I blame Bob, my role was an un-dead being possessed by the spirits of 500 conquistadors).

The nightlife is what really got me. Venturing to pubs at night in the U.S. (not that I do it that often) usually results in good food and a good time with my own group. In Cuzco, the stranger sitting next to you suddenly is your friend and you're all singing, laughing and clapping together. A nice restaurant in Cuzco taught me this. My group enjoyed a tapas-style dinner late at night with a round of drinks, but, while waiting for the food, we abandoned our tables to run upstairs and watch the live music. This didn't have a touristy feel. Wood beams and stone walls with a modern edge welcomed us, the few American faces in the crowd. Peruvians sat around the bar and tables in the warm light, singing heartily with the singer's melodious voice and the accompanying classical guitar. Every face was smiling, hands were clapping, bodies danced in their seats, laughter echoed and the friendly atmosphere became a contagion. As I chatted with these instant friends and admired the music with them, I thought, this is what it is to be human. You can be anywhere in the world and just soak in happiness together. You got the sense that people in Peru just loved each other, for being human beings, for sharing joy.

And that's what set the Peruvian people apart to me. No matter how difficult life is, no matter how unfair, they wear their smiles well. Their music can charm a crowd. They make life light and cheerful. They're joyful, fun and they know how to celebrate: this is a lesson I want to remember.
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