Smooth in-service dating skills:
One-sentence summary: A week-long post-friend-visit/vacation/medical re-entry hangover; December is the end-of-school-year mayhem in Peru; also the top-to-bottom changeover of posts in the Municipality; additionally general population and host family pre-Christmas schedule implosion; the [flinch] next avalanche of PC correspondence for our January training and the realization, not unlike in the States, the next month less than zero will be accomplished with twice the guilt.
Right Now: Introvert braces for the holiday gauntlet to the Peruvian 100th power.
Expression of the Week: Me gustaria que fueses mi enamorada. “I would like you to be my girlfriend.” I have no idea what the hell version of a verb “fueses” is but Google Translate got the point across.
Week Twenty-Seven was a slow one: I was propositioned twice and went through with it once.
The first proposal was from a park ranger in Manu National Park named Beto Bravo.
Aside from his name being a Peruvian Marvel comic equivalent of “Clark Kent” or “Peter Parker,” Beto has internet access for maybe two hours every forty-five days. Additionally, his work post is only three days from Cusco (in a transportation combo of a dugout canoe and a 4×4 truck on unmarked, unmaintained logging roads.)
That’s five days travel, one-way, while we have complimentary vacations and are still living in the same country.
For those of you who know my romantic history, you know Beto is just my type.
The second proposal came from Andres’ mother, Ñomi (my eldest host-sister.) She asked me to walk her son down the aisle (think a Fashion Week runway, complete with colored smoke machines) for Andres’ high school graduation. Students were accompanied in the procession by professores and after a family huddle we decided I count.
Dress, make-up, heels. This wonderful kid owes me:
Just kidding. I was honored and secretly thrilled to be Andres’ compañera… even after six hours into an agonizing one student by one student ceremony when an earthquake hit.
High school in Peru, referred to as secondaria, goes until “5th year” when students are typically 16-years-old. The school year ends for summer break in December (remember we are in the Southern Hemisphere) and some students study for an entrance exam dependent on their preferred area of study.
In Oxapampa, we have University that concentrates on Environmental Engineering. Andres, the third of Nomi and Bolo’s three children, is joining his aunt and uncles in Lima for advanced study in February. He plans to pursue graphic design and is already an excellent and accomplished anime artist.
BACK TO MY NEW BOYFRIEND. SQUEEEE
I know you are still reading to catch more details about my new romance and secret super hero boyfriend, Beto.
Beto Bravo (SPOILER: one of just five known real names here, people) was our SERNANP park ranger during last month’s friend-vacation in Manu National Park.
You may recall he made the original draft of interesting sights of Week 26.
As accurately depicted by this week’s opening gif, we were destined for one another:
“Soy Jessy. Y tu eres Beta?”
At this point in our fairy tale I real-time blacked out because a not-un-handsome, maybe age appropriate (28-42) probably not-married park ranger was about to show us an Anaconda. 🐍
Be still my freshly broken arm and sports bra full of cement.
Naturally when Beto asked me the standard tourism question “Where are you from?” I launched into the speech Peace Corps makes us brainwash with for sudden and spontaneous presentations to a room of a thousand host country nationals.
(In this instance it was invoked for a boat full of local guide staff.)
“I AM JESSY. I LIVE OXAPAMPA TWO YEARS MORE. I LEARNING THE SPANISH. I WORK FOR PEACE CORPS. WHAT IS PEACE CORPS? PEACE CORPS IS A GOVERN-IABLE ORGANIZATION…”
I work in business development and tourism. Beto is starting a tourism agency in Manu. Can he have my contact information?
Um. Yes please. Can’t wait to put this in my VRF report.
[Insert comment from PC medical staff: “Oh honey. He is definitely not looking for business consulting,” -from “101 Reasons We Love Dr. Suni”]
Alas, we did not find the snake we were looking for. Two days later Señor Bravo had me (just me, not Sarah or Justin) fill out a double-sided, six-page survey where he got my number, confirmation I was in fact solatera (a detail, he shares later, he will never forget) my income demographic, my religious views, my plans for children (it was a curiously exhaustive questionnaire) and after all that he still gave me the parting gift of a national park sticker with his Facebook account written on the back.
A couple weeks later (Week 27) and an escalated few hours on Messenger resulted in Beto asking me to be his enamorada (the casi-cultural equivalent of a lover, girlfriend).
My response: “Yeah sure I will consider it but shouldn’t we have a date longer that twenty-minutes without an audience?”
And that’s the kind of response that gets you a marriage proposal, folks.
I went to bed our first night officially together with a scheduled hike, a phone date, and butterflies & caymans. [If you are still wondering if I am being sarcastic, stop.]
Hot-tip: Sharing good chisme (gossip) with your host family so they stop teasing about Clint, your nearest male volunteer, is invaluable.
By the time I woke up the next morning, my host-sister Jenny, unsolicited, found Beto’s not second, third, but FIFTH Facebook account along with his “wife” Dina and 4-month old baby, Danielito.
Cute baby isn’t a certain deal breaker, but it is generally something good to set out on the table before messaging me like you are claiming occupation of the Territory of Jessy.
The FB account under “Bladamir Bravo” and a baby-mama-wife, however, that’s when it gets a little touchy.
I admit, I was sad. I liked the thrill and the attention and I loved the story. Armed with an arsenal of red flags, I had secretly hoped I was manifesting a false perception of my first real Capital B “boyfriend” in twenty years. And then having to meditate on the benefits and waste of time of an Internet flame war when all I had left to cuddle up to was my overdue bi-monthly informe. (Government report of my accomplishments.)
Obviously, I decided to end our nascent love affair. I courteously offered Beto the chance to explain his multiple identities before deleting our friendship. He said “what kids?” He re-confirmed how he is soletero. He said that “other” account is old. He said he lost his password. He said he wants to take me camping. He asked me how my hike was. And my favorite and final response to naming his wife and son? –His account was hacked.
Now, don’t mistake this week’s content finale as an example of men in Peru, dating in Peru, or a unique insight to intercultural exchange. The last few online dates I had in the States, both in Wyoming and Washington, also happened to be surprise married men.
Like I said. I seem to have a type.
Vamos a ver, amigos.
A Parting Shot
Victory definitely belongs to me forever.
Update: I want more grapefruit jelly beans and Peanut M&M’s. But really I just want fun pictures and cards and stuff to hang on my wall from you.
Leaderboard: Package from Wyoming sent in October! Phone case, underwear, and more socks. Test run success, Ariel!
Hermana Jessica Rice, Cuerpo de Paz
Apartado NO. 120 SERPOST La Merced
La Merced, Chanchamayo, Junín, PERU
Please note: 1) This mailbox is two hours away 2) It costs a lot of money to send me stuff – (like $23 for $5 of candy) and only send through USPS to SERPOST 3) Keep packages under 1lb (or to not appear worth $100) or they get sent to Customs Jail in Lima. 4) Customs Jail is as arbitrary and random as my blog posts, so don’t send me anything that you’ll be sad goes missing. 5) The last numbers are my Peru cell phone and they will call me if it gets lost. Place them in the spot you would look if you were lost.