The Northern Coast

The Northern Coast
The Northern Coast--photo by Zack Thieman

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sh*t My Host Dad Says; Part Three

My host family has become a very important part of my Peace Corps service, and my host dad's wit and commentary both a blessing and a burden.

I've been posting funny quotes from my host dad on facebook and on here, but I haven't told you much about him. My host dad grew up here in my site with 12 brothers and sisters, a few of which have passed away over the years. He went to college and got a degree in physical education/sports. He mumbles like crazy and kind of sounds like Marlon Brando in the Godfather, and often my friends who visit have a hard time understanding him. He is a jack-of-all-trades and has so many different jobs and hobbies I can't keep track of them, from working in the school system, to building tombs in the cemetery, to bouncing at my host uncle's discoteca. He has 5 false teeth and occasionally he'll take them out and surprise me with a big grin. He is the definition of chismoso, a person that revels in gossip and other people's business, and when walking around town I occasionally run into him shooting the shit with neighbors. He has to put his two-cents in about everything. He's smart, a good father to his children, and a hard worker. He is an atypical Peruvian dad, as he takes a huge interest in his children's education, cleans the house, and has been known to make a meal for the family every now and then. We have a lot of interesting and fun conversations, and equally as many fights and disagreements, but it is always water under the bridge at the end of the day.

Many of you have told me how much you enjoy the posts about my host dad and feel that you like him and would love to meet him. It is nice to hear that our conversations can be translated into something that others can enjoy. Without further adieu, here is the third installation of some of the funnier shit my host dad says.

On appearances
Host dad: So, are you going to iron your sweater, or is it supposed to look all wrinkly and disheveled?


Host dad: ¡Que feo soy! [I am so ugly!]
Me: [stare blankly]
HD: All of my white hair, ugh, it’s so ugly. White hair is super ugly, huh?
Me: No, no, it’s not ugly.
HD: ¡Bien bandita eres! [You’re mischevious, lying, etc] You tell me, “No, no, you’re not ugly, it’s not ugly,” but you’re smiling the whole time you say it!

Proper eating
[Zack was over at my house and my host dad and host siblings were snacking on animal crackers, so they offered him some. He started eating them and my host dad interrupted him suddenly]
HD: Whoa, whoa, slow down! You’re doing it wrong! First you eat the head. Then you eat the feet. Then you eat the rest.
[Zack follows suit]
HD: See? Tastes better, doesn’t it?


Host dad: I want a tamal
Host mom: A tamal? At this hour?
HD: The stomach knows no hour.
H. Mom: You’re going to eat it cold?
HD: Hot or cold, the stomach doesn’t care. It’s all the same temperature when it reaches the stomach.
Me: There are other reasons to heat up your food, like texture, taste, and killing bacteria.
HD: All bacteria is killed the first time it’s cooked. The rest is psychological.
Me: And then more grows on it as it sits out. There are bacteria everywhere, and that’s why you have to heat your food up to a certain temperature to kill it.
[At that moment I took a sip of me tea, which was way too hot] “HOT!”
H. Mom: Did you burn yourself?
Me: Yeah, super hot.
H. Mom: That should kill all the bacteria!

An eye for an eye
HD: You know what I think they should do with criminals?
Me: What?
HD: Put them all on a boat, take them far out into the ocean, then put weights around their feet and throw them overboard.
Me: That's what the mob does.
HD: Well it's what the police should do. 
Me: That's a little extreme, don't you think?
HD: No. We should also cut the hands off of thieves.
Me: Uhmmm...

After weeks of various different symptoms that never really added up to a cold, the flu, or anything that antibiotics could be prescribed for, the doctors suggested I give a stool sample to see if I have a parasite.

The last time I had a parasite (giardia) my host family all but didn’t believe it was possible. “Giardia doesn’t exist here,” my host mom said as she looked at me confused when I told her the diagnosis, which of course isn’t true.

So when I went in to give another stool sample I just told them I had a doctor’s appointment, because they tend to freak out when I’m sick. In fact, until I can demonstrate that I am completely healthy it is nonstop suggestions and ideas on what’s wrong with me and how I can fix it. After coming back from my regional capital, the questioning ensued.

Host Mom: And? How’d it go?
Me: Fine, I have to wait for the results.
Host Dad: How are you feeling? What’s wrong?
Me: I’m feeling fine right now.
HD: And your stomach? How is your stomach?
Me: Fine, it doesn’t hurt all the time, just sometimes
HD: Are you on your period?
Me: …No.
HD: You’re not? Because sometimes when women have stomach issues it’s because of her period.
Me: Well, it’s been going on for a long time, it’s not my period.
HD: I know what it is, you’re stressed. You’ve been very stressed lately and this is causing all your problems.

-A couple hours later-

HD: I know what’s wrong with you, you drink way too much coffee.
H.Mom: No, it’s not the coffee, the coffee just keeps you from sleeping, and she hasn’t been drinking coffee at night.
HD: I know what your problem is, you eat too much aji [hot sauce]. Too much aji can upset your stomach!
Me: I hardly ever eat aji.
HD: Yes you do!
Me: No, I swear, I barely ever eat it.
HD: Then whose aji is that in the fridge?
H.Mom: That’s mine.
HD: What in the world are you doing eating so much aji? Why do you need aji? Aji is only going to make you sick!

-One week later-

HD: What’s wrong with you? You seem down.
Me: I’m just not feeling very good.
HD: Still? What did the doctor say?
Me: That everything came back normal.
HD: You see? I told you, you’re fine, it’s just stress. Stress can cause stomach problems, headaches, fatigue and all of that.
Me: You’re probably right.
HD: I am right. And why are you stressed anyways? You don’t have kids, you eat 3 meals a day, your life is easy. Quit stressing out!

My host dad headed out for one of his many random jobs; night security at a well.

Carnaval! Throwing baby powder at each other at a party.

Host dad and I, covered in baby powder from carnaval craziness

On the important things in life
HD: You should buy a house here. Actually better yet, buy land then build your own house, that way you can have it how you like it.
Me: Okay, sounds good.
HD: But just get the basics; don’t go buying a bunch of fancy stuff, just what you need to live. The most important thing is food and to eat, am I right? Don’t go buying expensive furniture, expensive things. Some people buy couches and they get upset if it gets dirty and say, “Hey don’t put your feet on the couch!” But what happens if I have a couch I barely use? I keep it nice and clean and then I die, my wife remarries, and then some other guy is sitting on my couch. Better I enjoy it now and put my feet up. Because you can’t take it with you when you die, am I right? They give you a nice white shirt and then put a blanket over your legs because no one looks below the waist at someone in their coffin. Nope, you can’t take it with you.


HD: All of our children are weak and don’t know what it is to suffer, am I right? Before women used to have 10, 12 kids.
Me: Yeah…that’s a lot of kids.
HD: Now, women only have one and they don’t even want to push out their baby! They don’t even want to deal with pregnancy! Look at you, how old are you? You don’t have any kids, and why? Because you’re scared.
Me: Umm….it actually has to do with the fact that I’m not ready to support a child, nor am I in a position to take care of a child.
HD: How old are you, 24?
Me: 26
HD: Well you’re not getting any younger. When you finally get married and have kids, you take care of yourself, you and your husband. Neither of you should drink for at least 5 months. You don’t want your baby being born a drunk. You want your baby to be strong.
Me: Yeah, when the time comes.
HD: Well, don’t wait too long, cause you’re what? 23?
Me: I’m 26
HD: And your boyfriend?
Me: 26, the same.
HD: Well…just don’t wait too long.

Host dad: Kayla [my host mom's nickname] was so shy and quiet when she was young.
Me: Yeah?
HD: Yeah, she would blush and hide her face whenever I walked by her.
Me: How did you two meet?
HD: Here in town.
Me: You just both grew up here and knew each other?
HD: Yeah.
Me: So how did you start dating?
HD: She called me up one day and invited me over to her house for candy.
Host mom: [from the other room] LIAR!!

HD: Ugh, cebada is gross, am I right? It only tastes good cold, am I right?
[Cebada is a drink made out of barley. I can’t drink it since I’m gluten free]
Me: What about emoliente, the hot drink with cebada in it? What do you think of that? [Emoliente is often used to cure and prevent ailments]
HD: No. I’m old. My body is old, my organs are old, my heart is old, there is no reason for me to drink that. You? You’re young. You need to maintain your health. Me, I’m done. There’s no saving or maintaining any of this.

[my host dad is 54]

What I suspected all along…
HD: I like to talk and have conversations, but I also like to say the contrary of the other person. If everyone agrees in a conversation, it’s boring and short. You, you don’t always agree with me, and I like that, and our conversations are better and longer because of it.