Palabras de Dina
Confession: this post has been drafted since September and never posted.
I need to tell you all how much I appreciate my host parents.
Klaus is Danish, and is quiet but has a great sense of humor and is friendly in his reserved way. He makes bread. Very good bread. And cooks lots of tasty things. Mostly meat, but also some great sauces and such. He has three degrees in three different types of engineering, and can fix just about anything. He built the top floor where he and Dina live, on what I believe used to be the roof.
Dina is native andina (from the Peruvian Andes). She is what I would call a “renaissance woman”. She has studied architecture, ceramics, dance, language, and who knows what else. She is the president of an NGO (though now retired) and has worked in various other capacities, including for the Peruvian government, throughout her life. She speaks Quechua, Spanish, Danish, some English, some French, and possibly more that I haven’t heard. She loves literature, poetry, art, photography, music, film… just about any form of artistic expression. She cooks delicious, varied, and mostly healthy food. Now that they are both retired, they host students, visitors, etc. in their home, turning it into a kind of bed-and-breakfast. It keeps her so busy that I’m not sure she can truly call herself retired. But she handles it all quite well, even when she has to wake up at 5am to let guests in or walk to the store at 9pm to get bread for the next morning’s breakfast.
The other thing that I really appreciate about them, and which assuaged my greatest concern about living with a host family, is that they are very straightforward about what they expect from me, what I can expect from them, what I am allowed to do, eat, etc. If I offer to help with dinner, do the dishes, etc., there’s no ambiguity or back-and-forth, Dina will either say yes or no. All of this means that I feel very comfortable and relatively certain of my place in the house, my duties and privileges. That’s huge.
Dina is endlessly interesting. Our daily conversations range from what we did that day, to the history of Miraflores’ architecture, to differences between cultures, to life in general and advice. The other evening, at dinner, Dina started giving me advice on what is important in a significant other. “Palabras de Dina,” she said ceremoniously, and smiled to herself. She told me that when she or Klaus would say something didactic, they would say “palabras de Dina (or Klaus)” and the other would say “Amen.” Their little way of laughing at themselves and not taking themselves too seriously.
So, some palabras de Klaus:
- Tus notas, tu carrera, tus clases no importan. Lo único que importa es tu diploma y el primer trabajo que tienes. Esos deciden tu futura, nada más. / Your grades, your major, your classes don’t matter. The only thing that matters is your diploma and the first job that you get. Those decide your future, nothing more.
and palabras de Dina:
- Siempre comer algo cocido con algo crudo. / Always eat something cooked with something raw (for vitamins).
- Escoja alguién con un buen sentido de humor. / Choose someone (a significant other) with a good sense of humor.
- Una mala experiencia, tambien es parte de la experiencia que nos sirve en la vida. / A bad experience is also part of the experience that serves us in life.
- Eres jóven; ¡disfruta la vida! ¡Puedes dormir cuando estás jubilada! / You’re young; enjoy life! You can sleep when you’re retired!