Brichero (noun): from the English word “bridge,” originally used to describe a Peruvian who attempts to date an American as a bridge out of Peru and into the U.S. More recently, used to describe anyone who attempts to befriend Americans because it makes them look cooler, and because they can get Americans to pay for their food, etc, when out and about. Used in a sentence: “I met some bricheros on the lawn outside the cafeteria the other day…..” Context: So I’m sitting on campus with a friend from my program doing the reading for our Peruvian Social Reality course. And suddenly she says, “Oh, crap.” Then two Peruvian guys come up to us, say “Excuse me” (in English), and are about to ask us some question about their ENGINEERING class reading, when my friend, we’ll call her Q, goes “Hey.” That’s when the bricheros recognize that they’ve already met her, the day before. So we’re introduced, talk for all of 2 minutes, and then they want my phone number. Now usually I would be very open to this, especially considering that making Peruvian friends is a goal of mine. However, we heard about bricheros during our orientation, and were “warned” about them (I hate to use the word “warn,” because I don’t want to make them sound like criminals.) So I say something along the lines of, “Well, maybe when we see each other on campus more, become friends, then we’ll exchange phone numbers.” Brichero is clearly disappointed. He asks if I want to go salsa dancing. I say no thanks. So we say goodbye (I was very polite), and they leave.
Then, Q tells me that the day before they approached her (that time, they had a question about their philosophy reading, and, “Wasn’t she in their philosophy class?”) They got her phone number, as well as the numbers of 5 other girls in our group, and….wait for it…..used the same line about salsa dancing.
I don’t mean to sound stuck-up by pushing away potential friends, but to be honest, I don’t think it would have been a very natural friendship.
However, I have met some wonderful Peruvian compañeros! I happened to be on the same combi this morning as a guy in my history class, Cesar. There was some road improvement going on so it took over an hour to get to the university. We were fifteen minutes late to our class, but don’t worry, the professor hadn’t started yet. I’ve also met some girls in my Econ course (Development Theory). Not really “friends” yet, but I think we’re on our way there! It’s much harder than I expected to find opportunities to meet and hang out with other students, since there aren’t really “student organizations” like we have at colleges in the U.S. The only one I’ve found so far is the Catholic students’ organization, and I even went to their table to talk to them, but, well, I don’t think it’s for me 😛 This was a little disappointing because I was hoping to find a backpacking/outdoor activities club. But as the saying goes, “It’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just different!” I think I’ve just gotta give it time.
I have also found a wonderful church here in Lima, something I was really hoping for and I’m quite excited about. It’s got a group of students my age, so more opportunities for friendships there! The first week I walked in, an older lady says, in English, “Welcome to our church!! Do you speak Spanish?” To which I say “Si,” and she responds in Spanish, “Oh, good! Because I don’t speak English.” But everyone is very kind and welcoming. This Sunday, we (the youth) are singing to the pastor. Ha. That should be good.
The two courses that I chose at the university are fabulous. My history class, Peru in Modern Times, is taught by a very energetic professor who loves making political and historical comparisons between the United States and Peru. My new friend, Cesar, asked if this intimidated me, but I love it because it allows me to actually contribute something to class discussion. My other class, Development Theory, which is in the Econ department, is fascinating. The class is small, only 20 students or so, which is really nice, and the professor is constantly cracking jokes that you wouldn’t get unless you’re from Lima, but then always stops to explain them to me. The rest of the class seems to get a kick out of this. I also have to say that I am darn proud of myself for doing all the readings in Spanish.
This past Tuesday was the Festival of Santa Rosa (the patron saint of Lima). Obviously, that’s a big deal for a country that’s nearly ninety percent Catholic. I actually wish I’d gone to the Mass with my host family (but I didn’t know they were going until they were leaving). But, we had the day off class. I always have Tuesdays off anyway, but since we all had it off, we decided to go to the beach! Punta Hermosa…sounds nice, right? Somehow, even though we’re in the middle of winter, I pictured myself laying out under the sun. Wrong. The town was basically a ghost town, I don’t think very many people actually live there, especially during the winter. We could only find one little sandwich shop open to eat lunch because of the holiday. But the ocean was beautiful, and it was really nice to get out of Lima for the day to somewhere a little quieter. Some pics:
Saturday we’re visiting Caral, the oldest civilization of the Americas….I’ll keep you posted!!
Part of my life in America that I can’t live without: peanut butter. The other day I spent 17 soles (about 7 dollars) on a small jar of peanut butter. Expensive, but worth it. It was the first time my host mother had tried it!
That’s all for now! Here is an entertaining video about Peru…..in every sense of the name. It’s 15 minutes long but it’s worth it.