My host sister, in the eyes of the people from my town...eloped. Yes, that´s right. I know someone who has eloped. I never thought I would be able to say that: "My host sister eloped". That just seems so much like something from the ´50s. But alas, in this corner of the world, when a woman moves in with a man, they become husband and wife. And since my host parents are so completely stubborn and traditional, they drove Reina to the point of desperation as to humiliate her family and elope with the man she loves, rather than endure the man her parents want her to continue dating.
The irony of it all is that when my host parents got married themselves, their own parents, who disapproved of their love, were not aware...until my host grandmother noticed her daughter was pregnant.
Despite the shame of having a daughter elope and the mixed emotions of feeling betrayed by your offspring, things had been quiet in the house. I think my host mom cried every once in a while and tears welled up into her eyes when we told her she should go say happy birthday and "I love you" to Reina when it was her birthday. My host dad now gazes at his newborn granddaughter with an empty silence.
On Sunday night, I was trying to eat the usual Sunday night special of fried chicken and french fries that normally gives me major indigestion, when a car drove up and in walked Reina with her new "esposo"! The brazen couple stood in the doorway, Reina mustering a pretty smile for her cousins, grandmother and aunts looking on. I got up to give her a little kiss on the cheek and one cousin gave them chairs to sit in by the doorway. Besides that, nobody came to greet her or to say hello. They all just kind of stared at her with gossipy curiosity. Her parents were in the kitchen. My stomach turned when her father went upstairs without a word. Eventually, but late enough to make a statement, my host mom came in and sat down with her newborn granddaughter without looking or speaking to them. Instead, she apologized to me for not having invited me to a church retreat. I told her it was FINE. Then she finally spoke to her daughter uncomfortably for a moment, then said she´d go call her husband. My host dad sent for them to go upstairs, thankfully.
They talked for about an hour and I have not a clue what was said, not said, decided, not decided. However, the sullenness of the house remains, especially considering that my host sister with the new baby finally went to go live with her husband, so now my host family is suddenly down 2 daughters. 1 daughter and 1 son remain. Everything seems really quiet.
Besides for home life, things are good. I went with Cactus again to the mangroves for her environmental education program with youth. Unfortunately, there were no flamingoes, but there were plenty of other shorebirds! I will be working on a wildlife guide of the Mangroves with the biologist and we are working on taking good profile shots of each species, which will be a chore since there are 100 of them. As such, we decided to walk out of the Mangroves instead of catch a ride with Cactus and her crew to take more pictures. It turned out to be an excellent idea! We detoured first to the beach area to the north of the mangroves where we found a group of turkey vultures working on a dead dolphin that was still bleeding: recently dead. It was pretty small and I of course, have no idea why it died. Apparently, this is normal.
We are trying to perfect the art of taking pictures through a telescope, as our field equipment is limited to his telescope and my Canon Powershot SD630 with 6.0 megapixels. It´s difficult to get good shots since focusing and aligning the camera with the telescope lens is a skill I have not mastered. We got bad shots of sanderlings, yellowlegs
, and different species of herons, terns and seagulls.
On the way out through the dry forest (bosque seco), we looked for an endangered species of bird, the Peruvian Plantcutter
, which we excitedly discovered in the forest adjacent to the mangroves in October. There are only about 600 individuals of this bird between the departments of Piura and Lambayeque of Peru. The discovery was big news for these mangroves, as becoming a RAMSAR site of international importance was more attainable in light of it.
In the geological remains of a deep, dried up river bed that is now a crevice of the Earth, we spotted a goat separated from its herd, a Peregrine Falcon
, a Red-backed Hawk
…and then a fox ran by us without us noticing until we saw it below us! It was good to get some nature into me and to hike a bit...I have a lot of work to do before I can hike the Inca Trail to Macchu Pichu with Parijat in August!