You'd all really like him, I promise. Even you, Mom and Dad. His name is Angél, and he is, indeed, an angel.
It started innocently enough. I found a restaurant on the Plaza de Armas that not only has one of the best Peruvian bands I've heard, but they also have really good chocolate cake. Irresistible! So, of course, Kavitha and I had to indulge.
The band, who call themselves Apu, after the Incan god of the mountains, are high energy, full of jokes, and play traditional Andean music with a bit of a more modern, upbeat twist. We joked that they don't have the traditional long hair of most Andean bands, but look more like "The Beatles." You judge for yourself!
The sound of my rudimentary zampoña playing drifted across the crowded plaza as the band gathered for its lunch gig. I stopped in embarrassment when the dark, mysterious flute player with the round glasses who we called John Lennon came along. With the traditional Peruvian greeting of a quick kiss on the cheek, I was introduced to my sweet Angélito.
Earlier I had asked Marco some questions about a political situation I read about in the paper, but he didn't know much about it. "Angél will know," he told me. And indeed he did. Suddenly, poor Marco was left out of the conversation. Angél was surprised to meet a gringita who speaks good Spanish, is interested in his country, and already knows so much about what is going on. As our conversation drifted from topic to topic, I was amazed at how intelligent, thoughtful, and funny he is... not to mention a cute and really talented musician.
Somehow, we all ended up dancing that night (he's a great dancer). Then the next afternoon we met in the plaza to read the newspapers, before a tour of the city. Angél just happens to have been a history major before leaving school to be a full time musician, and he loves history.
In the last two weeks, my own personal tour guide has taken me to ruins, through the churches, up and down mountains, and out to meet all his friends. We've hiked to Machu Picchu in the predawn light, sat in the plaza playing guitar and singing some of my favorite songs, and wandered hand in hand through the mercado (market). And, of course, we've shared our hopes, dreams, and visions.
"They want to charge me ten sols to enter," he told me. Although it's only $3 US, it's still a lot of money for a musician in Peru, and, after all, none of the gringos or light skinned Peruvians have to pay! So poor Angél had been waiting for me outside the bar for over an hour while everyone else danced inside. I guess he's used to it, because he was less bothered by the whole situation than I was. Fortunately, the night was not completely destroyed. Holding my hand, he has no problems entering the clubs, so we danced nonstop until three in the morning!
This morning Kevin told me, "You got the e-mail, right? The Odyssey secured the final funding for us to continue to Africa!"
I wandered in a daze to the restaurant, where the band was meeting. I held back my tears as I told Angél that I would be leaving in a few short days.
That's when he revealed the master plan. "I will follow you!" he said. He told me that, with his encouragement, the band has been talking the last few days of saving up money, getting their passports, and heading for Brazil to play and sell their tapes. From there, he explained, they'll find a boat to the Mediterranean. "When will the Odyssey be in Cairo?" he asked me, with a kiss.
Maybe this cheesy soap opera section of the Odyssey isn't over! Stay tuned!
Shawn - From Pirates to Penguins: Discovering the Diversity of Peru
Monica - All Dressed Up with Nowhere to Go… La Fiesta del Gran Poder
Abeja - The Piece Treaty: Trading Part of Peru for Peace
Making A Difference - Save the Redwood Forests (and the Coho Salmon, and the Spotted Owl, and All of Us)!!!
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