While I may not have broadcast the fact, last August, I picked up a dangerous (yet common) Peace Corps addiction: television. I kept it in check: one hour every evening. It was a wonderful escape, though. I would watch Glee, Mad Men, True Blood, How I Met Your Mother… Each evening´s episode would be like a little trip back to the United States (in it´s own fairly inaccurate way. I am aware that my life never involved vampires, 1950´s male dominated advertising firms or constant bursts into songs). However, this year I cut back. I prefer to read, after all and reserve tv for sick days or when I just need distraction. Don´t believe that this is some huge burst in work or intellectual development: each evening I spend in my house and my reading is often as simple as Harry Potter.
A few weeks ago, though, with a craft project in front of me, I sat down with my host sister to watch what turned out to be the pilot episode of Ana Cristina, a limeña novela. Do I have to explain what happened next? Every night, I sit down with my host siblings at 7 pm with some sort of sewing or craft project, and we watch, gasping, yelling and advising the characters as the situation demands. The setting and plot of the show is lightyears away from our Musho day-to-day: an “amor impossible” between a poor, campo girl and a rich Limeño man, a tale of business backstabbing and revenge. I can´t help but wondering if I give advice to my host sister through this bonding time—in real life, people don´t talk that way; if a man ever treats you that way you should not take him back, but I mostly keep my comments to exclamations on the characters poor decisions: Ana Cristina, why would you take Gonzalo back? Maju, why are you kissing Lucho? Etc.
It´s all very silly but I feel like it has helped bond with my host sister as much as anything during the past year. She asks me for help with her homework more often, to check her email on my computer, and just general questions. Our programmed hour of tv is our time to catch up daily, and I now know what happens in her classes every day, and she knows how my projects are going. So I am grateful for telenovelas—also it´s an amazing show if anyone gets it on their TV.
The beautiful pictures are: My host mom with 7-month old Mirella, Mary also with Mirella, and a rainbow across our valley.