I mentioned several months ago about how me and my other international friends tend to stick out here. Can’t quite imagine why…. language? height?… A good friend of mine from Germany (has some height on him) was riding a combi with me the other day. Now, combis are Peruvian mini buses… the ones we see families from 19 kids and counting driving. Yet, I’ve seen easily more than 19 people jammed into one of these vehicles. They have some kind of megabus complex going on… Anyway… As my friend and I were riding next to each other, he turned to me and said, “Emily, I don’t feel like I fit in here…” You can imagine that my heart immediately flooded with sympathy and I hunkered down for a rather heavy conversation. As I began to offer some comfort, he quickly stopped me. “No no no… I mean… I literally don’t fit in here”… quickly my vision broadened to notice him forcibly crunched into a half fetal position by the demands of the combi… Oh I get it now… Does that mean that I? Emily Zenthoefer? 5 foot 3 inches (arguably) fit in here in Peru? Victory.
The view from inside a combi
Maybe I have done a bit more than fit in after about 4 months. Recently, I was approached on the street near my school by a man and a woman. They said they would pay me $100 if I would get in their car, go across town and take a few photos. So I said yes and that’s exactly how it happened (okay fine…for the sake of my poor mother’s nerves, I should tell you the truer, safer version of the story). The same two people mentioned above did approach me and a friend offering us both a gig to take photos for our schools marketing campaign. They later found out that my friend was Peruvian and cut him from the gig, but I, being a good friend, decided to take one for the team and earn my $100 anyway. After a quick makeup job, 15 minutes of photos and signing my name to a couple of legal documents, I earned the fastest $100 of my life. The best part? Now my photo has been spotted in at least four locations on billboards around Lima.
PICTURE! IT HAPPENED! (autograph anyone?)
Not to mention that I’ve been in two “TV” interviews and been approached by the producer of ‘Yo Soy’ (the Peruvian version of American Idol where contestants choose an artist who they “are” and impersonate them the entire season). I’m currently taking suggestions as to whom I should impersonate when I try out… *comment below*.
When the life of fame began to exhaust me, I sought an escape to the jungle. You know? That jungle we’ve all watched a documentary or horror film on at some point in our lives? The Amazon. My friends and I flew north of Lima to Iquitos and were picked up by our jungle guide, Hitler (I can’t make this stuff up). After a couple hours in a boat down the amazon river, we arrived to our camp. During our four day adventure, we fed paiche (the largest fresh water fish in the world) and alligators, held monkeys, pythons and tarantulas, and allowed about a hundred termites to crawl onto our hands at once to use them as bug repellent. Also, we saw pink dolphins (every toddler girls dream). Also Also… we fished for piranhas (to avoid embarrassment, I will not disclose how many I caught). On our way back to Lima, a good friend of mine said, “Emily, don’t you think it’s a little strange how we swam and fished for piranhas in the same water?”…. I did not think it strange because I had not yet had that thought… Hmmm bold? or stupid?
Yes. We did some cool stuff. I conquered some grand fears. The real gem, though, was the sheer density of the rainforest. Every morning, I emerged from my mosquito net to find solitude near a lagoon behind where we slept. I would do some yoga, pray and watch. The water was not still… it rippled and bubbled joyfully as if to greet me. The ants began their shifts assembling all about the tree stumps. The nights greeted an entirely new species of activation… bats and mice conversed just above my head, frogs hopping aimlessly, snakes heard moving through the crackling leaves and, my favorite, the songs of the shaman during the ayahuasca ceremonies rang into my dreams. A certain density of motion… of life existed there. One that required me to sit still in order to notice. And so I sat… like the billions of stars that have waited so long to be seen. I finally saw them… and knowing full well that they had been there all along, I understood that it was not me changing the sky… or painting it differently, but it was changing me.
I sat long… and God said be still and see me working… I am in all things and I control all things… Actively and lovingly.
Be Still and Know that I Am God
Be Still and Know that I Am
Be Still and Know