I started writing this amidst loud sighs and pensive faces (plus a few sneezes), that’s right, it’s Valentine’s Day and my students are spending an hour and half with me to sit a not so romantic exam. There’s the promise of chocolate at the end of it, plus an extra for someone who delivers the best short speech. I hold great admiration for all the students I’ve taught during my three months teaching English in Huaraz. It’s like every cycle (a cycle lasts a month) I get a small glimpse into their world, then after two months I’m moved to teach different class and I start all over again.
There’s usually time before classes to talk to some of the other students while they wait for theirs. It’s taken awhile for most of them to realise that I’m a teacher, and not a student. I’ve started to say hello, even if their level is basic, those short interactions gives them the chance to practice and they seem to enjoy it. Personally, the best part of teaching has always been about seeing students bridge the gap. For some it’s slow and steady, and for others it’s like a growth spurt.
After saying goodbye to the last of my students, I went to find my friend, Mabel, who was waiting for me at the front door. She lead me to where Denys and her friend were sitting outside one of the restaurants in Parque Ginebra, which seemed to have come to life after sunset. As I was in class, the place transformed into a sea of heart-shaped everything, as starry-eyed lovers walked hand in hand under the romantic glow of the street lights.
It was also Friendship Day in Peru, and the four of us were celebrating Galentine’s together. You know, a ladies night out. We headed to a local bar named Tambo, which also had a restaurant. Mabel and I decided to share salchipapas (turned out to be a massive plate), which are slices of sausages served with hot chips and sauces. Another popular Peruvian street food that can be found almost anywhere.
I couldn’t believe that we managed to finish that huge plate, then I realized that I actually didn’t have lunch and it was my first proper meal
of the day. Luckily we had plans to have a bit of boogie after, so at least I could start burning off some of that glorious sausage energy.
Being so used to an early night out in Whakatane, the dancefloor in Tambo didn’t start filling up until around midnight. We had already been there almost two hours. There were times that the DJ had a good run with
the music and I could let loose. I’ve missed the way my body reacts to music. For me, dancing is as natural as breathing.
Love is in the air
As my head hit the pillow sometime after 1am, I felt a smile spread on my face. Tonight, I felt incredibly loved: With my friends, on the dancefloor as my body connected with the music, and in the stillness of the beautiful Huaraz night. Most of all, in myself. That love has been growing, and it gets even more amplified when I learn to receive it. That’s been a steep learning curve for me.
Lately, even in the busyness of my schedule, I’ve felt peaceful. The busier I become, the louder this voice in my head tells me that all’s going to work out for the best. Even better than I ever imagined. It’s a compromise with my need to keep moving, not to feel stuck, and in exchange I’ll let go of trying to tell the Universe how to do its job. Don’t adapt to the energy in the room, but to be the energy that you vibe with.
I had an awesome Galentine’s Day, and I hope you did too. Describing ‘love’ in the English language is so contextual, unlike in Greek where they have different words to describe exactly what you mean. No wonder we get so confused about ‘romantic’ love and how it’s supposed to look like. The kind of love I vibe with right now isn’t romantic at all, but with those who I want to build a tribe with. Find people I vibe with, because even if you’re a solo traveler, when you stay in one place long enough there’ll come a time when you do. Then you meet more along the way, and those genuine connections are what reminds us that we’re never alone on our journeys. Sometimes, their footprints walk alongside us, and if we need them to, theirs will take our place to carry us to our next adventure together.
Ronna Grace Funtelar is a thirtyish storyteller, writer and slam poet currently based in Peru. She is a hobby hiker, photography and sunrise enthusiast with a passion for mindfully helping others live beyond their comfort zone.