Jan 232012

Lima, Peru

When someone has given you a place to sleep for free for many many days and they make a simple request, you can´t say no, right?

Thus when Mila politely asked me to teach her some capoeira I was only happy to help! And, the more the merrier, so we decided to make this a Couch Surfing event (open to everybody from Couch Surfing). A quick post on the website very soon started resulting in replies that people would be interested to join. Good!

I had posted that we were going to start at 17.30, punctually. To a Peruvian “punctual” means: Don´t be more than 30 minutes late (they have the “hora Peruana” (Peruvian hour) here, which is about the time that everybody shows up late for anything).

Thus, I was very surprised when quite a lot of people where there already at 17.33! The fact that none of them were actual Peruvians might have had something to do with it…

Warm-up using some basic capoeira moves, then stretching using another few (with a firm warning that people would be having muscles aches the following morning. Mila woke up this morning confirming that).

On to the first defense (most important of course). Go down, hand over your head, protect that and your neck and you`ll be fine. Really, a foot heading full speed your way may look dangerous, but it really is nothing to worry about! Trusth me! (Insert evil grin.)

Then the attacks. First the simplest one I know (swing your leg up, move it sideways, swing back down). That seemed to go fairly easilly, so I had people practice together, one person attacking, the other defending. Some people got the hang of it very quickly, other were very much afraid of hitting someone or being hit. I always say “if you don`t get kicked in the head once and awhile, you`re not learning anything!” (ok, so I say something else, but I`m sure it means basically the same!).

After everybody felt a bit more secure it was time for the second kick. This time the very beautiful but also quite difficult meia luna de compas, which is the quintessential capoeira kick and not used anywhere else as far as I know. Step sideways one foot. Step forward the other. Put your hands on the ground between your feet, fingers pointing backwards. Lift your leg and turn around your axis for a full 360 degrees (like a compas!). Not that difficult, right (don´t try to learn this just from this description, it`s impossible).

After lots and lots of practice of this, most of the people were able to spin round without actually falling on their buts. What more can a teacher ask for?

So finally time for my favorite part, the “roda” (Portugese for circle), where everybody stands in a circle (you don`t say!) and two people are playing / fighting in the center. I don`t know why, but for some reason people prefered playing with each other instead of with me… Am I that scary? It was really cool though to see how everybody had learnt and to see a lot of beautifully executed kicks and defenses!

After about one and a half hours of class in total it was time to call it quits. Tired, hungry, thirsty, so time for a restaurant together.

But not before getting a really great compliment: They wanted another class. So I`m teaching again this afternoon!

Jan 102012

Bus from Lima to Huaraz, Peru

What would a perfect day look like? I don’t really believe in perfection, but I do think it’s a good idea to strive towards it. Striving towards a perfect day is however really hard, there is no chance to do a single day over (and over) so you can make it better (and better). So I guess I have to attribute my last Sunday to chance, an open mind and / or good karma?

Woke up quite early, with the sun shining through the window and some birds whistling outside (birds actually sound differently here, though it is beyond my vocabulary in what way). Being forced to write that I was failing my new years resolution regarding sporting twice per week, I decided to actually go out for a run (it found it does wonders to actually broadcast what you want to do, I feel a very strong push to actually go and do it now that I told you all what my resolutions are. Will write a full post on this some time in the future).

Returning half an hour later (not the full hour I said I would, but a definite improvement!), hot and sweaty, tired and happy. Time for a shower and then breakfast with Laura (still loving the life out of my “hagelslag”!).

Nuns in their natural habitat

We headed out into the old center of Lima. I had been there before and got an excellent tour by someone from (how could it be otherwise?) Couch Surfing. I was happy to pay the favor forward, by showing Laura around a bit. Through the main shopping strip (why can they be open here on Sunday when they are so much more religious here than the Netherlands ever will be?), to the Plaza de Armas (plaza of armaments. They have one in every city. Not so blood-thirsty now, but I guess a lot of years of colonial repression did create some bad vibes…), where we mostly tried to be unobtrusive while taking pictures of monks and nuns (and trying to catch them without a cell-phone on their ear. Not easy) in front of the cathedral. On to Iglesia de San Martin (Saint Martin’s church), where Laura took a tour of the catacombs (I skipped the 10.000+ dead people as I had been there before), whilst I lounged about in the church yard, very much enjoying some quality time with my book.

After all of this fine culture, it was time to dart back home, get some stuff and then head off to Faro Park (Lighthouse park), for a vegetarian (is this getting boring?) Couch Surfing picnic. Met up with some friends, acquaintances and new faces. Good food, talking (in English, Spanish and Dutch) playing with a Frisbee and a game of “who am I” (I was Britney Spears; “Did I ever act in a movie?” “Yes, but you really shouldn’t have!”).

Playing "saxophone" with hippies!

When it got dark we heard some drums not too far away. It turned out that the “happy hippie music” group had settled nearby, making music (well, mostly beating a lot of drums!). In Cuzco I had bought a plastic “saxophone”, which I actually had on me, so I joined in for a while (even my last resolution is getting attention!). Then back to Park Kennedy (center of Miraflores, the Lima tourist district), where people could get buses, drinks, or whatever else they wanted. Approaching the edge of the park, my heart makes a leap: Capoeristas!

Free practice session, so I have to join in for a bit! My first mea lua de frente is expertly countered and I barely have time to duck for my opponent’s following armada. We both execute a perfectly timed mea lua de compasso, right after each other. A big smile on my face as I kick and defend, defend and kick.

After two bouts I am completely bushed (really have to work on my condition), so I decide to call it quits (though not before asking when they are playing again).

Back home, to bed. Good food, culture, book, relaxation, music and sports. Truly a perfect Sunday!