My first weekend in Arequipa has been lovely and relaxed, largely spent getting my ducks in a row for when I go to the school for the first time tomorrow, and hanging out with my family. With help, I think we’ve established that Constanza is my first cousin once removed, her daughter, Diana, is my second cousin, and her little ones are my second cousins once removed. Since then I’ve also met Gabi and Guali, Constanza’s other daughter and granddaughter.
I really don’t understand how it all works, but thank goodness someone does.
Yesterday was spent in a slow Saturday haze chatting on the couches in the living room and eventually migrating to the kitchen for lunch, which Gabi started making while Constanza went upstairs and came back down with a black-and-white photo album. There were dozens of faces, of relatives, their spouses, and children, but Constanza somehow knew them all, despite the fact that the pictures were anywhere from a few to fifty years old. One of the strangest experiences ever was when she pointed to the faces of two little girls with causing-trouble smiles and said that they were grandmothers now.
At least, I thought that was one of the strangest experiences ever. The “this is so cool but also so weird” feeling kind of just stuck as we flipped slowly through the pages of vaguely familiar noses, chins, smiles, and eyes.
Then, at the end of the second photo album, I really received a shock. Colored photos of me and my middle brother, my whole family, and my mom’s family when she was little, were lined up alongside one another. My grandfather must have sent or brought them to Constanza at some point, but the experience of seeing my own face as a child grinning out of a photo album so far from my home was oddly emotional.
After lunch, we switched gears and I followed Guali upstairs, and then upstairs again, to their rooftop. The view was absolutely stunning, with Chachani awash in late-afternoon sunlight and towering above everything around her. We walked out onto the roof and took a left, and suddenly I was looking at two rows of bunny hatches.
They’d mentioned that they raised rabbits to eat, but I hadn’t been anticipating how big some of them were, or how cute. Guali dumped the leftover salad from lunch and an apple core into the dishes, and then asked if I’d like to hold one. Thinking that the bigger the bunny, the more relaxed (kind of like dogs?) I asked to hold one of the large gray ones. I watched, with growing apprehension, as the giant thing deftly avoided Guali’s attempts at snatching him out of his cage. Finally, she got a hold of him and plopped him into my arms, where he promptly tried to leverage his back legs against my torso and leap away from me. I arranged him more comfortably, and in response, he gave me a nip on the arm.
Guali took out an adorable black rabbit who was much smaller than mine, and then we took them back downstairs to play with them in the guest bedroom. Hers crawled around on her chest and hopped around the bed a little. Mine bit me on the leg.
I’ve never particularly been fond of rabbits, but after spending an extended amount of time with them, I can officially say I’m pretty neutral on the whole Peruvian custom of cooking rabbits (and guinea pigs) for special occasions.