Miraflores, Peru - Backpackers Family Hostel. May 25, 2009 @ 830am
Ricardo, our cab driver from Lima´s Intl Airport was holding a sign. He greeted us casually but warmly and led us outside to the taxi stand. It smelled, like something I had smelled before...New Delhi. But with a sweeter lingering and less abrasive feel.
We started to chat. He asked us if we spoke Spanish. We said no and he continued with a good command of the English language. We asked him questions and he was a trove of knowledge of Peru. The whole country. This was my first impression, Peruvians love Peru. Not in a backhanded or zealous way like an Indian, or blindly and critically like an American. Genuinely, greenly, almost in a quietly jovial way.
In America, we seem like we have three school sof thought when it comes to patriotism. First, the Ani DiFranco approach, summarized by the first lyric of her track Grand Canyon --I love my country, by which I mean I am indebted joyfully to all the people throughout it´s history who have fought the government to make right.
Second, the approach advocated by flag-pin lapelers. Where there is dogmatic and unqualified love and support for the US of A and willful doublespeak in its defense if necessary. I am troubled by both because they are sentiments that do not support an affirmation of America´s timless values and principles, which I believe are one of our nation´s two greatest assets.
The Peruvians howver, have both approaches simultaneously, manifested inthe aspiration for the public good and a pride for a national culture.
What´s more impressive is the depth of this love. Ricardo told us about his town AND Lima. He spoke so excitedly about it all and gave hints about sacrifices that residents of Peru and Lima have made to advance the nation. Any, they have experienced their country.
Still more impressive was that he did not discriminate against other parts of Peru. That is to say he didn´t engage in the regional snobishness that we Americans too often display.
There are many adventures ahead, but I like that I´ve learned something already.