It is way too early I am sure to be making sweeping generalizations about the Peruvian psyche. And yet, the two great Spanish colonial cultures I have been exposed to for any length of time (Mexico and here) seem to have been marked in very different ways from each other. Through my 5 months in Mexico and exposure to books (such as El laberinto de la soledad) as well as interactions with the people, I got a sense of just how still present and marked Mexican culture is by the Spanish Conquest. It is not some remote past atrocity, but a living, breathing, ongoing thread in the culture. It seems to pit different parts of the Mexican psyche against itself, as well as between groups in current society. Although I have only been in Peru a few weeks, my sense of their relationship to their past colonial history is very different. I get the idea from the sites I have visited and the discussions with people that live here that Spanish rule was almost just the next in a line of succession after the Incas. Peruvians seem to be much more comfortable than Mexicans with the various parts of their past, and accepting of the idea that they are as much a product of colonialism as they are previous cultures. They seem to find a way (through their museums, archaeology sites, culture of food, etc) to present without sentimentalism their past stretching back thousands of years, and to integrate it in their current identity. These are of course my superficial first impressions, and perhaps they will change, but it is striking.
My new roommate Julio is as sweet as could be. He showed me around the neighborhood a little bit and I think I am really going to like it here. And the apartment is really beautiful (check out my room in the pic below). We are heading out to dinner in a bit, but expect lots of photo-documentation over the next few days.