Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Democracy and governors and guns

After much hopeful campaigning and treacherous mudslinging, Peru at long last has a new president elect: Ollanta Humala. And whatever your opinion of him, or whether or not you have an opinion of him, or have even heard of him at all, he was elected by the people in a fair democratic election.

And I helped make that happen. Rarely can I say anything with such genuine pride.

Last weekend, election weekend, (since I couldn't go out wild partying due to the dry law anyway) I helped with a mission of the Organizacion de Estados Americanos, or the Organization of American States, which, among other things, monitors elections in member states.

I was an "International Observer," which basically meant that I was assigned a district and a voting booth to...observe... and fill out charts about. So I went around awkwardly watching and taking notes and just generally making people alternately very nervous or very assured that someone cared to make things run smoothly and fairly. I don't know which was the prevailing sentiment.

Y'all know that I'm no fan of politics, but I am in fact a fan of democracy. And it was awesome to see the most basic process of democracy in action.

Plus, they paid well chickadees. Like, recontra well. Like, more money than I'll make in a few weeks of back-breaking menial jobs this summer well.

Not to mention that I met lots of amazingly interesting, odd, and inspiring people from all over the world: Chile, Paraguay, Canada, Belgium, Spain, etc. And former governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson. (Maybe that should have been more exciting? I was way more interested in the other folks, to be honest, and a little indifferent where the governor was concerned. Shhh.)

One drawback: The guns. The army was there, and they had huge guns. The Peruvians seemed all blase about it. I was freaked out. Which I suppose says a lot about the relative stability and advantages I've been lucky to live with in the states.

And then one of the Peruvian soldiers, with the gun, asked me for my number to go out sometime. Which I had not expected. Because I apparently continue to defy the saying "Live and learn."

'Twas a weekend to remember, without a doubt.

And possibly, a weekend to repeat? Some lucky people travel the world like this on a regular basis. I'm definitely sending an email to the coordinator with something to the effect of "Put me in coach!"

I'm afraid I got literally no pictures while on the job. Sadly, not even of me in the rocking vests they gave us. Professionalism, forgetfulism, and all that stuff. But they did give us a lovely show on the first night:

Tired of my yellow walls in the top picture yet? Not me!


  1. See?? The youth of today DO care about politics.

    My burning question is, did you give him your number? I wouldn't judge you if you had because he did have a gun.

  2. Holly: Not a chance! I dodged his hinting around about it ("Do you have a cell phone?" "Cell phone? What's a cell phone?" Ok, I didn't really say that.) until I absolutely had to say, "Thanks, that's very nice of you, but no."

    Cold-blooded, baby.