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Friday, February 17, 2012

Things I'm Getting Used to in Perú

After a week where every other day our water was shut off with no explanation and following three weeks of no electricity at the school, I realize I have become accustomed to many things in Perú that just wouldn't stand back home. Some things make my life way more difficult, some things make my life so much better.

Here's a quick list of things I'm getting used to in Perú:
  • Dirt roads, which are washed out in the torrential rains we've been having.
  • Stray dogs everywhere. I never try to return the dog to it's owner like I would back home, either.
  • Random parades, to celebrate any occasion. Also, random protests. These happen weekly.
  • Waiting forever for food - you know, more than 5 minutes.
  • Food being available everywhere - I can go around the corner to find two women with competing homemade-tamal-out-of-buckets businesses, and I regularly buy a big piece of watermelon from a street vendor on the way to work.
  • Coffee tasting like garbage, and drinking Nescafe regularly (yes I am still complaining about that)
  • Needing to bring toilet paper with me everywhere - if a bathroom has a toilet seat, I'm happy. If a bathroom has toilet paper, it is the ultimate luxury.
  • Jaywalking everywhere, and the rare crosswalk sign has an animated person walking, and then as the time runs down the person starts running. I, of course, do not support this as at an early age my mother told me not to run across the street because you will definitely trip and get run over by a car, and I still never do.
  • Seeing a gigantic snowy volcano right next to the city, just like at home (but closer)
  • Waiting for the bus on the side of the road and flagging it down, not having a timetable, not being stressed about it being late because it doesn't have an expected arrival time.
  • Not fitting anywhere because I am so tall.
  • Sitting in the front seat of buses next to the driver.
  • No elevators anywhere.
  • Taking taxis--deciding on a price before I get in the car, always asking for 50 cents cheaper even if it's a reasonable fare, knowing all the safe taxi companies, nearly getting into accidents everytime.
  • The same things being sold on the same street - literally there will be a street where they only have copy shops, or eyeglasses shops, or paper stores, or furniture stores. There is no competition strategy here.
  • Copies costing more for single-sided than double-sided, because down here the paper is the expensive part, not the ink.
  • The garbage truck coming by on whatever day it feels like, and instead of having a set time, it just blasts a song (each neighborhood has their own song, ours is currently an instrumental version of Barbie Girl by Aqua) and people have to run out to the street to put their trash out.
  • Buying milk in a bag. If I want fresh milk, it comes in a plastic bag. If I want weird fake milk, I can buy it in a box.
  • Living without grapefruit juice, diet coke, peanut butter, cheddar cheese, corn tortillas, and dates. And a whole bunch of other foods that I don't miss because I get to buy fresh food on the street.
Here is a list of things I have seen being sold on the street:
  • Sweater vests
  • Garment bags
  • Tea towels
  • Tupperware
  • Shoelaces - a man carrying around about 5000 shoelaces of various sizes and colors is an Arequipa classic
  • Whole-leaf stevia
  • Made-in-front-of-you juice
  • Baby polos
  • Toilet brushes
  • Grammar books
  • Candy
  • Blank CDs
  • Superglue
  • Medicine
Most of these things can also be sold on the bus, meaning that a person will hop on to your bus and start yelling their spiel about their product, then walk around asking each person if they will buy one, and then hop off at the next stop. People actually buy some of these things, which always surprises me. Who is on the bus and thinks, "Yeah, I should really buy 2 tubes of superglue right now"?

I am loving every day down here and I am sure there are things I have gotten so used to I wouldn't even think to write them down. Every day I find something new to love about Arequipa!

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