Tuesday, July 29, 2008

One month in Peru... so what's it like???

We have been Huancayo for a month now.  In some ways, it seems like it has been much longer.  Yet, in some ways, I feel like it can't have already been a month!  "So, what's it like?" you ask.  Other than the normal things that we've already covered (food, climate, etc.), here are some of my thoughts:
  • Something feels rather strange (almost illegal) about buying coffee here.  There is precious little "real" coffee... it's all instant.  But there is real coffee to be had, you just have to know where to go, and it seems a little clandestine - almost like trying to buy alcohol during the prohibition or something.  We have to go to the corner of two not-so-populated streets, about two blocks off the main drag in downtown.  On the corner, you will find a little mom & pop shop that sells random convenience store type items (think of a room about the size of your master bathroom, dark, floor to ceiling shelves full of dusty grocery items, with a tiny area of counter where someone stands to meet you).  When you go in, you have to ask for "the Chinese man with the ground coffee".  Then, from the darkness, a metal scoop of coffee grounds is shoved forth for your approval.  "Yes, it's good.  One kilo, please."  (To add to the illegal feeling, you have to buy it by the kilo!)  So, somewhere in the darkness, the Chinese man weighs and bags your coffee and thrusts it back out at you in a brown paper bag.  
  • Did I mention that we live two doors down from a gym???  Yes, they have gyms in Peru.  The one on our corner offers weights and aerobics and spinning and dance.  So, at 8 a.m. every day, whether we like it or not, we are subjected to very loud aerobic/spinning music and a very energetic and demanding Peruvian man yelling commands over the music.  Seems kind of funny to me, since this is a pretty quiet culture, for the music to be so loud and the man to be so demanding.  And the music is kind-of funny, because it is generally 80s and 90s American pop music put to an exercise beat.
  • Speaking of quiet... when we arrived at the airport a month ago, the first thing I said to Billy was "Wow, it's so quiet".  It was drop dead quiet in the airport.  Very odd to me.  But then we started to notice that it was pretty quiet everywhere.  People just don't talk in loud voices.  We can barely hear Peruvians when they talk to each other... it is such an intimate type of conversation.  Even when a Peruvian talks to a taxi driver, it is almost inaudible.  Guess we have gotten accustomed to that, because yesterday when Billy called me from the USA on a cell phone, it sounded to me like he was in the middle of a riot!!!  "No, just Target", he said.  The Iveys said that when American mission teams come down, they don't realize how loud they sound to everyone else... interesting information to note for later...
  • Also of interest for later... a Peruvian noted to me that some of the American mission teams that come down "aren't Christians".  So I asked for clarification on that, of course.  She said that she watched them eat every day and they didn't thank God for their food before they ate... they must not be Christians.  Just goes to show you, you are being watched CONSTANTLY and your actions speak volumes to those around you.
Okay - I know those were really random thoughts.  Just thought they might be of interest...

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