In case anyone cares about my overseas adventures.
I would never survive if I had a car in Peru. What’s even more confusing is when I see people with BMW’s that look brand new and have zero scratches or dings on them. I imagine the owners have had the car for less than a single hour. I’m not entirely sure three cars are supposed to fight for two lanes but that seems to be quite the common norm here. If I had a nickel for every time I could reach out the window and physically touch the car beside me, I’d be laughing on my way to the bank right now. Accidents apparently happen every 7 minutes in Peru and I would believe even if I still haven’t seen one so far. I also have no idea how I haven’t seen an accident so far. It’s constant beeping, and close calls but people seem to get by unscathed. So far.
I seemed to have wrongly assumed that being by the coast meant you got rain. Instead I found out that Lima is the second largest desert city in the world behind Cairo, Egypt. Mix that with cars that don’t have to follow EPA guidelines and you get a pretty dusty, polluted city. I’m beginning to think the sun might be so strong here because they’re destroying the ozone. It makes sense. Scientifically. I think.
Regardless of how dry it is here, the people sure like their green. Since a good chunk of inhabitants in Lima moved down from the Andes mountains to the city, they were all a bit surprised to find it so dry and arid. I’m not sure where all the water to irrigate stuff comes from but they do have very beautiful parks here. Apparently beautification of the city at least on a natural level has been a big priority. Lots of flora and fauna and palm trees. Lot of palm trees. But even those in extreme poverty will grow a single plant if they can to remind themselves of the mountains and where they came from. It is a bit strange see a median filled with bright green grass and pretty flowers surrounded by dirt and sand on all sides but that’s just how it is.
Immersion does really seem to be the best tool for grasping a new language. Obviously I’m still extremely raw and incompetent in my understanding of the spanish language but at least where I’m volunteering I’m already noticing differences between me today and me just a few days ago. Is this talk that more applies to just three year olds than the general public of Peru? Yes. I’m just glad I’m becoming a more effective communicator with someone at least. Do I still know what they’re saying 75% of the time? No. Of course not. But it’s only been a few days. That I’m making progress though that I can actually notice this quickly is a good indicator that I may live in a reality where I at least am able to communicate spanish at a toddler level. That’s progress!
I’m never sure if people actually understand the American things they put on their car for instance. I’ve seen quite a few, or maybe ten or twenty cars with the Autobots logo from the Transformers comics/tv shows/movies. Do they know they’re supporting Optimus Prime? Do they know who Optimus Prime is? Granted, one sees the same thing in the ol USA and I have no idea why they do that either. I’m just not as hip as I used to be.
KFC. Peruvians must love the Colonel. A friend of mine asked me to take pictures to prove that they have McDonalds in Peru. I have no idea why he thought they wouldn’t. There are two Starbucks just on the street that I live on. But I’ve only seen one McDonalds. Yet on the ride back from the airport I wouldn’t be exaggerating when I say I saw at least 15 KFCs. Those eleven herb and spices must really get the peruvian tongues salivating.
To us naive Americans. Peru may seem like a country in disarray. Lots of shanties line the hills of Lima, people walk around in their mismatched outfits, the poor scour through trash for things to recycle. Is some of it sad to see? Of course. Do I think “Man, these poor people.”? That happens too. Except it’s all about perspective. Not me personally but another couple of volunteers I live with talked to a sister (nun) at their workplace. She is originally from Ireland and she told them how she visited Peru for mission work and every time she stayed longer and longer. Now? She’s a permanent resident. Why? Because of the Peruvian spirit. She says that they inspire her. Where I work? 20 years ago. It was desert, it was dirt, it was nothing. Now it has a school for underprivileged children, it has a clinic to assist with pre and post natal care, it has homes, it has shops, it has paved roads. The city is growing. The city is evolving. To my eyes it might look backwards, or behind. But to someone who’s actually seen it grow it’s amazing. It gave a new perspective and also made me think “Wow, maybe you shouldn’t be so judgemental since you don’t know how this place works.” Peru has been full of corrupt government for years, it’s finally starting to get more democratic and not run by dictators within the last 20-25 years. Progress is being made and just because it’s not at the American level doesn’t mean it should be scoffed at.
Dogs. So many stray dogs. They might as well have Sarah McLachlan singing over images of Lima. Haven’t seen a pug yet but I know it’s just a matter of time. It also went from “Oh look, what a cute dog” to “Oh, what a mangy dog that is riddled with fleas and worms and everything else” real fast. I did see one vet’s office one time but compare that to the twenty KFC’s I also saw. It’s a sad state but the dogs do seem happy at least. Though I have no way of actually inferring dogs emotions so I may be a bit off on my assessment. Really though, soooo many dogs. So it goes.