I thought I’d share a few of my initial observations of Peru. Oddly enough, there’s been no “shock” – culture, travel, or electrical (they’re on 220 here, so I’m a bit worried…). There is, however, some “culture stress.” Things just seem to take longer to accomplish. What should be a simple trip to the grocery store now means a little jaunt down the road, deciphering words in Spanish, figuring out exchange rates in my head, and then walking back with an armload of plastic bags. Full of stuff that should make meals for a week, and then it seems to disappear overnight. So it’s back to the store.
When I check out from the local grocery store, the cashiers ask you more questions than they should. First – blah blah con tarjeta Vea? Just say no. Second – Boleta o fractura? Always boleta; never fractura. It’s something about the receipt you want to receive. Peruvians LOVE receipts. You dare not walk out without boleta in sus manos. Third, do you want the oferta? There’s always a special. Somedays it’s juice, other days it’s printers. I just say no.
Usually I try to mumble and garble my Spanish answers to the checkout people. Somehow I think it makes me think they don’t think I’m an absolute nincompoop gringo. I, however, feel like an absolute nincompoop gringo with a speech impediment. Only I walked out of the store with juice and a printer, with a fancy receipt.
Sounds in Peru are oddly familiar and alien at the same time. The ice cream guy that rides around ALL flippin’ day, EVERY day, has a perma-kazoo attached to his lips. When he blows on it, I swear a Minnesota loon is being strangled to death. I seriously was about to call PETA until our friends told us it wasn’t a real bird.
Police and ambulance sirens sound exactly the same as in the US. I was struck by how odd this was, as so many other countries have way cooler sirens than in the US. Maybe there was an oferta on sirens when Peruvian police bought their systems.
Three days ago we heard a guy wandering around the neighborhood playing a pan flute. How quaint, we thought. Must be a Quechua Indian down from the jungle. Nobody can stop the centuries-old music coursing through his veins. We were informed, however, that the pan flute is the siren call of knife sharpeners. If you need a knife sharpened, you listen for the Pied Piper. He’s around every so often, followed by a bunch of rats.
And lest you think we’ve not done any official missionary work in the week since landing, I am pleased to report we’ve had the chance to already connect with several missionary families. There are some amazing people from the US here, doing amazing work. They’re unsung ministry heroes, and I’m honored to be looking for ways to serve them and their ministries in any way I can. Please pray for these folks.