Well, the big adventure is underway, and we’re reporting live from northern Peru, where our family will be living for the foreseeable future. So far we’ve survived an earthquake in neighboring Ecuador, mal agua, unseasonable heat, unprecedented precipitation (flooding both inside and outside the house), and severe sunburn, and we’re still here to talk about it.
Oh, and killer mosquitos. I use the term metaphorically, of course, since these local ones don’t actually seem to be carriers of deadly diseases; but they are so profuse and pestilential that they seem pretty dastardly. On my to-do list for this week:
- Learn the names of mosquito-repelling plants in Spanish (romero, albahara, menta, y lavanda—check); and
- Find a place that sells these plants live; and
- Buy pots and pots of them and turn our casa bonita into a veritable conservatory.
I want to say that we’re getting up and running with our life here, but of course before you can run you have to walk, and right now I feel like we’re still in the crawling stage. Everything seems to take about three times as long as I think it should. Part of that, I recognize, is my innate impatience, my obsession with efficiency, and my American expectation of convenience and instantaneous service. Part of it is simply a very steep learning curve.
For instance, I seem to spend about two hours in the grocery store for each errand: half of that is spent wandering around the aisles trying to figure out where things are, what things are, how to read the labels, and trying to convert the volumes, quantities, and prices to familiar benchmarks; the rest of the time is usually spent standing in line waiting to check out. Eventually I will learn what to buy and what is a good price to pay; and I will either adapt to the long waits, find a better time to shop, or both.
We’re finding our way around here. Basic communication isn’t a problem, and I find that my rudimentary Spanish is sufficient to function. I’m very eager to improve, however, past the point of superficialities, which I’m sure will come in time.
At least I can decipher most of the road signs. Driving is an adventure in and of itself. The traffic laws are quite different here, and, anyway, no one seems to follow them (there are sometimes four lines of traffic driving down a two-lane street).
As for the children, they’re learning new words rapidly, tentatively making a few friends, and finding their way around our new house and neighborhood. They have the opportunity to attend Spanish classes at the local school, so I’m excited about how that will improve their vocabulary and circle of acquaintance.
During the first week in our new house, we ran out of gas to power the stove while I was still cooking dinner, lost our water supply for a few hours, and had no functioning key for the front door. But we managed to make do with a hefty deadbolt, fortunately had enough boiled water on reserve to last through the outage, and were able to pile into the car and run out to the local polleria for dinner, where a full meal of pollo a la brasa with papas fritas and cremas (the regional specialty: basically very yummy rotisserie chicken with French fries and assorted sauces) for the whole family cost less than $15.
While many of the obstacles we’ve faced have presented challenges, one thing that hasn’t been lacking is a warm and welcoming community. I hope to write more about our local church and some of the friends we’re making in a future article.
For now, we’re still trying to catch up on sleep. At least we don’t have to contend with Daylight Savings Time, as Peru doesn’t observe that. One less thing to worry about!
Photo Credit: Images courtesy of author.