We arrived in country at 1am on Monday night. It had been a balmy 95 degrees as we curb checked our 10 suitcases and stroller, and dragged our two carseats, plus four carry-ons through the DFW airport. So when we finally loaded up our ridiculous amount of luggage onto two carts, and made it through customs (which was a breeze – possibly because we had two little ones who were obviously being stretched past their breaking point already), the cool misty 55 degrees of Lima felt rather delightful. We were all sweating and puffing from the stuffy airport air and the modern day crossfit workout we had just completed (if cavemen carried trees, modern day man lugs 60lb suitcases!) Cliff had multiple times thrown his light blanky onto the nasty airport floor and I had finally given up on keeping his legs covered. We stood outside in the dark mist, loading up into the two vehicles that had been brought for us. A Peruvian woman selling gum paced over to offer us some, and upon seeing Cliff, she exclaimed, “Él frio! Él frio!” I looked at Cliff’s bare legs and thought about arguing with her, but really I was just wishing I was asleep (not to mention my Spanish was hardly good enough for a rebuttal against Peruvian mothering). I flung the blanket over him, nodded to her and forced a tired smile, and continued walking down the sidewalk.
It was the first of many such encounters I expect to have here. Tradition and old wives tales are still very much alive in this place. It’s sort of sweet, that every woman is concerned for your children. I wonder if it will get tiring, though? From what I hear the Peruvians believe you will die from cold. Jackets, socks and shoes are a must (even indoors) and drinking cold beverages in the winter could close up your throat and suffocate you. Interesting, yes? I thought so!
Another interesting observation about the culture, while they are determined to not let your children die of frostbite (the low here is around 55F in winter), they’re also intent on entertaining your children during dinner out. This has been rather amusing, and I admit, very nice! Keeping hungry and tired children occupied while waiting for food at a restaurant is never easy. Add to that the fact that while we live in a hotel for the next while, we are eating out twice a day, it could make for a string of very exhausting meals. However, so far, nearly every time we’ve sat down to eat someone at a table next to us becomes infatuated with our children. They speak to them in Spanish, and by last night Olivia was even responding fairly well (though I’m not sure she knew what she was responding to). At dinner yesterday, the woman who talked to them through our meal also snapped a picture of Olivia, and kissed Cliff’s hands before leaving. It would have been odd in the states, but here it seemed perfectly normal. She was a sweet woman who was genuinely interested in conversing with the kids. I tried not to cringe at the kisses and focused on embracing the culture.
Yesterday, the kids and I made our first trip to a US Embassy. We attended the security brief, and learned what to look out for and how to protect ourselves in this country. It set my mind at ease, a bit, as I feel that I am better informed. The biggest problem expats have here is with the driving. It. Is. Insane. Pretty much if you drive, you will be in a wreck. If you are in a wreck, you’ll probably have to pay for it, because it’s always your fault. If you don’t drive, your taxi may possibly be in a wreck. If you don’t take a good taxi, you may be held up and taken for your cash. Pretty basic stuff. But unfortunately, unavoidable. I have a feeling I will be praying for safety a lot while we’re here! The two taxis we’ve been in so far were pretty good, but the driving here is crazy. They make right hand turns from far left lanes, honk at people, bikes, and mopeds in the street, switch lanes without any warning, don’t even drive within the lanes, and rarely pause for stop signs. Even red lights are optional here, especially for taxis. And almost every car is a taxi. I only saw a handful of personal cars while we were out. There are literally thousands of taxis in this city!
So that was my insight for this week. We’ve been here just three days, and I still feel as though it’s surreal. Are we really below the equator? Oh yeah, and we haven’t seen the sun since we left Texas on Monday morning. Good thing we saw it plenty this summer! I’m already starting to miss it…and I may be losing my tan…
I think we’re really going to enjoy Perú, though. It’s different, but that’s what’s so intriguing about it. More later! Buenas noches!