Vicki ventures out

26 Oct

Well, it finally happened. Saturday is market day, but it was also haircut day, find a juicer day, pick up a picture frame day, oil the door hinges day, and one or two other things. To make the best use of time this afternoon, Vicki would go grocery shopping while I took the boys for a haircut. So we all walked up to Real Plaza, withdrew cash to pay the rent using Vicki’s debit card (because I’ve already used mine 10x this month and #11 triggers ATM fees), put Vicki on a bus for the Metro shopping center, and prayed for her silently as we set off to find the peluquería that a friend had recommended.

Now when you get a haircut in a place that’s not your home (tip of the hat to Ray Stevens), the most important thing is to be able to tell the stylist how you want your hair cut. This requires a somewhat specialized vocabulary which eludes me even in English, so the best I could do in Spanish was to ask for a picture book showing different styles. I got as far as “book” and the stylist smiled, reached for the style brochure, and Daniel and I flipped through it together to find the only sane-looking cut in 20-some pages. Daniel’s main goal was to get it very short so he doesn’t have to go back too often. Timothy was a bit easier. I just said, “Like it is now, but shorter.” Fifteen minutes later, both boys emerged from their chairs looking quite handsome. Total bill: $7.50. I noticed that our boys had left the only blonde trimmings on the floor. Some of the ladies in the shop seemed to be really enjoying watching the proceedings. I don’t think they see many blonde-haired, blue-eyed types in there.

After the haircut, we stopped for $0.70 ice cream cones at the McDonald’s kiosk in the mall. Peruvians LOVE their ice cream (helados). There are two kiosks in the mall, street vendors selling frozen treats from small carts every couple of blocks nearby, and a guy downtown who rolls a big barrel full of ice cream in the tourist areas. Every now and then, I also see a woman in traditional dress selling homemade queso helado on the street. I love this country! It is not uncommon to see a man wearing a suit licking an ice cream cone as he walks in the business district.

When we arrived back home, we expected to find Vicki but did not. I began to worry a bit. Had she gotten off at the right bus stop? Was she able to make her purchases? Had she communicated the right location to the taxi driver for the ride home with sacks full of groceries? I was about to set out to find her but thought to check online banking first. Sure enough, she had made a purchase at the supermarket. A few minutes later, a taxi pulled up with Vicki and the groceries and we all went down to help transport groceries to the fourth floor. Everything had gone smoothly. This is a major achievement for Vicki and will be a huge time saver for us going forward, allowing better division of labor.

Also, we received our first care package yesterday! Thank you to all the kind folks in our church small group who participated! We were so tickled to find our favorite snacks as well as the many hard-to-find items we had requested. Y’all were very thoughtful and it was a blessing. We understand there is one more package coming and we look forward to it also, but so much of what we wanted / needed was in the first box that we’re wondering what’s in the second!

Picking it up at the post office was an interesting experience. Because the package wouldn’t fit in our PO box, it had to go through customs, and they only open the service window twice a day. You queue up (sometimes as early as 6am for the 8:30 window if you want to be first), present your package slip in order of arrival to the clerk, who disappears, and then you wait. And wait. And wait. I went at 1pm for the 2pm window, found two people waiting and decided to get a document notarized nearby. The notary didn’t open until 3pm (refer to the previous post about notary siestas), so I went back to the post office. By this time there were about 15 people waiting. At 2pm, the clerk came out, we all handed in our papers, the clerk disappeared, and I saw scant evidence of further activity for about an hour. At 3pm, I went in to the office where the clerk had gone, said that I had a meeting at 3:15 and requested my package slip back. They happily obliged. I then went to the notary, waited for 3 people in front of me, dropped off the document because the right person wasn’t in until Monday, and returned about 3:45. I handed in my package slip again. About half an hour later, I heard a commotion in the office and heard them calling my name. I went back, opened the box for the customs officer, discovered to my delight that various chocolate candies and chocolate chips were untouched, and then waited while he decided that the items matched the declared value and I did not owe any duties. After two more officers took their turns stamping the papers, I was allowed to take the package home. Total elapsed time from original presentation to receiving the package was 2.5 hours. As I picked up our box, I politely thanked the clerk, who politely responded “por nada,” as though there were nothing at all unusual or inconvenient about the process! Because to them, there isn’t. They can’t imagine doing it any other way. A Norwegian student from language school in front of me received her package in 1.75 hours, as she did not leave for the notary like I did. Our friends here tell us the usual time is 3 hours. And you thought lines were long at your local post office!

I share all this for your entertainment and to give you a realistic picture of life here. I hope it does not sound like complaining because we really are very thankful for all the items we received that we simply cannot purchase here and for all the time, energy, and money our friends spent collecting things on our behalf! Hopefully, we can time our arrival at the post office better for the second package in order to pick it up with a bit less waiting.


6 Responses to “Vicki ventures out”

  1. Yvonne October 27, 2013 at 6:28 am #

    Your posts are great! You are giving a realistic, entertaining narrative of real life in another country. We really are spoiled in America!

  2. michael CHANDLER October 27, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

    So glad Vicki’s trip was a success. She did it on her own without the interpreter. That is quite a venture doing all the travel, shopping, and purchase in the native tongue. Mr. Ramsey says with local cash you can buy anything anywhere. True, Dave, but with local debit card, maybe not so easy.

    RC Sproul refuses to mail books to a PO Box. Understood. About how big a parcel can your house mail box hold? The PO pickup (and customs “service”) in Thailand was such a hassel, we requested friends and family send us nothing in a box. Send us a card with a love note. However, the company DHL service which worked over there was very handy. No duty goods were supposed to be shipped but sometimes they were. Nobody ever got caught.

    Yall are getting quite localized. It takes some courage to engage the local culture and your family has done well to take it head on. Our Lord has blessed.

    Love, Dad

  3. kcauble October 28, 2013 at 8:19 am #

    Go Vicki!

  4. Millie October 28, 2013 at 11:49 am #

    Bravo Vicki!

  5. Lynn Crotts October 28, 2013 at 7:16 pm #

    That’s a great encouragement and an answer to prayer about the grocery shopping! Very proud of all of you. Thanks for keeping us up to date. We miss you!

  6. Jim Saporsky October 29, 2013 at 7:08 am #

    Love you guys. David, your colorful language make me laugh. Words are awesome. I pray that you’ll be able soon to communicate so well in Spanish. Sounds like you have to get in lines early to beat the greedy people, quite unlike the D.R. where no one shows up early for anything. Not even on time. Not even late. No clocks in sight. Late for even their own weddings. Probably also their own funerals. My son Mark helped Aaron and Erin move into your house in Tyrone. I expect you knew they are doing so. They made it all sound properly arranged. Until now they were renting the house next door. Nice neighbors. Aaron tried to set the garage on fire, at least he did manage to melt some of the vinyl siding. No, not melted, just wrinkled it. Said he was going to replace it. I haven’t checked. Never saw so much stuff come out of a house, small handfuls at a time. Maybe they’ll just leave it in the garage, or maybe you’ll come home to a thousand little nail holes in the sheetrock. Do you (they) celebrate Halloween in th Peru? How about All Saints Day? How about Reformation Day? Do they have a 4th of July?

    On 10/27/13, The Chandler Far Southern Times

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