A typical Saturday

26 Oct

This post may not be very exciting but that might be a good thing as it will give you some idea of ¨normal.¨

Vicki was up bright and early to help the Peats make and serve lunch for a Christian youth retreat at their center. I woke up about 7 am to the sound of hammers on the concrete ceiling directly over the bed as the landlord is installing tile on the roof to make it more waterproof. Let’s just say sound travels through concrete pretty well. During breakfast, vendors started circling the neighborhood with their truck-mounted loudspeakers. Thankfully, there weren’t many today and we’re pretty used to them. For breakfast, I had some of Vicki’s yummy homemade bread with orange marmalade that friends gave us.

Mid-morning I took a taxi up to Cafe Berea to lead the Saturday morning session of Arequipa English with David J. I stopped by Cusco Coffee on the way to pick up some coffee for David and I, as we’re both now pretty bad addicts. Trip time: about 25 minutes. Trip cost (not including coffee): $2.50 + $0.25 tip because the driver waited for me longer than expected at the coffee shop. The cheap taxis here are great if you don’t mind riding in a rattletrap. Even the newer taxis like a late model Toyota Yaris are typically $3. We were filling in for Amy, who sadly had to travel back to the States suddenly due to the death of her mother-in-law. We had 8 students today, which is typical of the Saturday class. A couple students could barely speak English and that’s been a bit of a problem lately. We had to repeat that it’s an English conversation practice class and does not replace basic language instruction. We disallow Spanish except for comparison / teaching purposes and one student is finding it difficult to function without it. We did something different today and read the story about the record-breaking parachute jump from the edge of space made yesterday by a 57-yr-old senior VP at Google. I think everyone enjoyed the story. David J and I certainly did!

One of the newer students stayed long after and was asking me all kinds of questions about my degree, my work, my religion, etc. At first I thought he was going somewhere with all the questions but after more than an hour, he abruptly changed the topic and asked what states I had visited in the US. At that point I realized he was just looking to pass the afternoon with 1:1 English conversation practice and decided it was time to head home to feed the kids since it was already 1:30 pm and Vicki wasn’t back yet. I walked the 3.2 km home in about 45 minutes. I try to get in a 30 minute brisk walk most days and it’s usually very pleasant. The kids and I went to a Mexican restaurant (1 of 3 in Arequipa) that we had heard about and liked it. It’s not the Tex Mex we’re used to, but it’s decent. It’s run by Americans, but no free chips and salsa, bummer. Being Americans, they should know better 🙂 And no free refills, either. Peruvian restaurants charge you for every drop of beverage, including water because it’s all bottled. But they’re still generally cheaper than the US equivalents. Last Saturday Vicki and went to a Chinese restaurant that charged us $0.35 each for the takeout boxes!

Vicki arrived home about 4pm and Anna and I set out for this week’s second scavenger hunt. Her art teacher is constantly telling the students they have to go buy this or that item for the next class. Tuesday it was a roll of masking tape with a floral print. We never did find it. Sometimes our local tiendas have the item (we have to walk to each one and ask them using whatever Spanish word Anna wrote down in class–half the time they say they’ve never heard of it) but today we had to go downtown to the central market and walk about 10 blocks in circles asking every cookware store in sight whether they had cookie cutters. Most did, but not in the exact shape that we needed (fleur-de-lis, more or less). As usually happens, one vendor told us to go several blocks up to the supermarket that had ¨all kinds of cookie molds,¨ but they had no more than he did. After trying several more stores, we finally found what we think is the right shape for the whopping total of $1.40. We spent $3.50 on taxis to buy a $1.40 item, which is a bit frustrating, but it was getting dark, I was tired of walking, and our time is worth more than $3.50 / hr! ¨Why,¨ I asked Anna, ¨doesn’t your teacher just buy 20 of these things and you can all pay her in class?¨ ¨She did that once,¨ Anna said, ¨but the students don’t pay so she’s out the money.¨ You might wonder why the school doesn’t just include art supplies in their fees. Recall that at the beginning of the year we had to bring a certain number of rolls of paper towels, toilet paper, pencils, etc. to help the school stock up. For whatever reason, it is the Peruvian way to make all 20 parents go across town on the scavenger hunt to find the $1.40 item every other week. Immigration does exactly the same thing and for exactly the same reason: not in their budget, not their problem. It’s wasteful of time, money, and gas, and a good example of how ¨local optimization¨ (the school’s penny-pinching, in this case) ends up costing everyone much more. The US airlines are doing the same thing with checked baggage (so now everyone brings massive carry-ons and it takes longer to load the plane).

Vicki made a wonderful lasagna dinner for us with special fresh mozzarella cheese delivered by an Italian / Peruvian couple at our church. They are very particular about their cheese and have found a good supplier in Lima of fresh, soft mozzarella, unlike the hard round lumps you find in the markets here. Mind you, we had never noticed the difference, but in order for their supplier to make a delivery, they have to order in bulk. We don’t want our Italian friend to be without fresh, soft mozzarella and we certainly don’t mind having good cheese at a reasonable price, so we are happy to help out.

Daniel went to a youth group in the neighborhood that meets in the home of one of the classmates he met last December. Timothy and I walked halfway up the street to a new $3 haircut place that opened up. They do a good job and it’s very convenient for us, but evidently word has gotten out as it was packed! We waited about half an hour before we finally decided just to leave. The first 15 minutes were pleasant as they were playing the movie ¨Up!¨ on TV in Spanish. Then it switched to a Peruvian horror movie with bloody, vicious, zombie attacks and it didn’t occur to anyone in the shop that it might be inappropriate for a 10-yr-old (or his dad). Sadly, Peruvians are completely desensitized from a young age to trash TV of all genres.

Speaking of trash, on the short walk to the haircut place I observed a man non-chalantly drop his bag of trash right on the sidewalk in front of the best-kept house on our street. We see people toss stuff in parks and downtown sidewalks all the time, but this was really blatant. Without thinking, I put my hand up in the air and said, ¨Really?¨ He looked at me and told a bald-faced lie: ¨It’s my door,¨ then walked on. It is a mercy that I don’t have more facility in the language. When we left the haircut place, his trash was still sitting there on the sidewalk. I will be honest. There are things I love about Peru and things I have come to despise. The utter thoughtlessness of many people is one of the things that really gets to me, and it’s enough to make one sympathize with the green people in the US. Whatever their faults, I’m pretty sure the people pushing for neighborhood recycling don’t litter their neighbors’ property. The northern CA streets and parks are 10x, maybe 100x cleaner than what we see around here. Before we moved to Peru, common grace was just a theological concept. Now we know a lot more about what it is. I find it highly ironic that the indigenous people worship Mother Earth (the Pachamama) but throw trash all over ¨her.¨

Just one other event from the day. While downtown in the crowded market area, we saw traffic starting to back up on one of the one-way streets. A delivery truck had broad-sided a taxi on the passenger side in the intersection. I’m actually amazed this doesn’t happen more often as there are very few stoplights nor stop signs, and the latter don’t mean much, anyway. The taxi driver remained in his car while the truck drivers got out. A crowd of about 15 men had gathered surrounding the scene. The scene was quiet but could easily become volatile. As we passed by, we heard a lady on her cellphone talking to someone nearby, ¨Come down here, come down here to see the wreck!¨ She was very enthusiastic. Cars behind the truck started honking. Taxis on the cross street started squeezing in between the wrecked taxi and the sidewalk, honking as they sped by. We didn’t see the accident happen so have no idea whose fault it was, but I would guess the taxi dashed out in front of the truck thinking he would stop but the truck couldn’t. When two old junk taxis collide, they usually settle it right there. They argue and haggle, then one pulls out cash to pay the other and off they go. But this taxi was newer and the damage more extensive. Most vehicles and drivers are not properly insured as the minimums are ridiculously low so an accident like this one could cost the taxi driver his livelihood. It’s just sort of sad.

Otherwise, it was a clear, sunny, and uneventful day.

3 Responses to “A typical Saturday”

  1. georgiajammy October 26, 2014 at 6:18 am #

    Oh my! I’m sure to most Christians in the US, me included, common grace is just a theological concept. Thank you for sharing your life with us here on your blog. Robert and I enjoy reading every word! God bless the Chandlers!

  2. Laura October 26, 2014 at 7:22 am #

    Always enjoy reading your blog, David. Thank you for sharing. It helps us to know what your daily lives are like in Peru. And, it helps me to know what to pray for. Hugs and prayers to all, Laura and Todd

  3. Judy Chandler October 27, 2014 at 10:46 am #

    Just read Trevor’s chapter in the new nursing textbook, getting another dose of culture around the world. And we complain about the price of gas or fresh green peppers! Thank you for sharing, keeping us thankful.

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