I get asked all the time how I like living in Peru. Often times I don’t know what I’m supposed to say to that after living here nine years. As a writer, I always am stretching myself to figure out how to describe things and bring readers INTO what I may be thinking and feeling in some way.
But if the one asking has no point of reference I can relate to, like they’ve never left North America and experienced anything else, I often don’t know how to relate it.
If you’ve never visited or experienced any other culture than your own, especially a Latin-American culture, then it’s not like I’m going to have a one or two sentence answer that will be able to help you “get” what it’s like here.
There are obviously issues of culture shock and valuing things differently from one culture to another, just as I’m sure Peruvians who move to Canada face.
Like instead of riding my own moose or polar bear to work, obviously, I ride an alpaca instead and they smell different.
But in all seriousness, as much as I’ve gotten used to some things after all these years, I still truly cannot fathom having our electricity go out for a day or two every month. Or how we have no water from time to time — or like once last year, for nearly a week.
Sometimes it’s inconvenient and irksome to have my wife come with me to hire labor or make purchases of items that have no marked price because I’ll automatically get ripped off or over-charged just because I’m a gringo that vendors think is loaded with money.
One of the first things I learned to say in Spanish when I first visited Peru was “¿Cuánto cuesta normalmente?” (how much does it NORMALLY cost?) or “give me the Peruvian price, not the gringo price.”
But OTHER times I’m like, yeah, Peru gets it RIGHT.
Case in point.
I’ve got a four-year-old and an almost 11-month-old, and with both we’ve used baby walkers. In Emily’s case, it’s been a lifesaver as she’ll just wander around our spacious first-floor apartment and be independent for like an hour or so until she’s hungry or wants a nap or something like that.
So, I didn’t even THINK for a moment when we went back to Canada this past Christmas these would not be possible to obtain because they’re now illegal. I guess as is often the case, in the past, a few stupid parents didn’t watch what their children were doing, and they fell down stairs or something like that.
So, the rest of society has to be punished for the neglect of the few.
In Peru, at least in this kind of example, the government doesn’t create a law to punish all of society just because of a few stupid people or lawbreakers.
Granted, they do still come up with some pretty stupid laws down here, like if you’re a foreigner you can’t buy a new pay-as-you-go cell phone using your residency card as ID anymore, even if you’ve been a paying customer for five years with that carrier. Hence, the need to bring my wife with me in order to do something I would otherwise do myself like a big boy.
Sometimes “developing” or “third world” nation is just a stupid label that doesn’t mean anything, and it’s the “first world” and “developed” nations who truly need help advancing instead of turning into nanny states.
That’s how I like living in Peru.