Friday, October 31, 2008

Thoughts From the Peru Trip

Before the trip, I proposed an idea to Amy; that we journal our thoughts and goings on each day. For the most part, we managed to get the time to write every day, though we ended up being busier than we had initially thought. While it is not my intention to copy each day's entry as blog posts (we were there for 18 days), I will use this post to convey some thoughts I had during the trip.

Before leaving the U.S., when we were sitting in the Miami airport waiting for a storm delay to pass, I caught a story on CNN about the DOW dropping to under 9,000 points. I remember watching the news report when it went over 9,000 for the first time—I still lived in VA. Some fellow Lima travelers happened to look at the TV for a bit and then sat down in front of Amy and I. One was a gringo, the other seemed to be of South American heritage. The gringo was trying to explain, in high-level terms, the house of cards that the stock market and the rest of our financial system is. Needless to say, it was mostly lost in translation. The one thing that Amy and I did pick up, however, was that the two were traveling in relation to a ministry. The gringo also happened to explain the fear that many people had about the stock market fluctuations. He then pulled out a piece of paper on which he had written a promise he had heard at a recent gathering: "We don't have to worry. God will take care of us because we are taking care of His children." It was a good reminder and I believe that it helped us both to relax and enjoy our time better in Peru.

Things that we tend to take for granted in this country:
  • Enforced traffic laws
  • Cold soda
  • Safe tap water
  • Consistent hot water
  • Flushing toilet paper

Things that we should implement in this country:

It is possible to get a sunburn when the temperature is less than 70°F, especially so close to the Equator. I learned that lesson (thankfully) on the first day and applied sunscreen (liberally) to all exposed surfaces from that point on. It didn't help with the flaking skin, however.

In the southern hemisphere, the seasons are at the exact opposite time as ours. It is currently spring in Peru. The trees and grasses in Peru behave similar to the ones here in the spring. They throw pollen all over the place! Combine that with much lower, if any, pollution regulation and you should be able to guess what my nose was doing for a good part of the trip. We went to a grocery store pharmacy to pick out some allergy medicine, but the problem is that the brand names are completely different. Thankfully, however, chemical names don't change much from one language to the next. Cetirizina is the equivalent to cetirizine which is known in the U.S. by the brand name Zyrtec. And people mess with me about memorizing certain things…Oh, it seems that it is allowable to sell stronger dosages there also.

In Spanish, there are two verbs for "to know": saber [sah-berr’] and conocer [co-no-serr’]. In English, we say that we have been somewhere or have seen something, but in Spanish, you would say that you know it (with conocer). That gave me an interesting shift in thinking about visiting somewhere. Do I come back having only been there? or do I know it? I came upon this gem of language difference early in the trip and it helped me have a more thorough experience for the remainder.

Following this will be a mini-series with a full multimedia presentation of the trip. There are some good video clips and of course lots of pictures. Stay tuned!

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