Amy in Peru: An Odyssey

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Lifestyle of the....?

My aunt was asking about what day-to-day life is like here in Huancavelica. And, with this question, I was inspired to post some of these thoughts, as it might be interesting generally. These are simply general observations/ realities of living in working in Huancavelica (and some of Peru generally)--- take all with a highly subjective grain of salt... :)

1. The day starts VERY early--- people are very early risers, and even when we have been up at 4am to drive to the campo, there have been people in the streets, hanging out, buying hot herbal drinks from street carts, moving stuff, etc.... wow!! The early rising could also be because there seem to be more roosters than people (in my neighbourhood anyway), and they start their crowing before the sun is up..... I am hoping it is like living by a train track and eventually I won't hear it anymore.... :)

2. Hot water for morning showers is at a premuim, and my shower is no exception. I do have luke warm water, but it comes out at about the strength of a poodle peeing. So facing the coldness of the morning (remember we have no heating) and trying to warm up in a poodle-peeing shower proves trying most days... I can't properly express how fregging cold it feels in the mornings---- truely breath-taking.

3. As most people know, I LOVE tea, and make a mug three most mornings here, to warm up. Ovens here do not run by electricity, but with gas. But buildings are not armed with gas lines--- everyone has their own gas tank, like a BBQ, which you use to run your stove. At first it felt a little scary having a BBQ tank inside my kitchen, but everyone does it so i have gotten used to it.

4. The walk to work is about 15 mins more or less--- as I walk out, I pass the little guinea pig hut that the family downstairs use to house their 'cuy'. I try not to think about their impending death, and my having to refuse the offer of fried guinea pig AGAIN. :) Often, in my area, as there are several llama slaughter places, there are often llamas in the road. I have no idea why i have not taken a pictue of this yet. Also, the streets, around 7:30-8am, are crawling with kids walking to school--- tons and tons and tons. And they all look at me and giggle. I am hoping this too will either pass or i will get used to it.

The walk to work also involves several street obstacles--- including roaming or fornicating dogs (so many stray dogs here!!), street gutters that are about 8 inches wide and 6-8 inches deep, houses whose draining water falls from the second floor, so you have to avoid the pouring water, (which i always hope is a shower, and that the person taking it has not ust peed in the shower), etc...

5. Work I will not get into right now, but suffice it to sayI continue to be under-used and bored. I have things to do, but they all involve filing or typing--- i went to university for 11 years, have worked in a bunch of different places and countries and have come all the way here to be a secretary for two years....? The thought frightens me more than I care to admit, and I REALLY hope i have my own projects soon....

6. We go to lunch from 1 to 3 and we usually get the MenĂº, which consists of an appetizer, a HUGE bowl of soup (which often all taste the same, despite having different names), and a choice of segundo-- all for 5-6 soles or about 2 dollars. I can never finish anything, and am constantly the butt of many a joke, or else a matronly look of disdain at not having finished my GIANT serving of rice (a requisite with EVERY meal).

7. Again, will not get into work details in the afternoon portion. Suffice it to say that we stay late because nothing ever really gets done. This weekend I have to come in today (saturday) and Sunday to do a bunch of secretary stuff--- blechy blarg barf. But what can one do?

But to get back to my story, Sometimes, on the way home, i will stop at a shop to pick up some stuff to try to cook (I am still struggling to find much in the way of groceries, so my diet is pretty basic.) There are no grocery stores--- there are little shops that have stuff, but never really in a specific way--- some have dried goods, some have eggs, some don't, few have bread, few have fruits and veggies, some have oil and the like. All very random, so you have to get to know a few to get everything you are looking for.

Sometimes, if i am feeling lazy, I will go to a fuente de soda and get a sandwich (not a sandwich like you are thinking... a floury bun with cheese or an egg, usually). It is super cheap and i have a few where the people are very nice and i like supporting their businesses. At these places, you can also get AWESOME juices---- you order, for example, a papaya juice (which you can get warmed up--- sounds gross, but trust me--- often it is just to cold to face a cold serving of juice), and you get TWO big glasses, for 1.50 sols, or about 50 cents---- AWESOME!

8. Before going to sleep, I rev up my BBQ gas tank and boil enough water for 2 cups of hot lime and honey (YUM!) and to fill my two hot water bolltes. I then put on all the pyjamas i brought (rotating so that different pairs touch my body on different days--- makes for more time between washings), crawl into bed and try to read almost completely under the blankets so as not to have to have my arms or nose in the cold. It took some getting used to, but i am becoming quite adept... :)

So that is a basic summary of some of the things I will encounter in a nrmal day. There are lots more, which i will probably write in a version two of this posting at a later date. Hope all is well my friends and family! Keep in touch!


  • Hey Amykins,

    Wow! Life in your part of the world is interesting! What an amazing experience - I've been keeping up with your blog from time to time and it's definitely a good read. I hope your work reaches your level of expectations in the near future. I know you, above all people, need a good challenge or you will wither away... ;)

    It's awesome that you finally got to move into your place. It looks incredible - enjoy. Take care and I'll keep popping in on you to see what's up with ya.

    By Anonymous Mel, at 7:11 PM  

  • Hi Amy

    So I was wondering why you don't buy yourself a space heater? Life is just too short and your feet are too cold.

    We will turn the heat off in your bedroom when you are here at xmas - would want you to get acclimatized to the warmth. :)

    Sounds like things are improving. Take care.

    By Blogger reahpeah, at 7:31 AM  

  • Sounds like your life is a hoot to the power of "Whahoo". Sucks that your job is still uber boring (not unlike mine though), but at least you're having a bit of an adventure.

    And I agree with Leah -- get a space heater.

    By Blogger Lesley, at 6:00 AM  

  • sunshine,
    am lovin the early morning thing, but the no heat and wild dogs, holy smokers, an adventure no doubt! thanks for the posting. always a treat. miss you much,

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:13 AM  

  • By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:45 PM  

  • By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:22 PM  

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