Category Archives: Difference

Lone Regret

June 23, 2013 – Day 702

The van is waiting outside. All eleven of our suitcases are by the garage door waiting to be loaded into the van. The house is looking just as white and stark and empty as it was when we arrived 702 days ago.

I am at the front door with my had on the door knob about to close the door for the last time.

We are leaving Lima, our home for two years, and we will never be back to this house ever again. We have had, over the long run, an excellent time in Peru. We have seen new sights, experiencing new things, and ate new foods.

Over a span of seven hundred and two days, we have travelled to Machu Picchu, the city of Cusco, the ruins of Suqsaywaman, and the jungles around Iquitos (to name a few places).

Members of the family have surfed in the Pacific Ocean, sandboarded down the dunes in Ica, and saw a dead pig in a trunk (to name a few events).

We have sampled rocoto peppers, pisco, and cuttlefish (to name a few items).

We have seen a great deal, done a great deal, and eaten a great deal during our time on Peru. In all of our adventures and experiences, I have absolutely no regrets…save one.

As my hand leaves the door knob and I make my way to the vehicle that will whisk me to the airport that will take me to the vehicle that will whisk me away from Peru, I am truly full of regret that I never pushed the button.

Wrapping Up: Via Delivery

June 15, 2013 – Day 694

Last April, I wrote about how fast food eateries (e.g., McDonald’s, Burger King) in Peru employ motorcycles to deliver their edibles to people’s homes.

In that post, I made the claim that the burgers and fries that appear at the customer’s front door is as hot as it is if they had been ordered at the restaurant itself. I made this claim with no experience to back it up so I was actually making a guess when I refuted the comment by Kai Ryssdal.

However, I can now state with absolute authority whether the meat patty and salted potatoes do indeed come to the house hot for today we (finally) called our local McDonald’s and ordered Big Macs, McNuggets, a McPollo, a McNifica, and french fries.

Fifteen minutes later, the doorbell rang and outside our door was a motorcycle carrying our food.

The verdict is in: The food is definitely still hot even when delivered.

Things are looking good for the citizens of San Fransisco, L.A., and Chicago who want their McEdibles delivered to their front door.

Another One Buys the Bus

May 12, 2013 – Day 660

Every Sunday, the School that our children attend sends out an email with all of their weekly news. Along with notices about the latest happening in Mr. X’s class or how darling the performance was by Mrs. Y’s oboe students, an item in today’s electronic communications caught my eye.

The School was announcing that it was auctioning off five of its school buses. Granted, only four of them are actually working but the School did provide a list of all the parts needed to get Bus#5 back up and running.

I read this announcement with chagrin because I couldn’t figure out who would buy a Ford F-70 bus, but then I remembered I currently live in Peru.

Here in Lima, the public transportation system consists of a single bus line (The Metropolitano) and a single-line electric train (Metro).

For a city of nearly nine million people, there are only two lines to ferry people to and fro courtesy of the government.

The leftover demand for road transportation (and there is a great deal of leftover demand) is taken up by private individuals. Private ownership of cars is growing by leaps and bounds in Peru, but I would contend that the bulk of people are transported from Point A to Point B courtesy of taxis and combis.

Combis, for those who need a refresher course, are basically privately owned buses of various sizes. Ranging in mass from small vans to mini vans to larger, combis travel along a set route and pick up/drop off passengers along the way. They – to my eyes – are always packed tighter than a Japanese subway. I have never partaken of a ride in a combi and I do believe it is one of the experiences I will skip out on as our time in Lima winds down.

Since a combi is privately owned, this means that a person has to shell out the money to purchase whatever vehicle they will be using. That could be one of the reasons our School is advertising the upcoming auction of buses. It’s not an auction so much as an opportunity for someone to become an entrepreneur.

Likewise, an owner can also sell their combi, which explains the “Se Vende” (For Sale) sign on this vehicle…

Great Deal - Only driven on days ending in "s" or "o"

Great Deal – Only driven on days ending in “s” or “o”

Final note – Just in case you’re wondering (and I highly doubt you were) about the circle with the “70″ in the left-hand side of the picture, this means that the bus can only reach a top speed of 70 kilometers per hour (43 mph).

Workers of the World, Take a Break

May 1, 2013 – Day 649

This day in Peru is a holiday known as Dia del Trabajo. Schools are out and most – but not all – business gave their workers the day off. Empleadas (domestic help) also receive the day off on this holiday.

Actually, this day is a holiday in most corners of the globe. The first of May, May Day, is known as International Workers’ Day and is meant to commemorate all those who labor (or “labour” if you live in England). First set up to honor the demonstrators killed during the 1886 Haymarket Affair in Chicago, Illinois, May Day became a day for workers to march and celebrate their contributions.

Because the celebration of May Day has its roots in the Socialism movement of the late 19th Century, I am not overly shocked that May Day is not celebrated in the United States. The Stars and Stripes celebrates its labor force on the first Monday in September.

However, the first of May is an actual holiday in the United States. Workers living in the fifty states and the District of Columbia won’t have the day off and students won’t be out of school, but you can now win a bar bet by letting others know that today is Loyalty Day.

No, seriously, this is a real holiday. It even says so right here in the United States Civil Code.

Have It Your Way At Home Was Here First

April 25, 2013 – Day 643

This adventure to Peru would have been radically different had it taken place two decades ago (heck, even ten years ago). Back in that bygone era known as the early 1990s the Internet was known only to those who had mastered UNIX and were privy to the arcane arts of FTP (that would be “file transfer protocol”). There were no browsers as there wasn’t even a World Wide Web. Podcasts weren’t even a glimmer in the eyes of tech-savvy folk.

Had I lived in Peru a score of years ago, I believe I would have been out of contact with the news that emanated from the United States. Perhaps, in the 1990s, I would have been able to keep tabs on the happenings in the States by reading days-old newspapers that were shipped to Lima.

However, I am in Peru now and now means the Internet, the Web, and podcasts. Courtesy of all of that technological wizardry, I am able to keep abreast of all manner of news from the sea to shining sea as well as all other sections of the globe.

One of my favorite podcasts is Marketplace, a business-oriented program from American Public Radio. Today, I heard the program from April 24 and was greatly humored by the final item of Wednesday’s program as narrated by the program’s host, Kai Ryssdal. In its entirety, here is that transcript

This week’s sign the apocalypse is upon us: (And honestly, I don’t know how I missed this, but somehow I did.)

It seems just because fast food isn’t already convenient enough, you can now get it delivered. I learned today Burger King franchises in Chicago, San Francisco and eventually here in Los Angeles will start delivering Whoppers, et al.

After all, to steal a line from one of our producers here, a microwaved $2 hamburger isn’t enough. Now you can get it cold, on your door step.

My apologies, Mr. Ryssdal, but if your metaphor is to be believed, then the Apocalypse has already been upon us based on life down here in Peru.

Fast-food delivery from the burger-makers of McDonald’s, Bembo’s, KFC, and yes even from Burger King, has been the epitome of normal since we arrived. Delivery is done via motorcycle as can be seen in this picture…

Fast Food on Fast Wheels

Fast Food on Fast Wheels

Are the burgers cold? No. Why? For the same reason, Mr. Ryssdal, that your delivered pizza isn’t icy when it arrives at your doorstep. The burger joints use insulated boxes that keep the hot stuff hot and the cool stuff cool.

Chicago, San Fransisco, and L.A., please enjoy your delivered patties.

From the 80s to Today

April 24, 2013 – Day 642

Over my time here in Peru, I have made mention once or twice about how Lima appears to be a magnet for musical acts that were popular back in the 1980s.

The City of Kings has seen Roxette, Aerosmith, and Erasure make appearances while I have lived here. The hits simply keep coming as the news is out that the music group Yes will be performing in Lima in May.

However, the era of Reagan, Flashdance, and shoulder pads for women is not the only period of time that sends its musical acts to Peru. Nope, Lima is also on the leading edge of music hip-ness as Korean pop music (aka K-popwhich is a vastly different musical style from K-Tel) sends its practitioners to this South American capital.

PSY has not yet shown up (only a matter of time, I suppose), but this weekend sees the ten-member boy band from South Korea, Super Junior, in concert. Actually, there will only be nine members showing up for the gig as one of them dropped out to join the Army.

How big is this concert?

It’s so big that one of Peru’s largest newspaper, El Comercio, placed a large poster of the group in its paper as a souvenir item to promote the April 27 show. Part of the poster is reproduced below…

Their show is called "Super Show 5"...that's why their hands are that way

Their show is called “Super Show 5″…that’s why their hands are that way

I may laugh about the bubble-gum quality of K-pop, but I did the same decades ago when the Backstreet Boys hit it big.

And now that quintet has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Who’s laughing now?

Fashion Season

April 9, 2013 – Day 627

Two items of note concerning fashion…

Signs of the Season

The calendar down here south of the Equator says fall (or otono) but that autumnal season has yet to arrive. One way I know this is that the high temperatures for these days has hovered around the upper seventies.

The other sure sign that summer still has its hooks in Lima has to do with feet. As of this date in April, I still the vast majority of women in the Peruvian capital wearing sandals. A definite barometer that the winds and weather have changed is when women switch from open-toed shoes to boots.

This Southern Hemisphere-ical seasonal change of style is similar to the end-of-winter/start-of-spring phenomenon observed in the Northern Hemisphere with the pants/shorts worn by UPS delivery people.

“And We’re Coming to Town”

This week has seen the start of LIF – otherwise known as Lima in Fashion Week – a five-day festival of all things sartorial. As with anything fashion-related, there are events where designers can showcase their latest creations.

Please allow me to share with you three items designed by Elfer Castro that were examples of clothes inspired by the Incas. This trio of photographs were in today’s El Comercio as part of a special supplemental about LIF.

Not sure what this is #1

Not sure what this is #1

Not sure what this is #2

Not sure what this is #2

Bank robber or runway model?

Bank robber or runway model?

Part of me is quite content to know that odd fashion is not limited to Paris.

Tech Genius

March 2013

With the advent of the start of the second semester of my children’s School down here in Peru, the high school that my eldest attends has implemented a new policy. The School’s administration highly, highly, highly encouraged that every student bring a laptop to school. The School can’t mandate that every family shell out $$$ to purchase a laptop, but the head pooh-bahs of the School made it clear that any child sans a portable PC would probably suffer in their educational pursuits.

I had my reservations about letting high schoolers loose at school with computers hooked up to the Wild Wild West of the Internet. Yes, the School IT Wizards assured me that the educational facility had appropriate filters set up on their firewalls which was probably as useless against tech-savvy teens as this fence was.

I had my reservations about letting high schoolers loose at school with unlimited access to Facebook and Twitter. If you thought that passing notes was a distraction at school, I can only imagine that allowing high schoolers unfettered access to social media would be as distracting as a room full of laser pointers to a cat.

However, I had my reservations turned around as I was shown the utility of having the kids in classrooms be equipped with laptops. On a particular day in March, my eldest stayed home from school because he wasn’t feeling well. As it happened, on this day, his Social Studies teacher was giving an important lecture about an upcoming assignment. Now my son knew when his class was so he fired up his laptop, started up Skype, called one of his classmates, and my eldest was able to videoconference into the class and hear and see the whole lecture.

Genius, I dare say…genius.

Despite What You’ve Heard, it is the Heat

April 3, 2013 – Day 621

When I was close to graduating college, I would sometimes be asked where in the United States I would like to work.

My answer was always, “Anywhere but the Gulf Coast.”

I’ve been to various cities in and around the Gulf Coast area (Houston, Lake Charles, New Orleans, Biloxi, Ocean Springs, Tampa) and have found the residents to be some of the most charming, friendliest folk in the nation. In addition, the cuisine (and here I speak of crawdads and gator) is superb and well worth the trip.

No, the reason I was determined to avoid the arc of geography that stretches from Texas to Florida is the heat and humidity. I have lived through winters in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Washington D.C. and I am fine with sub-zero temperatures and the occasional four-foot wall of snow that takes up residence in my driveway.

What I have real trouble tolerating is oppressive heat and smothering humidity. Summers in the District of Columbia and the Windy City can be both hot and humid but I can’t recall too many times (while I resided there) that the extreme weather went on for more than a few days.

My intolerance for Double-H (heat and humidity) days has never been tested since we moved down to Lima. The weather here is fantastic as it is boring and predictable. In summers the average high is just a shade under 80 degrees. Winters see the mercury hit and average low of 59. If you want to see all the number regarding the Lima climate, jump to here.

As an example of the stability of Lima’s weather, here is a screen shot of the current 5-day outlook for the City of Kings.

Zzzzzzz

Zzzzzzz

When I took this image at noon (local time), please notice that the temperature was a lovely seventy-five degrees and there was no heat index or wind chill as the text below “75″ says, “Feels like 75″. Tomorrow it will be 75, Friday heats up a smidge, Saturday stands still at 77, and Sunday sees a drop back to 75. Typical of autumn and winter, the skies are mostly to partly cloudy.

Lima, Peru – climate-wise – has been a dream for me. So with the recent announcement that the family is up and moving to Bangkok, Thailand, I made the mistake of looking at the weather.

Six words now come to mind and only five of them are appropriate for a G-rated blog like this, “What the [ ] am I thinking?!?

Here is the screenshot of the current 5-day forecast for Thailand’s capital….

AAAAGGGGHHHHH!x10

AAAAGGGGHHHHH!x10

I will direct your attention to the fact that the current temperature reading was taken at midnight (Thailand time). It’s the dead of night and it is eighty-six degrees outside. Oh, but wait…courtesy of the humidity, it actually feels like it is ninety-nine degrees….at midnight!

Tomorrow, Friday, and the whole weekend are expected to be in the triple digits.

Good gravy, what have I gotten myself into?

If anybody has any tips, tricks, or cheats on how to survive these conditions (that are fine for the planet Venus, but a tad harsh here on Earth), please drop me a line in the Comments section. Much obliged.

So Let it Be Written

March 25, 2013 – Day 612

Happy Passover (or Chag Sameach, if you prefer) from us down here south of the Equator.

This holiday is celebrated with a seder, the Passover dinner. It is a time when the whole family comes together to celebrate, commemorate, and remember their Jewish heritage and identity.

There’s lots of eating also, but that’s a given when it comes to Jewish holidays (uh, except for Yom Kippur…but that’s a whole other ball of wax).

Tonight our family has been graciously invited to another family’s seder in Lima. I am disappointed that our travels means that, for the second consecutive time, I will not be celebrating Passover with either my family or my lovely’s wife’s family. They will not be able to hear my children recite the Four Questions nor will my kids be able to ransom the afikomen from them once they discover its hiding place.

Sigh!

I am grateful for the invitation from the friends of my lovely wife so that we will all be able to enjoy matzah, charoset, and whatever other morsels our hosts are making. At least we will be able to celebrate in a fashion.

I will miss my family and my in-laws on this holiday, but there is one other facet to this day that I will sorely miss because I live in Lima.

I realize it’s a small thing, but it is often the small things that make a tradition.

Sigh(x2)!

Here in Lima, there is no broadcast television network (say, ABC) that will be airing The Ten Commandments, Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 epic movie that is the story of Passover.

I will not be able to see Charlton Heston raise his arms and split the Red Sea. I will not hear Edward G. Robinson (in that oh-so-Egyptian-like New York accent of his) say, “Where’s your Messiah, now?”. I will not be able to hear Yul Bynner utter, “So let it be written, so it shall be done.”

I guess there’s always iTunes, but it’s just not the same.

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