Category Archives: Newspaper

Now Available in White

Day 493 – November 26, 2012

My lack of Spanish has left me scratching my head over what I’m sure is an interesting story I read in a newspaper.

In this Monday’s weekly section of El Comerico called Dia_1, there is a small sidebar story with the simple headline of Toyota vende autos blancos (Toyota sells white cars).

I’m not quite sure why it’s big news (or even small news) that a Japanese car company is offering the color white as an option for its vehicles. To my mind, white seems to be a fairly standard hue (examples are here and here and here).

The Dia_1 article had a picture of a white Toyota with the caption Retorna el color de la paz (Return of the color of peace).

The word “return” would mean, to me, that the color of white was once available in Peru and then, for whatever reason, was taken off the market.

I had hoped the actual story would answer my questions as to why white was once a taboo color in cars and why it has now come back. However, I was disappointed as my less-than-perfect translation of the article did not satisfy my curiosity. Here is the text…

La compania Toyota del Peru ha retornado la venta de vehiculos de color blanco en el pais. Segun expertos en marketing, la marca japonesa descontinuo en los ultimos anos este color de su portafolio de productos, como una manera de evitar que la mala reputaction de los autos de timon cambiado de esa marca contagie a los de timon original. Ahora que se ha prohibido la importacion de autos usados con timon a la derecha, nuevamente se haria viable la venta de autos Toyota del color de la paz.

This is the translation that Google Translate provided me…

The company Peru Toyota has returned to selling white cars in the country. According to marketing experts, the Japanese discontinued in recent years this color of its product portfolio, as a way to prevent the bad reputation helm of cars changed from getting to that brand of original rudder. Now that it has banned the import of used cars with the right rudder, this again makes feasible the sale of Toyota cars of the color of peace.

What appears to be throwing me is the Spanish word timòn which Google translates to “helm” but can also mean “rudder”, “tiller”, or “wheel”.

So did Toyota stop selling white vehicles in Peru because of some unfortunate event in the past that tainted the opinions of Peruvians towards carros blancos? Does white have some sort of cultural red line that Peruvians did not want to cross?

This article in microcosm exemplifies my experience as a non-native Spanish speaker living in a country where English is rarely spoken. When people speak to me or when I read articles in newspapers and articles, I feel as if I have only understood the tippiest tiniest part of the linguistic iceberg. There is so much more nuance and meaning that I am missing that I can only wonder what lies beneath.

Some days it’s missing out on why white cars are back on sale and some days it’s missing out on why and how people feel the way they feel.

As a parting note, if anyone has a better translation of the above story or knows why white was once a verboten tint, please feel free to drop a thought in the comment section.


Mixed Messages

Day 502 – December 5, 2012

This story is why I think it’s important for a major metropolitan area to have more than a single newspaper serving its citizenry.

Today’s front page of Peru21 had a tease about a story with this lead, “Peru es el pais mas inseguro de las Americas” (Peru is most unsafe country in the Americas). The article, on page 7, references a study from Barometro de las Americas detailing how Peru, when measuring for violence and corruption, comes in twenty-sixth out of the twenty-six countries that comprise South America and Central America and also includes the United States and Canada.


Today’s front page of Publimetro has a picture of a beautiful panaroma of the Malecon area of Lima. The photograph has the caption, “…nuestra capital ocupa puesto 12 en America Latina entre las mejores ciudades para vivir.” (…our capital occupies the 12th spot for the best cities to live in in Latin America) and directs the reader to page 6. Once there, the article mentions the 2012 Quality of Living survey from Mercer. Peru’s capital city is ranked globally at number 121 out of 460 measured cities.

Feeling good or feeling bad about your city of residence (or any other matter) may sometimes depend on what paper you picked up.


Day 410 – September 4, 2012

My grade-school daughter has a two-day break from her School (a four-day weekend for the little one!) as this is the time scheduled for the parent-student-teacher conferences.

So I am off to spend some excellent quality time with my daughter.

Perhaps we will go to the park.
Perhaps I may even treat her to a trip to Larcomar and take her bowling.
Perhaps we will play Mille Bornes.


Perhaps she will call a classmate-friend and they will spend the day together.

Regardless of her plans and mine, this post is a reminder to let you know that I have another Peru-based blog, Periodically, Peru, that you can read and enjoy.

The Leftist Point of View

Day 389 – August 13, 2012

You may not know this (I certainly didn’t) but August 13 is Left Handers Day, a day to celebrate all things left-handed.

The editors of Publimetro, a free Peruvian newspaper handed out on the street, knew of this day because they put out a special left-handed edition of their periodical. How do I know it was a left-handed edition? Look for yourself…

August 13 edition of Publimetro

In honor of Left Handed Day

What you see above is the front page of Publimetro with the headline Poder zurdo. “Zurdo”, to the best of my knowledge, is the Spanish slang term for a left-handed person and it makes a modicum of sense. In English, a leftie is known as a southpaw. This comes from the fact that in most pre-1990 baseball stadiums, a left-handed pitcher would have his throwing arm facing south (The Straight Dope does a better job of untangling the origins of this term). In Spanish, “south” is sur, which, with a tiny change to the pronunciation, comes out as zur.

Isn’t linguistics fun?

As you will no doubt notice, to read the next page of the paper, you had to turn the left-hand side of the page. This is how the whole paper is laid out and it was quite the ingenious tip of the left-handed hat to ten percent of the global population.

Inside, the paper had articles about famous lefties (soccer player Messi, President Barack Obama, singer/songwriter Paul McCartney) and products designed specifically for lefties (scissors, notebooks, keyboards, etc.).

There was no mention of the left-handed Whopper.

Where Be The Man In The Moon

Day 253 – March 31, 2012

Taking a break from looking side-to-side can have its advantages and disadvantages.

Sometimes, when I point my head skyward, I am able to see new and beautiful things (see here and here).

Other times, I can become disoriented as evidenced by my story here.

Today was one of those latter, disorienting days.

I was outside enjoying the mid-afternoon Saturday air as the temperature began to cool as the sun made its way below the western horizon. I looked up and, as I expected, saw the waxing gibbous moon. Sure enough, just a shade over half of the lunar face was lit up reflecting the rays of the Sun.

However, the more I stared at our closest natural satellite, an odd sense of wrongness overcame me. Something, and I was hard pressed to put my foot on it, was wrong with what I was seeing.

The picture below is what I saw. See if you can figure out what is different about this picture of the Moon a day after its first quarter phase. I will let you know that this image has been doctored or altered in any way. It is true WYSIWYG.

Waxing Gibbous Moon

Good Old Luna

I couldn’t figure out why the Moon looked wrong to me, so I went inside and accessed the Internet to assist me. Here is what I found when I did a search for the current phase of the Moon.

Screen shot of moon phase for March 31 2012

That's the look of our neighboring satellite I'm used to

I then realized what was wrong and here are four words I never thought I would ever utter, read, or write (outside of a science-fiction novel).

The Moon is upside-down.

For the first time in my life, I was looking at the Moon in the northern part of the sky. When I lived in the United States, I always lived above the Tropic of Cancer and so the Moon (and Sun) was always to the south of me.

Now, the Moon was north of me and was upside-down.

In addition to the new experiences of visiting Machu Picchu, exploring the Peruvian Amazon, and driving in the insane highways of Lima, I can now add seeing an upside-down Moon to my list of firsts.

I wonder if people from Peru think Luna is upside-down when they travel to Canada.

Where Fans Truly Light Up

Day 003 – July 25, 2011

Saw an item in the Peruvian newspaper, El Comercio, about the renovations done to a major stadium in Lima called Estadio Nacional.

As part of the renovations, lights were installed on the outside facade of the building. I have no pictures, but these other websites (here and here) have good examples of the illumination of which I speak.

What makes these lights special, according to the article, is that they flash, flicker, and change colors depending on the mood of the fans. There are numerous sensors located throughout the stadium (e.g., pressure sensors in seats, motion sensors in the roof) that can detect whether fans are standing, sitting, or jumping around wildly in their seats. Based on this input, the lights on the outside will change color and location so that anyone passing by the stadium would be able to tell what is happening on the inside.

Way cool.

I wonder if the designers of that system received their inspiration from this concert held at Wyoming’s Devils Tower in 1977.