There is so much to adjust to and learn when moving into a new culture and so I thank you for your continued prayers as I have made this transition. Each day seems to bring something new and small accomplishments that I used to do with ease in the states have become large victories to me here, for example buying my own coke at a store, and paying the bus driver.
I know most of you have not been to Peru, so I thought I'd describe some of the things that I'm learning about Peru that are different from the US.
1. Gas for cars: There are 2 forms of gas. The traditional gas that we have in the states and natural gas that is filled up like propane tanks for your grill. For this, all people need to exit the car while being filled up so as not to ingest the fumes. All gas services are full serve. No one pumps their own gas here.
2. Rain & Cold: Rain in Lima is mist in the US. It rarely rains heavily, but is ALWAYS very humid. I never thought that 50-60 degree temps would be considered cold, but with minimal sun, 80-90 percent humidity, and no heat anywhere, 50-60 degrees can feel pretty cold! I've been wearing scarfs and sweaters and my fleece almost every day.
3. Food: Peruvians LOVE their food and so do I! It was the one thing that was told to me that would be considered rude if I refused food that was offered to me. I LOVE most of the things that I've been offered thankfully, however the amount of food is huge compared to my normal intake. I'm still trying to work on explaining my preferred portion to my host family without offending them. Needless to say I am NOT starving here! (: Some people assume that Peruvian food is like Mexican food but it is not at all. They don't even sell chili powder at the stores! Their food consists mostly of savory sauces mixed with some type of meet and/or vegetables, with the main staple being rice. (see pic above). Some of the foods I've found to be really tasty are some of the breads I eat at breakfast, Anis (black licorice) flavored tea, and fresh squeezed/blended juices.
4. Bathrooms: A lot of bathrooms are not stocked with TP so you need to bring your own. I'm so thankful that I have warm water to shower in (not everyone here does), but it is the shortest shower ever, lasting about 3 minutes so that everyone can have warm water to shower with. When waiting in line at a public restroom, everyone stands in line for a specific stall, not one at a time as the next one becomes available.
5.Transportation: There are various forms of transportation here ranging from people who own their own cars to taxis, buses, motorcycles, and moto-taxis (pic above). There are many different kinds of buses based on size. The smallest bus is called a combi (see pic). There are 15 seats on the bus, but typically they squeeze at least 20-25 people in there. The expression "packed like sardines" now takes on a whole new personal meaning to me when I am on a bus that literally we are all squeezed into. The great news is that God has been so gracious to me and has been protecting me from not getting too motion sick during these bus rides.
6. Traffic: After being here a month, I can see there is some general guidelines or understanding to the chaos that is traffic here. What I've found here is that a stop sign doesn't necessarily mean stop but a traffic light does. When you turn left at an intersection, make sure you are aware of who is on your left and right because generally there are many cars on all sides of you also wanting to turn on that same one lane street at the same time. The street side entertainment is pretty creative. There are flame flowing jugglers and acrobatic kids doing flips when all the traffic is stopped at a red light.
7. Different horn/alert sounds mean different things. There is a lot of just general beeping horns in traffic, but there are specific horn/alert sounds in my building that I'm starting to understand. The ice cream man on his little bike with a cart has a horn sound. The garbage truck that comes every night blows a whistle. And the recycling guys play some kind of music that is classical.
8. The best thing that I've observed is the overall general social nature about the Peruvians. They greet each other with a kiss on the cheek as well as say good bye this same way. It is customary that you do this with everyone! And even though everyone has things they need to do, they value and are really good at being fully present in the moment. Whether this is at church worshiping God, or at home during meal time or even when they take time to talk to me and let me try to communicate with my very broken Spanish.