Well, we have now been in Lima for two weeks. In some ways it seems longer, considering we have been away from home for five weeks, but we don’t feel like tourists anymore. There is now a routine to our days. Even though every day still presents us with new sights and sounds and tastes we leave home each morning, go to the office most days, and come home to sleep at night.
With the help of our new friends, other senior missionary couples, we have been introduced to:
Three different supermarkets (including the “right” Wongs and the “wrong” Wongs - supermarket chain). We prefer Tottus because we can walk there and just catch a taxi home with our bags. We have not found Tim Tams yet, but will keep searching. Without a car shopping is an ordeal, something Brooke has discovered in New York.
Taxis. We don’t drive here and don’t want to. We walk most places in our local area - to and from the Area Office, church, the temple, local restaurants, local shops, houses of other senior couples, etc. Anything further than about 30 minutes away requires a taxi. Now these are not like taxis in Australia. You stand on the side of the road and one or two will stop within seconds. They vary from unmarked cars that we have been warned never to catch, to cars that would be defected at home that we have been warned that we can use and still survive, to quite nice ones, as well as ones owned by the supermarkets and big stores that charge a little more. You negotiate with the driver before you get in (in Spanish) as to how much it will cost. There is no meter. But they are very cheap (because they don’t have to pay death insurance!!). The taxi is the least of your worries. Don’t even talk about busses - we haven’t tried those yet. That is an adventure for another day when we figure out how to tell where they are going before we get on.
Traffic. There are no rules apparently, except try not to get hit or hit anyone else. The roads are slowly moving car parks, there are as many lanes as you can make it, and there are absolutely no rules at roundabouts - you just barrel into it and weave around each other. But it’s all fun. As one senior sister missionary whispered to us “will I ever see my friends again?”
Food: You can pretty well get anything from the big supermarkets and stores, except chocolate biscuits, and Craig has found chocolate that suffices in an emergency. Decent breakfast cereal is either hard to get or very expensive (2-3 x more). Eating out costs much the same, but there are many little restaurants ready for us to explore - Italian, Chinese, Peruvian (we have not eaten guinea pig/cuy yet), Swiss, American (hamburgers and icecream)….Every Friday night the senior missionaries visit a different restaurant that someone has discovered. We are developing a list and how to ask a taxi driver to get us there, alive.
Work: Craig is already busy helping these brave young people who have also put their lives on hold to serve a mission. They deal with all the changes that we have, with much less life experience behind them. The vast majority adjust well but a few need some extra help. We get to share the same office space. Lesley is getting things - and Craig - organised (surprisingly!). We are developing a routine. One young man who was really homesick was comforted to hear Lesley tell him “you can do hard things Elder!” just like his mum used say.
Church: We go to our local ward (congregation). It is Spanish speaking, with a few English classes as well. Lesley was quickly snaffled to play the piano for the children in Primary. It is bilingual and helps her practise her Spanish. Lucky the notes aren’t in Spanish. Kids are the same all over the world!
Adventures: Perú had its national holiday last week and off we went to the National Archeological Museum. There was a really interesting section on neurosurgery, involving the changing of skull shapes. Por qué/why? Speaking of which, we even visited a local hospital this week. We are fine. One of the other senior missionaries had a few health concerns. Interesting place, but relatively high standard (at least he got a bed, not like Adelaide). We also visited the famous Parque Kennedy in Mira Flores. The nuns at the neighbouring Catholic church have a "habit" of feeding the local homeless cats of which there is a herd in the park. See how many you can count in the photo of a very small area.
Peluquera/Hairdresser: suffice to say Craig’s hair is cut and not standing on end. Lesley was able to camouflage the progressing greyness all in Spanish. We are actually pretty proud of ourselves.
Our most amazing discovery so far: Whilst exploring the Inka Market downtown we found a small music shop with traditional instruments. Lesley could not resist buying a “kijada”. In case you didn’t know, this instrument is a traditional percussion instrument made from the lower jaw bone of a donkey, teeth intact. It is so cool, it will have pride of place in our lounge room for the next two years. Lesley is trying to work out how to get it through customs to her music room. You scrape it with a canine tooth you pull out from the front of the jaw and hit it on the side (making the teeth rattle). Lesley will learn to play it properly and introduce it to the primary children (this is not a made up story. Check it out on You Tube).
Not bad for only two weeks. After a rapid learning experience we now have to venture out by ourselves.