As we prepare to leave Arequipa I’ve been thinking back to all the things that I found so fascinating and strange the first month we were here…things that are now part of daily life.
~A rooster crowing somewhere nearby (in the middle of a huge city). And now, this is not just a sunrise thing. It could be the middle of the afternoon…ha, I actually just heard it and it is 5pm. I also often hear it when we are going to bed. It is also apparently now normal for Kai to crow back at it too, yesterday he stood on the porch crowing back at the rooster for a good 10 minutes.
~Dogs are everywhere. In the streets running loose and on the rooftops, yes rooftops, barking at all the passersby…you can always hear a dog barking somewhere nearby. The other day we actually saw a pack of 13 dogs running down the street...so something you would not see in the US...or if you did you would call someone:)
~Music that sounds like the ice cream man is coming around the corner…but it is actually the garbage man. Yes, they all have a special song to warn people they are coming and to bring out the garbage.
~The crazy sounding voice coming out of some sort of loud speaker. I know it is a foreign language for me but I still don’t know how anyone could understand them! They ride around on either a bicycle or motorcycle with a huge “basket” on the front. I have been told they buying things people don’t want and selling things people do…but again, I cannot tell what they are saying:)
~There are taxi’s everywhere and I really love the system. It is so nice to just grab a taxi and have them take you to where you need…no parking, etc. You get to bargain with the driver for the price to which I find enjoyable:) Most of the taxis are tiny little yellow cars called tikos. The drivers are nuts too and speed in and out of traffic…I actually find it very fun:) And people make good use of their taxis…I have seen lots of different things piled on top of them: furniture, pipes, lumber, baskets and the other day a whole balloon arch.
~The other option for transportation is combis. These come in all shapes and sizes but are typically the size of a VW bus or smaller. People pack into these combis…some sitting but tons of other people standing all around them. There are times when the people standing can’t actually stand up straight and so are bent at the waist over top the people sitting. It always looks so uncomfortable! There are bigger ones that are more like small buses as well…much more comfortable.
~You don’t really see stop signs…and when you do they are not obeyed. In fact, if there are any rules to the road they are not obeyed as far as I can see. You don’t wait your turn at an intersection…you inch out into the middle until other cars are forced to stop…or you speed through and hope for the best. There is a lot of horn honking, warning people they are coming through or trying to get the traffic to move. Also, lanes in the road really don’t matter either. Good thing for seatbelts right? Oh wait, most cars don’t have them…at least not for the passengers. Which also means no carseats. That’s right, Kai sits on our laps in the back of taxis and on occasions when he can convince us he is just sitting right on the seat next to us with even less protection. Jokes on him when we go back to the US and he has to use a carseat again.
~Men peeing on the street. I can’t say I am totally used to this yet but it is getting more normal…yikes.
~Motorcycles with whole families on them…Tyson saw dad and mom with a baby between them the other day…so safe considering the “there are no rules” fact above. Actually, Kai has been very into motorcyles lately and points them out all the time...he calls them "bicylcycles".
~There are stores everywhere. On every block there is at least one if not two or three tiny little stores. They are about the size of a closet with lots of items tucked away in them…it seems to me that almost every family runs a store but it is probably more like every other family:) Our family has one which is very convenient for us since it is right outside our gate:)
~There is always laundry hanging out to dry…they don’t use dryers here since the sun is always out!
~Trash cans next to every toilet because you can’t flush the paper.
~You can’t drink the water out of the faucet so you alway have to boil or buy bottled water. We have made good use of the bottles though…bowling!
~Speaking of water sometimes there is none. Two times in the three months we have been here we have been without water for an entire day. And when I say we, I mean the entire city! We have learned to go with the flow and it will come back on eventually:)
~Earthquakes! We have been in many temblors since we have been here…very small earthquakes. We had one yesterday but I could barely feel it and only the sound of the windows rattling helped me know what it was. There has been one significant one that I remember that was stronger and longer than the others…but even that was pretty small…only a 4.8. Still very exciting:)