We get e-mails commenting about how life is very different in Peru. Yes, the country is different and Lima is different, but when we start to befriend the people around us who provide us with services and seem happy to see us come in, life here does not seem so different. Let me introduce you to the faces of friends in our neighborhood that help us feel right at home:
Our Landlords: Abad and Nelly’s family live on the first floor of the building. Besides having her own business selling beauty projects on the side, Nelly cares for her three children Jair, Kevin and Piero (a 1 ½ year old they call Chucky because he is very naughty and destructive =). Abad works two jobs as a policeman to pay for the bank loans needed to build the property we live in. They have welcomed us with open arms and try to practice their English with Dan every chance they get.
Sarita, the baker: We get our bread from her bakery called “Los Angeles” and she really sells angel-tasting baked goods, cakes, etc. Dan likes her bread, which cost us $.33 for seven pieces of bread. You can’t beat that! Sarita (on the right) and her two assistants appear in the picture.
Carlos, ham and cheese goods: Bread from Sarita would not taste as good if we didn’t complement it with ham and cheese from Carlos’s store. Sandwiches are the best quick meal we can get. He knows well that we buy our sliced cheese and ham there and not at Sarita’s because Sarita does not carry what we like most of the time. He knows we get our bread from Sarita and not from him because we like hers better. He makes more money selling cold cuts to us than bread anyway….So I am sure he doesn’t mind.
Primitivo y Julia: Even though Julia does not appear in the picture, she is very much owner of this small family fruit stand. The only things I can’t get from there are lemons and tomatoes which I get at the stand next door. In other words, this is a one-stop shop for all my fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices and a wonderful customer service.
Cesar, the watchman: Given that he does not have much to do but go around and keep the neighborhood safe, he is not only the watchman but the one that takes the streets hostage, trying to sell tickets for raffles and things like that. “Say hi to the Gringo” he says when he sees me closing the gate—as if he won’t see Dan going out as well. Maybe staying connected and active is what gets him through his 24 hour guard shift.
Gustavo, the taxi driver: He parks his taxi right by the bus stop going to the Parish Center. I have caught him taking a few naps because his work hours are too long to even go to Mass. I tease him about “Giving time to the owner of time” but he jokes and laughs out loud. He is always in a good mood and when I do need a taxi, I always go to him first….I feel safe and I know he won’t overcharge me or pull a fast one on me.
Jose, the shoemaker and fixer: Jose is my hero. He has fixed all kind of problems with the shoes I brought from the USA. Back at home , I would have said: “They don’t fit well….Next”. It’s not like that here, and Jose works his magic on my shoes to make them comfortable and nice looking.
Jose Bautista, the fixer: He is another magician. I don’t know where these guys go to school to learn the sewing trade but I think they are most likely to learn it from their parents and grandparents. There is nothing with fabric that he cannot do or fix at a very reasonable price.>
Elvis, owner of a moto-taxi driver from Paraiso: One of the first things he told us was that because his uncle did not let him go to parties, he made his moto-taxi a party of his own. His parents left him to his uncle and he hasn’t gotten the best treatment over the years. Still, he laughs, tells jokes and parties on….life must go on for him.
Aide, our hair dresser: This salon is two houses away from our house and Aide has been the one cutting our hair lately. It’s kind of hard to find good professionals that can do both men and women with curly hair. My last visit cost me 4 soles, which is around $1.20. Can you believe that?
My list could go on, but I don’t want to bore you with faces that only really mean something to us. Maybe I wrote this blog to document our lives here so I can refer back to these blogs in the future and remember my time in Peru.
P.S. I have added three fun pics. From left to right:
1. Piero and me playing. He can say mom and Dan perfectly and nothing else, that it is not communicated through his own sign language =) Since he turned his face for the family portrait, here you can see how cute he is. You should be able to click on every picture to get a bigger view.
2. The middle picture is a lady hiding behind her chickens. Even though she gave me permission to take a picture, she chose a hiding spot. I guess this is a face of our neighborhood that did not want to be fully shown.
3. The final picture is of the traditional Christmas Paneton (Sweet bread with dried fruit) that is eaten with hot chocolate (In the middle of the summer).
Thank you for reading and stay tuned for more stories.