- There doesn't seem to be any glass or plastic recycling where she is but, on the plus side, the residents don't throw much away. On garbage day, residents just put stuff out that they don't want by the street, and in a matter of hours bunches of people come by and pick up all the broken stuff they think they can fix or sell. Being fairly handy people in this mountain city, by the time the truck comes almost all that's left is true garbage.
- There is less packaging for everything - not much is wrapped in plastic. If something is sold and put in a plastic bag, Peruvians will re-use the bag a bunch of times. To get food to-go from a restaurant, customers have to bring in a tupperware or pot, and the cook will put food right into the container.
- The electric water heater in her rental is a little metal appliance that resides in the shower. Amazingly, this appliance shocks the user if she touches it whilst it is on. So this is the showering process: Mrs. DB40 turns on the water, pushes the water heater's "on" button with the end of her toothbrush, waits for the water to get warm, and then gets into the shower. Once the water heater is on, the hot and cold water knobs and the shower head itself also become electrified. I wish I were making this up. To adjust the temperature, she uses a very thick (but dry) towel to turn the faucet knobs. If the towel is wet, she gets shocked. If the towel is not thick enough, she gets shocked. To finally turn the appliance off, she again uses the end of a toothbrush. Naturally, the constant threat of electric shock while standing in running water makes the shower experience less relaxing.
- Juice vendors on the street sell fruit juice poured directly into clear sandwich bags (the fold-over ones - not the zip locks). The bag is twisted shut around a straw in the opening in the top, and simply handed to the customer. This seems, to me, like the most precarious way imaginable to drink juice: it begs to spill everywhere, but it apparently works out fine.
- Every day in the public square, there is loud music playing all day, every day, from stores that are open to the town square. There are festivals & holidays all the time, too, so bands or parades or megaphone-led protests happen pretty regularly. The most popular song right now: "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen.
- Mrs. DB40 asked someone how much it costs to buy property where they are, and the answer she got back is so low that we suspect it might just be a case of miscommunication. A house, at least to this one denizen, costs only 1,000 Soles to build, if you want to build in the city. That works out to $360 dollars. I feel like this cannot possibly be correct, but it warrants more inquiries.
- Roving packs of stray dogs wander the town in their own little social world, as if the streets were their own and the dogs, at best, are simply sharing possession of them with humans. And because these dogs aren't owned by anyone, unlike with a property line or fenced yard in the US, it is hard to know exactly where the dogs' territory ends and the humans' begins. So every once in a while, especially if you are walking alone, the dogs will bark at you for a while, and then if the mood strikes, start chasing after you. Like, bunches of wild barking dogs, full on running at you. To combat this, pedestrians will carry stones for the sole purpose of throwing them at dogs. The dogs are so used to having rocks hurled at them, that they will usually to back off if you just bend down and reach towards the ground. Two nights ago, three dogs were really aggressive towards Mrs. DB40 and she ended up nailing one with her water bottle, had a stand off with the dogs for a minute, then slowly backed away. So, there's one more thing to be grateful for at Thanksgiving this year: my town's lack of roving, aggressive packs of dogs.
- There are apparently no washing machines or laundry mats in this town, so Mrs. DB40 washes her clothes by hand and then hangs them on clothes lines on the roof, where the high winds occasionally blow off a hastily pinned garment, sending it onto the street below where it is lost forever. The process sounds so time consuming and frustrating that I said "Thank you," out loud, to our used GE washer today after marveling at the wonder that is simply dropping my clothes into a metal box, pouring in detergent, and pushing a button to magically get clean clothing half an hour later.
- Poverty seems to be a big issue where she is. One of the women who had provided labor on Archaeology digs in prior years came up to Mrs. DB40 in some distress a few mornings ago. The woman showed up, utility bills in hand, stating that she was several months past due on her electric & water bills, and the utilities were going to be shut off soon if she didn't get current. She asked Mrs. DB40 if she could front 250 Soles (about $90), and she would work it off anyway my wife could think of (washing clothes, cooking, or helping in the lab). My wife is a bleeding heart and she said yes, since it's just ninety bucks. But I'm a little worried that word might get out that the cute redhead in town is giving out free money...
That's all for tonight. Make sure to enjoy some of the conveniences of the place you live in, hug and kiss your loved ones, and try not to get electrocuted.
*Photo is from Miguel Vera at Flickr Creative Commons.