Reflections

7 09 2009

Over the past few months, I have had lots of different experiences because Peru is such a different country. Below, I am reflecting on some of the cultural and random experiences that I have encountered.

Peeing in Public

To begin, I think I see a man pee in public almost every day. I still think it´s weird, and I don´t think that I will ever get over the fact that it´s considered normal here. Sometimes they aren´t discreet, and they don´t even pee in a corner. They´ll just whip it out and pee right in the middle of the street. I just don´t get it. If women are able to hold it, then the men should be able to hold it too!

Public Bathrooms

The grossest public bathroom I have ever been to was here in Cusco. Here´s the story:

One day, I had been out all morning looking for some pants, and I finally found some. Since they were too long, I took them to get hemmed (price of a hem: less than $2!). The tailor said it would take 30 minutes to hem, and my  bladder couldn´t wait another 30 minutes. So, I ventured to find a bathroom.

The only bathroom nearby was this disgusting public bathroom, with showers in the back, a trough for men to pee in on the left and stalls on the right. Even before I stepped in, I could smell the rancid odor coming from this miserable place they called a bathroom. Even worse, I had to pay!

After paying, I stepped onto the wet, filthy floor covered in urine into one of the stalls. There was no toilet– just a hole. The hole was about the size of a baseball. I got out of there as soon as I could, as it was probably the most unsanitary place I  have ever been in my life.

Crazy Drivers

The drivers here are crazy. I feel very fortunate that I haven´t been in an accident or seen one. I´ve heard of people getting hit by buses and dying, to say the least. And, most vehicles have no seatbelts for the back seats.

Yesterday, I went to a town an hour away. To get to the town, you have to go through windy mountain roads. The taxi driver was driving so fast and erratically that we had to tell him to slow down and be careful. I thought we were going to drive off the cliff! Thankfully, he slowed down after we said something because I was scared out of my mind.

¨I Love You¨

Finally, a little more on Cusqueñan men. Let me just say that no guy had ever told me he loved me before I came to Peru. Saying those three words means something special in the states. Here, I struggle to understand intentions of the Peruvian men when they say ¨I love you.¨ I have now heard it twice.

The first time was with a friend who I had been dancing with until 4am. He escorted me home and told me he loved me. Then, a few days later, he gave me a rose and chocolate. Not interested. I told him we should just be friends.

The second time was yesterday when I went on a date. I had actually met a good-looking Cusqueñan. He is a tour guide and an advanced English speaker who takes lessons at Maximo. He took me to this really cool Olympic-sized pool an hour away at a resort. We drank local chicha (a special drink made from corn) and ate home-made empanadas in the small town with the resort. It would have been a great date if he hadn´t kept telling me how much he loved me! It was so strange. Every few minutes he would tell me how much he liked/loved me, and it got a little weird. Guess that is the culture here. It´s also something I don´t think I could ever get used to.

* Note: I have enjoyed my stay in Cusco, and I can truly say that I love this city despite its major differences to cities in the United States. I came here with an open mind, and I knew that I would see and experience things that I had never seen before. The topics I have written about are sharp contrasts to the Western world, which is why I chose to write about them.

The Olympic-sized Pool

The Olympic-sized Pool

Empanada Place

Empanada Place

At the Pool

At the Pool