Sunday, August 12, 2012


Anytime you travel to a new place, adaptation is paramount to your success.  Even if you're just traveling to another city for a vacation or moving for a long-term commitment, things won't be exactly the same as "back home."  And... for the most part, that should be a good thing.  It helps expand your worldview.  Just because "that's the way things are done" at home... doesn't make them right or better - just different.

I believe that it is my responsibility to adapt to the local culture - if that's Las Vegas or Beijing.  Yet, there is something comforting to have some accommodation when I find it.  It helps me face the daily battle of how to do things the way I've known and figuring out how I accomplish those same tasks now.  I still haven't figured the post office out yet, so sorry if you were expecting a letter from me.

For me in Peru, adapting to the way of life here is a daily decision and sometimes challenge. I am attempting and not begrudgingly either, to get used to the siesta schedule.  From 12:30 until roughly 4:30, I have siesta time... for naps, errands, etc...  In the states,  my normal routine was get up, go to work hopefully by 9 am, eat lunch at my desk, and leave at 5 pm.  Here, I go to the university at 8 am and stay until 12:30 am.  I come back about 4:30 pm and teach until 8:30 pm.  It's about a 15-minute walk to campus, so by the time I get back to my room, it's 9 pm at night.

So,this means adjusting my normal meal routine towards a bigger lunch and a light snack for dinner.  I'm trying to use my time wisely during the afternoon break as well. Adapting my routine to my new schedule is something I'm actively working on and probably will be for a few more weeks.  I want to maximize my time here for my benefit as well as the benefit of the people I work with and teach.

Adaptation invites creative problem solving.  For example, I am renting a room in a boarding house of sorts. I don't have a kitchen, and until last Saturday, I didn't have access to a fridge.  Because of that, meal times have been creative. Actually, for the benefit of my health, I've been eating a lot of fruit and vegetables. I can't tell you how delicious a peanut butter and jelly sandwich was this last week! It almost tasted like manna from heaven.

I've also had to adapt to how I shop for groceries. In the states, I usually went to the grocery store twice a month, maybe more if I was preparing something special for a party or dinner.  Here, since I don't have a car, I have to shop a few times a week, because I am limited to what I can manage on my own in a taxi or moto.  Plus, because the cost of imported American brands are much higher, I've had to either choose to adapt to a local brand or pay more for a familiar comfort of Nature Valley or Pantene.  I chose the cheaper conditioner and  so far I like it.

I also haven't had access to a washer or dryer - most people just hang their clothes on the line on their roof.  I've really realized that maybe my clothes aren't as dirty as I might think in the US.   I did manage to hand-wash a few things in the "laundry area" on the roof last Saturday.  I bought some clothespins and put the clothes on the line, just like the old days in Rainbow Valley before we had a dryer.   It brings me back to the days of life before I had ready access to a washer and dryer.  How dirty was something? Did it really need to be dry-cleaned?

Perhaps one of the most creative things I think I've come up with in this subject area is about hot water.  Normally, we have a sink with hot water to wash dishes. I don't have a kitchen nor does my bathroom sink get hot water.  So, to wash dishes, underthings, or the floor, I've come up with an elegant solution.  As I mentioned, I have a device in the shower that heats water.  I realized I could wash my dishes ( one plate and a 4-piece silverware set) in the shower! I could also soak my underthings in the shower before washing them in the sink, and rinse the mop off in the shower too! Brilliant, no?

Yet,  even with all this preachy talk about adaptation, doesn't mean I am always going to enjoy it.  I have no choice but to adapt to powdered laundry soap because that's all there is - but I will always prefer liquid laundry soap. I just think it's better - especially when your sink is your washer. *

The shower

The shower head. Notice the electrical switch in the upper left.

*There are laundry services... supposedly.. and dry cleaners... but we're supposed to get a washer soon*

1 comment:

  1. I use my washing machine but hardly my dryer. Growing up my mother and grandmother had clotheslines in the yard. On wash days we had rows of clothes out in the sunshine rather than in the dryer increasing our electric bill. For some reason its still habit, perhaps just familiarity from my youth.