What time is it?
Every greeting starts with a buenos dias (good morning), buenas tardes (good afternoon or evening), or buenas noches (good night). This is fine and dandy, but sometimes adds to my anxiety of beginning a conversation, entering a store, or asking for directions. In addition to figuring out how to say what I want to say, I need to quickly determine what time it is. Who pays attention to that anyway? Usually I wait for the other person to greet me and copy them, or just say buenas and mumble the rest.
They pay for things differently
This is not one of my favorite things about Peru. Usually the purchase of a simple item goes something like this; first you need to tell a sales clerk what you want, they print a receipt which you take to a different counter to pay. Once you’ve paid, you get a second receipt to return to the first clerk so they can finally give you the item. That’s how I bought my vacuum cleaner. Buying a $15 alarm clock at an electronics store was even more complicated. I told the clerk at the clock counter which one I wanted. He printed the receipt and sent me to the pay counter where I waited in line and paid. Then I needed to go to a third counter to retrieve the clock, but when I got there, the clock hadn’t made it from the original counter (which was less than 15 feet away), so I waited for the clerks to figure out the problem. By the time I was holding the alarm clock in my hands, I could have made one from scratch! Oy.
How much does this cost?
Unless you purchase an item at a store, or a restaurant with prices on the menu, the cost of most things is debatable. When I ask how much an item costs, I usually get a ridiculously high number quoted to me (commonly known as the “gringo price”). From here, I need to barter. I laugh at the vendor and tell them I’m not an idiot and give them a more reasonable number. We argue back and forth until we finally arrive at a compromise (which is probably still far more than I should be paying). I have been given lines about how the exchange rate between Dollars and Nuevo Soles varies depending on what time of day it is or what district of Lima you’re in (not true). Sometimes the vendor will pull out a calculator and begin quickly performing nonsense calculations, conversions, “discounts” and “taxes” as a part of their argument.
The tactics Charlie has given me to combat this include telling the vendor you will just go to the other guy across the street who is offering a better price, or showing him the money you’re willing to pay and telling him to take it or leave it. The most common thing Charlie and I barter for is the price of a taxi ride. The whole process feels uncomfortable and annoying, but is perhaps beneficial to my marriage. I do believe that the constant bartering Charlie and I need to do throughout the day has drastically reduced the amount of energy either of us are willing to exert into daily bickering with each other. Since we’ve been down here, I’ve heard nothing about how many pies a month I need to make to be a good wife (a common topic of debate from the past).
Back in the day, Charlie and I used to argue about our opinions on public displays of affection. When we were at parties I didn’t like how he would either treat me like one of the guys, or ignore me. I would say to him “Charlie, how are people going to know that we love each other?” His reply was, “Why do other people need to know we love each other?” Fine. He had a point. PDA is far more common here. Every time I look around the park in front of my apartment, I notice at least one bench occupied with a couple kissing. If you get a good show, sometimes they’re making out…or even groping! And not just teenagers, you see this across the ages. It’s hard not to stare. Charlie feels it’s insincere. He tells me that the men I see making out on park benches and whispering into their girlfriend’s ear probably have a wife at home or another girlfriend living in a different part of the city. If you think about that way, it’s a little less endearing. But for the most part, I think it’s nice to see people expressing their love for one another. It’s better than fighting.
Speaking of PDA, in Peru (and I think a lot of Latin America) everybody kisses everyone all the time!!! When you are introduced to someone or meet up with a friend; most familiar greetings and partings are followed by a kiss on the cheek. I kiss Gaby, I kiss this girl I keep seeing in the park (we talk while our dogs play together), I kiss Charlie’s boss, and I kiss Carlos, our driver. It’s great! Again, Charlie and I differ in our opinions of this. Charlie feels like the affection is not always genuine. He points out that as a social obligation, you are forced to show affection to people you don’t know or don’t like. Maybe it’s the “rubia puta” in me, but I love kissing everyone! Oh well, different strokes, different folks.
If I keep walking around in workout clothes and flip flops, I’ll never fit in. In the business district of San Isidro, Lima, where I live, people dress quite nicely. Maybe this is a city thing as much as a Lima thing, nonetheless I feel the need to adapt. Since my hair color, skin color and accent don’t help me, I figured if I start dressing the part, it might make me look more Peruvian. So I went to a clothing boutique near my house and told the sales clerks I was looking for some nice pants. By nice, I was thinking anything other than workout pants or baggy jeans.
They chose several pairs for me to try on. The first two pairs I couldn’t get up over my thighs. By the third pair, basic black, slim hip huggers, the three sales clerks were determined. As we faced the mirror, one stood behind me and gave instructions to hold my breath while the other two tugged the pants over my butt. Then each pulled in towards the middle until the button met the button hole to seal the deal. Sucking in my gut as far as I could, they were able to pull the zipper up. They all stepped back triumphantly and watched and waited for my opinion as I reluctantly studied the new look in the mirror.
Presenting it as a question, I suggested that maybe, just maybe the pants were one size too small. The girls looked at me like I was crazy and told me to look at the fit of their pants, which, sure enough, fit just as tight if not tighter than mine. “Okay,” I thought to myself “when in Rome…” While I was talking myself into the purchase and trying to figure out how I would get the pants off, a sales clerk brought out a pair of four-inch stilettos. Standing in them with ankles wobbling (I’ve never been very sturdy on my feet), she explained that this would make the pants the perfect height. I purchased the pants and two nights later went shopping with Gaby to buy two pairs of stilettos: one three-inch, one four-inch. I’ve been practicing wearing them, but keep a pair of flip flops in my purse when I go out in case I need to do any significant walking. I must admit, the outfit is flattering. No wonder everyone I greet wants to kiss me!
Posted by Danielle L. Krautmann, 02 Feb 2010
21 thoughts on “Kissing in Peru”
That’s hilarious! they sure can make pants too, have you noticed the mannequins are all really gifted in the badunk-gadunk department?
And if I keep eating tamales, I’m going to grow one of those myself! Good thing I’ve been doing a lot of running lately.
I love reading your blog! I can totally see you in all of your stories and it reminds me of when we lived together and all of our adventures and funny stories. have you spy taped any of your neighbors yet? 🙂
No, but that would be a good way for me to learn about the culture here. Good thinking. Remember going sledding and how we used the snow tubes we bought as our living room furniture? That was a good idea. I miss college.
Wow, what a great pair of heels. Remember your fall prevention techniques and back saving tips. Your going to need them with those shoes! Love reading your updates.
When I wear those shoes, I am putting my life in the hands of God. My back is screwed. For some reason, I don’t think people are even thinking about that when they sport these! Although it does explain why many people take taxi’s and busses rather than walking from place to place. Weird.
Love the shoes!!!
Me too, but still figuring out how to walk in them. Will you please come visit so we can go shopping together? i need your NYC expertise!
I love the kissing part! Can’t quite picture Charlie voluntarily going around kissing Carlos, etc., but you, definitely yes! And I’m glad to hear Brandy has someone to play with in the park.
Yeah, its kind of funny so watch. When Charlie does kiss men, he does it in a very macho masculine manner, but I don’t think he likes it.
I love kissing. Always have!
Hello Danielle! Harris and I really liked your blog this morning! You are hilarious! I love your shoes! You are one hot vixen!
You are just too funny. I think you’ll make a great English teacher. Hope you have fun in your new teaching role. Too bad you are not from the south so you can teach her to say “hay yall”. LOL Linda
Arguing over pies? Now that makes sense to me.I remember telling mom that she should darn my socks. Didn’t work.
Pies are just the beginning. But now, we don’t have the energy to bicker with each other because we bicker, barter and argue with people all day long.
WTF? I have never kissed a guy down here! Men don’t kiss men down here! Women kiss women, and men kiss women, and if you are really tight with a guy or blood-related, you might hug and kind of mock a kiss…this is falsified material. I demand more discretion.
I stand corrected. Charlie is a big strong man who would never kiss another man….except for that one time in college when he was really drunk….
Keep it coming Danielle! These are great. I am thinking of assigning this blog on kissing to the Mendoza students. And, Charlie … it’s okay, dude … just admit it …
When I was reading this, Maisy came up and looked and said “Ooh. I love how those shoes look.” Great. Do you think they make them small enough for a 4 year-old? Love the blog! xo
I am a little behind on my reading of your blogs, but I thoroughly enjoy them! Keep them coming. By the way, can you get a pair of those shoes in a size 5.5?
I always keep flip flops in my purse when i got out at night or to work in my heels. they get tiring after awhile and its the perfect solution.:) i enjoy reading about your adventures!
I am a kindergarten teacher in South Carolina. Our assistant principal sent me your link because I am a part of a mission trip to Lima at the end of May. (2012)
Anyway, I have enjoyed reading your blogs about your experiences. First let me say that you are an exceptional writer! I feel like I know the country as If I had already been there. Please keep writing and best of luck in your “new” home!