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Peru – Random Thoughts

November 10, 2007 - Peru

by Steve Henrichon

I have several random thoughts this time around. They have been building up.

Jesús the Dinasour

–I brought over a bag of 12 stuffed animals, of all shapes and sizes, to Niña Julia’s house to give to the 12 children in her family. Each child could take one animal. Josue choose a big brown teddy bear. Then…he found a big pink whale that he liked more so he put the teddy bear back. Then I showed him a dinasour puppet that he fell in love with so he put the whale back. Gilberto chose a huge brown bear. Andres found a lion that he liked. Estrella chose a doll. The children asked me to name their animals for them. For names, I chose Alfonso, Paco, Jesús, and Luis. Kids are the best. Whenever the see me, then run up and hug me. Sometimes I cant walk because I have 4 kiddies hugging me and not letting go. I know it’s a few years down the road, but I think there is a good chance I will end up as a pediatrician.

Medicos Cubanos

– Has anyone ever heard of the Medicos Cubanos? I haven’t. Now I realize that they plan a very important role in disaster medical relief. The Cubans were here 3 days after the earthquake, and the immediately started treating patients. Within a matter of a few days, they had two hospital campuses set up in Pisco…constructed of tents. Since the earthquake, they have treated 80,000 patients from their two hospitals. From the tents, they offer full suite of imaging services, surgical services, orthopedics, OB/GYN, Pediatrics, and many other specialists. They have a huge team of very skilled physicians in Pisco and they were asked by the Peruvian government to stay (if they are willing) for another year, until the two hospitals in Pisco can once again handle the capacity of its residents. The Cubans run a very professional and organized operation. They are well respected here. The Medicos Cubanos come to the aid of disaster afflicted countries all over the world and they are very quick to respond. The tried very hard to come assist the US during Katrina, but they were not let into the country.

Answer your Damn Phone – in Peru, everyone has a cell phone even though they are extremely expensive to use. You pay by the minute if you make the call from your cell phone. If someone calls you, then the call is free. With this in mind, everyone picks up their phone when it rings because they are getting a free call. It doesn’t matter if you are meeting the president of Peru. If your phone rings, you excuse yourself and take the call. In all the meetings I have been in, even if we are in mid-conversation, I have not once seen someone refrain from answering their cell phone.

Pisco, Pisco, Pisco, Pisco. Rene and I get a kick out of the Combi guys. A combi is basically a microbus which can fit about 15 people…and somehow they manage to fit about 20 during rush hour. That is how we get around. We take the combi for 1 sol each and we go wherever the combi goes. There are hundreds and hundreds of combis going to all different parts of town. Each combi has a combi boy that collects the money from people and the announces where the combi is going so you know if you are getting on the right combi. In the combis that are Pisco-bound, the guy hangs out the door and yells Pisco….Pisco…Pisco, Pisco, Pisco, Pisco…Pisco…Pisco. It is truly awesome how fast they can say “Pisco.” And the way Pisco is pronounced is not how you would think. All the locals pronounce it as if the have a lisp. It is pronounced “Peesshco.” There is a soft “sh” sound in there. So when the combi guy yells…he yells Pishco, Pischo, Pischopischopischopischo…PISHCO!!! One time I counted this one guy. He would say Pisco about 20 times in a row. Truly awesome.

Beep, beep. In the US, you honk your horn at someone if you are pissed off or if you are looking for a fight. In Pisco, you honk your horn if a car is approaching you…you honk your horn at almost every person you pass so they don’t walk into your car…you honk your horn if you are pissed at someone…you honk your horn if you are happy with someone…you honk your horn if it is sunny out…you honk your horn if you see a dog…you honk your horn if you see a leaf falling from the tree…you honk your horn if you drive an enormous truck by my room window at 5am when there cant possibly be other cars around for the sole purpose of waking me up. Catch my drift. It is a noisy


– We eat this type of Chinese food down here called Chifa. I haven’t quite figured it out. There are Chifa joints everywhere. It is Chinese food…but…its kind of Peruvian Chinese food. Hard to explain, but it is this weird phenomenon out here. Many Peruvians consider their Chifa as a typical Peruvian meal. We go there often and get the fried rice or tallarín (noodles).


– I have never seen so many birds. Earlier this week, the Gaviotas payed a visit to San Andres beach. A gaviota is a type of gull. There must’ve been a million of them swarming around the water. They will either migrate in a line that stretches from one side of the horizon to the other…or they will swarm when they are feeding. They feed on Pejerey…a small fish that swims close to the surface. The gaviota dive bombs into the water making a splash and they come up with the fish. Picture a million gaviotas all doing this at once.

You cant do that!! – Everything we attempt to do with our project, we run into obstacles. Whether it involves shipments, permits, payments, purchases, staff, a location to rent, transportation…there are obstacles. We have now learned to anticipate the obstacles and to plan on things to not go smoothly. But persistence pays off and everything ends up getting done once we step back and approach the problem from a different angle.


– We were introduced to a girl named Fiorella who will help me learn Spanish by taking the time to talk to me and help me learn better conversational Spanish. She is very friendly and enthusiastic. She has a ton of energy and she is quite smart. She has a 9 month old baby at home. Me, Fiorella, and Rene were walking today and we passed by a stand which sells the tribute magazines. There has been 5 issues of these magazines since the earthquake (with more to come) which pay homage to the those who lost their lives in the earthquake. Each magazine has the profiles of about 100 different people every issue. The magazine was open to a page displaying the profiles and she pointed to a picture of a young man. “That’s my husband. He died in the earthquake.”

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