I am so fascinated by this new world and all of the beautiful people and customs. Here is a list of a few “peaces of love” I don’t want to forget!
-When you go to a restaurant there is no menu with page after page of choices. A menu is a three-course meal that is relatively inexpensive, but the catch is that you only have one choice. In Santa Cruz the menu is usually written on a white board outside the restaurant and it changes everyday.
-Women walk around spinning yarn everywhere they go. They take the spools of dyed yarn and walk around spinning them into balls of yarn to sell.
– The mannequins here are all 6ft tall and white. They give them blonde wigs and paint their eyes blue. Some even get eyelashes! Every time I walk through the clothes section of the market I spend the entire time glancing over my shoulder at the white fake people who are my height. It’s so creepy and confusing!!
-Street dogs wander into the restaurants, schools, and other businesses. My favorite was last Sunday when a dog ran through the chapel in the middle of a mass. No one cares and people just ignore them.
-If your teacher is sick, has to travel, or has a meeting then your class is canceled. If you are in Primaria (Elementary school) this means you don’t have any school that day because that is your only teacher. There is no such thing as a sub.
-Everyone in Santa Cruz has a nickname (or chapa) and the entire town knows it. My host dad’s chapa is Pancho because he likes to wear panchos. My host brother’s chapa is Wapow because it’s written on his backpack. The lady who works in the pharmacy is called Corazon (heart) and the moto-taxi driver that picks us up when my host dad is gone is named Rocoto because he likes to eat rocotos. My chapas thus far have included gigante and gringita… I’ll have to work on changing that!
-This whole everyone knowing everyone thing proves useful when you need to get home, because moto-taxi drivers don’t know street names but they do know last names. All you have to do is tell them the family name and you’re on your way home.
-If someone tells you their store is open from 8am-6pm everyday or even weekdays, they are lying. Now they don’t mean to lie… in theory it kinda sort of not really is true. They are open from these hours except for all the times that they are going for a walk, traveling, working on something else, or eating lunch/café. The secret is that if you need to buy something you have to call first and when they tell you their shop is open you have to ask if they are there, and when they say they will be there in five minutes… you wait a half hour before heading out.
-Students pay for their school copies. Every few weeks there is a student in the class that collects money from everyone to pay the teacher back for the copies they used.
-If you want to buy anything you either travel 4 hours to buy it or get it made. Furniture, paint, bug spray, ovens, etc. are not sold in Santa Cruz, but instead everyone travels to the coastal city of Chiclayo to buy these things. There is a big garbage truck looking thing that brings back people’s purchases for a small fee.
-Every cup of tea needs a spoonful of sugar… or five. I laugh every time I sit down to dinner and my grandpa asks for a little bit of sugar and then proceeds to put 4 or 5 big spoonful’s in his tiny teacup.
-A haircut costs S/. 5. That’s about $1.78 for any length or style that you pick out of the magazines that line the walls.
-Forgot your wallet? No worries! In Santa Cruz most of the shop owners keep notebooks of what people owe. You can pick up everything you need and the shop owner trusts that you’ll pay him back when you get your next paycheck. No interest, no application, just good ole trust. Your “credit score” is your reputation in town, so behave!