Friday, September 27, 2013


OK, you're in a poor country, everyone drives as if they left their brain at home, the major 'highways' are two lanes and run smack through the middle of tiny pueblos, and the police are nowhere to be seen.  How do you keep the speed down?  Easy!  Rompemuelles!
"But that's just a speed bump!" you say.  Hah!  "Just" a speed bump?! They are called "spring breakers" for a reason.  The Peruvians take perverse pleasure in building them tall and steep.  
And frequent.  On one trip, we counted them between Huancayo and Tingo María, a town in the jungle.  I guessed 75.  One Assistant guessed 100.  Sister Henderson guessed 200, and she won the contest, at 153 total.  That's a lot of dang rompemuelles.
They are usually heralded by a sign like this:
Or this.  Actually, I'm not sure whether this was to warn of an upcoming bump, or whether it is the name of a town.  Maybe that's where the factory is located.  I dunno.
I say "usually" they are heralded by such a sign, but at times there is no warning, and no painted stripes. Instead, I think I've seen a bunch of Peruvian rompemuelle makers sitting in the bushes giggling, waiting for the unsuspecting motorist to have his springs not only broken, but torn clean out of his undercarriage.  
We hope that your muelles don't get rompe'd!  Or at least that you win the bet.
Dave & Paula

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Another small victory

Those of you who have known us for a while are aware that we have ridden bicycles forever.  Ever the optimists, we brought a couple.  Then we met the roads of Perú.
Having an inkling that we might not be able to pedal happily around the Mission, we also brought a set of "rollers," an amazingly old way of using a normal bike in one place to get exercise.  The bike is not attached, and has to be ridden on top of the rollers.  One can only imagine the hilarity of riding off the side at full tilt, or having a three year old walk by with a loose blanket, and...
So we brought our old set of rollers just in case.  However, after only 23 years of use, a couple of the bearings had gone bad.  While yes, this gives more exercise, the noise was pretty loud, and when I would ride in the mornings in the cool stairwell, it would almost (almost, mind you) drown out the noise of the noodle-brained taxi drivers honking their horns, or the music someone insists on playing loudly at that hour.  It's not even good music.
So, with Carlos Llacsas along for advice, I went looking for bearings.  He advised me to head down in to the auto parts section of town, where the usual warren of hole-in-the-wall shops are located.
He also wisely advised that I park on a well-traveled street, where the easily-removed parts of the car, as well as some of the not-so-easily-removed parts of the car (engine, transmission, etc.) might not quickly end up in one of the local shops, where I'd have to ransom them back.
I've got to admit, pulling the tools out of the shipping boxes and tinkering with something to fix was fun.
 A Dremel tool?  Duh!  Gotta bring the Dremel!
 The test ride proved the value of the repair.
I could now hear the idiot taxi drivers honking their horns for no good reason!
We hope that all your Preparation Day projects are so successful, and that you can find your rear-view mirrors to buy back.
Dave & Paula

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Not actual Peruvians

So, when you are a foreigner in Peru, you have to go to Lima and get a carnet de extranjería, or in other words, an ID card identifying you as living here, but that you're not a real-live Peruvian.  That means that you do not have certain privileges belonging to real citizens, such as driving like a complete and total idiot, or urinating in broad daylight against any public structure that you'd like.
And while I may be crazy, I am not stupid, and this is NOT my card.  It's Spencer Anthony Somebody's.
In order to get your foreigner ID card, you have to go to Lima.  You say that you are going to live in Arequipa?  Sorry, you have to go to Lima.  Iquitos, 500 miles away in the jungle?  Lima.  Bora Bora?  You got it - Lima.  So off we went to Lima.
There are two ways to get there from Huancayo, if you don't count the train or backpacking.  The bus, with its eight hours of fun (see under, "Bus Accidents, Peru"), or by taking one of the two flights per day from Jauja ("How-Hah!") both going to, you got it, Lima.
OK, I admit it; that's not the real plane, but it's only about three times that big, hauling 21 passengers. During the 45-minute flight up and over the Andes, you are offered peanuts and Inca Cola by the kind flight attendant.
So, you finally make it to Lima to get your foreigner ID.  Luckily, a very nice lady employed by the Church had everything arranged and expedited so the first visit went relatively smoothly.  We even had time to get a picture taken at the grand plaza in the center of Lima.
Excuse me, excuse me, did you say THE FIRST VISIT?!!
Yes, that's right, there's a SECOND VISIT that you have to make several weeks later that takes about five hours, just long enough to have to stay overnight to catch the flight back to Jauja.  But, you might say, I still live in Bora Bora.  Sorry, Lima it is.
So, we are now officially not Peruvians, and so have none of the rights thereto appertaining.
We hope that you get to go to Lima sometime also.
Dave & Paula.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Is there a hyphen in Obsessive Compulsive?

Maybe it's because she is employed for 24 hours per week, and we live in a small apartment at the moment, and there's only so much to do.  Our beloved ama de llaves (housekeeper/cook) Lilly Nancy Gomez tries hard to find things to do after everything is already spotless and cooked to perfection.
I will admit that my reading glasses have never been in such good order.
 If those pillows are a millimeter out of whack, it's probably because the ruler is no good.
Dust would not dare settle here, despite being endemic in Huancayo.
We hope that your ama de casa is half as obsessive.
Dave & Paula