Sunday, July 17, 2016

Holy Guacamole! Different worlds!!

In a previous blog post/previous life, the tale of obtaining a Peruvian driver license was related.  OK, but not completely.  Huh?
We left out one little teensy weensy detail.  When all was said and done, after 23 visits over 4 months, 40 hours wasted, and about $300 spent, it  didn't really matter!  That's right, I found out later that after being flunked three times on the (it turned out to be) fake driving test, that the fix was ultimately in. The day after the third flunk, once again for something unbelievably stupid and picky, I was handed my license by the smiling head of the facility, and instead of asking questions, I grabbed it and ran.  It turned out that a never-to-be-named friend had heard of my plight, knew someone in the Ministry of Transport and Communication, and that was that.
Paula only suffered through 20 visits and 4 months, and we learned later that it was all false also - another never-to-be-identified friend, without our knowledge had paid someone in the Ministerio and done was done.
"Oh, for sure," commented several folks, "You'll never get a license in Huancayo without knowing or paying someone.  For sure."
DMV's being DMV's, we were given bogus information from North Carolina, and I didn't realize that I needed to renew my license online before March of 2016.  Soooo, I had to take everything again, the eye test, the written, and the DRIVING TEST!!  AAAGGHH!! I was 16 years old again!!  Only this time without hair!!  Quick - who can I pay off?
Here in Jacksonville, NC, at my daughter's place, with all the military folks coming and going the first I could get an appointment for the exam would be in mid-August.  However, in Kenansville, about 45 minutes down the road, I got one for last Tuesday.  
Oops, that's the historic courthouse for Duplin County, North Carolina.  This is the DMV office, a couple of blocks down the street.
I studied the handbook.  Twice.
I took the online tests.  Multiply.  And I didn't sleep very well last night.  We showed up 15 minutes early, and there was no one in line!  I aced the written, and with a smile, the nice lady asked if I was ready for the driving test.  Oh, no!!
Except that after approximately eight minutes on the road, she could tell that I was no longer driving like a Peruvian, and directed me back to the DMV office.  It was so brief that I thought I had flunked, but I PASSED!!
So, 27 minutes after we came in, I walked out as a licensed driver!  
We hope that your experience at the DMV is anywhere near as pleasant.  And remember, if you're in Huancayo, and you want a license.... wait, you didn't hear it from me.
Dave & Paula

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A great way to say goodbye

If you've been reading the blog before, you know that we intended to hike the Inca Trail on the way out of the country.  Well, it happened.
But first, we handed the Mission over to President and Sister Silva.  They seemed a lot calmer than I remember feeling three years ago.
I'll admit it, it was an odd-feeling moment when we removed the name tags.  We put on civilian clothes and slipped out of town on the bus to Lima.  And thus ended the mission.
Our mourning period ended about 10 minutes later when we fell asleep on the bus.    
Arriving in Lima at 4:30 AM, we took a great nap, attended the Lima temple, grinned a lot, and I felt more free than I had in, oh, about 35 years.  We were honored to be invited to Chili's with a bunch of our returned missionaries from Lima that evening.
We then traveled to Cusco with friends and family, checking out the sights there for a couple of days. This is Paula among some other ruins.
And then the Big One!  With 16 of our friends and family, we backpacked the Inca Trail for four days.  It was quite the experience, tough, but with unbelievable scenery.  My hiking partner and I got along great, consistent with the previous 39 years.
The guides and the food were top notch, and there was lots and lots of laughter.
Paula rated the climb up to Dead Woman's Pass at 13,800 feet as "easier than Huaytapallana!"  And there were actually no dead women.  Tired women, but no real-live dead women.  
Much of the trail was original equipment, dating about 500-600 years back.
It rained pretty hard the day we hiked in to Machu Picchu, but most agreed it was kind of anticlimactic anyway, after everything we'd seen and done before that point.  
As usual, Paula defined 'high fashion.'
Figuring this would be our last trip to Machu Picchu, we had tickets to climb Huayna Picchu, the pointy mountain at the end of the complex.  Which we did, in the pouring rain.
Several in the group, who had been my Boy Scouts in earlier years, reminded me of the 95% significant-precipitation rates on the campouts during my tenure.  Occasionally the clouds would part for a moment, giving a glimpse of the main complex.
So what's the best part of a long campout?  You guessed it!  The hot shower and soft bed at the end! And from all you moms, what's the WORST thing after a long campout?  Bingo!  The smell of the wet and nasty stuff that comes out of the packs!  We're not sure anyone will want that hotel room in the future.
So now we're at our daughter's house in Jacksonville, North Carolina, taking a break with her family for a couple of days before facing our house in Raleigh after almost five years.  Paula is getting back the title to her pickup truck right now.
In an example of sheer and terrible irony, tomorrow I have to get my NC driver's license, and I have to take all the tests - eyes, written and driving because of how long it's been.  Considering the last time I had to take tests for a driver's license, I'm not sure I'll sleep well tonight.  
We hope that you renew your driver's license on time, and that it doesn't rain on your campouts.
Dave & Paula
PS  We had shrimp and grits last night for dinner.  We're home!