Oct 22, 2009

The Wild One-Oh-Four

A ride to work on the city bus is always a unique experience, but a ride on the 104 is a whole different ball game. I usually ride the Linea 48, a safe and more comfortable bus...but the 48 stops for 15 seconds and waits for no latecomer. So yesterday, I ended up taking the 104.

The 104 runs older buses; usually old Bluebird school buses that may or may not have the seats nailed down, rattle like mad, and the drivers seem to be convinced that with open windows and tremendous speed, even the oldest heavily-loaded vehicle might be coaxed into sprouting wings. There are times when not only the passengers and seat bottoms are launched from their usual places inside the bus, but the bus may also go airborne at various times of the day.

There are no shock absorbers on these buses and, I think because of that, you can always tell when the 104 is approaching from the racket of the rattling body, doors and windows. Step aboard and let your hair down...it'll be standing on end in just a few moments! Don't forget to get a good grip on something before take-off.

Linea 48 attracts a higher paid clientele, and due to that, it also attracts salespeople and performers of a higher caliber...or at least with higher expectations. The 48 often has traveling musicians who perform and sell their cds on the bus. The salespeople don't limit themselves to selling candies - they have 30 cent pens, sewing kits, and books. The real talent - the guys who push the screwdrivers up their noses - also finds itself on board the Linea 48.

ON the other hand, the 104 gets the candy sellers, the kids who sing through their mom's comb and a Kleenex tissue, the guy who can't play a guitar so he beats out a rhythm on a seat back with a coin or his wedding ring while singing off key, and the woman who rented her neighbor's baby to beg for money. The good thing is that they don't stay long - it's very hard for an off-key singer to be heard over the rattle of the 104 body panels, no matter how hard he pounds on the seat or the door frame. And women carrying rented babies have a hard time staying upright while the bus is airborne. So usually the beggars and the performers jump on, take a quick turn up and down the aisle, and jump back off. Knitting on board is almost impossible because of the bone-jarring, stitch scattering ride, but most people don't notice. They're usually totally occupied with hanging onto the OMG bars in front of them or over head.

This morning, while on my way home after my morning class, a man got on the bus to beg for money. As he started his speech, the driver said, "Hazlo en breve, amigo. No tendres mucho tiempo de hablar." (Make it brief, buddy. You won't have much time to talk.) No sooner did he get those words out of his mouth, when the bus lurched forward and we launched, rattling off down Abancay Avenue. The beggar seemed to be putting a lot of effort into his speech, but nobody could hear a word he said. Once we were airborne, he had no choice but to cut it short and get off at the nearest landing pad...errr...bus stop.

Small blessings in disguise.

Oct 18, 2009

The Men's Room

Public bathrooms here in Peru are not desirable places. Practically all of them reek of bodily waste. It's expected to be so here, but honestly, it disgusts me. I assumed (erroneously) that it was from the fact that the Peruvian sewer system is not set up to handle toilet paper, so the used paper is dropped into a trash can next to the toilet. Most of the time, it is dropped into the trash can...sometimes the aim is bad, and it lands on the floor...also a disgusting fact about Peruvian public bathrooms.

So when my own bathroom began to reek of urine, I freaked out. I'm not one of those people who just assume that the bathroom will stink no matter what. And after a little investigation and sniffing things out (literally) I discovered that not everyone has the same bathroom habits and expectations that I do - and that someone is a man that lives in this apartment. I'll leave it to you to figure out what man I'm talking about, but his first initial is O. And worse, after his friends and family members come over, the bathroom absolutely smells like a ketchpen after branding.

We've had several discussions about the choice of taking aim at the toilet, and actually having a good sit-down, and each time, he assured me that it wasn't HIM who missed the toilet. Well, guess what - there are only two of us living in this apartment, and I don't depend on my ability to make a good shot at the toilet. We talked about it today, again, and no headway was made. I just cleaned it at 11 am, and it already smells like somebody missed and shot the floor instead. Which he did. The fact is that "real" men are expectd to take aim on foot, and not shoot from close-up.

He has a need to be a "real" man. Hmm...smells like the men's room in here.

of eye glasses and fiber...

The inevitable happened yesterday: I got glasses...again. Yes, I admit it - I have the over 40 eye syndrome. When I last went to the eye doctor, I had just turned 44, and he told me that "everybody goes through this after they turn 40." So I got glasses. And almost never wore them. Then I came to Peru, went camping, and lost my glasses, but didn't realize it till several weeks later. I talked to O about it, but he was no help. So I squinted along, fumbling through things, until July, when I really couldn't see something that O was trying to point out to me. He apparently thought I was joking way back there 3 years ago when I told him that I lost my specs in Canta. We talked about going to the eye doctor (one of his friends is an optometrist), then he promptly put it off until I came back from vacation. I returned and fell over his bag that he left in the middle of the living room. (I'm not really THAT blind, it was dark, though, and I wasn't expecting him to drop his briefcase right there.) He noticed then, and decided that MAYBE I really did need glasses. Then other things happened and my eyes were put on the back burner until this weekend, when I THREW THE FIT FROM HELL and we went to the eye doctor and then to the optical district in Lima Centro.

As it turns out, the vendadora de lentes has a contract with the optometrist around the corner, and the eye exam was free. Then the salesgal did her best to sell me frames that were de moda (in style). She managed to do that, but not before O did some squabbling with her about price. We finally left there with a pair of fashionable glasses, complete with proper prescription lenses, for 80 nuevos soles, about $30 US. Not bad! (wish I'd have had them about 3 years earlier.)

In other news, I've finished spinning 550 yards of fingering weight yarn of Plum & Ginger merino/silk/sparkly fiber, and it's hanging out the laundry room window. Pictures when it's totally dry...maybe tomorrow!

Oct 14, 2009

I Owe My Life to My Shoes

Huh. Well, I haven't had much to write in the last little while. There's not too much going on here, now that I'm back from vacation. It's always a little tough to accept the fact that my free time is gone and I'm back to the grindstone. This month I've got 2 regular classes that are 2 hours long, and a third that is 4 hours long. So far, things are going along pretty well!

One thing that I was able to do while I was in the States was to get clothes that fit me. Thank goodness! Here in Peru, the average woman is about 5 inches shorter than I am, so legs and sleeves on clothes are always way to short. Anyway, I got some slacks that fit, some blouses that fit, and some shoes that fit. YEAY! Amazingly, it was the shoe purchase that turned out to make the biggest difference in everything I've done so far.

The shoes are just black lace-up oxfords. Flats. O laughed when he saw them, and everyone at work has looked at them with a smirk or a grimace on their faces. But I love them. Wearing these shoes has resulted in no more leg and foot pain, a lot less swelling in my legs and feet, and a totally happier me! I contribute the fact that my classes are going so well to the fact that I have a better outlook on life, since I have no more pain. Thanks to plain old black leather oxford shoes. No, they're not stylish, but they support my feet and are totally comfortable. I can climb up to the 8th floor and back down without crying. I also got a brown pair of Maryjanes with a thick rubber sole and wide toe - no heel to speak of, either. Yes, they look like little girl shoes in a large size, but I can wear them all day without tears!

I look at the shoes that the women around me are wearing and wonder who thought up such creative torture devices. Watching women totter around on impossible thin and high stiletto heels makes my legs ache. And those sharp-pointed toes...I can imagine my own toes squashed into a shoe like that - brings a tear to my eyes! The cruelest thing about this form of torture is that women have been brain-washed into thinking that these are desireable things to wear and will consciously force themselves to wear them - all in the name of fashion. Old women struggle along painfully in dangerously high-heeled shoes, mincing along unsteadily beside their younger daughters, nieces, and friends who are also tippy-toeing down the sidewalk in similar toe-mashing, leg cramping, ankle twisting foot killers. Never again will I wear anything like that (fingers crossed.)

My last shoe purchase was in Trujillo last weekend. Lily invited me to go shoe shopping, since Trujillo is the shoe capital of Peru. She bought stiletto heeled sandals, open-toed high heels, and a pair of platform tennis shoes. I bought myself one pair of men's high-topped leather hiking boots.

Lily sighed and rolled her eyes. She's always considered me to be a complete loss when it comes to following fashion trends. I say thank God for black leather oxfords with no heel.

Oct 5, 2009


Not much happening here, except some spinning and Celeste's eau d'rot. She rolled in something dead or rotten. She reeks and doesn't get what the big deal is. O had her at the park when she discovered whatever it was, and took a nosedive into it. Then, heh, he put her in the car and brought her home. It's just a short ride, but the smell was nearly overwhelming for him. He came into the house a little cranky and disillusioned with his dog, once again. This time wasn't as bad as the time that she ate poop, but it still made him gag.

It's days like this when I wish we had a backyard so Celeste could spend her days outside, letting the aroma fade away.