Wednesday, April 23, 2008

April 23, 2008
Yesterday marks one month since my own personal Idaho Wipeout.

Came into the office again today, this time about 11. Set up a design meeting for next week, answered emails and went up to Carefree for my therapy session. Spent a good deal of time on the Top Secret Project and how to deal with the lack of progress on my part.

My son T. Charles is in Peru (in the Peace Corp) and got the following questions from a local Cave Creek school class. Here are the questions and his answers:

1. Are the women in town pretty?
Ahhh the women. Good question. Well, there really is a shortage of women my age, or even over 18 for that matter, in my town. It's a farming community and there's not much opportunity for much else so after high school you either embrace the farming lifestyle and get married or you move to the city to study or work. So, yes, there are pretty women around. Theyre just not available. Personally Ive been searching in Arequipa City for a girlfriend and its much more feasable. Theres a saying in Spanish, "pueblo pequeño, infierno grande." The gossip would just be too much if a tall, honky like me started dating a local.

2. What is your new favorite food?
My new favorite food in my town is the fresh vegetable soup you get before the main course at lunch and dinner. There are various recipes but the main ingredients are usually there: potatoes, lima beans, corn, zapallo (cousin of the pumpkin) and a small cut of alpaca meat. When I first got here I just kind of put up with it but now I find myself craving it. Especially since I'm at lot more active lately with basketball. It's just so damn healthy I think my body loves it. When you get it in a restaurant they bring you a side plate of fresh cut chiles and lime to put in it which brings it to another level. Now, having said that, when I go down to the city my new favorite food is Burger King. I swear to you I never really ate it in the states but here I just have to have it. Maybe I'm used to a diet much higher in fats because after 2 or 3 weeks of vegetable soup, nothing could stop me from getting my Megadoble and large fries. It's probabley also a comfort thing.

3. What do you miss the most from home?
The 3 Fs: Family, friends and food. When it comes to food, we just have such a variety in the states. I could get sushi in the middle of the desert! Its wonderful. Oh man, let's not forget some biscuits and gravy for breakfast or my dad's special pancakes, otherwise known as Bobby Cakes. Yummy. Now I'm getting hungry.

4. Do you think you will stay for the full 2 years?
You better believe I'll stay the whole two years. Adapting at the beginning was really the most difficult. Now that I have daily routines and friends I feel quite good about being here. Plus the kids I work with are great. Funny you ask this question because as an April Fool's joke I wrote my mom saying that I was thinking about coming home. She called me a bastard, in a loving way, when she found out it was a joke. I asked my dad if I had gone too far and he just said, " did you get a laugh? Then no."

5. Where do the stray dogs come from? Why is it such a problem?
Getting a dog nuetered is just a foreign concept here. People have dogs and while theyre away working their fields the dogs roam the streets, fall in love etc. etc.

6. Do families actually have pets? Pet dogs?
Yeah, dogs and cats are the only pets Ive seen here. Even they arent really pets the way we think of them. The idea of owning animals here comes down to their usefullness. Dogs serve as night watchmen, cats eat mice and rats, donkeys carry things, cows give you milk and pigs are perfect for slaughtering and eating on special occasions.

7. Is there anyone there that you have met that has not been very friendly to you?
I’ve had people attack me with questions regarding American politics and foreign policy. I just answer by asking them about their president or government. Alan Garcia is causing inflation in food prices. What do you have to say for yourself?

[this is me, BBB, to give a sidebar to the above answer. Tom told me he was cornered at a party by a couple Peruvian dudes who, when they found out he was from the U.S. proceeded to question him about U.S. movie stars. "Is Arnold Schwarzenegger from the U.S.?" "No," Tom admitted, "he's from Austria." Then they asked about Van Damme. "No, I think he's from France." The two scoffed, "So you really don't have any good actors in the U.S.?"]

8. Are there any different sports there?
The only thing I can think of that’s different is sports having to do with animals. Like Pass Horse competitions and bull fights. We do have our own version of that in Arizona though. I think in the states there’s much more variety when it comes to sports. Here, the guys play soccer and the girls play volleyball. That’s probably why there’s a lot of interest in basketball. What if you don’t like soccer.

9. Are women ok with their traditional roles or do you think they want something different?
Good question. The other week I was doing a collage project with the sophomores in the high school and they were cutting out stuff from old Newsweeks that I had. A lot of the girls cut out things like nice houses, families and jewelry. I think that even the ones who don’t move to the city and embrace the lifestyle here still get to see the rest of the world through television, magazines and the internet and they say, hey, I want that too. Actually, its not just the media where they’re seeing these things. The vast majority have been down to the city and seen first hand the rising middle class in Peru. The role of the woman is changing, albeit gradual, but tradition here runs deep. Especially in the mountains.

The Diamondbacks are off to an incredible start and the Suns are playing game 2 of the playoffs against San Antonio tonight. We’ll hope for the best. The first game went into double overtime before the Spurs finally won by 2 points. What a heartbreaker.

Man I hate the Spurs. Come on Suns!
—Tom Bell

"To some will come a time when change Itself is beauty, if not heaven."
—Edwin Arlington Robinson

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