Friday, April 26, 2013

Shit I'm used to....

And I say that respectfully.

Today while on my way to work I saw 6 men pushing a 50 year old diesel truck and trailer that had gone kaput backwards in the middle of the road which had the same amount of traffic as that of I-40 between Little Rock and Memphis.  They were yelling and waving at other traffic to stop and the other drivers were just slowing down and honking like mad with no expressions on their faces.  In front of the truck, a woman took advantage of the slowed traffic to push her baby and stroller across said highway.  One of the men had an AK-47 on his back.  I do declare, if this had actually happened between Little Rock and Memphis, it'd be on the news.

Not here.

And that got me to thinking about some of the stuff I have become accustomed to... stuff that perhaps may have caused a little more alarm or surprise in my system almost a year ago.  Such as....

Seeing a baby being carried by a blanket hanging off the back of a motorcycle on a busy road going 55 miles per hour.  This was shot at a red light.

The beauty and power in this...

Driving by Lake Titicaca at sunset

 Being in any restaurant just about anywhere and dogs just come and go.  
And pee on the doorway on their way out.  
(I'll save you a picture of the latter, but it exists.)

 The power and beauty in this.  If you know what it is, you win. 

Moments like this.  

This being a normal view while driving

People saying things like "This is 400 years old."  
For example, this key to a 400 year old church in the community of Marcapata, in the Cusco department of Peru.  There is nothing that old in the USA outside of things Native American.  This Catholic church is only maintained by locals.  They have service there once a week. The Spanish paintings, altar, sculptures, confessional, everything....are original.  It has been looted by thieves often and it's items sold for thousands because of their value.  Their sole security system is the 400 year old lock and key on the front door.

 Stuff like this...

And then of course, there are the things I've said.  All of these come from my travels in the field.  Like....

"Is that baby calf still in the outhouse?  Because I really need to go."
No one flinched. 

And all of the following have been said by me...EACH MORE THAN ONCE:  
"I don't have a tan line, I have a dirt line."

(Whispering)  "What am I eating?"

(Whispering)  "What am I drinking?"

ALL THE TIME:  "What are we doing?"

ALL THE TIME:  "Where are we going?"

"How is the bathroom?"  
This is such a loaded question.  You have no idea what some of the places where I have used the bathroom look like and I'll save you detailed descriptions.  Once I dropped a button off my jacket onto a bathroom floor and I swear it began being eaten by whatever the liquid was it fell in.  I did not pick it up.  Sometimes it is a hole in the ground.  Sometimes it is a toilet bowl with no seat.  Sometimes it is behind a tree.  And there are some examples that I just can't even share with you.

"Slow down, there are goats/sheep/cows/babies/llamas/donkeys/alpacas/ducks/chickens in the road."

"I'm sorry we were late, we ran into *see list above* on the road here."

"We're stopping here?  There is nothing here."

"Who has the toilet paper?"

"I need oxygen.  No, like for real.  Pass the canister."

"What is this stuff we're walking in?"

"Can you pull over?  I need to throw up." 

"Is there hot water for the showers?"
This is actually a really stupid question.  After the first two field visits, I knew better.  No, Jessica.  There is no hot water.  There will never be hot water.

"In my 'hotel' room, I'm going to sleep on top of the covers.  In my clothes, and shoes.  And put a t shirt over my pillow and then throw that shirt away." 

"Will someone please shoo the dogs out of here, this is City Hall."

"I'm pretty sure I was just insulted."

These represent just a handful of experiences.  Sometimes, in the moment of some of these experiences I was frustrated.  Sometimes I was so dizzy from being at 14,000 feet that I couldn't see.  (Literally.  Like one time my vision went blurry for three days and I couldn't even tell the time on my watch.)  Sometimes I was giddy with excitement.  Sometimes I was just tired. 

But always.  Always always always, I had the presence of mind to know that every bit of it was awesome.  Every bit.  Every moment.  Every question.  Every answer.  Even when frustrated.  Every ounce of air I was and am breathing feels sacred and precious.  Every shore of Piura, every Andean peak, every hill of Puno filled up my eyes and mind so full that there is no 4x6 that could ever describe the fullness felt in my heart and the sweeping gratitude of this experience.

Yep, I'm used to some crazy shit.  And I love it.


  1. I laughed so many times in this.

  2. right place, right time...very interesting and revealing blog...loved every word. Linda