Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Now that I have lived in this country for almost 9 months in total, I have compiled in my mind some things about this country that drive me insane.
#1. Just because the car is equipped with a horn, doesn´t mean you have to use it ALL THE TIME
Drivers, particularly cab and mototaxi drivers who dominate the road here, have discovered that that little horn on the steering wheel can be used for almost any situation. Get off the road BEEP, make way for me even though nobody else is moving BEEP, I´m bored BEEP, look there´s an attractive woman / tourist BEEP BEEP BEEPPPPPPP, what the hell I think I´ll honk my horn now BEEP. It is enough to drive you insane. I have never taken a taxi ride in which the driver has failed to use the horn. It just doesn´t do anything when you use it all the time. Even my Peruvian friends get annoyed by it, although their yelling at the taxistas doesn´t do anything either.
#2. What is the point of resting the seat belt on your lap? In Peru, it now illegal to sit in the front of a vehicle and not use a seat belt. The enforcement of this law is pathetic, I´ve never heard of anyone punished for it, and if a policeman gets up in your face you just slip them a bit of cash. Even so, taxi drivers take the time to rest the buckle of their seat belt ON THEIR LAP. It would take less than a second to stretch it a little bit further and clip it in, but no, that would be uncool, safety is not a priority. Much cooler it is to rest it on your lap. I know I am awed by every taxista who employs this ingenious strategy of appearing to obey a law that really is only for their own personal safety. I think I am the only person in Cajamarca who wears a seatbelt when there is one, which usually there isn´t in the back of a cab. When there is a seatbelt I always thank the driver for providing one, who then looks at me as if I am insane.
#3. Hailing a cab. The accepted method of hailing a cab in the majority of the countries I know is to stick your arm out (or phone). This method is one I use every day when I need a taxi. Therefore, it is not necessary for you to slow down and gawk at me as you pass gesturing that your cab is empty. It if want I cab, I will hail you. Thank you señor taxista.
#4. People in the street. It is often difficult to know who are the real impoverished and who aren´t. The best thing to do is ask a local. For example, last year I was prone to giving little bits of change to an old man in a wheelchair who always sits in the main square. My students have informed me that he is wealthy, and makes his living begging on the streets where most tourists see him and take pity. One of my students saw him taking large quanitities of cash out of the bank. hmmmmm. Now I give food, nothing more. Also, I saw a man stumbling along with a cane which blind people use on Sunday. Last week he could see perfectly well. Your conscience wants to help people, but those who really need it. This year, we only give to people who are selling something, and food sometimes to people we have seen on the street at night, those people are more likely to be genuine. Also, I never give to people who call me Gringa or gringita, I despise this word, it is so derogatory. And the lady who said Cesar would die? I see her lots, but I don´t giver her money, she insults everyone who walks by her. You catch more flies with honey. I don´t think she is too poor, because she has shoes and I never see her when it´s dark. And the children are the most heartbreaking, you want to help them, but you know all the money you give to them goes to their parents, who are usually standing about a block away watching.
#5 zebra crossings. I have yet to figure out what the point is of having these crossings. NOBODY will stop to let you cross. They are at the busiest interections in the city. You cross at your own risk. There are areas that have lights which are much safer to cross. I must figure out what the law is with them.
I took the picture by accident, but I feel that it represents Peru well. I have to go and translate now, more later! xo