Friday, January 9, 2009

Acostumbrarse - getting used to our new home

Remember the fable about the country mouse and the city mouse? Neither one fitted in in their new environment. They had a lot to learn if they were to swap places. Aesop's story about those 2 mice has always amused me, it is funny to see someone so out of place. Many TV shows have milked this theme for plots - from Green Acres (showing my age) to Perfect Strangers to Survivor, etc. It is always funny to see the confused and befuddled actions of the person put in a different setting - unless you are that person.
We have been living in a massive city of over 10,000,000 with all of the amenities and problems, activities and danger, hurried and frantic pace for over 4 years. Now we are in the beautiful little provincial capital of Apurimac, Andahuaylas. And - BOY! - have we got a lot to learn (and unlearn). Little things like, where can you buy large containers of safe drinking water, a 2-6 week wait for a telephone, or even how to cook beans.
The people here will tell you, with a straight face that we "aren't at a high altitude" - but they mean something different than that means in the States. We are at about 10,000' above sea level. Just about twice as high as Denver. But here in the Peruvian Andes, people live at higher altitudes than anywhere else in the world. So to them 10,000 is not high 15,000 - 16,000 is pretty high. But you know something? 10,000' is high when you are used to sea level. Yesterday Tammy tried to cook some beans. She soaked them a good long while and then put them on the stove as she has done for years. We were all waiting on those beans for a good lunch, but oddly they were still like gravel at lunch time, so we decided to eat something else and have the beans for supper. Wrong! They were still little rock hard pellets. Then we thought to look up cooking at high altitude online. So Tammy did a search about high altitude bean cooking. After clicking and going away for a while (like the old commercial where the guy is waiting on a download and bakes a cake, etc - that is something else different here, real s-l-o-w internet) she found out that, ha ha, guess what? Gotta do it all differently! No one told us that - of course for our friends here, this is normal, so why would they tell us?
I could go on, but, if I write to much it might not send :-/, so I will leave it with this. It is beautiful here, the work is exciting and fulfilling, the people are great, but we gotta go through the adaptation to a new culture, climate, and altitude. Fortunately, we serve a great God who is helping us up when we fall and helping us keep perspective and a sense of humor!

Blessings,
Mike