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Monday, June 17, 2013

The sound of silence


In the last 60 seconds....

- Concrete is being extracted within 20 yards-- below my office window by a jackhammer
- 35 buses per minute are flying by at 65 miles per hour within jumping distance from my office
- No fewer than 10 taxis are honking
- Construction workers are welding, sanding and grating and doing stuff I don't know what, but it is loud
- TWO car alarms are going off
- A backhoe is backing up beeping its"reverse" beeping thing
- Construction workers are yelling and whistling out at each other constantly
- An ambulance is going by, sirens blaring
- One of those motorcycles, I don't know what they're called, but they're loud - is flying by at full speed

Just another day in the city of Lima.

The first week I was here I thought, Oh - so we work next to a construction site, no big deal.  What I didn't know is that the whole city of Lima is a construction site.  24/7.... 365.

Noise Noise Noise.  It is probably the only thing that I just can't get used to.  It isn't just the office, it is every restaurant, taxicab, street, public building, bank, pharmacy....everywhere.  All restaurants have a television BLARING for the patrons.  Taxi drivers turn the music or talk radio up LOUD every time I get in their cab, for my entertainment pleasure I'm sure.  Banks and waiting areas always have TVs with "You're on Candid Camera" videos on repeat.  In the bus stations, the auto-repeat for "please do not leave baggage unattended" or "Bus 6 for Ica is departing now" is DEAFENING.  

I usually resist using all caps.  But it is the only way to describe the constant barrage of noise, and at ridiculously high decibels.  It puts me on absolute edge all the time.  I've never wanted to punch a baby in the face until I moved to Peru.

When I hear something like the serenade of a car alarm at 5:00 am right under my bedroom window, I jump out of my skin.  When I'm walking along the street and a jackhammer starts its pounding one meter from my head, I feel like my insides are vibrating.  Remember that episode of the Simpsons?  "Mr. Spritz goes to Washington" where the airplanes kept flying over the Simpson's home and they had to get legislation passed to change it?  There is a scene where Marge and Homer are sitting on their couch and just can't handle the noise anymore.  That is how I feel.
I think this is what I look like.
I swear that I now have noise sensitivity, otherwise known as Hyperacusis.  What a stupid thing, no?  I just want quiet.  Davis, poor thing, all he wants to do is practice his skateboarding tricks outside our front door, but I just can't handle it.  The sound of his wheels on the concrete send me spinning.  He wants to practice the drums.  No way.  I'm depriving him of his little boy rights!

When I travel into the field, it is so much better.  I've written before about Soto Island and the complete absence of man-made noises.  That was the first time I have rested, like for real.  Like my brain didn't have to process any other sounds and I could just chill. 

I don't know why this is so important to me.  But it really is.  City living is tough on me.  It isn't just noise, but smog and lots of people.  People are everywhere, like 9 million of them.  I was crammed so tightly into a public bus once that the only respite I could get was to finally wiggle my arm out the window, face smashed against the glass, one arm dangling out going 70 miles an hour and me just praying that I didn't lose the arm to either another bus, random road sign, or pole.  

And the traffic.  Lordhavemercythetraffic.  Getting  into a Lima taxi takes a leap of faith all on its own.  They all drive with two feet.  Whiplash all day.  The road signs and lines on the road and red lights are all merely suggestions.  Pedestrians and bicyclists are on their own; my husband has a metal plate in his collarbone to prove it.  There have been multiple times that I was certain I was going to die.  My tactic for surviving this is simply to pray.  And accept that if it is my time to go, it is my time to go. 

Sometimes it’s fun.  In a sick and twisted sort of way.  Like "I might die today!" kind of fun.  I don't understand why there aren't dead bodies piled on the sides of the roads.  

Part of me really embraced the chaos at first.  And still do to a certain extent.  I know that this place has its own sense of order and structure and while I can fit in to survive - my body and brain just haven't found contentment in the madness of this beautiful city.  And it is.  It is beautiful.  Don't hear me wrong.  Lima is full of history and has people making-out everywhere and everyone is usually so nice and the food is delicious and I could go on and on.....  

But they've either been born and raised in the noise, or become accustomed to it and I simply have not.  I respect you, people of Lima.  You have all my respect.  

I guess I'm just ready to get back to my corner of the world where the loudest thing I hear on most days is the cheer of Davis' baseball team when he hits a home run. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Slipping Away, What Can I Say?


Won't you stay inside me month of May?  And hold on to me golden days....slippin' away....

JT has been my solid go-to man this whole year. At the end of this post I'll link to the song that inspired today’s post and that I've listened to in every corner of this country when I needed a pick-me-up.  There were many developments in May and I've got some photos and thoughts that have been building that I want to share.  And today, something happened that made me just take a picture and write a blog post.

We'll start with the most important part:  Hair.  Last year I told you that we three were committing to leaving our hairs uncut for the entire year.  Well, we did, mostly.  BC couldn't see through his camera lens half the time for photo jobs and needed an occasional trim up front, which required an occasional trim in the back to ensure we didn't have a mullet.   

Remember his "before" photo and then what I expected him to look like in one year?

Here was BC just before we moved.
Here is what I expected him to look like after one year.
Aaaand reality:  BC, doin what he loves most.  Handsome as ever.  Not Jackson Browne, but that's okay. 

Remember me?  This was me on July 4, 2012 the day I left the USA for Peru:

Shoulder length, no bangs, full of hope.....
Well here is me now!  And with my dear friend Carmen.  Still got some hope...

We were visiting a project in the community of Chilcapata near Lake Titicaca.  They welcomed us with the flowers and confetti.  Re Hair - I got some bangs, and a keratin treatment to combat the Lima humidity.  But it still grew....quite a bit. I'm digging it.

And last but not least, the D-Train.  See his before picture above. Something kind of funny happened with Davis' hair journey:  The school prohibited it.  We got multiple notes and formal notices that "Davis must cut his hair."  So much for that!  So he had to get regular cuts.  But we pushed the limit every time as much as we could and made them make us.  So there.  Here is a real 'before and after' of one of his required school cuts.

How cute is this guy?

That is our hair journey, consider yourself up to date.  

Anyway, May was busy and lots of changes happened.  First, Bryan's grandfather passed away which was very sad for him and his family.  Aaaaand, our renters in our home in Little Rock just UP and decided that they didn't want to pay rent anymore and wanted to leave.  There were and are lots of technical components to this, but it turned out, the best thing for Bryan to do to manage it all was to head back to the USA.  So he did.  BC left the second week in May for Little Rock to be with his family and close down all the legalities of our rental situation.  He also headed back to finally see the cutest dog in the world.  

Blurry, but happy.

You may be wondering "But Jessica, how are you doing it all now?  Alone?"  (You may not be wondering, but whatever.) And the short answer is, I'm doing it just fine.  I hired a maid which is very common in Peru.  She picks D up from school and is at our house with him until I get home from work.  Four hours a day.  Long story short:  When I come home from work every day, my son is safe and sound, his homework is done and his chores are done.  When I come home from work every day, my house smells like freshly cooked Peruvian food and dinner is laid out on the table.  When I come home from work every day, my entire house is spotless and all my laundry is clean and put away.

Need I say more?  

Yep, lots of changes.  But these changes have forced me to make adjustments that have paid off.  I have a renewed sense of independence and a totally different feeling now with him gone.  Eleven months ago if I didn't have Bryan's hand to hold, I probably would've collapsed at every turn.  But now, I know the language better, have connections and friends to help me, am traveling less with work....  it is just easier.  I'm much more comfortable with life in this giant city.  Life has taken on a groove and I am thriving.  

It has given me a renewed sense of ability.  I am doing this.  I am living in a different country, speaking a different language and living a completely different life than I ever thought I was capable of.  And it ain't so bad.  

Still, we miss Bryan.  And the days are quickly winding down towards our return.  D flies back to the USA the first week in July.  I head back the second week in July.  Re-entry will have its own set of challenges....but I'm looking forward to tackling them too.  Just like I did the ones here.  In the meantime, here is the last family shot of us.  Taken along the Malecon at sunset on the Costa Verde in Lima.


So now to why I was inspired to write today.  Well, my necklace broke.  And so did my heart just a little.  About two years ago I purchased one of those "mom" necklaces for myself for Mother's Day that has your child's birthday, name and birthstone and I wore it all the time.  Then I lost it.  Then BRYAN found it for me and I covered him in kisses.  It has special meaning to me.

The night before I left for Peru (July 3 to be exact) my sister gave me a silver ring for my year here.  It was something she'd worn every day for years and even had a tan line without it.  She told me I could wear it or tuck it away or do whatever, and I opted to put it on my necklace.  Then while traveling in Cusco this year, I found a "Spiral of Life" charm that represents the never ending cycle of life and the path to our creator - the spiral is found all over Peru in nature, Nazca, Aztec drawings, art, tapestries...  I loved the mother-of-pearl design and felt like it belonged on my neck alongside my son and sister's love.  I have worn this every day in Peru. It has been my security blanket.  In meetings, while waiting in lines, in taxis, in bed, all the time, I play with it.  I reach for it constantly and mindlessly toy with each little piece.  I know exactly how it feels, and how it makes me feel.  It has been a constant reminder of my priorities and all of the love and goodness that surrounds me on this planet and from above.



It broke today.  Just the chain, and I don't have another one here to replace it.  Thank God the pieces didn't get lost because I might've just melted down like the green witch.  

The last month of my journey will be without my last remaining security blanket.  First Bryan is gone, then my necklace.  Weird what we hold onto, no?  For some reason, it seems appropriate.  That the smallest, last piece of home that I've been holding onto for security and comfort won't be accessible anymore.  It means that I only have myself.  And my strength and comfort must come from within.  And that, my friends is what this year in Peru has all been about. 


Slipping away, what can I say?
Won't you stay inside me month of May,
And hold on to me golden days, slipping away.....