Right now I am in beautiful Lima, Peru and feel even more culture shock than when I was in India, if that's possible. Probably because I am not traveling with a group of white people and need to have everything translated for me because I am a stupid American who chose to study useless French in school instead of practical Spanish.
Here's a quick recap so far:
On the plane over, I sat next to some aging Canadian hippies who were headed to Cuzco to get some energy from the Sacred Valley.
I am staying with my coworker Ursula and her family, which is her husband, her 2 kids and their nanny. Also, sometimes Ursula's mother comes over. She no habla anglais, so we get along well just by using hand gestures and smiling.
The second night I was here we had an earthquake drill which means you have to go stand out on a concrete slab across the street next to the car cage. A car cage is an iron cage with spikes all around it that you lock your car in at night. Yes. A car cage.
Today we had chifa (Peruvian Chinese food) for lunch as an office. This basically consisted of me sitting at a big conference table with 14 Peruvians, 4 of whom spoke English, trying to at least act like I knew what was going on. As far as I could tell, they were talking about a popular television show called Yo Sey and a former president who was a functioning alcoholic.
Every time they would all laugh, I would ask my coworker what was said and he would explain it, resulting in me laughing all by myself at some cultural reference I didn't understand, but knew I had to laugh at because he had taken great pains to explain it to me.
After lunch I received an email from one of my coworkers that said, "You are the girl that is in the office now!" I used Google Translate to tell her, "Sí, soy la chica de la oficina!" and then asked her if she is the one who wears glasses. It is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Later that evening, Ursula and I drove to her mother's house to pick up the kids, the nanny and her mom. She drives a tiny Toyota, but luckily Peruvians are very small. So, as we are leaving, Ursula gives Jose Miguel his airplane that my boss, Alejandro, brought him from America. It is at that moment when we realize that I have forgotten the stuffed puppy that he brought for Maria Louisa. I realized this because all we could hear from the back seat is "Mi perrito! Mi perrito! Mi perrrrritoooooo!" for the next 20 minutes while weaving in and out of Lima traffic. Ursuala kept apologizing to me even though I was the one who abandoned the perrito.
Lima traffic might actually be more terrifying than Mumbai traffic because there is more room on the roads resulting in higher speeds and harder breaking.
We stopped at the market to pick up some fruit on the way home. Jose Miguel and I followed Ursula to the fruit stand where I would point to an item and ask him, "Como se llama en anglais?" and he would tell me as best he could. Then he would just point to a piece and say, "Oler!" which Urusula had to tell me meant, "Smell this!" I had my nose to an avocado when an hombre muy guapo walked up and stared at me. Excelente.