26 September 2010

Always bring your own TP

      I have been in Peru for 2 months now, and I am still learning things. Every week always yields for some adventures often unexpected.
     One thing I have learned is to adapt to packing toilet paper in my purse. Some places you go to have bathrooms you would expect to find anywhere in the United States, however most in Pacasmayo don't.  Many times the bathroom stalls lack doors and 90% of the of bathrooms are without toilet paper, and 50% of the ones that have TP charge you 50 centimos to use it. At school students have to ask for papel hygenico on there way to the bathroom. So, now I keep a stash of TP (which I need to replenish) in my purse.
    Sundays, I have started cooking for the kids. Which the mom's really enjoy because they prepare 3 meals a day so 21 meals a week, so I decided I could take one off their hands. The first week I just made them a dessert- peach cobbler, then I took on the whole meal. I have made Lasagna, Cider Stew, Tuna Casserole, Chicken Pot Pie, this week I am made BBQ Chicken Sandwiches and Funnel Cakes! Next weeks menu is Shepherd's Pie and Cinnamon Rolls. I have also made Dirt, my mom's Mandarin Orange cake, Homemade Recess, and Banana Bread with my Cinnamon and Sugar topping. And it all sounds fun and dandy (and it is especially with the help of my cocineritas- little cooks), but most of all these things start 100% from scratch. All of my cakes 100% scratch. All the veggies are fresh- which is sweet and they are super cheap but it is nice to be able to swing by HEB and grab the giant frozen pre-chopped veggies. My BBQ sauce is even from scratch. It is fun and cool to learn and some things taste better, but I do like the convenience of my friends Betty and McCormick, among others. I also miss my local HEB butcher, because I do not like chicken heads or feet. But it is again way cheaper to get the whole chicken and so that is what gets purchased. (I am just glad they don't have feathers) The same with the beef you get a whole chunk of cow to deal with. So I have learned how to successfully debone chicken (mostly self taught) and I am getting faster at it, one day I may be pro. So, my cooking is adapting as well- lots of learning and altering recipes goes on in my kitchens. But it is really fun because the girls (and boys) want to learn to cook, so I get a kitchen staff to chop, stir, peel, and more every week. And we all wear cute aprons- I am in the process on making me one but we didn't have power Sunday so I never finished, need to before next Sunday. Cooking with kids can get messy! But so far the food has turned out good, and they like it- especially the desserts! They ask me every day, "¿postre hoy día?"
     Another fun adventure occurred Thursday. One of our older girls had a doctors appointment, and was nervous so she asked if I would accompany her so I did. First, Gladys, the Orphanage's nutritionist, was supposed to come with us. But we were informed of an inspection coming within the next few days so they were scrambling and asked if I could take the two girls sola. The adventure begins.....
     First Gladys handed me the money and told me the appointment times, and that we were to go to Clínica de Santa Catalina which is next to Banco de Nacional. However, when we got there it is called El Central Salud- which I knew that cause I had been by lots of times. So we asked to moto driver if he knew where Santa Catalina was, he said he knew of Santa Monica y Santa Clara but maybe knows where it could be, so he drove. We got to what he though it might be, no clinic. So I went in and asked a store owner, and she informed us that Santa Catalina in is San Pedro. It clicked in my head that Gladys probably just got the names confused because she lives in San Pedro, but to double check we called from a pay-phone. The answer was El Central de Salud, back to the moto. In the clinic we went into the hallway where there were many many other people waiting, mostly women with young kids.  It was funny because I don't really get stared at too often anymore because people see me frequently enough, but as soon as I sat down in the clinic all eyes seemed to be on me. I was the only non peruana in the room and probably the first white person they have seen waiting in the clinic before. It was all good.
     The clinic more or less worked like a clinic you would find in the US but without all of the pleasant amenities such as: comfortable chairs, magazines, posters on the wall, a nice cushioned table for the patient, and cups for urinary samples. We waited about 15 minutes and her name was called she was weighed by the nurse and such and then we waited on the uneven wooden bench again for the doctor to get to her number, 10. We waited and it got boring, so I pulled out my journal and we played dots, well I tried to teach her and she didn't really understand the strategy of the game so I tried not to totally stomp her. Then they got to her number and the doctor left. Apparently there were 3 babies being born in the emergency room next door and they needed the only doctor at the clinic. So we sat back down and played hangman and tic tac toe, went to a store to get a drink, tried to get comfortable enough to take a nap and then the doctor returned.
      We went in with Gladys (she had us call her for when it was time to be seen by the doctor) to the doctor's room. Which contained a stand alone curtain, a steel table with some steps, and a desk cluttered with files and paper with a doctor crazily sorting through them all to find her file. He then began asking a bunch of questions which I didn't catch most of what was said because my professional medical vocabulary isn't very high in Spanish and he spoke at about 254 miles an hour without even looking up (so I missed half to words and I couldn't even look at his mouth to try and catch any good thing Gladys was there- one day). Anyways after about 3 minutes he gave us a paper, stamped about 16 papers and walked out right behind us. So, the paper he handed us called for some lab work or a urinary and stool sample. Which in a normal hospital in America you would head down the to nice clean white lab, and they would hand you your little cups and show you the closest bathroom that has the nice little steel window to put your cups in after you have finished the task at hand, but we were in Peru.
      So, instead we walked to the lab and it was closed, and it doesn't open again until 8 the next morning. Which I guess was ok because we had to go all over town to get two plastic cups complete with lids. We were told we could get them at a pharmacy which makes sense since you have to buy all your own medical supplies including IVs and blankets. But the main pharmacy did not have them, so we went to another smaller one that her madrina owns to ask her. She informed us that we would have to go to Don Leon's Plasticos, which is a store where you can buy anything from giant wash tubs, to tupperware, to plastic trash cans. We asked him for vasitos and he pulled out your average small plastic throw away cup. That would just not do, we need them with a lid! So, he pulled out the smallest ones he had and they were like 6 inches tall and 2 inches in diameter. When we got home Mama Maria asked why they were so big you are supposed to get small ones, that was all we could find, but they had different colored lids so that was cool don't want the lab to get mixed up, haha.

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