Christmas in Peru – By Lydian Shipp
Peru South America

Christmas in Peru – By Lydian Shipp

Today I’m writing this blog post because I can’t stand listening to the people in the upstairs apartment, is this is the one thing I can allow myself to do comfortably while listening to music to tune them out. I dunno what’s going on up there, but it sounds like a family reunion. One family member decided to bring their pet, Yippy the Dog. A young person is singing out-of-tune “quiet” Christmas carols. I’m trying not to be judgmental and angry, but it’s really difficult to be okay with loud people when all I’m trying to do is read my Spanish book. Quietly.

This morning, our internet was running extremely slow. My dad debunked a whole bunch of stuff, and then decided to go ask the people in the apartment above us if they were uploading anything to the internet (or something). They said all they were doing was checking their email. My dad said they were clearly doing something else. Perhaps sending a whole album of photos to relatives. Or maybe they just had a virus. The internet didn’t speed up though, so my dad had to go to Starbucks at the mall for the majority of the morning. I can’t imagine how loud it must’ve been there given the noisiness that was here.

I have no clue what tomorrow will bring, but I sure do hope most of the Christmas celebrations here happen on Christmas Eve. Maybe I’ll be able to sleep in a quiet room tomorrow night. Last night, somebody upstairs was moving furniture all night long (or so it seemed), which inhibited my ability to sleep, like, at all.

Yesterday, my mom and I had to go to the grocery store to get some food to restock our supply. See, we went to Nazca this last weekend, so there was basically no food when we got back because we ate most of it so it wouldn’t go bad. But anyways, me and my mom went to the store. It was crazy. Really crazy. There were a couple of times when I seriously considered hitting a number of people in the face with my elbow a couple of times. It took a lot of self-control not too, but I managed.

We were originally going to go to the Wong grocery store, but then we decided that we would just go to the Metro because it was in the mall, and I needed new shoes, and there was a Payless in the mall. So we went to the Metro grocery store. They’re cool shoes. They’re black with pink laces, and they’re actually better than the last pair of shoes that I had. And they were cheaper.

But back to the subject!

The Metro grocery store has… I don’t even know how many checkout lines, and almost all the lines are unusually long on all days. My mom and I noted when we first got to Lima that the cashiers were allowed to sit while working. “That’s nice.” I had said, thinking to myself, wow, if I worked at a grocery store, I would be really appreciative of that. I might even work FASTER if I got to sit down! Now, I’m beginning to wonder if letting cashiers sit while they’re working is such a good thing after all. It takes almost thirty minutes on a good day to get through the line at the Metro.

In comparison, at the Wong grocery store, it takes about 15 minutes at the WORST to get through the line.

So there we were standing line, and I was fretting about some things. See, my mom had gotten some beets when we were shopping for fruits and veggies, but she’d forgotten to weigh them. I was on my way over to the weighing center with some avocados so my mom asked me if I could get the beets weighed too while I was at it. When it was the beets’ turn to get weighed, the weigh lady said something rapidly in Spanish that I couldn’t understand. I thought maybe I had weighed too many things that day, and that I couldn’t weigh any more. I had reached my limit. Maybe the beets were evil and she was refusing to weigh them so I couldn’t buy them. She was saving me.

Turns out it was none of those things, the beets just already had a stamp on them and didn’t need another. But we had forgotten to weigh something, of course.

The whole chicken.

My mom asked me to hurry and get the chicken weighed. I got alllllll the way to the back of the store where the scales are, and prepared to set the chicken on the scales where the fruits and veggies got weighed. The lady that had told me off about the beets then proceeded to tell me off about the chicken. She pointed to the meat area, and I’m guessing she told me to take the chicken back there to get weighed. I really don’t know what she said, though.

So I took my chicken to the meat department to get weighed. I didn’t know the word for ‘to weigh’ in Spanish (I do now, it’s “pesar”), but I did my best with some hurried, elaborate, and desperate charades to tell them that I needed my chicken weighed. They (2 or 3 boys and 1 girl) laughed at me a little bit, but not too obviously. Then, the one kid I was talking to took the chicken from me, and asked, “Eight or ten? Eight or ten?”, and I was all like, “I don’t know dude! Just weigh the chicken!” But see, I couldn’t say that, because I didn’t know the word for ‘to weigh’ at the time.

The kid I was talking to poked at the chicken. He said something to his little buddies, and then said something else to me. I didn’t really know what he said, but I assumed it was something about the chicken that I hadn’t picked out (my mom did), so I just said I didn’t know. He poked at the chicken again, said something else to me, and then toted my poor innocent chicken off into the back of the meat place. I had lost total control of the chicken, and the poor thing was now off in dangerous lands.

I watched though a slightly obscured window as the kid talked with a man about the chicken. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but it looked serious. I had pointed at the scales and everything, why couldn’t they understand I JUST WANTED THE DANG THING WEIGHED??????? I started pacing, back and forth, back and forth, every once and a while looking in through the window to try and see what they were doing to the chicken. I saw a dude who was looking at some turkey stare at me strangely for a minute. I probably had a kind of crazy look in my eyes, I mean, I had been told to come back with a weighed chicken as fast as I could. I didn’t know what was happening to the poor little chicken. I had been laughed at for trying to do something right. Things were getting serious.

It seemed like a really long time had gone by before the kid came back out with my chicken. He weighed it, and I relaxed just a little bit. It didn’t really look like the chicken that I had given him, but I discounted the fact, telling myself they probably cut the thing open to see if it had one heart or two or something irrational like that. He asked me if I would like another bag to put the chicken in. I said I would, because the bag that it was already in had chicken fluids all over it, and quite frankly, I’m a little squeamish when it comes to raw meat. I thanked him, and rapidly ran off towards the front of the store, my new shoes squeaking, the chicken swinging in my right hand.

I dodged distant-eyed Christmas shoppers, resisting the urge to swing my chicken at their heads when they didn’t get out of my way. I was nice to the really little kids, the elderly, and the people carrying a whole bunch of stuff. Finally, I got to the front of the store, and found our checkout line. A nice lady behind my mom took the chicken from me while I hopped over a chain that was stretched across an unoccupied line. So then I waited while the lady checked out the chicken, and then I helped my mom load up our backpacks with the heaviest stuff.

We then began our journey home, one 3 gallon water bottle for each of us. We had to cross two different streets with lots of cars. I can’t even imagine how amusing it must’ve looked as we ran across both streets with the water bottles. It certainly felt amusing.

When we got home, arms and shoulders aching a little bit, my mom decided that she would prepare the chicken for that nights dinner. I was worried, the chicken hadn’t looked normal when I had seen it, but I assumed it would probably be fine.

I got a glass of water.

“This, is not the chicken that I picked out!” I heard my mom exclaim from behind me.

“What?!” I shouted, infuriated. If they had given me the wrong chicken, I swear to god, I would run back there and get the right one, AFTER yelling at them for their wrongdoing.

Upon further inspection, my dad proclaimed that it was most likely the same chicken, it had just gotten butchered. I don’t know what charade made the silly meat people think that I wanted my chicken butchered, but something did. I felt like it was my fault that they had murdered the chicken. My parents reassured me that everything was okay, and that I hadn’t done anything wrong. I had gotten our chicken cut, professionally at that. The chicken tasted really good that night when we ate it. But, I still felt sorry for the chicken. I hadn’t meant to let it get traumatized like that.

So yeah, Christmas in Peru. It’s something else, so far.

(NOTE: This post was written when I was 13. I edited it in 2017 for grammatical errors and other technical stuff, but maintained the content to preserve my 13-year-old perspective)

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