Area: Juliaca Comp.: Elder Ayo
Sorry about that email last week, that was kind of a mess. And along with that, I don't remember exactly what I said, so if I repeat things then that's why, so sorry in advance!
-Juliaca! My home for the next 10 weeks! It's an interesting place. First off, it's called the 'city of the winds', so Hey Dad! We're practically in the same mission! Give or take a hemisphere and a language and years and years. It's an interesting place though! It's close enough to Lago Titicaca to be freezing cold, but not close enough for us to see it. All of the vehicles here are either taxi's, mototaxi's, combi's, those bike/cart things Nacho Libre rides, or giant dump trucks, which is interesting. A mototaxi is essentially a motorcycle on three wheels with a thin plastic cab wrapped around it. They're from India, and they're tiny and fascinating and EVERYWHERE. Combi's are basically those big 12 seater Astrovans, but they take out all the seats on one side (so instead of rows of three seats it's rows of 2 seats and room for people to stand). They're crazy because no one cares about personal space here, and they PACK those things. I counted one time because I couldn't believe how full it was, and we had 27 people on one of them. So Juliaca has some interesting city planners (or whoever chooses what roads are made of), because they decided to make the streets here out of a 50/50 mixture of dirt and trash. Which that, combined with the rain every day and the massive dump trucks means that the streets here are excrutiatingly bumpy. Really though, they've made it look like it should be a Call of Duty map. In fact, Google street view it--the part I live in is right near the Parroquia Pueblo de Dios iglesia. Also significant about Juliaca is that it drinks more per day (on average) than the rest of Peru drinks per day. It's kind of hilarious to see the borrachos around here though, it makes for some good stories. So also I´m convinced that the Cusco mission is like Texas in that it's a different country from Peru in all but name. Anywhere else you go in Peru, almost everyone you meet will be Catholic, but in Juliaca they're extremely traditionalist to the point where they wear the same type of clothes that the ancient Inca's wore, and THEY'RE PAGAN. I found a mission in South America that isn't high-baptizing, and it's mine! Yay me! Even like the people in our tiny, tiny ward still do pagan traditions. Crazy.
-There's more KFC's here than in the US, along with Pizza Hut. There's also a fair amount of McDonald's here.
-Don't get me wrong, I love my mission, but by far the worst thing here is the food. It doesn't even taste that bad, but it's the same 3 times a day and each meal is more than I can eat for a day. I've started pulling every trick in the book--'fasting' excessively, shoving food in a napkin in my pocket, feeding it to the dog--really, it's hard.
-We're not allowed to tell people how long we've been out, other than 'a little less than a year' or 'a little over a year', which makes it much harder to apologize for my Spanish.
-Spanish! It's hard. Whatever language they taught me in the CCM I'm fluent in, but Spanish I can't understand a word of.
-Origin of the word 'Gringo'! Supposedly--don't take my word on this. So apparently during the Mexican-American war, the Americans wore green and the Mexicans weren't very good at English so they kept yelling "Green! Go!" as an attempt to convince the US to give up or something. I don't know if that's true, but that's what my pension told me and I think it's hilarious.
-I ate cow stomach! It was hard. They didn't even tell me it was cow stomach, and with every bite I threw up in my mouth and had to catch it. Horrible.
-So I don't know how many people are supposed to be in Ward Council, but yesterday we had 18. Including a child, one member's spouse, and a non-member who's never talked to the missionaries and just decided to go to church for the first time yesterday.
Anyways, this place is ridiculous, but it's an adventure! Really though, it's awesome!