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Pepperdine | Caruso School of Law

Life in Huánuco, Perú


the hillside of HuanacoCULTURAL DIFFERENCES / LIFESTYLE.

Huanuco, the region where the office I am working in is located, is a very small town.  Everyone knows each other and it's a very religious city.  Drinking, dancing, and other American debauchery is frowned upon by many. Stopping at intersections and yielding to pedestrians is frowned upon by ALL ;)
Cars and motos simply HONK at intersections to let you know they are going to proceed…they don't waste time stopping.  It's as if there's an invisible yield sign at each corner, which functions more as a "hurry-up-and-go-you-have-about-2-seconds before-that-car-hits-you" sign.  This is here and in Lima, but Lima's worse
Although its HOT, You RARELY see a woman wearing a skirt.  Child labor is completely acceptable, people walk everywhere, or they hop on a moto-taxi to cross town for S./1.50 (which is about 75 cents USD) and it's not uncommon to see an infant or a toddler riding as a passenger on the handlebars of a motorcycle, without a helmet.  Today I saw THREE grown men in suits sharing a motorcycle. And the motorcycles are more like a dirt bike.
People only jog between 6-8am or 6-8pm.  And the "Huanuceños" believe anything cold will make you sick – floors, drinks, wind.  The first time I came downstairs without shoes on, my host mom kept asking if I was cold…which was her way of trying to tell me to put my shoes on before I get sick.

The host family I was placed with is definitely one of the more prominent families here in Huánuco.  Their house has many of the amenities that are like those we are accustomed to in the U.S.: running HOT water, indoor plumbing, a stove, a fridge, and even wi-fi! Not everyone here has those luxuries.  In fact, it took basically 20 minutes of being in this country to realize how spoiled, and ungrateful we are in the U.S.  Well, sort of…

My host mother takes an hour out of her day EVERY day to go to the market a few blocks away and get fresh fruit, veggies, and meats.  Farmers bring their produce, which is freshly picked at about 4am, and by 7am placed in boxes for sale.  I love knowing that everything I'm eating hasn't been injected with preservatives, and was alive or in the ground that morning.

We take a TWO hour lunch break in order to eat, nap, and chat with our families. EVERY Peruvian dish is served with rice and potatoes.  Breakfast is light; lunch is the biggest meal of the day, eaten around 1pm.  Then there's "cena" which is like a light dinner in the evening from 8-9pm, I could write an entire book on the food here.

The biggest difference here is the TIME thing. Latin Americans do things at a slightly slower pace than Americans ;)  My first Monday at work, we had devotionals,  prayed for the clients, then talked about each of the cases between the psychologists and the lawyers.  We started work at 8am, and got out of Devotionals about 11am.  I was like, "YIKES," I better get to work….BUT, I was the only one who thought that.  No one was tapping their feet with impatience or staring at the clock. People here don't seem to be stressed. They take their time with everything, yet somehow everything that needs to get done, gets done.  This is a foreign concept to me.

HOST FAMILY / WORK LIFE

I've met some AMAZING people here. I am SO blessed to be living with and working with people who are genuinely God-loving, sincere, compassionate, helpful, and fun people.   Sometimes I think they are laughing AT me, rather than with me. We laugh both WITH and AT each other, share stories, ideas, and learn from each other.

by Tina S., May 31st, 2012