Thursday, May 3, 2012

Honk! Honk! Beep! Beep!

Peruvians drive with one hand on the wheel and one hand on the horn. Given that there is a general disregard for traffic laws that is probably a good thing. Honking is not generally an expression of anger, although sometimes the horn is used in frustration. Sometimes it is a warning to a careless pedestrian (anyone in the path of a vehicle, regardless of whether they are in a crosswalk, is deemed careless).  But, most of the time, it is simply a form of communication. Not so much a greeting as a statement of one's presence. "I am here" each vehicle seems to announce from time to time. It is like a language, understood in some parts of the world, but foreign to Canadians and Americans.
We awoke our first day in Lima, Peru, to a discordant symphony of honking horns. The word "cacophony" crept onto my tongue as a perfect description. Each one seemed to have its own character, whether reflective of the driver’s personality I could not tell. Notably, they were not blaring horns, like angry, overweight men bellowing and shaking their fists at other similar characters. Rather, they were chirping, like women out doing their shopping who stop every few feet to chat with another shopper about the weather, the latest gossip, or to share news about a bargain just discovered.
Having arrived at our humble hotel in Lince, a middle-class section of Lima, at about one in the morning, things were pretty quiet. Although exhausted from the travel, we were excited at having started our long anticipated journey around the world. Somehow, we didn't want to sleep. It seemed to be a waste of valuable time better used to explore and encounter the culture around us. But, having checked in with our respective spouses, we fell asleep seconds after lying down. The final thought in my head was, "I am living my dream. If has finally come true".
The morning of Day 2 brought some challenges, mostly of the linguistic variety. It appeared that my Spanish, which is pathetic at best, was about as good as the English spoken by any of the hotel staff. This left us wandering the halls of the second floor looking for the complimentary breakfast, only to discover that what the desk clerk meant to say was "seventh floor" not "second floor". After several trips back to the front desk, we discovered the miscommunication and found ourselves alone enjoying a simple meal of two buns, a glass of delicious and thick orange juice, and a great cup of coffee. What breakfast lacked in volume it made up for in flavor.

Shortly after returning to our very simple but inexpensive ($60 a night) room, we got a call from Pastor Samuel, the Peruvian contact made by Carson in relation to research he is doing for a new book he wants to write. More about that later.

In talking with a number of people, it became evident that Parkinson's disease is not well-known in Peru. Even interpreters give me a puzzled look when I try and explain what it is. As I have only one contact, whose scheduling has made it difficult to arrange a time to meet, I am anxious to try and locate someone I can talk to about Parkinson's disease. I can plainly see that may be difficult to do if most people don't even know what it is. But, for some reason, I'm confident that before it is time to leave Lima I will meet someone from Peru's Parkinson's community. Although, I must admit, I feel a little like a horn-honking Peruvian driver proclaiming, "I'm here".

1 comment:

  1. Great tie-in..."I'm here!" Cairo is another great horn-honking city...all night long. From an high up room in the Nile Marriott the cacophony was weakened to a lilting but constant sound-track to a 24 hour city.

    Yesterday a friend of over 30 years told me he has been diagnosed as having Parkinsons. I want to introduce him to your blog and to your awareness of the PDCommunity.

    Thanks for the map. I must confess, I had no idea where Lima was located. For some reason I had it more south of Venezuela! I will learn a lot from following you and the Leprechaun around the globe! Don't forget to enjoy the Southern Cross each night since you are below the Equator.