Saturday, December 30, 2017

Crazy Peru

A person recently posted in an ex-pat community board that after having lived in Peru for several years, she thinks Peruvians are missing something mentally or emotionally that prevents them from living successfully in the Western world. I begged to differ.
Here was my response:

I think the idea that people should be able to adapt and function in the "real world" is what is off in the initial poster's comment. Peru has its own reality, and that is as legitimate as any other reality. When you marry in Amazonia, for instance, your wife picks your lover for you. Sounds crazy but it's not at all crazy: She will pick some cousin or aunt from a part of the family to which she, your wife is indebted, and you, without knowing it, will be the peace symbol, Very effective, very functional. If you refuse the lover you will be forever accused of cheating on your wife. Why? Because it is a given that a man will cheat on his wife in order to have more babies with new blood that will keep the tribe strong. Not cheating, therefore, becomes a sign of weakness. In Iquitos there are now several grocery stores. Yet most locals shy away from them, preferring to shop in the insanely busy markets. Sounds crazy. Again, it's not: The markets are where you bump into a dozen of your friends daily, so they represent the social hub of the city. You might shop more efficiently at a supermarket, but you would miss the key social event of the day. These are just two examples out of hundreds where a Westerner might see a more efficient way of doing things and cannot understand why the locals do not choose to do those things. To the Peruvian, it's we Westerners who are lost because we have no sense of family, of community. We've given it all away in our search for efficiency. Having spent parts of every year there since 1984, and a few full years there in the late 1990s, I think they have the much healthier lifestyle.

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