i’m not a fan of cell phones for many reasons and if my job didn’t provide one, i wouldn’t have one.
my wife has always had the kind you get in a box at the grocery store and you buy the minutes as you go, but after returning from peru she liked the small form factor of the phone she had there and the ones at the grocery store weren’t quite as small.
so she took it to mobile phone store in hopes of buying a sim card she could install and use the phone she liked but of course that won’t work as the phone is locked. not locked in any way that is good for us, but locked in a way that prohibits you from changing phone companies. and of course all the mobile providers have agreed to not unlock any other phone companies phones and one more reason to hate cell phones companies is added to my list.
so we had to venture in to a mobile store to browse the selection of phones and attempt to find a small, dumb phone comparable to the product my wife obtained in a third world country.
what a terrifying place. first off it looks like a used car sales office with little tables and booths designed for trapping hapless, unaware customers for much longer than they ever planned to stay. then the smarmy upsell begins. you don’t want the $16 dumb phone when you could have this $400 smart phone.
we were lucky to be on the dumb phone purchase plan, because the family next to us went smart phone and then the real pressure begins. like the extended warranty plan at the auto mall, these folks want to sell a digital insurance policy. integrate your phone with your car and door locks; your security cameras; every other phone you own. the world this sales guy painted had burglars, rapist and monsters hiding behind every hedge. he even talked about his frightened, older mother who just didn’t feel safe coming home without all protection.
but i’m pretty sure anyone stupid enough to be paying all the cell, data and service integration monthly fees has very little left over that would interest a thief…
since we’ve gotten back to the states, we have been taking a morning and evening walk around a one mile circle in our neighborhood.
tonight that one mile circle took two hours to complete. an uneventful walk takes 15 minutes. tonight the weather was cooler than it has been in the past few weeks, folks have all returned from summer vacations and all the kids had first day of school stories.
it was the liveliest one mile, two hour walk i have ever taken.
we went to a local triple-a baseball game this weekend and a friend of ours went to get a beer.
at the counter her eight year old asked if she also could have a beer and of course the mother said no.
not one for taking no right away she asked again and even asked the bartender. after a few more nos the eight year old finally decided her current attempt at acquiring a beer had failed, but not one for being discouraged said to the bartender “see you when i’m 18!”
a six year neighbor girl was at our house yesterday with half the block. the kids are all reveling in the last few days of summer break.
natalie had set out a bunch of bowls and plates of snacks and i was standing near the counter where they sat when the girl slowly, cautiously approached. she had the mixed look of being shy and polite as she came nearer the food and i said her “don’t worry, i won’t bite”
right as she got to counter i raised my hands like a bear and growled at her. she startled a bit and then smiled and took some apple slices.
as she walked away looking back at me i said to her “sorry to scare you”
and without missing a step she responded “you didn’t scare me. you only surprised me”
after moving from place to place a number of times i have started to notice that the fond memories of a place are usually stronger than the actual experiences of the place.
when we first got to peru i was missing the foods i was familiar with back home. when we got back home i re-discovered the food here doesn’t taste real. everything seems synthetic and lacks the robustness of the fresh foods we were enjoying in peru.
i say re-discovered because we had the same experience when we returned from new zealand.
i bet in a few more weeks i’ll even forget the dogs and trash that most irritated me there. ok, maybe nostalgia isn’t that powerful…
logan got her ears pierced this weekend.
we’ve been back in the states almost a week now and what i have been most pleased with is the ability to fully express myself.
i by no definition speak spanish, though i can mostly get by with a few hand gestures and the few words i do know.
but here i can express the full range of ideas and thoughts i have. even with a full vocabulary its not always easy to communicate with others, but the attempt is so much more satisfying.
natalie’s has one sister in town and one out, the out-of-town sister came to visit a few days after we returned and was staying with the in-town sister.
of course as things go, the in-town sister was having a major renovation performed on her house and it started the day after everyone came to her house to visit.
its a large, managed septic system that is being put in and since its a curious construction i spent some time talking to the guys doing the work.
the sister’s were outside as well and both talked with the workers and amongst themselves.
at the end of the day when the workers knocked on the door to announce their departure for the day, they talked with natalie’s sister for a awhile.
near the end of the conversation the foreman asked an interesting question – “what language were you all speaking to each other?”
only natalie speaks a foreign language so they had to admit it was just some “mush‑mouth” version of english.
i of course believe this ends any debate in my house about who may or may not be difficult to understand…
we didn’t have full length mirrors, good lighting or heat in our flat in cusco, so for the past six months i haven’t had many looks at my body.
and while we were in peru i would say my diet was roughly the same and that i exercised slightly less.
now that we’re home and i can take off my clothes without near immediate frost bite i have had a chance to see that i lost some weight, or at least look a lot more tone since returning.
my only explanation – perpetual shivering. it seems contradictory to carrying around a layer of fat to help keep you insulated, but i can think of nothing else that was different that would have caused me to slim down – and i was slim to start.
now i need some subjects to test my theory – and while its no fun being cold all the time, none of these other fad diets seem any fun either….
living in so many different places, we have observed that there are pros and cons to everywhere and that no one place is ideal in all respects.
also interesting to me is that some things are better in contrast – for example, when we left cusco it was particularly cold and dry so coming back to the heat and humidity of summer, which i normally dislike, has been quite pleasant.
conversely, some things are less enjoyable than they were before. some foods i’ve been anxious to enjoy back home have been disappointing and don’t taste nearly as good as the foods we left behind. that is a especially surprising because shopping and cooking were some of the largest adjustments we had to make when we first arrived in peru.
but the one thing that has been true of all our journeys, no matter how much effort and pain is involved in arranging them, is true again – i’m glad we did it.
i can’t talk about our return to the states without thanking my youngest brother.
for the fourth time i traveled in to the u.s. or another country i was detained by customs.
my youngest brother gave my name to the police fourteen years ago hoping to avoid arrest. he didn’t succeed and was arrested anyway, but now my name is listed as one of his aliases and i get to be treated like a felon intermittently as i leave or return to the country.
however, unlike the three previous stops by customs – the officers in miami seemed itching to arrest and extradite me half way across the country.
so our return home began with a three hour sit in customs which of course meant we missed our connection.
when my identified was finally confirmed, or rather, when they confirmed i was not my brother everyone was immediately so much nicer. so i asked how do i avoid this in the future. the two, imposing border agents looked at each other, shrugged and said “plan longer layovers the next time you travel abroad”
we travel back to the u.s. later today and this portrait of me at machu picchu seemed perfect for the occasion…