Saturday, February 24, 2007

Hello, my name is Tyler, I'm 6 feet tall, and have a stomach bug

All about my stomach bug - As Sarah mentioned in her previous blog entry, for the last couple days, I've been having stomach issues. But, in an attempt to be a Hearty World Traveler™, I'd been trying to ignore it figuring that it would pass in time. But finally, yesterday, we decided that I should do something about it. So, the owner of the hostel that we are staying at (Marlon) called up a doctor friend of his and I got to experience something that I'm pretty sure had gone the way of the dodo even before my parents time: A doctor's house call.

The doctor was everything you could hope for from a Peruvian doctor. A short, professional man in a dark suit who asked me a number of questions in a clipped, attentive manner that stopped just shy of ending each sentence with "idiota turista."

"Did you eat anything from any street vendors (idiota turista)? Did you travel along the coast (idiota turista)? Did you drink water from a mud puddle (idiota turista)?"

But, seriously, he helped a lot. And set me up with a couple of antibiotics. Which, thanks to them and him, I was up and sightseeing again today. Only occasionally feeling like my stomach was being twisted inside out.

By the way, the cost of a house call from a doctor in Peru without insurance? $40 US. The cost of antibiotics in Peru, without insurance? $14 US. Remind me to get sick here more often.

All about being 6ft tall in Peru - The average Peruvian is a lot shorter than me. Furthermore, most of the buildings we have been spending time in were from colonial times that make the average modern Peruvian seem like a giant. As a result, I bash my head on a nearly daily basis. It's become a bit of a joke. A painful joke, but still. My stomach may be doing better. But, I'm probably going to get a concussion at some point.

Al about having the name "Tyler" - Apparently the name "Sarah" is "muy bonita" ...but the name "Tyler" is pretty much incomprehensible. Here's a normal conversation:

"What is your name?"
*Blank stare*
"Si. Yes. Tyler."
"What does Tylor mean, in English?"
"You know the things in bathrooms? The little plates on the floor and the wall?"
"Well, in English, those are tiles. So, Tyler means someone who puts in tiles. A Tile-r."
*Blank stare, as they ponder the ramifications of being named after someone who installs things into a bathroom.*
"But, honestly, in the States, our names don't mean anything."

Hint: In Peru, always tip the mother. - The hostels that we've stayed at in both Arequipa (pronounced "Ar-e-keep-ah" ...or at least thats what Sarah keeps telling me) and Cusco have been run by the same family. The eldest son, Marlon, oversees the entire operation and runs the hostel here in Cusco. His siter, Lucy, seems to run the hostel in Arequipa. Their mother works on the roof terrace, doing laundry and serving tea and coffee to guests. A sweet, older lady, on the last day of our stay in Arequipa, I gave her a tip of 4 Soles (about $1.25 US). From that point on she treated Sarah and I like her favorite children (you haven't experienced life until you've had an elderly Peruvian woman grab you by the head and kiss both your cheeks) . And the family has been amazingly accomodating and helpful. By the time we reached Cusco, our reputation had proceeded us. Marlin's greeting to us: "Oh, you are Ty-lor and Sarah. I talked with my mom on the phone last night, and she mentioned how wonderful she thought you both were."

So, as a rule of thumb: If you want to leave a tip in a family run operation... tip the mother.

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