I`ve been in Peru for about a while now and honestly, I couldn’t tell if I was experiencing culture shock in Peru or not. But this week, I think I definitely felt culture shock due to a little homesickness that led to a hilarious encounter at the local store (traveling alone isn`t easy). Earlier this evening, I found myself craving some takeout food that would satisfy my need for NYC Chinese food.
Eager to satisfy this crazing, I went for around the Plaza de Armas in Huaraz while in search of Chinese food. Luckily enough, Chinese food or chaufa is actually a big thing in Peru so it wasn’t long before I found a nice little restaurant. After struggling through the Spanish menu, the waitress decided to lend me a hand by giving me the special English menu. I rejoiced and decided to keep it simple by selecting chicken and friend rice – para llevar. I got home and eagerly opened my takeout to a surprise, I didn’t get the food I wanted and more confusingly, I was given plain fried rice with a single packet of MAYONAISE- WTF.
At this point, I think I was about to loose it because I know everyone in NYC is used to getting Chinese food with ketchup or duck sauce. Frustrated, I decided to eat the food like it was but after a couple of bites, I decided to go to the supermarket and get ketchup. At the store, I politely asked “Perdon, tu tienes Ketchup”, only to be met with confused smiles and looks the screamed “what’s this negrito talking about” (Also I have no idea how I feel about locals calling me negrito). Anyway, I decided to go ahead and search the store and after an endless search, I found my beloved ketchup hidden in the corner of a shelf.
Happily, I grabbed a hand full of packets, returned to the cashier and shout “mira, ketchup”. She laughed hysterically and replied “ooohhh kepchu”. I’m seriously not kidding, between the Chinese food and this ketchup dilemma, I had had enough. I just joined her in laughing (fake nervous laugh) and went back to my hostel with my ketchup, or should I say kepchu for now on?
I have no idea if I was just frustrated, homesick or experiencing a little culture shock. Either way, it was an interesting experience and I now know that my survival Spanish is not just going to cut it anymore. Anyway, tomorrow I am leaving Huaraz and heading to Huanchaco which is a small fishing town 8hrs north of Huaraz. As always, I am eager for what awaits me.