Don’t worry, the trip to Emergencia (Accident and Emergency) was me and it wasn’t life-threatening, just rather painful. We got back from church and I was getting ready to prepare some food and was cutting some stuff with the kitchen scissors when I suddenly, randomly, made some kind of mistake, or the scissors slipped, or SOMETHING, and I ended up cutting the tip of my left little finger quite badly. I’m generally speaking a fairly low-key, put a plaster or steri-strip on it and it will be fine sort of type but there was quite a lot of blood and quite a lot of pain and i could see it was a deep cut and after doing some yelling and crying (I had to get Samuel to take Elisabeth away as my sensitive little toddler got all upset when she heard I was upset) the internet told me that I should see a doctor if the finger was going numb, and it was. After a little more faffing around a very very kind neighbour went with me in a taxi to the hospital.
It was the hospital where I had delivered Elisabeth, so fortunately I was already on their system. Fortunately because in my hurry (and pretty bad pain) I had forgotten to bring any ID with me, vitally important in Peru. Fortunately a combination of me already being on the system and the very kind neighbour having her ID covered it, so they took me inside to a bed and then said I would need stitches. They tend to overmedicalise things here, but it was a pretty nasty cut and I also thought I needed them. So they then gave me an injection which was supposed to be somehow painkilling, in my butt. I learned later from the itemised receipt that it was adrenaline…this explained why I felt jittery… Then I waited a bit more – feeling a bit dizzy by this point, and then a surgeon came and smothered the whole finger in antiseptic stuff, gave me a small local anaesthesia injection (which was lovely because the pain went away!) and stitched it with four neat little stitches. I had to go back next week to have the stitches taken our – it took four minutes, I could have easily done it myself, and it cost 100 soles. So a good tip for all of you would be – take your own stitches out and save time and money, should you ever be so unfortunate as to end up with stitches
In other news, we had a holiday last week – we didn’t go anywhere, just had a ‘staycation’ which was nice as we hadn’t had a proper break since last summer. I got a lot of sewing done which always makes me happy! Our holiday was somewhat marred by the fact that we had four days without tap water. It had been raining every day here for several weeks, which rather messed up our laundry system as we are used to continual bright sunlight to dry our cloth nappies. However last week apparently heavy rains in the mountains had caused a ‘huaico’ which I think would be translated as something like destructive landslide or mudslide, which had messed up the water treatment, system meaning that the majority of the city of Arequipa was without tap water. The water company was supposed to send round lorries with tanks, which they did eventually but you didn’t know when or where they coming, so the whole thing was a bit of a fiasco. I started ‘following’ the water company on Facebook as they kept posting updates about when we would have water and where the tanks would be, etc, but not only was their information often inaccurate but they kept talking about how we should not waste water, which to people who haven’t flushed their toilets for two days is frankly insulting. So I’m not really their biggest fan right now.
In other news, Elisabeth is now practically running, still in a somewhat staggery way, and has finally started to feed herself with a fork. She can do it much faster with her fingers but prefers a fork – I think because its what she sees us doing. She’s always up for a challenge!
– If you visit someone’s house in the evening, there will be candles lit. Any shape, colour, or size, but definitely candles.
– You can wear bright contrasting colours on a normal day if you like, but you will be the only one. Scandinavians tend to favour greyish tones.
– Same for dangly earrings and other eye-catching jewellery.
– Christmas means you start baking cookies at the beginning of December.
– Christmas songs not infrequently contain references to ‘the North’ or specific Scandinavian countries.
– Not only do you struggle to understand them, but they struggle to understand each other even if they are from the same country!!!
– All children are blonde. Different shades of blonde, but all blonde (this of course includes my own little semi-Scandinavian).
– If you ask people to give you their old glass jars, they will all be coffee jars (true story. OK there was one Nutella jar. The rest coffee).
– Liquorice is the new chocolate.
– All ladies pull out knitting at any social gatherings, which means that:
– All children at some point appear in a hand-knitted garment, often chunky all-wool with earthy tones.
– Delicious home-made bread will appear at some point at most social gatherings.
– Placing toppings on aforesaid bread is not just a means of eating, it is both a science and a fine art.
– Special events generally produce a fascinating variety of different types of braided hairstyles on the ladies.
– Tea is a sort of strange niche drink. Coffee is where it is at. But…
– If someone invites you round for ‘coffee,’ you will get so, so much more!
I love you my Scandinavian friends!
In this post you will read the first genuinely funny language mistake that either of us has made. There have been a few misunderstandings and slipups (like the time I asked at the meat market for huecos (holes) instead of huesos (bones – I wanted them for making stock), but nothing too major. Until last week… we had a nice Peruvian couple over for dinner who were friends of a friend in America and turned out to be the landlords of people we know (all rather complicated but goes to show its a small world after all). We didn’t know anything about them so were going over the basics – how many children do you have, where do they live, etc. They said they had three adult children, one in one city, one in another, and one en el cielo (in heaven – ie he had died). I understood this and was starting to express sympathy, but Samuel, who had asked the question, misremembered the word cielo for the word sierra, which refers to a particular geographical area of Peru. So his response was “Oh, ¿donde en el cielo?” – ‘where in heaven?’!!! I had to quickly point out what they had actually said – cue great confusion on his part and gracious explanation on the part of the couple. Fortunately they were very nice and understanding and we talked later about their son (he had very sadly died suddenly and unexpectedly of some kind of aneurysm in his early twenties) – obviously I would not be sharing this as a funny story if they had broken down in tears or anything like that. A small but important difference between the two words.
In Denmark and Norway they celebrate Christmas on the 24th so as I wasn’t ill then we celebrated with the other missionaries in the morning – we had a small church service and then we ate traditional rice porridge (basically like unsweetened rice pudding eaten with cinnamon sugar, butter, and raisins. There is traditionally an almond hidden in it and if you find the almond you win a marzipan pig. They had several almonds as it was a large group, and I got one of them! They had got someone to bring marzipan pigs all the way from Norway so I’m really looking forward to eating that as I love marzipan and you can’t really get it here.
Christmas was unfortunately somewhat of a flop as after the missionary Christmas celebration on the morning of the 24th I was struck down with a rather nasty stomach bug (very unusual for me). So I spent Christmas weekend in bed and a couple days afterwards mostly in bed. Actually I had been feeling increasingly tired and run-down before Christmas so in some ways it was quite nice to have a rest, especially as I was tired and a bit queasy-ish but not feeling really awful. I’m fully recovered now and fortunately Samuel and Elisabeth were fine.
My tomato plants have started to grow actual tomatoes!!! For someone with the opposite of a green thumb (a red thumb?) that is pretty exciting. So far they are of course small and green, but they are growing quite impressively. My herb seedlings (coriander, basil, and chives) are still growing at significantly slower than a snail’s pace – after considerable internet research (the internet is amazing for when you want to do practical things) I worked out that the soil I was using was too acidic. I added some bicarbonate of soda to water and watered it with that to see what happens.
Elisabeth is getting bigger all the time – still not much actual talking but lots of very cute noises. She loves playing with the laundry when it has just come out of the machine and has started to actually help me by handing it up to me so I can hang it out. I really want to teach her to do useful things around the house so I figure thats a pretty good start! Sometimes she wants the things back, or drops them around the yard, but she seems to be getting the idea. It is fascinating to go to the park with her and just see what she wants to do. I read about how its important to interfere with their physical development as little as possible – so stop them from falling down stairs etc but otherwise let them work things our for themselves as much as possible – ie not always holding their hands and stopping them from doing things. So I’ve tried to adopt a fairly hands-off approach and at least with Elisabeth it seems to have worked really well – its really interesting watching her on steps and stairs working out how steep they are, whether she can go forwards or backwards, etc.
We had our missionary julebord (Christmas Dinner – literally Christmas Table) last week at a rather nice restaurant – we had alpaca steak which was rather like a kind of light pink beef – perhaps like veal but I’ve never had veal. The desserts were rather disappointing – mine was too sweet even for me which is saying a lot as I have a pretty sweet tooth. Overall however it was a really fun evening. My Norwegian comprehension is slowly getting better – after being here for almost 2 years I can now understand most of what is being said. Occasionally I understand it better than Samuel which is quite funny! Tomorrow we have the church julebord which is a basically a dinner for anyone who has any kind of official role in the Lutheran church eating together and being presented with panetones.
Life here is continuing in a fairly quiet and peaceful way, which at the moment is just how I like it! Elisabeth is getting bigger and now not only walks but almost does a kind of toddling run when she’s really excited! Samuel has now finished teaching for the year at the Bible School and I am still working with the students on music – they have a kind of grand finale in two weeks where they will sing the two songs we have prepared. I will try and post a video if I can get a good one. I am still working on my translation project, which is good but quite mentally exhausting. I was thinking that was just because I was out of the habit of doing hard mental work. I think that is also the case, but I realised yesterday that its hardly a surprise that juggling three languages (Danish, English, and Spanish) would be mentally exhausting. I am glad I only have to do it part-time, I don’t think I could cope doing fulltime translation, especially from a second language to a third.
On which subject, I think Samuel and I are both getting quite a bit better at Spanish. Thanks for all those who have been praying, especially for Samuel. He was at a pastor’s conference a few weeks ago – he also went last year just after Elisabeth was born. I wasn’t at either of them but I could tell from what he said that he was much more part of the whole thing than before and could participate much more. I try and read some Spanish every day and that’s getting easier as I go on.
Various domestic projects are also going well. I had the idea of making my own bacon a few weeks ago and I tried it. It was remarkably successful – very tasty and ten times cheaper than the shop stuff, as well as containing a lot fewer Nasty Chemicals. The most difficult part turned out to be slicing it thinly enough. Next time I am going to partially freeze it and take it to our local market and try and get someone to cut it for me on a slicey machine.
I have been growing various herbs from seeds I got in England and also growing some tomato plants from some seedlings kindly given me by a neighbour. The tomato plants (photos coming soon) are doing particularly well – no tomatoes yet but some pretty little yellow flowers. I have never really done much gardening before but I can now see why people really get into it. There actually is something incredible about putting seeds into some soil, watering them, and watching plants growing – both a feeling of “I did that!” and “How could that happen! I could never make anything as incredible as that!” – rather similar to having a baby actually. As a seamstress/sewer/dressmaker I am used to taking bits of fabric and thread and making them into something more useful and attractive but with plants you have just these tiny little seeds that could just be little bits of grit, but that start producing by themselves all these pretty and interesting little plants with all different shapes and colours and everything. I am perfectly well aware these are hardly new and original thoughts! but it really does make me really impressed with God’s creativity. Its also really nice how he lets us sort of participate in that, both with our own creativity eg sewing etc, and also how we can help things to grow.