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Welcome to SwansonPonATime! We are a young missionary couple in Peru, and this is our space to share our journey with you! ...Enjoy! 

10 Things We Bet You Didn't Know about Living in The Mountains of Peru

10 Things We Bet You Didn't Know about Living in The Mountains of Peru

Here are 10, well actually 11 things we bet you didn’t know about living in the mountains of Peru…

1. You can’t flush the Toilet Paper

Yep that’s right, if you plan to visit us, then get ready to get used to throwing your toilet paper in the trash instead of straight down and out of sight. This means you'll need to carefully maneuver opening the trash can while holding the TP and placing it in the trash without touching a thing. Hahah. So basically the plumbing here in Peru is not advanced enough to handle toilet paper, it will clog the toilets up and you’ll have a nasty over flow. Fortunately we have not had one of those yet, but we have had a few "Oops" moments of flushing the toilet paper and saying a quick prayer it goes down fully. Lol

2. You don’t need a car

We have had so many trips to the nearest big city of Cusco 2.5 hours away by car, for so many things. Even to buy big things like: a couch, a fridge, an oven, a washer. It is incredible with what ease we have managed to get everything done without having a car, like picking people up from the airport and having them driven to our town. You are probably thinking that we probably pay someone the big bucks to drive around taking care of us but the truth is that transportation is extremely cheap. For example: the 2.5 hour car ride from Cusco to our small town of Curahuasi costs less than 7 bucks per person. Taxis and moto-taxis are super common really cheap and all it takes is a walk out to the main road and flagging one down.

3. Summer is actually cold and rainy

Hahaha thinking back on this one is hilarious because we were excited to enjoy the “summer” in Peru so we packed away all of our warm clothes when we came here in January (seasons are opposite in the southern hemisphere). But oh we were so wrong and cold and wet once we got to Cusco. Now that it is winter here, we find ourselves wearing short sleeves more often because the sun is out more.


4. There aren’t random llamas everywhere (but there are dogs!!!)

We definitely expected llamas everywhere too once we got here but were disappointed to only find street dogs. Devyn and I have a running joke that when riding around town you can’t count more than 3 seconds before you spot another Fido walking around. The bad part is that at night time they all go crazy, become werewolves and decide to fight each other AND any unsuspecting subjects. That is why Devyn and I carry around mace, but they also back off if you pretend to (or actually) throw stones at them.

Although there are not many llamas, I have been a llama doctor more than once. The first involved futile efforts at trying to save a llama from pesticide poisoning and the other time involved helping another llama give birth (the baby llama had gotten stuck). I know right?! I was so unprepared. Hahah I am just chuckling as I write this.

5. They don’t eat Mexican food here (i.e. tortillas and tacos)

I think it’s a common thought that if you go to any Latin American country you’re gonna have tortillas, enchiladas, chips and salsa and all that deliciousness like your local Mexican restaurant in the states. But that’s not really true. Actually the tortillas stop at Central America and only in Mexico do they have the thin soft tortillas, most other places give you a thick tortilla that’s more like a corn pancake. In Peru they do a lot of rice and potato’s (Fun fact they actually have a vault of potato’s buried somewhere underground here just in case there’s an apocalypse because potato’s can grow in any sort of weather). Because of the altitude here, they don’t eat many beans either. Mostly chicken, ceviche, and corn (but don't be fooled, this isn’t the delicious corn you’re used to, this is giant corn that softer and not sweet at all).

6. There are no grocery stores (AKA walmart, Kroger, H-E-B)

At least in our town there are not any big grocery stores, there are a few mini markets where you can sometimes even get Greek yogurt (yay) and toilet paper (refer to point number 1 for how to use properly lol). But for produce there’s a street market every Sunday where you get seasonal produce and eggs for such a cheap price. I think we spend $15 on food for the week!!! If you happen to miss the Sunday market for any reason don’t worry there is an everyday market where you are greeted by dead animal heads they sell for meat. But this market is more expensive and doesn’t always offer everything the Sunday one does, for a weeks worth of food, you’re looking at $20 haha.

7. Everything is word of mouth (and everybody knows a guy)

Yeah there’s not really a complete Google Maps, Craigslist (though Facebook Market is a thing), Zillow, or Yelp. So basically how Julian and I learned everything was from asking either locals or the other missionaries in town. Even our home was because my friend told me that the owners needed a missionary family who could pay the rent in advanced to help complete the home. There were no "For Rent" signs or like I said Zillow, just word of mouth. We looked at about six other homes before we found ours, all from someone who knew a guy. I found out there was a safe place to buy refrigerated or frozen chicken instead of the chicken most places sell that sits out all day. Our house help was a recommendation from one of my other friends here. EVERYTHING is word of mouth.

8. Peruvian Netflix is bomb!!

Okay if you’ve never traveled overseas or if you’re not like me and don’t watch tv on your vacation you wouldn’t know that the content on Netflix is different in other countries!!! The first time I realized this was when Julian and I were in Costa Rica. With moving to Peru it's been so great to have Netflix BECAUSE they have so many classic American movies and shows that Netflix in the States doesn’t offer. Like Hocus Pocus, many more Marvels Movies, and more!!! But forget about watching Hulu because it’s only an American streaming network. And don't even plan on going to the movies (we don’t have a movie theater in our town but there are 2 in Cusco) because you won't get it in English, so you gotta wait until it comes out on DVD. Please don't tell me what happens in Incredibles 2 (we're still waiting for that one).

9. The main sport here (besides soccer) is downhill biking.

Actually there is a lot of volleyball as well, but in our small town there is this sport where people basically mountain bike down these rough trails on the mountains nearby as fast as they can. Sound dangerous to you as well?? Let’s just say that there has been more than one accident on bikes I have taken care of (luckily only arm fractures).

Here’s a pic of some of the missionary kids at their downhill race. (Devyn made a sign for them with their names in Spanish, haha).

10. There is a ton of activities in our small town

Man, I know what you’re thinking. That a small mountain town that has no movie theaters, only about 4 good restaurants, less than 20K inhabitants, that you would run out of things to do. But we have had to postpone more dinner dates and get togethers than ever because we are just so busy. There is so much to do every night of the week: self defense classes, ultimate frisbee, hiking, soccer, house parties, men’s breakfast, girls trips, etc.

11. If you're cravin' it then you makin' it

I think this has been my favorite part of “homemaking” in Peru. My cooking skills have gone to a whole new level because I have had to learn to make so many things because I crave them. I tell Julian if we ever want to invest stock into a company, Pinterest is where my money would go. Pinterest can truly teach you how to do anything or make anything. I have learned to make chai tea, granola, donuts, tortillas, so many yummy recipes in my pressure cooker, how to make paper mache with flour, and probably a lot more that I’m forgetting. For me, craving something that just doesn’t exist here in Peru like certain foods, is a gateway to feeling homesick, so learning how to make it myself has helped so much.

We hope you've enjoyed getting a little insight into our new life! Also if you come to visit I bet you'll feel a bit more prepared.

Much Love,
Julian & Devyn

Update on Devyn!

Update on Devyn!

You Must Be YOU

You Must Be YOU