Letter Re: Some Practical Notes on Third World Living

As this is not a competition entry, it has not been reviewed by an outside set of eyes yet, and I’m sure its kind of disorganized, but this is some info about third world life, as I can see it here, after things stabilize.

My wife is from Peru. She was born during the Peruvian hyperinflation and transition to its next fiat currency, the Nuevo Sol. (Yeah, we’re young whippersnappers) She recently started to help out in getting ready. What helped her was comparing the current economic climate here to Peru. This allowed her to correlate things that occur in her former patria with our situation. She is a source of info on the Third world medium sized city way of life.

In Third world Peru, everyone cooks with propane camp stoves, with big seven gallon bottles. There is no space built for an American style range, even in nice houses. All water is boiled before ingestion, except [commercially] bottled water. Trucks come with semi-clean water and people line up to fill up their buckets for washing and drinking. (after boiling) Hopefully you have a big tank on your roof to gravity feed it through your pipes, as the power goes out regularly, and your personal well and pump wont work.

Everyone had bars on every window and door. Houses not made of cement block are broken into through the walls. They’re also too cheap/poor to put enough steel in the buildings, so they fall down easily in earthquakes. Re-bar is [used] only in the corners. Nobody has an exposed to the street yard. A courtyard inside larger places is the norm, off street parking, if you can afford a vehicle, is a must, or you wont be parking anything soon. Inyokern told me this concept: When things go really sour, everyone steals everything so often that everyone ends up with the same trash that nobody wants to steal anymore. e.g. I have a nice bike, it gets stolen, I get a new bike but not as nice as the first, it gets stolen, I buy the worst looking bike I can find. It stays. This is very true. People with nice hats walk around with a hand on their head. Political corruption is the norm. Most any government official can be bought for a couple hundred nuevo sols. Farmers carry guns. People walk on your roof at night.

Just about everyone is self employed. Selling food in the streets, tricycle and moto-taxis, home based Liquor stores, etc. Often if you sell higher “dollar” stuff, your customers don’t even come in your building, money and product are exchanged though the door bars. Keyed locks on both sides. There is no such thing as a big box store. Even disposable diapers are bought one at a time.
People wear sandals called yanki. These are said to be made out of used car tires, but most tires I know of are steel belted, and you can’t cut that with a knife. My two pair are made from rubber mining belt I think, as the tread pattern is cut by hand. The poor wear them, and they supposedly last a loooooong time.

In Peru, the power goes out all the time. Candles are common. People don’t stock up there, the stores I guess have sufficient on hand to handle the outages and subsequent candle runs. The stores here are obviously not prepared for that.

Traffic in her small town is nearly non existent, but traffic in Lima is suicidal. Regards, – Tantalum Tom