First hour back in USA, weird experience

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Xibalba

First hour back in USA, weird experience

Postby Xibalba » Sun Jan 30, 2011 10:05 am

Just got back to the US for some work, and am sitting here in the airport waiting for my connecting flight. I am struck by a few strange sensations after being away for a while.

First, the smell. I am overwhelmed by the smell of donuts where I am sitting. I hadn't smelled donuts and deep fryers while I was in Lima. The smell is actually pretty disgusting for some reason. I think I am acclimating to the healthier food of Peru, and losing my junk food addictions.

Second, the language. My Spanish is still pretty lousy, so in Peru I can easily tune out surrounding conversations when I am in a crowd. Now sitting in the US, I understand everyone around me, and it's like one of those sci-fi movies where the psychic is overwhelmed by hearing everyone's thoughts. I can't tune out the crowds. There's something to say for NOT knowing a language and having peace of mind in the middle of noisy chaos. I guess as my Spanish gets better, I will lose that.

The obesity. Peru has it's share of overweight people, but the visual impact of seeing so MANY very, very obese people in one place is surprising. Even the customs and border control information video looping in the airport didn't have a single shot in it without someone tremendously huge. (I'm not talking about slightly overweight, I am talking about those 300+ lb. people.) As someone who's had friends and family members struggle with weight and eating disorders, i am not judging, I am just commenting on the visual, anecdotal evidence of the obesity rate in the US.

The rudeness. Peruvians may not be the most polite people (especially while driving!) but when they bump into you it's generally because they have a different sense of personal space. I was bumped and tossed around here at the airport just by rude Americans fighting for their luggage or rushing to the bathroom. Although, in all fairness, the "airport experience" brings out the worst in everyone, so maybe that's it.

The temperature. I'm freezing! LOL.

Anyone else get reverse culture shock when first going back to their home country after a spell in Peru?


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KenBE
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Re: First hour back in USA, weird experience

Postby KenBE » Sun Jan 30, 2011 3:09 pm

Haha, yeah this always happens to me when I get back to my country (Belgium).

Here is what I usually notice:

-Cars are all brand new and shiny.
-People drive slowly, traffic is organised and nobody uses their car horn.
-Everything is a lot greener compared to the Peruvian landscape
-People are pale and have different hair/eye colors
-People are taller
-When you buy something people don't check the money to see if it is fake
-I don't get stared at and nobody notices me
-There are very few taxis
-People dress differently
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Re: First hour back in USA, weird experience

Postby american_in_lima » Mon Jan 31, 2011 8:27 am

Xibalba wrote:Just got back to the US for some work, and am sitting here in the airport waiting for my connecting flight. I am struck by a few strange sensations after being away for a while.


Xibalba - Great post. Dead on with your comments. I had the same impressions when I went back in July.
Regards,

George
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Re: First hour back in USA, weird experience

Postby TechDude » Mon Jan 31, 2011 1:43 pm

KenBE wrote:
-Cars are all brand new and shiny.
-When you buy something people don't check the money to see if it is fake



Right on the money!!!!

However:

KenBE wrote:-People drive slowly, traffic is organised and nobody uses their car horn.


That's not New Jersey :mrgreen:
Last edited by TechDude on Mon Jan 31, 2011 2:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: First hour back in USA, weird experience

Postby cuymagico » Mon Jan 31, 2011 2:00 pm

It's not just reverse culture shock, it's the very really changes for the worse the US has undergone in recent years. There is more unhealthy food and more obesity. Anytime you go to a country after time away, it's a little like time travel, and what you see often feels a little dystopian.
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Re: First hour back in USA, weird experience

Postby Remigius » Mon Jan 31, 2011 2:18 pm

KenBE wrote:-When you buy something people don't check the money to see if it is fake


Just to expand on that: people trust you. They don't ask for your ID every second.
Xibalba

Re: First hour back in USA, weird experience

Postby Xibalba » Fri Feb 04, 2011 7:55 am

KenBE wrote:Haha, yeah this always happens to me when I get back to my country (Belgium).

Here is what I usually notice:

-Cars are all brand new and shiny.
-People drive slowly, traffic is organised and nobody uses their car horn.
-Everything is a lot greener compared to the Peruvian landscape
-People are pale and have different hair/eye colors
-People are taller
-When you buy something people don't check the money to see if it is fake
-I don't get stared at and nobody notices me
-There are very few taxis
-People dress differently


I was going to update this with my last few days' experiences, and this list pretty much captures it! The driving is tough, because I adapt quickly to Lima, then drive like a madman when I get back to the US and have to remember to slow down.

Some other differences:

-- Lots more tattoos
-- Piercings (just don't see them in Peru!)
-- I speak more. Because my Spanish is still not-so-hot, I stay silent a lot of the time in Peru (and everyone, no doubt is grateful for that!) In the US I am back to yammering (as part of my job) and it's strange talking so much.
-- Starbucks everywhere! (Although I am using my Peru experience to wean me off coffee, which isn't really good for me.)
-- People of many more colors here in the US.

Thing thing I don't fully understand is the food. In restaurants in Peru, and in the home I stay in, I am always served large portions, but I actually either lose weight or at least don't gain any. In just a week in the US I can feel myself gaining weight from the giant portions they serve everywhere. (I travel a lot, so am stuck eating in restaurants, although am avoiding fast food this time around.)

I think the natural ingredients in Peruvian food allows you to eat large portions without a big impact on your metabolism, and thus no weight gain. I am trying to mimic in the US what I would eat in Peru, so I don't gain weight (my clothes fit nice now!), but it's hard. I don't know what the secret is.
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Re: First hour back in USA, weird experience

Postby Kelly » Fri Feb 04, 2011 9:55 am

You also (more likely) do a lot more walking in Peru. That can have a big effect on your belt line.
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Re: First hour back in USA, weird experience

Postby anuta » Fri Feb 04, 2011 11:48 am

Xibalba wrote:Thing thing I don't fully understand is the food. In restaurants in Peru, and in the home I stay in, I am always served large portions, but I actually either lose weight or at least don't gain any. In just a week in the US I can feel myself gaining weight from the giant portions they serve everywhere. (I travel a lot, so am stuck eating in restaurants, although am avoiding fast food this time around.)

I think the natural ingredients in Peruvian food allows you to eat large portions without a big impact on your metabolism, and thus no weight gain. I am trying to mimic in the US what I would eat in Peru, so I don't gain weight (my clothes fit nice now!), but it's hard. I don't know what the secret is.


I'm always surprised when people think that food in Peru, or at least, in Lima is somehow healthier. Maybe because I come from Montreal where there's generally more food awareness, but my experience was that in Peru, it's very hard to eat healthy. I am talking about really healthy nutrition, not just reducing the amount of fries. As for deep fryers, remember that Pollo a la brasa, the most common food in Lima, is almost always served with...fries. And most of the Peruvian food is prepared frying and with potatoes and rice (i.e. free calories) and very little, if not, veggies. As for drinks, most often, it's the very sweet chicha morada or Inca cola. All this has a big impact on metabolism, but the opposite of what you're thinking. :D

There aren't much natural ingredients, they heavily use MSG to give taste to foods. You can see it sold everywhere because it's such a common thing to add to food.

But it's true that Peruvians for whatever reason are not that overweight. Myself I am loosing weight every time I come there. Could it be the parasites in water ? :shock: :lol:

I would suggest that you're not gaining weight because of the large portions they serve, but because of the large portions you eat. I'm pretty sure that it's easy to eat healthy in the US if one wants to. Easier than in Peru, because of the availability of organic and healthy foods.
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Re: First hour back in USA, weird experience

Postby rama0929 » Fri Feb 04, 2011 12:22 pm

anuta wrote:But it's true that Peruvians for whatever reason are not that overweight. Myself I am loosing weight every time I come there. Could it be the parasites in water ? :shock: :lol:


:lol:

One thing I have noticed is that they love starch down there; I eat a lot of rice and potatoes when I'm there. Meat, not so much.

Given the way things line up there, I spend more time walking and wandering around than I do in the states. I've walked from Caqueta to Plaza Norte and Mega Plaza (much to the gf's surprise, apparently; she was like :shock: ), and didn't think anything of it
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Re: First hour back in USA, weird experience

Postby gerard » Fri Feb 04, 2011 1:53 pm

There aren't much natural ingredients, they heavily use MSG to give taste to foods. You can see it sold everywhere because it's such a common thing to add to food.


I'm know very little about food, so excuse my ignorance. What do you mean when you say they add MSG? Is this done at source or are you just talking about pre-packaged supermarket food as opposed to fresh produce?

I sort of have visions of the guys down at the local market injecting my veggies and chickens from a syringe before they sell it.
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Re: First hour back in USA, weird experience

Postby rama0929 » Fri Feb 04, 2011 2:10 pm

gerard wrote:
There aren't much natural ingredients, they heavily use MSG to give taste to foods. You can see it sold everywhere because it's such a common thing to add to food.


What do you mean when you say they add MSG?


Mono Sodium Glutamate

edit: link added
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monosodium_glutamate
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gerard
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Re: First hour back in USA, weird experience

Postby gerard » Fri Feb 04, 2011 2:15 pm

I wasn't clear enough. I know what MSG is and why they add it, but where in the process (for food in Peru) is it entering the system. Anuta says natural food is hard to come by, but is that because she buys everything from supermarkets, or do local markets also have it in their stuff because the guy who sells the chickens etc has already added it.
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Re: First hour back in USA, weird experience

Postby anuta » Fri Feb 04, 2011 2:30 pm

gerard wrote:I wasn't clear enough. I know what MSG is and why they add it, but where in the process (for food in Peru) is it entering the system. Anuta says natural food is hard to come by, but is that because she buys everything from supermarkets, or do local markets also have it in their stuff because the guy who sells the chickens etc has already added it.


MSG is what they add when they prepare food in restaurants or at homes (if you have a maid, ask if she's using it). I'm not just talking about supermarket food, I bought almost anything in the market and cooked myself. It's heavily used in chifas (of course), pollos a la brasa, and other peruvian dishes, including ceviche (yea, I was surprise myself). I was told that by a couple of chefs with whom I took cooking classes and later, just was asking various restaurants if they used it. Even in the markets, when they sell the aji, there's one with aji-no-moto, I think it's the "especial".

By natural, I also meant organic food, meaning grown without pesticides. It's more difficult to get it in Lima (just once a week in a market which was far away from where I lived).
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Re: First hour back in USA, weird experience

Postby rama0929 » Fri Feb 04, 2011 2:54 pm

gerard wrote:I wasn't clear enough. I know what MSG is and why they add it, but where in the process (for food in Peru) is it entering the system. Anuta says natural food is hard to come by, but is that because she buys everything from supermarkets, or do local markets also have it in their stuff because the guy who sells the chickens etc has already added it.


Ah, I understand now.

MSG is added during the cooking process, used like any other seasoning, I suppose. At first I thought it was salt ("you guys have different salt here" :lol:), but found out that what I thought was salt wasn't.
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Re: First hour back in USA, weird experience

Postby gerard » Fri Feb 04, 2011 3:09 pm

Given that the science seems to suggest it is harmless I think I'll just stop worrying and keep enjoying my chifa.
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Re: First hour back in USA, weird experience

Postby anuta » Fri Feb 04, 2011 4:23 pm

gerard wrote:Given that the science seems to suggest it is harmless I think I'll just stop worrying and keep enjoying my chifa.


Research is pretty contradictory, but sure, if you had to worry about how the food is prepared whenever you go to restaurant, you wouldn't enjoy life. My point was that food in Lima is no healthier than anywhere else.
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