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Old 03-29-2007, 02:12 PM   #1  
Used to be Archy
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Default Oh the challenges…

(Note: I wrote this on Monday so that I could post it on Tuesday, but only today have we had electricity and internet. Sheeesh!)

I’m a person that loves routine. In fact, I need it. It keeps me in shape, it keeps me in line. Once I have a decent routine going, it becomes more difficult for me to go outside of it and say, eat a metric ton of chocolate.

Not here though. Oh no. Everyday is this weird guessing game: will I have water? Will I have electricity? Will there be chicken at the local market or do I have to trek to the market place where I have to wear closed shoes otherwise risk a salmonella infection to my toes? Which vegetables will be available today? Squash stir fry is really gross.

This is day 4 without running water (Tuesday). I still have enough water (in several buckets) to last me for maybe 2 more days. And that’s only if I only shower once a day, after the gym. The noon temperature here is in the humid 90’s. You can guess how I smell by the time I go to aerobics at 4pm.

In the US I used to count calories. It’s the scientist in me, I think. Here, I have to guess. Does anyone know how many calories a lucuma or a chirimoya (fruits) have? Or zajino meat (a sort of mountain hog)? I mean, Peruvians say that it isn’t fatty and has no cholesterol, but these are also people who are famous for underestimating everything. How far away is this town? A 20 minute walk, they’ll say. 20 minutes means 2 hours here. When will we have water? Tomorrow. It’s been 4 days! You get why I’m skeptical about this “miracle” meat.

I was going to write about weird ways I have been told to lose weight, but today I got by far the best one. My neighbor lady (the one who sees and hears ghosts) told me that I should go to a curandero (a shaman) to see why I was fat.

Now, I have witnessed this process before a couple of years back. The curandero first sets up his “table”, which is made up of a couple of swords, a human skull or two, several scepters, some pictures of Catholic saints, and other random stuff. He then drinks some hallucinogenic drink, smokes some tobacco, and begins to chant. Then you stand up, and he brings out a guinea pig.

He then prepares the guinea pig to receive your disease. It includes a lot of spitting and some more alcohol. Then he rubs the guinea pig all over your body. Now the pig has your disease. Then, with his bare hands, he opens up the guinea pig and checks all of its organs. He then diagnoses you, and for an additional fee, he will use the spirits to cure you.

As an anthropologist, I appreciate this ritual and its importance to the community. However, I KNOW why I’m fat. There’s no need to sacrifice a poor guinea pig to tell me that I ate too much and exercised too little. Then again…nah. I can’t. Unless I’m going to eat it, I don’t want a guinea pig to die for me.

So where does all this leave my routine? I don’t know. Some days everything goes right and I can have my planned meals, two showers, everything. Other days, well, at 4 pm I go to the gym and that is the only known.

Other than the mosquitoes. I swear I can attribute most of my weight loss to the amount of blood the mosquitoes are sucking out of me on a daily basis. I use DEET like a teenage boy uses cologne come prom time, and to them it’s like an invitation. A giant neon sign that screams “Suck me, I’m tasty!”

Ooh, another digression. Sorry, it’s too hot to keep my train of thought going, so I’ll finish up with my main challenge right now. My brain.

As of yesterday I am the skinniest that I get every year at the end of the season. After 3 months of hard labor I lose my 20 pounds only to regain them to 9 months of fast food. I was surprised that I lost 1 pound in the last week since it’s that time of the month, but I still didn’t feel happy. All I could think of was “this is it. Can I even lose more weight?”

Next week I’m going to Lima for 5 days. That’s 5 days without my regular exercise routine. The good thing is that I’ll be able to buy brown rice and ww pasta, but it’s still going to be 5 days of eating out and my only exercise will be walking around town.

The week after that my Mom is coming and she and I will be heading to the highlands. Another week of eating out and no regular exercise. I think my goal will be to maintain this weight through calories alone. Eat less since I’m exercising less. Any ideas?

And here I thought it was going to get less interesting as I progressed...
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Old 03-29-2007, 02:45 PM   #2  
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So, how about roast guinea pig? Your description of the local shaman is perfect!

Archy, Your post brings back so many memories for me. My formal education YEARS ago was in forensic archeology, back before that was a hazardous occupation in North America. I spent about 6 years in the field before deciding that facing armed groups was not a wise career decision. I was always in great shape by the end of a field season, and pale and lumpy by the end of lab season.

Hope you have water and electricity- where I worked we usually had too much water! The Mississippi River is hard to hold back in flood stage

Mel
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Old 03-29-2007, 03:35 PM   #3  
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Hi archy!

LOVE your posts!

Walking and hiking burns a decent amount of calories! Take it easy on the foods, and you should be fine!

I'm sorry that the conditions are so poor, but you seem to have a GREAT attitude about it all!

Take care! Enjoy the visit with your mom!

Cheryl
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Old 03-29-2007, 03:38 PM   #4  
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archy my gosh girl I am LMAO once again--and yet it's a good thing you can be light about these... well, challenges seems too bland a word.

Trouble is, you end up with so much scarcity (not just food--how about water and electricity???) that it's no wonder you tend to go nuts when back in relative civilization! "Pleeeease won't someone take me to any old U.S. fast food place???" Good grief.

Last time I did field work, on an ecology trip in the Sonoran Desert, I hated every minute of it and decided it was the last time I'd ever do it. My camping-out days are over, unless it's a very comfortable situation. So I just can't imagine...

I just want to say, YES you CAN lose more weight than 20 pounds. You really can. And you can avoid regaining it.

Thank you so much for sparing the guinea pig!

Jay
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Old 03-29-2007, 03:57 PM   #5  
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I love your stories, too! What a fascinating life you have! Enjoy the beauty that surrounds you and keep chipping away at your weight loss.
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Old 03-29-2007, 04:17 PM   #6  
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Default Peru, Pigs, Pounds? =Power....

Archy!
I love your descriptions! They are reminicent of "my deployments of the past" but we won't go there...
I think you're doing a FANTASTIC job just doing as much walking and chosing the healthiest-eating-as-situationally-available as you can. Girl, revel in your good choices. Be proud of the fantastic survival skills that you display...
You actually LOST weight during "that time of the month" !! Most of us struggle to maintain weight during "that time of the month" here in the US. So, although you may not see it, (you goal focused, hard working onelander, you) there are plenty of us out here who are reading, not writing a lot...and think you're a pretty good role model.
BTW, in order to get the bugs to stop chasing you like you're wearing Love Potion #5, change your body acidity...I used to drink 2-4 teaspoons of vinegar mixed with (8-16 oz) water. Repeat daily and in 3-5 days they should leave you alone...(if you need to go the other direction base to acid, acid to base there's a spice you can use I forgot which one but it also deters the little buggers). Worked for me and my daughter. In the mean time, use bounce dryer sheets (I just tie them around my wrist and pin them to my socks) to deter the insects.
I love the humor you bring to your situation. What a wonderful attitude.
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Old 03-29-2007, 04:34 PM   #7  
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You're an amazing story teller! I love your posts, I hope you get your water back. I mean, lack of veggies, strange meat AND no water? Good grief.

Next time you have electricity (hopefully that is now or soon or you know, a lot of the time ) you should post some pictures!!
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Old 03-29-2007, 05:16 PM   #8  
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Archy - I just wanted to thank you for your posts. Your situation is so interesting and you have such great humor about it. It is really humbling to think of all the things I take for granted every day that other people have to struggle with.
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