Sunday, October 21, 2007

There Must Be A Better Way

Peru does not have a system that registers people at birth. Instead, every so often (really, no regular interval to speak of) they decide to count ALL the people living in Peru (including expatriates and tourists, yep!) by going door to door. This oh so scientific head count, or National Census as they have dubbed it, is taking place today between the hours of 8 am and 6 pm during which time all residents are required to stay indoors. All church services, sporting events and school activities are suspended during this time and all commercial establishments will be closed. The sale of alcohol was prohibited after 10 pm last night and not at all today. This is not a joke. Peruvians have been instructed to be in their homes with all family members present and wait for the volunteers who will be coming to their homes to collect the necessary data required for the Census - including questions like "how many persons in your household over the age of 6 (not a typo) work?" - so many things wrong when a country has justification for asking something like that. Further, all residents are requested to keep house pets under control while the volunteers are present so as not to interfere with the efficiency and accuracy of the process - yeah, because the dogs and cats of Peru are the most likely reason why the final count wouldn't be obtained efficiently and/or accurately.

As American citizens we too are being counted but the Peruvian government has allowed the Embassy to handle the collection of this data. As such, we have been given a sticker to place on our door so the Census volunteers will pass us by - sticker, lamb's blood, whatever it takes. Essential personnel (the definition of which is pretty hazy - might include taxi drivers, might not) and some working in tourist industry related jobs were supposed to "count" themselves over the last week and leave their completed forms at home to be collected by the volunteers - another nod to accuracy. We have been told that the requirement to stay indoors applies to all residents, including us, and that if we venture out of doors we do so without the protection of the Embassy -- cue ominous music here. The Peruvian government has said anyone found outside will be cordially requested to return home with an official escort and should they resist will be arrested. In spite of this warning, our friends are having a Census party and we have decided to, with diplomatic passports in hand, throw caution to the wind and head for their house. Technically, we can't be arrested for anything other than capital crimes so, we'll see...

No relevant art for this post so here are some pictures of Caleb just because.



8 comments:

Kristy said...

Who comes up with these ideas, anyway? I wonder if the "volunteers" are pulled in a similar manner as those who have to "volunteer" on election day. I find this whole post to be rather amusing. I suppose that only a person who has lived there can really appreciate how the citizens will abide by this decree to stay indoors all day. Can you imagine what would happen if they tried to pull something like this in the US? We recently received a census form in the mail. Actually, we received a notice that a census form was coming, then we received the census form and then we received a reminder that the census form should have been returned (I guess this is a little overboard in its own way). Granted, the mail system isn't really reliable in Peru...not to mention some of the very rural areas. I think about the work that we did in Arequipa going door to door and all I have to say is that it is going to take A LOT of "volunteers." Paul and I, along with our two nurses could never have reached all the houses in some of our shanty towns in one day. It makes me tired thinking about the effort that will have to be extended to complete such a task! Yes, I put "volunteers" in quotation marks because we both know it is probably like "volunteering" for jury duty! I hope you guys don't get caught in your rebellious partying! :)

Paige said...

WAIT, you can do ANYTHING other than a capital crime? Like leave your kid in the car to run errands, park illegally, steal stuff, etc? That is a good reason to study for that test!

The entire family inside all day sounds like a recipe for disaster for us. I would go outside and BEG them to arrest me so I could get a break.

Jessica said...

Do you kind of pinch yourself that you live this life?!

Ilene said...

I should stop complaining about the DMV here in the states.

Nah.

Talked to Heather just the other day. She went to the doctor and was diagnosed as being allergic to Peru. Good thing they moved to Mexico this week.

I hope Peru agrees with you...

Celia Fae said...

But you got to skip church, right? So it counts as a snow day of sorts. And you didn't have to get dressed. Sounds pretty good to me. I'm going to hell.

Kenny, Linsey and Caleb said...

In case you are wondering, we made it to our friends' house completely without incident. It was amazing to drive through Lima with no traffic, it felt like the world had come to and end and save for the few law enforcement types we saw who looked at us, noted our very non-Peruvian countenances and went about their business, there were no signs of life anywhere.

Kristy - We are still waiting to see the results of yesterday's insanity - I'll keep you posted

Paige - I park illegally all time time - haven't worked up to leaving Caleb in the car, but now that you mention it...

Jessica - sometimes I pinch and sometimes I cry, especially when I really want a Wendy's Junior Bacon Cheeseburger

Celia - that's right babe! no church! I'm so glad you're going to Hell too, it was going to be awfully lonely

Ilene - not allergic to Peru yet, but there is still time for such nonsense, Hooray for Heather for going back to the motherland, or at least Nate's motherland

Adrianne said...

I LOVE that your country is as crazy as mine. Leave it to American's to stick it in the face of authority. My husband would have stayed home...I would have planned the party. You should try to get arrested, it would make a good blog!

Heather said...

So glad I found your blog!!! Also, so glad Ryan and I left the country before this great census gathering. Your post made me laugh, I love the way you write and think.

 

Design by Custom Blog Designs/FreeStyleMama Creations