Everyday Life in Peru

It didn't take long for us to feel at home again in Peru. We adapt quickly to the "Peru Perks" that we enjoy: Haircuts for $1.50, having your car washed and waxed for $2.75, buying fruits and vegetables for just pennies. It is a little harder to adjust to some of the problems in Peru.

Today while driving down a main road in our section of town I was stopped by a policeman standing along the road. He claimed that I had made an improper turn at the stoplight. It is true, they had installed a new sign and no longer allowed left turns at the light. I never saw the sign as it was installed during our furlough. I was among a half dozen cars that turned at the light within a few seconds. He happened to chose me to stop. He asked for my driving permit and then said he would hold it until I paid his "boss" for the ticket. All tickets here are paid at the bank, not in person to the officer of course. He began to plead with me to pay him, to save the trouble of a ticket. He would even offer me a discount, he claimed. After refusing to pay "in person" he asked if I would be kind enough to pay to put gas in the police vehicle. The corruption in the police force is terrible. Most of the officers are so poorly paid they can't afford to feed their families. They even have to purchase their own bullets, and most don't carry any for lack of funds. Unfortunately this leads to the corruption. Finally, after refusing to pay on the spot, he gave back my permit, shook my hand and sent me on my way. No ticket was ever written of course. I learned a long time ago: Don't pay bribes, just keep sitting until they either write the ticket, or let you go. (I've been stopped countless times, I've been given only one ticket.)