Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Life Without Money

Class was super fun because I took Jenny and Mari back to the hostel to play table tennis. It was the first time Mari ever played, and she was so excited! They even wanted to stay an extra half hour and continue playing. They are becoming more like friends than teachers every day. Mari told me she needed to take a photo with me because I am her favorite student. I wonder how many favorite students she has, but nevertheless, it was nice to hear.

After class, I took a quick nap, then worked at the bar. I actually made a lot of money in tips, which is unusual because people do not normally tip in Peru. This is yet another thing I find hard to get used to. Take Nahuel, he told me he lives off tips. He has been traveling for four months, and after traveling to numerous countries, has spent every sol he has. He leaves this Sunday and will travel for two more weeks through Bolivia, Argentina, and finally, home to Uruguay, with only 20 soles and a miscellaneous assortment of small foreign bills to his name. Nothing more than $75. He lives off of tips, and yet, most people tip 50 centimos, if anything. He has collected his 20 soles this way, eating only free breakfast from the hostel and scraps of people's leftovers for the other meals. He has been making small chocolates to sell at the bar for one sole each.

It puts into perspective the day I left the house with only a 100 sole bill and no ATM card. My money soon dwindled down to 22 soles when I remembered I had to pay Mari 70 soles for classes after already buying lunch for 8 soles. Then I had to spend 4 soles on a cab to WaaW and 10 on the field trip with the kids to the planetarium. I was left with only 8 soles, and a sense of mild panic. Rationally, I knew I had more money back at the hostel, and a cab would only cost 4 soles... I would have 4 to spare. But I couldn't avoid the feeling of concern that I had so little on my person. 8 soles is the equivalent of $2. You can't do much with that back in the states. And yet, there are people who live not just days, but weeks, months, years with that same feeling.

Nahuel says he prefers the adventure, and it was his decision to stay extra time in Cusco, draining the little money he had. He seems to be far less concerned abut his financial situation than I am. It serves as proof of how little a person needs to be happy, as he is one of the happiest people I have encountered.

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