After some confusion in finding the package pick-up slips, I went to the post office today to pick up my Christmas packages from Mom and the Metzls. One of them was addressed to “Tim & Hannah Murray.” I guess they don’t have the & sign here, because they were insistent that only Tim Hannah Murray could pick up this package. I assured them that no such person exists and by showing them both my passport and Tim's, convinced them I was legitimate. Then they were confused (and frustrated) about why my passport said "Hannah Pickett Murray" but I called myself "Hannah Murray." Here your last name is more like your middle name and vice versa. Good thing I’m not Chinese or something.
It was a little sad opening my Christmas presents alone under the scrutinizing eye of the customs official, who at this point, had little patience left for me. Needless to say, there was much commotion when I opened the first package to find…. TOILET PAPER (in response to Tim's Christmas list post)!!!! If you ask me, the customs official needed to lighten up a little. He proceeded to search the package for drugs or diamonds and demanded that I explain to him why my dear friends the Metzls would spend $32 to send me toilet paper. That, I wanted to say, is just not something a person like you could ever understand. Instead, I said I didn’t know.
Package #2 was from my mom. First I had to convince the official that I was willing to pay the tax. Then I had to open up 15-20 wrapped presents for him to see what was inside. He questioned the value of each them, and I gave him a blank stare. The rest of the office was again amused when one of the presents was yet another package of toilet paper! As it turned out, there was a loophold around the customs tax, which to my delight, didn't involve bribery. In the end, I left with my two packages without paying any taxes. I did at one point have to leave to go make 2 copies of my passport (why would they have a copier in the post office?).
The perfect end to the afternoon was my taxi ride home. The taxi driver was very talkative and started telling me about his other careers as a writer and singer. He recited one of his poems for me with a very animated voice. He assured me his newest novel has a chance at the Nobel Prize. He sang some songs for me (latin style). I just grinned. It was one of those moments where I thought, “Such is Peru.” So much is different here, some frustrating, some enchanting, where else in the world would I be serenaded in a taxi by a soon-to-be famous novelist/poet/singer/taxi driver?