Friday, January 23, 2009

candy mule

With all the photos I took on my trip to Peru it would seem hard to believe there is anything I might have overlooked. But somehow I managed to neglect taking a photo of something that is very key to the story I want to relate right now. So, when the time comes, please envision about 10 pounds worth of this stuff:combined with this:and this:

Now, on to the story.
Back when I was in the initial stages of planning my trip to Peru, Tiffany informed me that her nephew Parker had just left on his mission* for Peru. As the date of my departure grew closer we discovered that Parker was currently in Cusco. With Cusco situated quite prominently on my original itinerary for a few days this was perfect for delivering a belated Christmas gift from his family. And who doesn't need good karma points for delivering something to a far flung missionary?
I spent Christmas with Tiffany - the day before I left on my vacation - and on Christmas day we both discovered video skype.** Which, by the way, if you live far from a loved one and both of you have webcams - you really should try this. And if you don't have webcams and you live far from loved ones, invest in them. I got to watch my family members open gifts from me 2,000 miles away! For free! It was great. After Tiffany and Ryan watched me do this (it was my first time too), they had to join the fun and they quickly downloaded the program and cajoled their family members into doing the same. Which was great because we got a mobile tour of Ryan's family's Christmas party via someone's laptop getting passed around and Ryan gave his family a tour of their house. Maybe we are all just nerdy and were missing our families but it was a blast.
Anyway, since missionaries get to call home on Christmas day, Tiffany and Ryan happened to be on skype with family members while the missionary was on the regular phone. So, through modern technology this missionary in Cusco, Peru gave his parents directions where and when to meet him and they relayed those directions to me. And phone numbers were exchanged as well. Original Plan: Sunday, get in a cab, go to the church and drop off the package. Backup Plan: call odd string of numbers (I think there were only 5, maybe 6) and ask for the Elders. After meeting the parents by video conference, I felt even more motivated to get those good karma points by delivering this package to their son.
Tiffany put together a package that consisted of all the items you are supposed to be envisioning: you know, from above - the 10 pounds of gummy bears, butterfingers and snickers bars? Okay, maybe it wasn't 10 pounds, but it was a lot of candy! Full Halloween bags of both snickers and butterfingers, plus 10-12 full size butterfingers (apparently his favorite) and the largest bag of gummy bears I have ever seen. Plus some cards. Plus a large festive red gift bag with white snowflakes. Luckily none of this tipped me over any airline baggage weight restrictions. But packing the candy may have distracted me from packing other essential items - like earplugs or extra pants.
Due to the delayed flight, being stuck in Lima and the belated arrival in Cusco, I was not able to follow through with the Original Plan. But, when I arrived in Cusco on the 30th, I immediately removed all the candy and cards from the squished and stashed positions in my duffle bag and filled up the gift bag in preparation for delivery. It was noon. I should have called the number. Instead, we immediately left the hotel to explore.
That night, I tried to call the number. But the phone in my room did not work. So I asked the guy at the front desk to call. He did so. About 8 times while it rang busy over and over and over again. The next morning we tried again. This time, a woman answered. But after asking for the Elders as instructed, she did something unexpected and responded - in Spanish. I panicked. I kept hearing something about a puerto which confused me so I gave the phone to the front desk guy. He tried to interpret but eventually all I really understood was that no one was home. Which seemed strange prior to 9 am, from what I know about missionary schedules (which honestly, isn't much).
So Erin and I went off to Ollentaytambo (hee! I still love saying that word) and then Machu Picchu with the candy shoved back in my duffle bag. When we returned to our hotel on the 1st sometime around 8 pm, I decided to give it one more try. I pulled the candy and the cards out once more and shoved it all back in the gift bag. Then I called from my new hotel room where the phone actually worked and fretted about what to do if I had to talk to that woman about the puerto again. This time she sent me straight to the missionaries (transferred the call I guess) but then the first missionary didn't speak English. *Sigh* So I muttered through a handful of inapplicable Spanish words I knew tossing in Mormon-o and Elder and Parker's last name and a few "ingl├ęs?" pleas. Finally the phone was handed to someone with a familiar American accent. This missionary was not the one I was looking for but he knew why I was calling. He had been waiting for my call. And he had bad news - Parker had been transferred just a couple of days earlier to Lima. I had missed him! If not for the phone debacle earlier we might have been able to deliver! Argh. But the missionary on the other line (who was not related to a former law school classmate of mine despite a shared not-so-common last name) agreed to collect the package and promised he could get it delivered to Parker. Phew! So I ate a couple of the Snickers bars (remember, this was the day of no sleep and traipsing around Machu Picchu - I really needed a Snickers!) and turned on my phone to text Tiffany the bad news and there waiting for me was a text from her informing me that Parker had been transferred to Lima. In response I confessed to eating some of Parker's candy.*** The missionary who was not related to anyone I know agreed to come by the hotel in a few days to pick up the package and luckily the hotel was agreeable to the arrangement. Although they did giggle when they peeked inside to see all the American candy. I added my own note to the pile in the bag scrawled out on hotel stationary explaining the obstacles and wishing him well. I just wish I could have met him so I could have posted a photo for his parents. He sounds like a really great kid and I must say, he is very lucky to live in Peru for two years. I just hope that other missionary found the hotel (I think I gave good directions - it is on a side street by McDonalds) and didn't keep all the candy for himself.
*FYI, many Mormon young men choose to "serve" a mission for the LDS church when they turn 19 (girls when they turn 21) for two years. They do not choose their destination and even with modern communication capabilities, they do not see, talk to or even email (but this varies) their families for the full two years they are gone.
**Hey, if you have video skype and want to chat, call me! I am highly entertained by the whole Jetsons-ness of it.
***As a side note, I discovered after arriving at home and reviewing my phone bill that I was not charged for a single text message to or from Peru! Why was I not texting more? Oh, because I was on vacation and "getting away" from it all.


Tiffany said...

And the saddest part? He still hasn't received it yet! I think those other missionaries have been pigging out on American candy!

We (and I'm speaking for everyone mentioned) are all very grateful for your determination and kindness!

Tiffany said...

I will reward you with burritos.

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