A Bit of Fascism, a Bit of Modernism in Peru

Two noteworthy developments from Peru this week: the national census puts the country on lockdown and Congress legalizes medical marijuana.


The government is conducting its 10-year census from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Sunday. Most of everybody who lives here has been aware for a few weeks now, but just recently it’s gaining some traction in the media for its draconian nature.

All businesses must close and all citizens, residents AND VISITORS must stay in their homes or hotels during those nine hours as government workers go door to door to survey each and every person in the country. The questionnaire includes standard stuff like name, address and day of birth as well as demographic info such as education, employment, family size and, ahem, racial self-identification.

So you’re not allowed to leave your house and the roads are blocked. While they’ve said they’re not going to arrest anybody, police legally have the right to jail anybody who doesn’t observe the census.

Needless to say this isn’t the most modern way of doing things. But on the other hand, it’s a Sunday in Latin America so it’s not like it’s inconveniencing anybody. If you cold gringos don’t know why, each and every Sunday in LatAm is spent with family. Each and every Sunday, period.

I observe the custom, but this Sunday I can’t even go to the store. I can’t take the children for their weekly Ciclolima bicycle ride.

Hung over AF

I can’t take them to the park if they start destroying the house. What am I going to do with them for nine hours?

Me being me, my first instinct is to (today) stockpile and (Sunday) drink a ton of beer and maybe even a bit of Volt and vodka.

Most Sundays I’m usually riding the bicycle to kill my hangover from Saturday, but this particular Saturday is the Señor de los Milagros procession at my older children’s daycare.

If you’re not in Lima, Señor de los Milagros is second only to Christmas.

The children love to dress up as angels and whatnot, and after the procession you eat turron de Doña Pepa, which remind you how awful Peruvian desserts are.

If you have to say something’s not that bad, it’s definitely bad.

As a boy I wasn’t the type who got ashamed for masturbating on Christmas, so getting drunk after Señor de los Milagros isn’t a problem. But the procession starts at 4 p.m. and I’ll be tired from walking for three hours, so it’s a logistical hassle.

So I’m of half a mind to get smashed for the Sunday census instead of on Saturday. What could go wrong? Who’s with me?


On the side of progress, Peru’s Congress voted overwhelmingly to legalize medical marijuana. It’s just oil at this point, but hell, I’ve been back to the States enough times since Colorado legalized marijuana altogether to know that oil is the bee’s knees, far superior to actual buds. But even better, you combine the trend in vaporizing as opposed to smoking, and “vaping oil” is now a perennial item on my bucket list of things to do on trips home.

Unfortunately my stoner friends and family still smoke, maybe old habits die hard, but I’m getting the impression that anybody who has a bit of money doesn’t bother with lighters or ashes anymore. It’s all about vaping oil.

I’d love to vape oil down here. I’d still have to go up to my beloved roof whenever I get a hold of a bit, which is like once a year, to hide it from the wife. But if vaping oil, I wouldn’t have to worry about the smell. I’d never have to walk to the park for a paranoid toke, looking around for the serenazgo and cops and trying not to let too many people catch a whiff, because you know Peru is rich as F%#! now and you can’t just smoke weed on the street in middle-class neighborhoods anymore.

While I probably won’t get a script for oil, legalization is an important symbol, an argument I can point to when the wife is nagging me with the “drugs” hangup. Because if her mother’s popping alprazolams without a script, how’s that different from me taking a vape?

And really, wouldn’t she prefer a few discreet vapes this Sunday instead of me being shit-hammered with a big bottle of beer in my hand when the census people come over?

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One comment

  1. Colin, I honestly enjoy your no-nonsense take on LatAm culture. As a recent repat (repatriated to Peru), I can help but chuckle in agreement, guiltily relishing your snark.

    Turron is not bad though, I used to love it. And it is not a dessert. I agree most traditional Peruvian desserts and sweets are heavy and unrefined, but one cannot be good at everything.


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