This trip was a little different because I went with the knowledge that we'd be living down there soon. So everything this time was viewed through the eyes of how my kids would react to it. Well, I am so excited that my daughters will go through their formative early teen years in South America, because if I've learned anything about the men of South America, it's that they are gentlemen. (BTW, so were the fellas who accompanied me on this trip... I don't know if that's their "normal" behavior or if it's contagious! HAHA!)
I got quite used to men running around to open the doors and redirecting me to the inside of the sidewalk, farthest from the traffic. I appreciated not having to lug my suitcases up and down flights of stairs because the young men were prompt to volunteer. I was able to sleep on the overnight flight from Lima to Florida because an older gentleman from Lima insisted I lean my pillow on his shoulder (and I woke up to find he was holding my head to the back of the seat, to keep me from falling forward.) I loved that when a lady or an elderly person came on a public bus, the men all rose to give her a seat. I was thrilled with how the men were on the ready to assist the older lady on our team, who needed a little extra time or help climbing hills or getting on/off the vans and buses. I can vaguely remember from years past, when I was a child, that a level of respect existed like that here. It's a bit harder to find now, and when you see it, it's enough to make people stare.
I love it, however, and am so glad that Camille and Caroline will be exposed to a society that honors the elderly and still practices chivalry. I don't think it's a bad thing for them to feel like they are precious cargo, needing to be protected and pampered just a tiny bit. Thank God for caballeros!!!!