Yesterday there was an eternal mili-second of me just staring at a glass of Coca-Cola, thinking about Jurassic Park.

On a co-workers birthday the company buys a birthdaycake and Inka-Cola and Coca-Cola. During the day we collect donations from everybody, buy a present, get a birthday card and in the afternoon: we party! We sit in the new demo-kitchen and sing Happy Birthday (in English!), the birthday boy or girl blows out the candle, thanks everyone for the present and we all sit and eat cake. You know, a typical birthday party.

Yesterday the party was shakin´. Literally.

At 16:30ish there was a tremor. A pretty big one, 5.2 or 5.4 (depending on your source) on the Richter Scale and only 64km south of Lima.

We felt it.

With all tremors there is a moment of indecision. A moment where everyone looks at  each other wild-eyed, waiting for the one who will make the first move. Me, I was staring at the ripples in my glass of Coca-Cola, remembering that epic scene in Jurassic Park, and thinking how Steven Spielberg got it right: seeing ripples in a glass is scary.


People do things differently on the other side of the world, things like washing the dishes. Much like the way water swirls one way north of the equator and swirls the other way south of the equator. The daily routine takes on an entirely different method. A new way to do ‘old’  things.

Having washed plenty of dishes, both in Holland and Peru, I feel reasonably qualified to make a comparison of Common Dishwashing Techniques between the two:

Water Temperature: Hot Cold
Cleaning Utensil: Brush on a stick Green Scrubber
Medium: Sink full of hot soapy water Wet and soapy scrubber
Rinsing: Meh… Thouroughly
Drying Method: Dishtowel Air
Soap: Dishwashing Liquid Dishwashing Paste

Ah, yes. Dishwashing Paste.

In my opinion the most notable difference between dishwashing techniques in aforementioned countries and oddly, a substance of some nostalgia for me. Dishwashing paste is yet another one of those items I have come to refer to as “Icons of my youth revisited” (Temblor, Apagon, Sidewalk). A list of items that I remember from my youth in Peru, I missed when I was in Holland, and am now getting re-acquainted with. So without further ado, allow me to introduce:


SAPOLIO Dishwashing Paste

But, wait! There is more.
Sapolio’s history is actually way more interesting than you would initially suspect of something related to washing dishes.

In the 1870’s the soap-making company Enoch Morgan’s Sons in New York, produced a cake of scouring soap. Not a claim to fame, necessarily. What made Sapolio’s name persist was the ingenuity of its advertising, led by their advertising manager Artemus Ward (who coincidentally was George Washington’s predecessor as commander-in-chief during the American Revolutionary War). Artemus Ward was instrumental in making Sapolio the most generally recognizable trade name of its day. Among Artemus’ strategies was the iconic slogan ‘Use Sapolio’. Not very creative on face value, but Artemus introduced the slogan in an ingenious campaign. He circulated the legend that the slogan “Oilopas Esu” had been found in an Egyptian tomb. Very mysterious stuff…until read backwards.

As great as the Egyptian myth was, the “Spotless Town” campaign was the thing that made the brand a household name and earned itself a place in marketing history books. For 6 years, illustrated cartoons about the quaint cobblestoned Dutch (!) village “Spotless Town”, held the public’s attention. People anxiously awaited the adventures of its inhabitants, who all used Sapolio, of course. The cartoons, and accompanying rhymes:

This is the butcher of Spotless Town,
His tools are bright as his reknown.
To leave them stained were indiscreet,
For folks would then abstain from meat.
And so he brightens his trade you know
By polishing with

were such a raging success that at one point four different theatrical road companies had shows called “Spotless Town”. Apparently one community even named itself Spotless Town.

(I strongly urge and recommend you go look at the cartoons: )

The “Spotless Town” campaign is still cited as one of the greatest printed ad campaigns. Unfortunately, Sapolio itself is cited as an example of what happens when a brand stops advertising. After discontinuing its successful campaignes, Sapolio went into decline and disappeared from the American market sometime before WW II. Fortunately, the Peruvian company Intradevco Insutrial SAC, bought Sapolio in 1997 and sells it, along with other cleaning products, in Peru and Chile.

Here is the crazy thing: I lived in a quaint cobblestoned Dutch village, I now work in marketing, live in Peru and use Sapolio.

Mind. Blown.



– Soap, Sex, and Cigarettes: A Cultural History of American Advertising:
– The Mirror Makers: A History of American Advertising and Its Creators:
– The 100 Greatest Advertisements: Who Wrote Them and what They Did:
– Wikipedia:



As I mentioned in my Ode to Javier Prado part 1 post, in the year I have been here I moved from one end of the Javier Prado to the other end. I have literally been up and down the entire Javier Prado several times. Mostly on public transportation.

Now, there are several enjoyable aspects of public transportation in Lima. Number one being the price: an average trip of about 30 minutes costs 1 Nuevo Sol (0,36 USD or 0,26 Euro)! Secondly, shopping. Yep. When the busses aren’t jam-packed streetwise salesmen and women get on the bus and sell anything from ice-cream and candy to nail clippers and sunglasses. Third: the music. Musicians of all sorts can get on the bus and perform live and ‘pass the basket’. Anyone with a batery-operated radio, guitar, flute or a comb and can (passing the comb along the bumps on the side of the can, like strumming, creates an accompanying percussion). For 1 Nuevo Sol you can buy ice-cream and listen to live music. Not bad on a summer day, with the windows rolled down and in a comfy seat.

Unfortunately, during weekday rush-hour public transportation is an entirely different thing. Aside from the fare, the fare is still 1 Nuevo Sol, but there is no shopping, no ice-cream, no singing, just bodies. Lots and lots of bodies. More bodies than you think where possible to cram into a bus. and then some more bodies get on the bus. At the bus stop one person gets off and the cobrador (person yelling out destinations and collecting fares) calls three more people into the us. I’ve been there, trust me. It’s intimate. There are shoulders and arms and legs and butts and feet and chairs and doors all intertwined.

I find it odd that this isn’t met with more resistance from the Limeños who endure this daily. I realize it might not be in the best interest of the bus companies to put more buses on the route (more fares divided between fewer buses), but it is not a good customer satisfaction policy. I for one, as a regular customer, am not satisfied. Every morning I have to decide to get on the bus or not. It’s a difficult question.

One more

Peruvian Meme about this topic:

(from left to right, top to bottom: How I see it. How they see it outside. How the busdriver sees it. Wat it really looks like)