Published: June 14th 2012June 12th 2012
On the way to the playa, one of the many, beautiful examples of the architecture here.
So, I made it to the other side of the hemisphere to the land of the Incas and home to Machu Pichu and I'm ready to embark on some new adventures. And even though I may appear to be a seasoned traveler, I am always surprised how I can feel so utterly helpless at the airport. That's the point in time when I can most likely be found thinking, "I want to go home." It's daunting . . "What if they stop me at customs and revoke my passport? What if no one understands my Spanish? How will I know where the taxi drivers are taking me? Where's the bathroom? Did I bring any money?" It usually takes me several days to settle in and calm down, which, I now find is slowly kicking in.
I'm living in an older district of Lima called Miraflores. I couldn't see much as my flight arrived very late, but the smell of the brisk, ocean air was a sure sign I had arrived. The family I am staying with, the De la Rosas, have been welcoming, friendly, helpful, all the while speaking NO English. But that's okay, I am learning how to construct
I'm pointing with my thumb
Pointing with my thumb at the Pacific from Barranco, an artist's paradise.
meaning from every eleventh word I understand. It might not be the meaning they had intended, but it's something.
Since I had all of Sunday to explore, I decided to go for a run, but the traffic here is a killer! (I am going to try to document this with video) There was no way I was going to try to navigate the never ending sea of cars. While it's certainly crowded, and a bit smoggy, the most interesting part of the traffic is all of the blaring horns . . the honking! To calm myself down, I just imagine that each time someone honks, it's because they think I'm pretty terrific!
Anyway, I found my way to the playa
but was dealt a blow when I saw how high up on a cliff I was with no way down to the beach. It turns out that a gigantic mall/plaza/conglomerate blocked my way down to the Pacific. The nice part was that I did find a bathroom. Anyways, after exploring a bit, and not seeing a clear pathway to the beach, I decided to go ahead and follow the path I saw several other runners using. Lo and
Pacific Ocean, again.
The Pacific through one of the look-out points in Barranco.
behold, my salvation came. I simply followed the runners and eventually I made it down a very steep and precarious path to the beach. Along the way surfers prepared for a day of great waves, students took tests, vendors sold "comidas" and I managed to see a lot more of Lima!
I also tried Ceviche with Rosanna and Olinda, the family I am staying with. They got super dressed up, while I tried to find something nice from a sampling of t-shirts I brought and the four pair of trousers I thought would be enough. Ceviche is a raw fish dish cooked in lime juice and served with a "pica" or hot sauce on the side I also had a side of giant kernels of corn ( I need to find the name of it) and sweet potatoes. Rosanna was also kind enough to share a sampling from her plate, which included "pulpo" (octopus . .. with particularly big legs!) and squid. She put several helpings on my plate and insisted I eat. Which I did tentatively, but gladly since it was so delicious.
I began to learn the city quickly over the next couple of days and
A cathedral in ruins after an earthquake.
relished the idea of knowing that I could find my way around by myself if need be. Each day I passed a plethora of casinos, fruit stands with colorful varieties, laundromats, Starbucks, cigar shops and restaurants. Lima is a vibrant city full of people eager to start their day, and hopefully, help wayward foreigners.
The school I attend is about a mile away and is located in an old house with lots of character. Pedro, one of the managers there, meets the students each day and is always ready with a tiny cup of coffee for the students. My teacher, Carmin, speaks many languages and loves to tell stories . . . which helps me feel even more comfortable with the language, even though the subject of our studies for the past couple of days had been using the past tense; indefinite and imperfect- ouch. Carmin seems confident that I will be able to master it little by little, but for now I'm living in the present.
Also living in the house where I stay is a student from Brasil. The entire family and I have had a bit of trouble mastering his name. It is spelled Vinicious,
Captured for time.
Two statues in Barranco.
which to me, sounds very Roman-like. Rosanna decided he should be called "Vinny" in order to make things a little easier. Olinda, Rosanna's mother, when she is excited or talking too fast, sometimes calls him Nivvy by mistake, unbeknownst to her. But her sheer joy in sharing a story or something funny, makes everything worthwhile.
Some students from Switzerland who go to Vinny's school invited him to go to Barranco, another district in Lima that is very old, certainly for artist's and lovers of architecture, and full of legends, history and great scenery. I tagged along too and had a great time. We meandered through the streets, investigated the various hotels and stores, walked across a bridge where if you hold your breath, your wishes are supposed to come true. I felt kinda weird crossing the bridge trying not to breathe, grateful when I came to the end, exhaling in relief. There was no way I was going to miss out on getting a free wish.