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Published: June 20th 2010
I think I have decided to keep both this blog, as well as a more personal, written journal. This one will probably focus more on chronicling what actually happens to me in Peru, while my written journal will be more about my internal thoughts and processes. Either way, I'm sure there will be some crossover.
So far, things have been going pretty well. Yesterday and a little bit today was the first time I had felt some loneliness at being here all by myself. It is kind of funny, there were many weekend days in Maine and even in college, where I would not leave my house/res hall room the entire day and not feel weird about it. And for some reason, when I spend the nights alone here, I feel like I should be doing something else. I think part of it is mental--when I did those things in other places, I knew I could call someone up if I wanted to. Here I don't have that option.
However, I am looking on the bright side. I do have a list of things I want to accomplish in these times when I am by myself, such as writing these blogs and journals, reorganizing my photos online, learning how to meditate, working out, doing some school work, and reading books and articles. I know those aren't the most exciting things in the world, but I don't get to do a lot of them in Seattle. Part of me feels like I am wasting my time in Peru by doing things I can do elsewhere, but honestly, I can't see how I could possibly fill every moment of my time here, especially at night. Most things are closed, and since I don't know anyone, it's not like I'm going out or anything.
At any rate, today was an ok day. I went for a run and tried to put my in-soles in my running shoes. However, they are a little too big and I have no way to cut them down. So I just decided to force them in and run anyway. Long story short, I now have painful blisters on both my feet. I'm not sure if they were caused by the in-soles or by the fact that I haven't run in awhile, or the fact that I ran for longer than I usually do. Either way, my fee hurt.
After that, I decided to finally start seeing the sights of Lima other than my route between work and my apartment. My first stop was Huaca Huallamarca, which is an old pre-Incan temple that is still in the middle of the city. It was pretty cool, you can walk to the top of the pyramid and see the entire city. It's an interesting contrast of old and new. I liked it.
Then I walked to Bosque de Olivar, which is basically a park with lots of old, gnarled olive trees. They were really beautiful and I took some good pictures. Looking at them inspired me to want to draw for some reason. I just pictured myself trying to get their gnarled forms just right. We'll see. I was on the lookout for an art supply store throughout my day today but didn't find one. I wouldn't mind spending an afternoon underneath one of those trees, alternatively drawing and reading. I saw many couples making out in that area too. Apparently it is not considered PDA to sit on top of your lover on a bench and make out unabashedly here.
After the olive trees, I headed to Huaca Pucllana, which was similar to the first Huaca, except much bigger. You had to go with a guide, and there was already one in progress so I went to catch up with them. Except at first I didn't think you absolutely needed a guide, so I was just wandering around taking pictures when another tour guide called to me and asked me where my group was and who I was with. I said no one and she told me that I had to go find a tour and join it. All in front of her entire tour group, so that was kind of embarrassing. So I joined a group and walked with them and felt slightly awkward. It was interesting that everyone was speaking English, because I feel like I haven't really heard it being spoken in a long time (though it's only been a few days). Huaca Pucllana was really cool though, I enjoyed all their geometric shapes (apparently they use a lot of trapezoidal shapes). After that I was hungry.
I kept walking south, looking for Parque Kennedy. Ended up finding an interesting looking church, and then a gigantic Wong's (grocery store chain here in Peru). I went inside because I was thirsty and also grabbed some band-aids for my poor feet, which were really killing me by then. I kept up my walk and eventually made it to Parque Kennedy which is in a much more touristy area than where I live. There were tons of people around, and I finally saw why people say you can easily be pickpocketed. I feel like I have a heightened awareness now about keeping my stuff safe since I read the things about how easy it is to get pick pocketed in Lima, so it was funny to see how other people were not doing that. I felt like I could have stolen things from people, because they were being so careless.
The area around Parque Kennedy was very touristy, lots of shops, restaurants, etc. I mainly went to look at the local paintings that are sold. There were some small ones that I really liked, but I wasn't in the mood to try and barter in Spanish so I figured I'd just go back sometime.
Then as I was just walking, this random guy came up to me and started talking to me. I was a little suspicious, but only because I have read in Lima that pickpockets will work in pairs, and one will distract you while the other robs you. So I kept my hand tight around my camera in my hoodie pocket and kept my eyes alert for anyone else. The man asked where I was from and what I was doing in Lima, so I told him, in Spanish. He then told me how he played saxophone for a musical group and they were playing tonight somewhere. Then he asked me to go with him for a beer, and I politely declined because that seemed a little shady. Then he was like "Do you want weed? I've got some." And I said, "Gracias, peru no fumo" (Thanks, but I don't smoke). Then I just walked away. The whole experience was actually a little strange. I wonder why he came up to me.
Kept walking around, and found some tattoo parlors and a sex shop. I figured both those things would be in the high tourist area. I also heard some clearly American tourists mispronounce the name of the money in Peru (it's sol, soles for plural, pronounced like "soul" or "souls"--they pronounced it like so-lace). I found it funny that people come to countries and don't even understand how to pronounce things like the country's money correctly. I also noticed when I was there that I appear much less Americano than a lot of people who were there. I have been mistaken for Peruvian (or at least not assumed to be American) pretty frequently, so that's been good.
Anyway, walked down Calle de las pizzas, which is exactly what it sounds like--a narrow street with nothing but pizza places. And I was reminded of what I sometimes don't like about other countries--the fact that people stand outside restaurants and badger you to come in. I get frustrated because they all have their menus displayed, but you can't just go up and read it without getting into a long conversation about how great the food there is.
I walked all the way back home after that, stopping for some KFC for dinner (only because I was absolutely starved and felt too tired to make something at home). Got home and gave my weary feet a rest that they sorely needed. They are not going to feel good tomorrow. I wanted to go running again but I probably will just let them take a day off.
Tomorrow I am meeting up with my boss and going to downtown Lima to see the cathedral, plaza mayor, palacio de gobierno, and some other things. Possibly un museo. Should be fun. Monday, my boss set up for me to go on a trip with this class to the outskirts of Lima. It's from 8-2 so that will be the majority of my day. Honestly though, I think we are going to the slums/bad parts of town (he mentioned that we'd stop by an extremely dangerous prison), and I just don't believe in that kind of tourism. I find it quite exploitative of the people who live there. However, since my boss specifically asked a professor friend of his to include me, I felt like I could not say no. We'll see what it will be like.
All in all, it's been a pretty good day. I'm pretty excited for Matt to get here. It's cool to have the experience of living in another country and going to work and stuff, but I'm kind of ready to just actually have a vacation. I only had one day between work at SU and work here and I spent it flying.
Still working on my Spanish, and I feel that by the time I finally know what's going on, it will be time to go home. But that's ok! I can still practice with staff members and people in Seattle and continue learning so that the next time I come to South America, I'll be much better prepared!
Ok, well I wanted to write some observations about Lima and Peru, but I can't remember any of them right now, and I'm really tired from all the walking (all told, I probably walked/ran almost 10 miles today), so I think I'm going to watch some 30 Rock and go to bed.
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