I arrived in Lima last night after a very long combination of flights and layovers and fear of sleeping in airports/ inability to sleep on planes, to my house in Magdalena del Mar, Lima, Peru. Though I’m happy to be here, I am embarrassed that I did not work on my Spanish a bit more before I arrived! Let’s just say I understand enough body language and facial expressions to guess when my mother is telling me if I shouldn’t do something, and I can patch together enough words to understand the subject of our one-way conversations. I hope in a few weeks I’ll feel better about this problem. The rest of the family will speak in English if it is obvious that I am not following, which I appreciate but hope that I won’t need the extra help in the future.
Despite language difficulties, I am otherwise settling in nicely! I will live on the third floor of the house in my own room, with the bathroom around the corner. My door opens onto a terrace from which I can see my street and the larger street nearby, with a wide park in the middle. Down the street is a little store that sells fruit, drinks, calling cards, and ice cream, and further down is a wonderful market that my mother Maria brought me to today. I hope to spend a lot of time wandering the alleys of this market during my time here, and learning the names for all of the food I do and don’t recognize! Of course there was ceviche, though I did not try it yet. We bought juice (though I think in the US we would define them as smoothies) at a corner stand and watched the guys peel mangoes, papaya, and throw it all into a blender right in front of us, then hand over a pitcher full of fresh juice. It was delicious!
Maria took me through one of the alleys and pointed out all the food—bags and boxed of nuts, potatoes of many kinds, colorful vegetables and fruit, hanging meat (pig, cow, duck, sheep, chicken, guinea pig), some of it still completely whole with strange body parts on full display, like a science experiment. Brown eggs are bought in plastic bags, and spices and sauces can also be bought this way. Everything looked delicious and very fresh. Considering it is winter here right now, I’m jealous. I mean, what do we actually have native to Wisconsin in the winter? Root vegetables at best.
The market also had clothing stores, jewelry stores, banks, money changers, restaurants, magazines, and basically everything I’ll need during my time here.
Tomorrow another girl from the US arrives to live in the room next to me, something I am very thankful for! It will be nice to have an American companion so close.
Maria also took me on a test run on the micro, the bus I will take to and from school everyday for one sole. There is no bus schedule, it just constantly travels the same route, so in order to catch it you have to put out your arm and flag it down. Once on the bus, which moves much faster than US buses, you either have to stand and hold on tight or find a seat when someone gets up. It’s about a twenty minute ride to the university. We got out and entered the university—it’s a huge campus with expansive lawns and nice buildings. I’ll probably spend a lot of time here, since once I get to class I won’t go home until dinner time.
I took a walk down my street today to get a sense of the area, and I discovered beautiful streets lined with small but beautiful houses and many plants I am not familiar with. It seems like every street tree here is bent and a little sad looking (though they are very much alive), but there is certainly more greenery than I imagined, based off of what I heard from people who have been here. I’m very excited to explore more of the neighborhoods in Lima, the beaches, and the museums—I’ll have some time to do these things this weekend. The houses are square and colorful, with big wooden doors, all with an ornate gate protecting the house from intruders. They are all connected like apartment units. There were people out wherever I walked, with their dogs, running errands, or school kids with backpacks.
In closing, I would like to mention my new best friend, the family rabbit named Marquenso. He lives on the third floor with me, except he is not allowed in my room as he will supposedly chew my belongings. Every time I lift the fence out of my doorway to get out, he’s there, hopping around my feet and waiting for me to reach down and pet him. I know I’ll have more purpose and direction once I start classes and meet some friends, but until then Marquenso is my rock. My silent Spanish companion.