University of Wisconsin–Madison

Developing a Routine

This week ended on the perfect note. Living in Lima is starting to feel like a new normal, and a comfortable routine has emerged from all the confusion and doubts of my first couple days. I wake up most days and eat breakfast, catch the bus, go to school, come home after a long day hanging out at campus, eat dinner, go walking around the neighborhood, do some homework or plan future travels, and then sleep. When I’m able to, I go for a run by the ocean, where preparations for a big gastronomy festival called Mistura de Magdalena are slowly taking form. I’ve also encountered a yoga studio a few blocks away, hidden behind an iron gate on the second story of a house and marked only by a little button reading Limayoga. Though the first time I went I forgot they would be talking in Spanish, I was familiar enough with the terminology and practice that I could get along fine. The same process of focusing, breathing, and sun salutations was comforting to me, as well as the typical studio appearance—stacks of clean white towels, mats for rent, zen-type music, and smooth wooden floors.

Faces are beginning to look familiar and relationships are in the works, and I find that I can follow conversations much easier, though responding sufficiently and successfully is a bit of challenge. Marquenso always waits for me when I wake up and he’s there again when I return. The bus is starting to make more sense, and my roommate and I have even ventured on different routes, confirming with the conductor if it goes to the right street. Yesterday I explored Miraflores and found an even better market as well as many tourist oriented attractions—craft markets, McDonalds, and many Americans. Thanks to a recommendation from my host sister, Erin and I went to hear a live salsa band in the neighborhood Barranco and try pisco, the famous drink of Peru made from grapes (there seems to be a debate about where the best pisco is, Chile or Peru, but my family sides unequivocally with Peru). We’re going to take a salsa class so we can feel a little more competent next to the Peruvians who have known the steps since they were little.

My host family consists of a father and mother, three older daughters, one who lives farther away and is currently 8 months pregnant with her second child, and a son who is 18.  They are all extremely busy—Maria taking excellent care of everyone, Enrique the father working as a lawyer, Solsi as an archaeologist at the university, January working as a lawyer as well, Milagros as a physical education teacher, and Carlos Enrique a student. I often don’t see the whole family throughout the typical day, besides Maria, maybe just one or two of them. Everyone eats dinner whenever they get home. The family has been very kind and inclusive, and though my conversational Spanish can only take me so far we’ve talked much in Spanglish about Peru, history, America, and food.

My favorite part of the week is Sunday, when the family wakes up late and wears their pajamas until noon, resting after a busy week. Laundry, miscellaneous cleaning, movie watching, and relaxing. Maria cooks a big meal for everyone and we all sit down around 3 for lunch. The family invites friends to the table as well—colleagues of Solsi joined us this week, one from Canada and one from Boston, and last week a friend from Belgium. All the guests bring food along, like wine or dessert, Belgian beer or Filipino food. We all help set the table, turn on some good music in the background, and sit down for a meal that lasts a couple hours. This Sunday meal is a wonderful tradition that seems to cement the strong sense of family that Peruvians possess. No matter what happened during the week, all the children will arrive at the table and talk over an abundance of food, like a smaller, weekly version of Thanksgiving.

Finally, I have my class schedule and I successfully pulled off a four-day week. I will be taking Realidad Social Peruana, Narrativa Hispanoamericana Contemporativa, Gender & Climate Change (in English, I just couldn’t not take that subject!), and Ecoturismo. Stay tuned for news of my first trip out of Lima this weekend!

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