This past week, I plunged in to the culture and city of Arequipa…
Last Sunday night my roommate and I were riding in a taxi and got rear-ended by another taxi. The impact was strong, and we were both dealing with head/neck/back aches, but it could have been far worse. We are very thankful for this!
Due to a shortage of teachers, my classes were changed to the afternoon for 2 weeks. Honestly, it was really frustrating because I learn best in the morning, but I decided to make the most of it and take the mornings to explore the city and study.
This is how I spent the past week:
Monday morning I went to the post office to pick up a package and as I had been warned, it took an unbelievable amount of time. I arrived at 8:20am and there were 3 people in line ahead of me. The international package window opened at 8:30am and the first person got their package at 9:15am. At 10am, I was called in, filled out forms, opened the package for them to see what I received (thanks for the peanut butter, Mom!), and by 10:20 I was done. Thankfully they had time to get my friend Leanne her package also before they closed at 10:30am. Yes. That’s right. They are only open for 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon. Remember that the next time you're standing in line in the post office in the U.S. :)
Tuesday, as I was taking my laundry to be cleaned, I saw the owner of our school and got to practice my Spanish with her. I continued on my way downtown when an old man started talking to me and told me about all the places I needed to see while I was in Peru. He gave me his card and his wife’s name and told me to call them if I needed anything. I finally reached the laundry place and spent the rest of the morning studying in a coffee shop where they now know me like my friends at the Kam Starbucks.
On the way to pick up my clothes on Wednesday morning I walked through 3 different protests. One was in front of the Justice building, one was in for teachers and took place in the Plaza de Armas and the final one was on San Francisco, a street adjacent to the Plaza. As I was walking up San Francisco, I noticed there were a lot of people in the street. I assumed it was another protest, but what I couldn’t see was the line of 50 police officers with their shields on one side of the street! As I got closer, I didn’t know whether to turn around and go another way, or continue up the street but just then I saw an old woman trying to sell ice creams to the police officers, so I figured it wasn’t too dangerous. UNFORTUNATELY, that was the one day I left the house without my camera!
Thursday morning I awoke at 4:30am, showered, and left the house at 5:15am with my sister, Tati, for a procession in the Plaza de Armas. In Peru, and other countries, Catholics celebrate October as the month of purple. It is a month of celebration and reflection on the miracles of Jesus. He is called, “El Señor de los Milagros”. In the procession there is an enormous painting of Jesus surrounded by vases of flowers that is carried from one cathedral to another and all the people sing and pray while walking. It took 40 men to carry the painting and flowers and every half block or so they had to change out the people carrying it and every time it was re-lifted, the people applauded. It was one of the most interesting and beautiful things I’ve ever witnessed and I’m so thankful for the experience.
On Friday, in the Plaza de Armas, I witnessed a demonstration for world peace done by hundreds of children and youth. Most of the youth were holding posters they had made, some girls were holding flags from countries around the world, and there was a band playing music. It seemed that everywhere I went that day in downtown there were children with orange posters for world peace. It made me really happy :)
In honor of my upcoming birthday, my weekend was filled with things that remind me of home. We ate sushi and miso soup on Friday night, crepes and coffee on Saturday morning, and had a LOST marathon Saturday afternoon. It was the first day since I’ve been here that I got to just hang out and not do anything. (We all need those days from time to time!)
Sunday we went to church and I was excited to learn that my Spanish comprehension increases more and more every week. I am very thankful for the progress I’ve made thus far and want to work really hard for the next two months in order to be ready to meet and connect with my Peruana partner and jump into the next stage of training.
Thank you all so much for your love and support. There is no way I could do this without you.
Aloha Means Te Amo,