Well, I arrived in Arequipa at 7am this morning - you can imagine how I was enjoying my taxi ride at 345am.
But first, let me tell you about Lima (it's a dreary town). Thank God Magali Urbina was there to pick me up at the airport and drag me around for a week. It had good and bad points. It was kind of like visiting a family member (apologies to the family)... okay, we're almost ready, oh, have to get the dog, oh, have to get the niece and nephew, oh, now I'm tired, let's watch a novela on tv.
On the other hand, I got a personal tour of Lima. For those of you who know Luis, I have so much scoop about his entire life but I'll save it for my return. I did visit his house and met his three boys, plus his two daughters. The only kid I haven't met is the son in the US. One day we went to the ritzy area of town where Magali's aunt lives. It was like being in an Isabel Allende novel, the type of house you imagine when she talks about the rich S.A. families.
The most interesting thing I did in Lima was eat. I've tried ceviche (raw fish, which somehow, through the power of soaking in lemon juice becomes cooked), anticuchos de corazon (yeah, grilled cow hearts - I was too busy freaking out to enjoy it) granadilla (a harmless looking orange fruit, which, when opened contains a slimy green ball filled with seeds that you are just supposed to suck on down - it is the closest thing to phlegm I have ever eaten) chirimoya (and indescribable but tasty fruit), the list goes on.
I've only been here for the day but I like it. The place I'm staying (La Casa de mi Abuela) is a palace! While not the budget deal of the $5 hostel in Quito, this is $20, it is amazing. I have my own room with a private bath with HOT WATER (that's worth $15), there are gardens with tables to eat your meals and a swimming pool! I think I need to treat myself before I head to Ilo and work hard and eat bean sandwiches.
Some thoughts on traffic in S.A.:
Riding on the bus gives you an appreciation for MUNI. These buses don't have stops, you can jump on/off at any point. In Ecuador, buses only "stop" for women, if you're a man you just have to jump when it slows down. Riding in a car is like stepping into one of those video games where you are the race car driver. The lines dividing the lanes seem to be only suggested guidelines - roads that are two lanes wide often fit three cars across. To cross the street is to take your life in your hands - you are the frog and frogger has begun. You have to take streets one half at a time, the cars and buses will NOT slow down for you, you have to jump out of the way. All that said, I'm getting really good at crossing the street.
Alas, people who are reading this at work have surely gotten in trouble by now for taking too long of a break, but you know I tend to go off on tangents.
Here's the thing. I have this Yahoo account set up in Arequipa and a place I can go to check messages. I'll be here until Monday morning the 13th. If you want to reply, please reply by Sunday.
P.S. Happy belated birthdays Mom and John
Ramon - there is a sign in town for a lecture tomorrow... "Conozco a la Maestra Iluminada Suma Ching Hai" - I'm not going.
And you know what else? I'm learning crude Peruvian slang! La cagada (literally, the shit) is something you say when you mean that something is very good. Que cagada (what shit), when something is really bad. Me cago de hambre (well, I'm very hungry). You know I'm loving that. Sad, but true.