It is amazing how airplanes can take you across the world in a matter of hours. I left the O’Hare airport at 12:15pm on Friday and got in to Lima at 11:15pm. We got out about 45 minutes late in Houston but fortunately Nella and her husband knew that I would be later than 10:30pm especially with customs and immigration. During the flight I made friends with a guy named Kris who was off to Arequipa to speak at a banquet the non-profit he built houses with is having. He gave me some great advice on places to go in Arequipa should I visit. I definitely want to at some point. I don’t have to worry about making a visa trip any time soon though. I asked for a 6 month visa and the nice immigrations man gave it to me. This means I don’t have to leave the country until February. However, I am thinking I might try and get up to Ecuador for Christmas if it is possible with my work schedule. I’d love to spend Christmas with my second family since flying home to my first one isn’t too economical right now. I digress.
I am so glad that I had a place to stay in Lima and didn’t have to stay in a hostel. Their place is so nice and they really couldn’t have been more hospitable. I was able to shower and in the morning I gave my mom a quick call telling her that I was safe and sound. Their little boy is probably one of the cutest babies I have seen. Dad is from Japan and mom is Peruvian. His name was Adriano and when I gave him a little stuffed bear he got so excited. “Pooh” he called it since every bear to him is Winnie the Pooh. I’m glad he liked it. We’re best friends now.
The flight to Cuzco was 40 minutes late but that’s pretty standard I hear, especially with Taca airlines. I was impressed however, with the quality of the airplane and the service we received while in flight. There was in flight entertainment and drinks and snacks. After a short flight of 55 minutes we landed in the tiny Cuzco airport and I happened to meet at Máximo Nivel worker who helped me with my bags outside. As soon as I stepped outside I met Michael, a stringy haired 50-something expat with a canvas hat and big smile.
I think I may have said this in my previous entry but I found the Thompson’s on facebook through an expats in Peru group. I couldn’t have asked for a better situation. After I got settled in my room here I had a cup of coca tea with Michael and met his friend Brad who is from Canada and staying with them as well. We headed into town to get some money exchanged; a key made, and have some almuerzo. I was quite winded but not as winded as Brad after our bus ride and walk around the plaza de armas and plaza de San Francisco I was ready for a break and some lunch. Nella told me to not eat too much as my metabolism will slow down a bit at higher altitude. I don’t disagree with her. Lunch was yummy though with soup and a side of potatoes with a tasty sauce. The main course was beef and rice with whipped mashed potatoes. Good thing I love potatoes. It is a staple here. I also love yucca which is much life potato and another popular food.
I could go on and on about the deliciousness of the food here even though I haven’t been in Cusco for more than a day. There is fresh fruit and produce everywhere. It’s so healthy and grown in the backyard. I love it. I wish it was like that in the US.
I really like Michael. He is an interesting guy who moved to Cuzco 7 years ago with his wife and two kids. They are from New Mexico and his daughter Angela, whom I will meet soon, is 20 and Gabe is 18. Gabe is currently in California with Laurel, the woman I spoke most with when setting up this homestay. He had to get cataract surgery and Glaucoma surgery. Yikes. Hope he is doing well. Anyway, Michael puts out a tourist newspaper which he asked me if I could proofread his Spanish. He writes the articles in English and then translates them online. He speaks Spanish but his writing is a bit rusty he said. I was happy to read it but I did warn him that I am a bit rusty myself and that a second opinion after mine would be a good idea. He taught me a few things about life in Cuzco and things to know such as how much it costs to take a taxi around town. It shouldn’t be more than 4 or 5 soles from the house to the plaza. That’s the equivalent to roughly a $1.50. The bus is even better and runs about .50 soles. Soles are referred to as luca by the locals. He also showed me the best place to exchange money. It’s called Wachi’s and it’s down the street from work which is great. I also know now who to go to when I want to get some good fresh coca and dried fruit. The market is fantastic and there is everything you could need there in terms of cooking. I am really hoping to learn how to make some good soup while I am here. I need to find a teacher first.
Later in the evening we were listening to some music and Michael asked if I would like to lay down some harmonies to a song he wrote. We had talked about what I did in college before that and he picked up on the a cappella singing. I told him I would love to. The song is great! We made a date to go to the studio at his friends place on the 31st in the morning. I can’t wait! I love recording. When I get a copy of the song I will try and post it on here.
I also met another guy named Carlos who was impressed with my castellano accent. It made me happy to hear that I sounded like a true Spanish speaker. I feel super rusty right now and slow in my formation of sentences but I know that with some time it’ll come back to me. Carlos is a friend of Michael’s and came over to hang out. That’s another thing I really like about latin America. People just show up and say hello and have a cup of tea with friends. It seems like getting together with anyone in the US requires a calendar and making a specific date and time. I’m all about people coming over and hanging out all the time. It felt very homey and I know that I am going to like it a lot here. Life is slower and people are really friendly and hospitable.
Later in the evening:
I had a good four-hour conversation with Brad who is also staying with Michael and Angela right now. He is an interesting guy from Nova Scotia Canada. He is here on a spiritual quest and only eating a bit of food and drinking lots of water. He sold everything he owns and headed down here for however long it takes. He believes that we can harness light energy like plants and it shifts our DNA and we can take in energy directly. It is a very cool idea and he has a plethora of other spiritual tid bits that brought up some great conversation about life and the earth. I thoroughly enjoyed it and while I don’t believe everything he brought up, it is always nice to hear different ways of thinking about things. One thing I definitely got out of it was the feeling that I made the right choice to come down here. I’ve only been here a few days and while I know I will go through a period of homesickness, I think I am going to be very happy here. We had a nice little fire in the fire ring they have in their yard here. The moon was almost full and the stars were beautiful. Southern hemisphere stars are great. It’s an entirely new sky to get oriented to. I had a very nice night and I am going to bed around 8:30pm again. I slept 12 hours last night and couldn’t be happier to be sleeping and getting acclimated slowly and without a lot of headache.
I also walked back from the tour guide company today. It was a good 45 minute walk but I feel like walking the neighborhoods of a new place is the best way to get to know it. While Cuzco is a bit confusing with its twisting roads, I already feel much more oriented than before. I immediately took a nap when I got back. I am going to go on a walk with Brad tomorrow, possibly to the plaza de armas. We shall see what our energy levels are like.