For the duration of my first cab ride through Lima, I had a major case of déjà vu. There's this feeling I always get when I step off a plane in a new country - just a sense of being in foreign surroundings - so I was surprised when this time that feeling never arrived. Instead, I felt like I was back in Belize - we whizzed by dozens of bodegas, people strolling the street, cabs and buses loaded with people zipping by, plastered adobe-block houses painted in an array of pastels. It all seemed familiar, and somehow, quite welcoming.
The house I'm staying in is in Planeta, a residential district of Lima. There is an abundance of bodegas, school children, street vendors, and stray dogs, and it's actually quite homey. Our street, like most others in the area, has a huge iron gate at the front. Remnants from a time when the city's residents had a curfew. They still shut it at night for security, and only facial recognition from the night guard will get you in once it's closed. Here's to hoping I befriend him soon, or I'm out of luck!
My first night the four of us drank Pisco sours - the national drink of Peru - played Wii, and got to know each other. Julio is our host, and the founder of the Karikuy organization. Ania and Stu,are a young couple from the UK who are currently on a year-long world trek.They are both in their mid-twenties, and last September they quit their jobs and decided to go on a year-long trek around the world. They've been to many countries already, and Peru is just one stop along the way, so they are only here for a week more. I'll be sad to see them go, but I am thrilled just to have met them. There's also Jacqui, but she lives with a host family in another part of the city and only comes 2-3 days a week to do research.
After sleeping for what seemed like only an hour, I woke up to eat breakfast with the group. Meals are eaten downstairs on the first floor. Julio's elderly aunt lives on the lower level with Magna, her 17-year-old live-in care giver. Magna does all of the cooking for the group, and is very sweet, but is pretty shy, so I haven't learned much about her yet. Although I do know that she is an excellent cook.
For breakfast we had rolls, on which we spread avocado and goat cheese. It sounds like a strange combination, but it's actually delicious! We also drank cinnamon and clove tea - something that's served at every meal. Guess I can't make fun of my mum for drinking 3+ cups a day anymore...looks like I'll be a tea addict too...sorry mum!
Lunch was also delicious. Meals always start with a basic soup - barley, various veggies, and chicken broth. Second is the main course - rice with a vegetable and a meat. Today it was spicy beef with red pepper, onion, yucca and rice. Also incredibly delicious. After lunch we walked around the block to a local playground to play basketball. Considering my knowledge of basketball parallels a 5 year old's knowledge of the stock exchange, it was quite an embarrassing game. Oh well, perhaps a week's worth of basketball will help improve my skills!
The majority of the day was spent setting up email, skype, and this blog, and getting acquainted with the program that I will be using to post research. We also took a walk later in the evening through the neighborhood, during which we picked up some churros - sticks of fried dough, rolled in sugar, with melted caramel in the middle. Mmmmm.
In the evening we ate supper, I tried my first cup of "Inca Cola" - a local soda that's crossing-guard yellow. The only way I can think of explaining it - and which gave my housemates quite a laugh - is that it smells like benedryl and tastes like bubblegum. They agreed. I could only manage a small cup because it honestly is like eating a mouthful of skittles with every sip. After this interesting experience we all congregated in the living room to watch Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Very cute movie. And then we all passed out.
I'd say it was a successful first day in Peru. Everyone is so nice, and I feel right at home here. It was a rather slow day, but relaxing. We are already talking about what local archaeological site we want to visit this weekend, so I'm very excited. Tomorrow I look forward to beginning my research and posting some pictures of where I am living as well. Until then: