Heinz 57 and french-fried potatoes
I have so much to say! I’m here in Peru, and have been for almost two weeks now, although sometimes it feels like months. So why haven’t I posted anything? Well, first of all, I thought I did. Last Monday I wrote a fairly long and detailed entry about the first few days, hit post, and logged off the computer, in a hurry to meet the whole group for lunch. Somehow I did it wrong, so that entry is lost in cyberspace.
Speaking of things that are lost, the other reason I haven’t posted is that until last night I did not have a laptop. “But Kristen,” you ask, “what about that funny-looking compaq you brought with you and vigilantly kept safe under your bed in the DR all summer?” And the answer is that it was stolen. I arrived in Peru after a long day of traveling (and sitting in the Miami airport) and successfully met up with three other students and the resident director (backpack present and accounted for). We sat around for a while waiting for one more student (backpack on floor between feet), and then went to the cafeteria in the airport to get drinks and wait (backpack on floor in center of laaaarge pile of luggage, approximately 3 feet from our table). I was served a huge glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice, and we all happily chatted (backpack’s presence assumed but unverified). Then I went to get my ATM card from my wallet, and found myself frantically looking through the pile of luggage and coming up empty every time. (Aghhhh!)
So my backpack and the large hiking-type bag belonging to one of the other students had apparently been stolen while we sat just 3 feet away enjoying our drinks. Erin (of the large backpack), Laura (the resident director), and I talked to airport security, who were very helpful in telling us that in airports you have to be careful and always watch your luggage. Then we went to the police station to file a report, where the officers were also full of sage advice about airports and the dangers of theft.
Seriously though, it was pretty stressful, and I was hugely glad that Laura and Erin were there with me at the airport and police station. My Spanish pretty much had bottomed out from confusion and anger and general sleepiness, so Laura translated and talked to the police for us, and was generally wonderful. Also, we met a friendly and soft dog that wandered in to where we were sitting and decided it was her job to entertain and cheer us up. All-in-all it wasn’t a horrible experience, for what it was, and I went to sleep that night relatively positive about how things were going.
The next morning I woke up, realized I had no money and no way to get any and no computer and no camera and no any-numer-of-other-things, and freaked out a bit. But I met the rest of the group and we spent the day doing logistical things and getting to know each other, and I realized that I really would be fine and things would work out.
And they did! No one stole my identity or used my credit cards or made long-distance calls on my phone, my dad wired me money, and it looks like insurance might cover some of what I lost.
So that’s the beginning of my ´study abroad experience.´ The rest is much less dramatic. We spent two nights with our host families in Lima and then jetted off to Cuzco for five days. We spent time exploring the ruins around the city and the city itself, and then went to Machu Picchu on Tuesday. It was beautiful and really fun to walk around the ruins, but my favorite thing was climbing Waynupicchu, which is the mountain looming behind Machu Picchu in all the photos. Most of our group woke up at 4:45 am to take a 5:30 bus to the site, waited in line for a Waynupicchu ticket, and then reunited at 10 to wait in line again for our turn to climb. It was a strenuous hour-or-so of stair/rock climbing to reach the top, but the view and the feeling at the tope made the waking up early and waiting in line and sore muscles worth it. Phenomenal.
We returned to Lima last Wednesday, and since then we’ve been busy orientating ourselves: trying out combis and getting lost and finding good places to eat lunch and having charlas at the office about Peruvian culture. Also, today we started our one-week Spanish class at the university, which is three hours every morning. So we’ve been pretty busy, and will certainly become more busy when classes start next Monday. I can’t wait!