Popping the ‘Gringo’ Bubble: My Visit to Jesús María
I often fall into slumps where I feel like I’m not doing enough to experience as much of Lima as I can before my semester abroad ends in July. I repeatedly have found myself stuck in a figurative bubble that encompasses only San Isidro, the district where I live; Miraflores, where most of my IFSA-Butler friends live; and La Católica, my host university. The diversity of Lima (really, of Perú, in general) continues to astound me, but I feel like I miss out on getting to meet Peruvians from different walks of life because I spend too much time in these fairly tourist-friendly areas of Lima with my “gringo,” friendly slang for American, friends. It frustrates me greatly when I want to explore and my friends want to stick to what we know best or what they feel is the safest. If I’ve learned anything from my first two or so months in Perú, it is that sometimes the best adventures are those that are a little ways off the already well-beaten path.
Today, however, I was able to burst that infamous San Isidro-Miraflores-La Católica bubble a little bit as I had the opportunity to explore a different part of Lima: the district of Jesús María. Relative to Lima’s many other districts, Jesús María is fairly comparable to the parts of the city with which I am most familiar. However, it looks and feels very different. It is off the radar of most tourists and considerably less commercialized than both San Isidro and Miraflores.
This afternoon, two of my non-IFSA-Butler friends and I walked, ate and shopped our way through a few of the neighborhoods in Jesús María. My two favorite foods (read: desserts) were picarones, a donut-like treat made primarily from fried squash and sweet potato batter, and mazamorra, a jelly made from Peruvian purple corn, pineapple and cinnamon, that’s served with arroz con leche, a sweet rice pudding. In a moment of silliness, my friends and I were convinced to take the 15-minute Tren Turístico (Tourist Train) ride through the streets of part of Jesús María. Though it was a “tourist” train, it was obvious that we were the only non-Peruvians on board. Instead of being filled with other Americans and Europeans as it likely would have been in San Isidro or Miraflores, the passengers today were all Peruvian families celebrating el Día de la Madre (Mother’s Day). We laughed about it at first, but it ended up being a fun way to see parts of the district that we otherwise would have missed.
I am, without a doubt, driven by adventure, and I have always had the desire to see and do everything I possibly can. Even in Lima, there are times when feel cooped up and isolated from the true side of Perú that I want to experience. That’s why mini-adventures and new experiences like today are important. I just have to make sure they happen more often so that the infamous bubble doesn’t start to form around me again. Pop!