Busiest two weeks ever. We have gone to Barranco, Parque del Amor, Costa Verde, El Museo Nacional de Antropología, Arqueología e Historia del Perú, Plaza de Armas, the catacombs of the Monastery San Francisco, Catedral de Lima, Chorillos, a soccer game at Estadio Nacional, and the LUM museum. We have done so many things so far as part of our orientation with EdOdyssey all while learning Spanish in the mornings at El Sol Language School.
Of all these new things in the last two weeks – unfamiliar fruits and vegetables, awesome foods, traditions, chaotic public transportation, social norms, city navigation, new people – the most amazing to me was Pamplona Alta, a lower income district in Lima.
We visited a community there to help them build stairs. On the drive there, the stark contrast with all the other neighborhoods of Lima I have seen was immediately visible. There is hardly any infrastructure and, although pretty close to the rest of Lima, set in towering hills that are dusty and dry this time of year. We walked up the hill on the same path that residents walk every day to and from work. To our backs was a sprawling, impossibly beautiful view of the city below. The sun was out, and amazingly the air was full of sounds of dogs barking in the distance, cars honking (always), yelling, clanking, everything. But from the height we had reached, it was pretty much silent except for the occasional noises of people in their homes.
Needless to say, the walk was more of a crawl for us and we arrived sweaty and sunburned. I am sure the community was amused to see gringos struggle up the hill so ungracefully. We spent the day with the residents mixing cement, passing buckets of water and cement up the hill assembly line-style, and laying down the cement. We couldn’t finish the staircase because there was not enough water to splash between the rocks and cement layers. We are planning on returning soon to finish the stairs.
We ate some bread from the Sierra, drank Inka Cola, chatted, and played Tutti Frutti. It’s a game you usually play on paper, but we didn’t need it to have a good time: you start with a letter of the alphabet and a certain category (name, color, food, etc) and you go around the circle, each person coming up with a different word. I got my butt kicked with my strictly limited Spanish vocabulary and I was shown no mercy.
It was such a beautiful beautiful day that it’s hard to describe. We’re hoping to return soon and to continue to have a relationship with those families and help them in some way if we can.
I can’t believe how much has happened and there’s still a lot to look forward to before classes at the university, PUCP, start. We’re spending this 28 de julio (Peruvian independence day) weekend in Huancaya. More on that soon!
(various photo credits to all my Peruanas Cheveres: Bioribel, Maria Claudia, Mattie, Katie Anne, Tessa, Katherine)