After months of imagining and planning, I have finally arrived in Lima. I haven’t traveled outside of the US since my semester in El Salvador in the fall of 2007, and my short time in this city has already brought back memories. So many aspects of Lima are (strangely enough) comfortably familiar. There are the buses–small and packed past capacity, speeding their way through the city streets; the general lack of adherence to any sort of traffic laws; the extremely liberal use of the car horn. There are also the street vendors; the stores that don’t have doors–just large gates that come down and serve as walls when shops are closed; the cold showers (NOT comfortable); and the street dogs. Except here in Lima, the dogs come in all different breeds. From pit bulls to poodles, dogs of all colors, shapes, and sizes roam the streets (and bark at very early hours of the morning). I’m so tempted to take one home with me!
As many cities in the world tend to be, Lima seems fairly polarized. You can be walking through the Plaza San Martín, staring at the beautiful architecture and fountains, while at the same time stepping around a homeless man trying to sleep on the sidewalk. I’ll be spending my time here doing more research on the marginalized groups of Peru, so I hope to learn more about their struggles, while at the same time enjoying what Lima has to offer.
Peruvian cuisine (or what I’ve had of it so far) is amazing. While some of it is fairly typical for Latin America (rice, soup, chicken), some spices and ingredients are unexpected or new, exciting, and delicious. For instance, we were served sweet potatoes at a bar the other night (love!). Apparently there are hundreds of different types of potatoes grown in this country. I also ate beef heart, which was incredible. Chewy, but incredible (I felt like I should be on one of those shows on the Travel Channel). I am a little shocked (and slightly heartbroken) over the fact that coffee is not a very common beverage, however I’m learning to appreciate the simple taste of tea.
Last night Tim, Sophie, Julio and I went to see the Final Four World Volleyball Championship Tournament. The Dominican Republic played Brazil and then the United States played Peru. Thanks to our involvement with Perupedia, we managed to get in as members of the press, meaning free entrance and prime seating in the press area. We also got to go into a little back room after the matches for the press conference with the coaches and some of the players. Very nice!
Seeing as the date is 9/11, I feel like I should make some mention of the attack on the World Trade Center in New York. With so much going on for me these past few days, I didn’t really realize what day it was until I opened up my Internet Explorer this morning and the main page popped up with a story about it. It just reminds me of how vast this world is; what is plastered all over the headlines in one country doesn’t even make the news in another. How many awful occurrences happen all over the world that we don’t pay any mind to in the US?
Okay, I’m off of my soapbox. I’m sure my time in Peru will be full of new experiences. I can’t wait to see what else is in store.