June 27, 2009

Peru, Week 1

Sorry… I{ve either been to tired or too busy to post. Also, I apologize for punctuation and occasional spelling mistakes as I adjust to the Spanish keyboard.

SO I arrived in Lima last Saturday at around 10, then stood in the longest customs line, then waited another hour for the bags to come off the plane. Fortunately my next flight was only at 3.45 am, but that also meant I had nearly five hours to wait around. I didn{t want to check in hella early and all the restaurants and stores were closed, so I parked myself and my luggage under an arrivals-departures board and did some more of the reading for the week. (The flight to Lima was only 6 hours, by the way. And I{m on central time.) Anyway, by the time I got to the gate I was so tired I fell asleep. And then I fell asleep again on the plane (and woke up and the flight attendant had apparently lowered the tray table on top of me and put a snack on it – “Tiempo para un snack” it said). When we arrived in Arequipa, it was FREEZING. This has been the weather pattern for the week – 80s during the day and 40s at night. We were picked up by the hotel, checked in, and promptly went to sleep.

Sunday was relaxing; everyone was arriving and I spent the day outside, reading and dozing in a hammock. That night they took us out for Turkish-with-a-Peruvian-twist. Apparently that{s the thing to do here: lunch is a big meal with traditional Arequipeña cuisine, and dinner is something foreign. Except that it{s not entirely foreign – everything is Foreign “with a Peruvian twist”. We have had Turkish, Italian, French, pizza, and Chinese all with a Peruvian twist. (Turkish was the best, Chinese the worst, and Italian might have given me food poisoning Tuesday night.)

Monday we drove to the university – by drove I mean they put us in taxis, making sure there is at least one Spanish speaker per taxi and at night, at least one Spanish speaker and one male –  to have classes. At about 1 we left, again in taxis, for a restaurant with a pre-set menu so we could have quick lunch, then back to the university. It{s actually a really beautiful campus, four-story buildings painted beige and light orange with big outdoor quads and rosebushes between them. The whole thing is a compound and you need IDs to enter, so it{s safer than the surrounding streets.

Short bits: Tuesday and Thursday afternoons we took field trips to three sites and the antiwuities department, respectively. The latter, like many things around here, is housed in an awesome colonial building.

Arequipa is called “the White City” because all the original colonial buildings are made of white volcanic stone. Everything else, though, is painted in bright colors – orange, yellow, periwinkle, bright blue.

Things are super cheap here. You can get laundry done for about $3.50 and a meal for the same. Last night I splurged and had lomo saltado and sangria and the whole meal cost $10.

Last night we also went to a club after dinner – it played good dance music, mostly reggaeton and techno. I had my seond pisco sour of the week, then found out they make pisco sours with raw egg whites, and decided never to have a pisco sour again. (Even though they taste really good.) Today we had a barbecue at Nene{s country club. We got to ride her horse and meet her sister and some of her family friends – this guy Diego, who was about our age, showed us around the stable and I got to see all the other horses. I rode around the paddock a couple of times before I realized that if I didn{t stop soon all the empanadas would be gone, and most of the rest of the barbecue was pigs on spits (and potatoes. We are in the home of the potato, after all). There were also guinea pigs (cuyes, after the sound they make). I tried a tiny piece and, like the pisco sour, decided never to eat it again. It was kind of like dark meat chicken, but stringy and oily, although that was possibly because they were fried. It was also mostly fat and bone, which thrilled Max-the-zooarchaeologist, who spent about an hour defleshing it to study the bones.

cuy

cuy cuy cuy cuy

Tomorrow we leave for the field at about 2, and then no internet until Friday. I just hope the field house has hot water, otherwise I{m just not showering until then either.

“Does excitado mean excited? Because I just realized that might also mean horny, and I{ve been using that word about going out to the field.” -Ben (our TA)

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