I'm in Lima… yay! It’s almost starting to feel real now, but not quite. This is my first time out of the United States and my first time flying alone. I got lucky on my plane ride from Houston to Lima. The woman I sat next to was a sweet little old lady. She is originally from Peru but has lived in the U.S. for over 50 years. She goes every year to visit her mother and sister in Lima. She told me lots of stories and gave me advice, and we found out that we share a love of KitKat bars. We both brought some with us for our trip. She said she always brings them to give to her family. She also told me that I had to try a fruit called chirimoya because it was her favorite. It is green and heart shaped and the meat inside is kind of like a pear. I got to try it the yesterday at lunch.
On Friday we went to the campus of La Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP), the school I will be attending. It is a large gated area in the middle of the city and there are guards at the main gate you go in through. There were also security guards standing around all over the place. Someone from my group said they heard that if you drop a piece of paper on the ground a guard will immediately come and pick it up to keep the campus clean. It is really beautiful. There are all sorts of trees everywhere: regular trees, flowering trees, palm trees, and cacti all mingled together and lot of flowers. There are deer that wander around campus too. We saw them following around the gardeners and trying to eat the plants out of the wheelbarrow they were using.
Coming from Iowa, it amazes me how open all the buildings are. Most of the buildings have hallways and stairwells that are open to the outside. There is even a mall that is built into the side of a cliff. If you stand on the street at the top you can look down to the bottom level and see everyone walking around on the bottom level. And just beyond the mall is the Pacific Ocean. I just imagine a huge rain storm or snow every time I see a place with no roof. But they don’t get snow and it hardly ever rains so it works for them. Most places actually keep windows open because they don’t have air conditioning everywhere like we do in the states.
Traffic in Lima is crazy! Everyone just weaves around each other. At one point on the ride from the airport, our taxi was sitting across 3 lanes waiting for a red light because he wanted to turn. Cars have to push their way in if they turn onto a busy street and there a people honking all the time. Some of us where walked to the mall last night and the taxis would slow down and honk whenever they passed us to see if we wanted a ride. “Pedestrians have the right of way” is pretty much non-existent here. Even if you have a crosswalk light, the cars that are turning right will just honk at you and threaten to plow you down if you don’t get out of the way.
Saturday we went to a huge buffet and tried a lot of Peruvian food and then took a tour of some of the districts of Lima. We drove down to the beach and I got to see an ocean in daylight for the first time. I’m already sunburnt, so I’m a little afraid to go to the beach. I have a feeling I’m going to go through a lot of sunblock in the next few months.