F I V E feels wonderfully heavy. So far away from home; too close to the half-way mark; and consistently full . . . of moments like these (Lima edition):
- I go to the mercado around the corner from where I live daily. In the morning, I hang out with Doris while having her delicious quinoa drink and one of her simple but filling sandwiches. Then in the evenings, I sit on a green egg carton and talk to Goya while drinking her freshly made soy milk (her milk is the favorite at the mercado because it’s flavored with toasted sesame seeds).
- Miraflores may be where all the blonde gringos live, but there are way more cats and kittens sleeping and playing in this area of Lima! I am still amazed at the number of friendly cats every time I stroll by Kennedy Park .
- Partying in Lima means dancing inside an industrial looking club in Barranco or singing Karaoke inside your own private box room with eight other people (who knew such a thing existed). Oh and Pisco sour or Chilcanos are mandatory.
- Lima is surfing paradise, so I excitedly followed my AirBnb host to Miraflores thinking I could take a lesson. As the wet suit was handed to me, the reality of it all dawned on me – crashing waves, gloomy sky, the swallowing of salt water – and I chickened out. I promise I’ll try again.
- My roommate Magali and I befriended some guys selling delicious falafel at Barranco’s organic market, who invited us to an event they were putting together for the embassy of Qatar to commemorate the country’s national day. We showed up at the fancy Swiss Hotel and enjoyed an amazing buffet of Peruvian and middle eastern food and desserts. Before leaving, we had a photo-shoot in the lobby with the coolest life-size ginger-bread house.
- A friend invited me to his uncle’s wedding. There weren’t many interesting wedding rituals like I hoped, just the typical bouquet toss (which I was forced to participate in). The only odd (and disappointing) tradition is that the beautiful wedding cake on display was fake! Everyone instead received an unimpressive slice of cake inside a white box.
- Goya invited me to a mass that venerates the virgen of her pueblo in Cuzco. We drank ponche de habas before going inside the adorned church where women and men in blue robes sang in Quechua, and afterwards there was a Chocolatada, which is the Peruvian form of a Mexican Posada. Everyone got thick hot chocolate and a large slice of bread, then before leaving we each got our own Paneton (large fruit cake sold at every store during this Christmas season).
- Magali gave me a little tour of Barranco that included a visit to the Museum of Mario Testino (MATE). A large portion of the museum was dedicated to showcase his giant pictures of celebrities (J.Lo, Kate Moss, etc), while the second exhibition had amazing photographs of Cusqueños wearing folklore customs.
There was a separate exhibition at the back of the museum with its own entrance. The walls were covered with phrases, drawings, and shapes made with paint. Around 10 minutes and a mini photoshoot later, we noticed the buckets of paint at the back of the room and realized we too could paint on the walls!
I painted the word “sororidad,” a term I learned during my time in the DR and that has become extremely important to me (I’ll have to dedicate te entirety of the next post to writing about it) and also painted the name of my project, “Daughter of Women”, next to an awesome painting of two women who’s hands were touching.
In the most recent email I received from the Watson Foundation they wrote “the Watson year is a gift.” As I look back at the last 5 months and think of what is to come, I can’t help but smile and feel an immense amount of gratitude.
*This Christmas morning I arrived in Cuzco! I’m definitely feeling the altitude and the cold so I’m taking it slow -literally, since it feels like I’m perpetually jogging – and drinking lots of mate de coca tea at my hostel. Feliz Navidad!