|Arwen, the 9-year-old family pup.|
Finally, after 17 hours of travel, I made it from the door of my apartment to the door of what will be home for the next 4 days! Hello, San Isidro, Lima, Peru!
My host mother is lovely. She greeted me at the airport with a sign with my name on it. I waved at her, and she enthusiastically waved back and hustled over to meet me. She greeted me with a huge hug and a kiss on the cheek.
In our 30 minute ride to her house, I learned all about her family and entire family history. Her ex-husband is a 3rd generation Peruvian of full Japanese descent. Her sisters and brothers are scattered across the globe, in Switzerland, Canada, Japan, and Ecuador. She was excited to learn that I was born in and lived in Japan because of her obsession with Japanese culture growing up... hence, she admitted, the Japanese ex-husband.
Alicia worked for the British consulate for 22 years. She's a Peruvian national, but she's lived in Britain for 2 years, Ecuador for 2 years, and probably a number of other places she's yet to share with me. She's traveled the globe.
Alicia is probably in her 50s and now sustains herself with a job that she finds very rewarding as a secretary from her elementary school alma mater. She also runs a consulting service with her extensive experience at the Britsh consulate. Finally, she's kept busy with her parade of guests like me with AirBNB. She's unlike any host I've stayed with before with her hospitality. Every morning, she sets out breakfast for me--scrambled eggs, French pressed coffee, an assortment of tea and fresh cut tropical fruits, jam, butter, and toast. Last night, she prepared a small supper for me and we chatted for over an hour about politics in Peru, the changes she's seen in Lima over the past few decades, and off-the-beaten path sights in the jungle to the west and in the mountains to the north. I regret pre-booking my tours and accommodations before meeting Alicia! Sounds like I would have had a unique,more local experience had I met her before making my plans for the summer.
Alicia is born and raised in Peru (other than her ex-pat stints as a 20something), who's hosted many tourists and worked with many ex-pats within Peru. She's fluent in multiple languages, is knowledgeable on world history and other cultures, is well-connected with others in the tourist industry, and loves food and bars. All that to say that she is the absolute perfect resource for tips for going about Peru. She understands (and empathizes with) my desire to eat good and see the real Lima despite my shoestring budget. She's taught me so much about the developing parts of Lima (the part that tourists rarely bother to see, or perhaps is hidden away for tourists) and has recommended dozens of ceviche, pisco, and 'sanguche' bars and restaurants. Tonight, she'll take my sister and I out on a night in the down to see the town center as it's transformed when the sun goes down and the lights illuminate a new atmosphere. Afterwards, she'll take us out to dinner and pisco bar that's "lovely, just absolutely lovely," she says.
I arrived Tuesday at midnight. It's now Friday noon and so much has happened already. I can't wait to see what the next 6 weeks in Peru has in store for me!