Monday, September 1, 2008

Caminando en Salamanca

For the past two days, I’ve woken up with the faint hope of sunshine and walked out into the living room to see the sun staring me in the face! Lima is even more beautiful under a blue sky. Yesterday I sat on the roof of our apartment building overlooking all of Salamanca. The tall apartments fill the landscape—blue, grey, red, brown, green, yellow boxes with cement tops and clotheslines. For all the manmade buildings, there is still so much vegetation. You can find a park every three streets, and tall royal palms and poinsettia trees hover over rooftops. The colors, dulled and weathered by time, climb slowly up into the hills and in the background sit on the sides of the mountains. Brown mounds of dirt, the mountains appear rugged like the Rockies but dry like sand dunes. The range hugs the outskirts of Salamanca to the east.

Yesterday, I went on a walk and felt drawn out toward the mountains, so I walked down street after street until I basically stood at their feet. On the way, the lively sounds of car horns and music and neighbors calling to each other swarmed around me as I walked. When I reached the neighborhood plaza, I truly felt like I was in the South America I’d imagined. Smells of rich Peruvian food cooked fresh in small local restaurants came from every direction. The marketplace buzzed with people and street vendors, and the shops brightened the street with color.

I spent much of the time trying to figure out where I was and memorize the way I took so I could make it back home. I’ve never had much of a sense of direction, but my fear of getting lost and knowing less Spanish than I’d like kept me on my toes. The past few days have sharpened my ability to understand conversation, but I still struggle with speaking the language.

I certainly had my fill of it by the time I got home last night. We played soccer with the guys in the neighborhood for a few hours in the afternoon. Bien hecho (good job) got me through that okay. Afterwards we had lunch with our neighbors (at 5 o’clock… my stomach is still adjusting to this culture), and then went to youth group—reunion de los jovenes.

My precious friend Tito, who's 15, told me a little bit of his testimony. His dad is a pastor, so he grew up in the Church. But he accepted Jesus personally a year ago, and when he did that suddenly God gave him this gift for playing guitar. He really is phenomenal for only having played one year, so props to Jesus for that.

The rest of the evening consisted of a trip to El Marginal, the edge of our neighborhood, where all the Peruvians ate cow heart. I passed on that. I guess I don’t have the guts of Ben Carroll who drank tribal goat’s milk and blood, but I’m okay with that fear because I also have never been bedridden with Malaria… :)

Anyway, Saturday was clearly pretty fun, and today has been a good Sabbath. Susan and I picnicked on the roof till the cold set in, and are settling in our cozy apartment for the night. Ciao, amigos!