Because I was expecting a less grandiose function, I didn’t bring my camera. I am very sad about that, because I found out when we arrived that this aunt is a biology professor at a university with an emphasis in botany. Her plants were so beautiful, I’d never seen most of them before in my life. I also walked the nearby streets quite a bit, since the plants there were spectacular as well. I plan to go back to the neighborhood to take pictures, because they are just stunningly beautiful. It’s a macro-photography dream.
Back home, nothing too exciting happened. Internet, games, pic editing, etc. I’m headed to the plaza for a little bit of dancing. I don’t know why I seem to always get dragged into these things when I’m in a foreign place. Stanford, a little at OSU, and now in Cuzco. Sigh. I think the club will be a great place to meet people my age, but oh boy it’ll be interesting. I wish I had more friends to go with than just some girl I met for 10 minutes in public transport, but here we are.
Yea, it was a little rough. I got to the Plaza 10 minutes before I was supposed to meet Melanie, when she texted me that she’d be 30 minutes later than anticipated. That is about right for Peruvian time, but I was still hanging out by myself. For a while I walked around. Then I sat by myself. I would stand up and go to a different bench whenever a vendor was looking like they were considering approaching me. There were quite a few other individuals who were sitting around, and I figured that this would be a great way to meet a new friend. If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been having difficulty making male friends. Almost everyone in the clinic that’s my age are female. Melanie is really the only other friend I have made at this point. Hopefully that will change once I get involved in a church, but that still won’t be for a week since I am going to the Urubamba Valley tomorrow. Anyway, so I see this guy without headphones in sitting on a bench and I start talking to him. His name is Jesus, and he’s working in Cuzco for a year but is actually from Lima. Wow he talks fast. I understood barely enough to have a conversation. But anyway, I have a male friend now. We decided to go to the discoteca together with the people we were waiting for, since that would be more fun for everyone. Melanie told me where to meet her so I temporarily parted ways with Jesus. When Melanie arrived, she had a man on her arm from the dance school. Apparently they dance together here every night. That seems like it would have been relevant information that it was only her and her boyfriend going. I probably wouldn’t have even come, I don’t want to seem intimidating nor endure the awkwardness of being a third wheel. I’m clearly not interested in this girl romantically, but I could tell by her boyfriend’s body language that he wasn’t thrilled that I was there. So, they went to the discoteca and I re-met up with Jesus, who had 2 women with him. It seemed like he knew one of them but not so much the other one. We found a place to sit in the place, and he bought us a round of mojitos. Wow, that is one strong drink in this place. And it’s pretty sweet and minty so you don’t have to go slow. After the one mojito I felt like I would after at least 2-3 beers. So here I am sitting awkwardly with people I don’t know at all, in a loud place where understanding and speaking Spanish is almost impossible for me. When I had to ask Jesus to repeat himself out in the peaceful plaza I knew I’d be in trouble inside. There were some lessons going on, but there were only one or 2 songs with that during the time I was there, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to leave my drink with people I had just met 15 minutes ago. I will show up to something like swing, but then I’ll usually need someone to help me get on the dance floor. Dancing is one of my major weaknesses. I don’t feel comfortable meeting lots of people at discotecas because that would involve me dancing, and I have zero confidence in that. So I basically hung out. Jesus talked to one lady, I tried talking to the other. It was tough with the noise, and I was only asking her questions; she didn’t really seem to care about anything I had to say. She was a teacher in a town well outside of Cuzco, and was probably 10 years older than I am. So, I sat thinking about how ridiculous this was. I have to be up at 6:15 tomorrow to go to Urubamba, so I had a good excuse to leave early. They left to another place, I went home. Not entirely a success, but I am glad to have another friend.
One highlight of the night was the taxi drivers. I know that riding the well-marked taxis is safe, but I figured there’s no way they would think of robbing me if they liked me after a good talk. The guy on the way there is from Cuzco and in his 70’s, and he only gets 3 hours of sleep a night because he works so much. He has a night shift in the taxi (works until 6 AM), then works another job from 7AM until 1. And apparently he has animals to take care of too. That’s an incredibly difficult life, I feel bad for the guy. On the way home was a younger guy, and he said he works 12 hour shifts every day. That’s also a rough life. I think after talking to these 2 gentlemen I have more respect for the taxi drivers of Peru. I love that I can interact with these people now because of my Spanish level increasing. I know I still make mistakes, but at least they can interpret what I sat and I can understand them.
I now consider my Spanish good enough that I will at least attempt to talk to complete strangers. This opens up many avenues of friend making, including public transport and public hangout places. In order to meet new people, you can bet that I’ll be taking advantage of these opportunities. I absolutely love my family here, but I need friends my age too. It’s only a matter of time until my network expands.