I feel like I shouldn’t be learning a ton every day anymore since I’ve been here 3 weeks, but that’s not the case. I woke up today after a nice full night of sleep, and decided I’d run later in the day to give myself a bit of a break. We hung out for a while, then we had breakfast. This was pretty spectacular. They made orange juice by squeezing oranges as is commonly done in the US, then they added papaya and a little sugar and blended it. MMmmm. I’d advise trying it.
In the late morning I went with Joaquin to the park. This usually has an admission cost of 50 centimos to enter, but Sandro was friends with the lady at the gate so we got in free. In the US, we usually at least pretend that we are giving friends special treatment for some other reason other than just our relationship. Peru doesn’t have the same cover-up. Of course 1 sol is a little over 30 US cents which is nothing, but it does speak to the cultural difference between the 2 countries. We’ve been trying to do this basically since I arrived, so I was glad we finally found a time that worked out. For most of the time he played soccer with some neighbor kids while I watched. It seemed to be the blob version of soccer where all the kids run after the ball instead of having well-defined positions. They seemed to have fun, and I find that I do enjoy myself when I watch soccer. Coming here makes me wish even more that I’d have played as a kid, since it would be a great way to connect with people. Soccer is basically another universal language like music and mathematics. We did end up playing some Frisbee as well, which made me miss the States a little bit. I have a deep longing to show up to an Ultimate Frisbee Saturday again.
Eventually the family came to pick us up, and we were off for the afternoon. First we visited the grave of Sandro’s dad, who passed some time ago. The graves are much different here than those I’ve seen in the US. Instead of grave stones spread throughout the ground, they have a whole complex of what I can best describe as cabinets for each person. I assume the body (or at least ashes) is behind the visible cabinet part. I again didn’t have my camera so I can’t show you. Each section is about 5 tall and 10 wide. In these ‘cabinets,’ the families can put cherished objects to remember their loved one. This typically consists of a picture, flowers, religious figures, and other objects that the person would have held dear. For example, the person next to Sandro’s dad had a small Fanta soda bottle. I think it’s neat that they are able to have a little lockable enclosed area for each person, it allows the family to do a better job of putting significant artifacts near the deceased than we have in the US.
Next the family introduced me to a market that’s only open on the weekends, but has great deals on many US apparel and shoes. I need to buy some grub shoes for my workplaces, so I’ll probably do that here. I may also get some nice shoes to just wear around since I can’t just have my running shoes on all the time. I can get a pretty nice pair of casual shoes for around 150 soles, which is below $60. That’s spectacular compared to the US. I also saw that they had some guitars and other instruements! I will probably check those out for the sake of curiosity. I didn’t have any money today, but I will return when I have the cash.
The final stop was the Mercado San Pedro. To me, this place is crazy. Imagine a huge farmers market. Make sure it’s on the streets of a major city. Now imagine the street packed with 3 vendors across in a 2-lane street, along with stores along the sides. The food is just set on tarps to keep it off the streets, and most of the vendors have some of the traditional brightly colored Peruvian garb. Everything is very cheap, so that’s why Tania wanted to come here to get food for the week. There is also an indoor part that’s the actual Mercado San Pedro, and that isn’t quite as wild to me. But it’s hard to believe that there are that many farmers in Cuzco who make such a variety of crops. They also had much of the traditional Peruvian clothes, and I’m sure it’s much less expensive than near the plaza. I plan to check this out later this week, especially since I found out they have great lunches for only 5 soles. Less than $1.50. That’s legit.
When we got home I scarfed down lunch and peaced out to the ProWorld office since I offered to meet Matt and Stephan at 4:00PM this Sunday on Skype. Matt couldn’t make it, which was fine because my internet completely misbehaved at ProWorld. I spent 2 hours wrestling it to no avail except seeing Matt’s comment about not making it. That’s it. Next time I need to just go to the mall and get into a cheap place with wifi. But it kept tempting me with almost working so that’s why I didn’t leave earlier. I did leave quite frustrated though, there was a lot I wanted to do.
As soon as I got back from ProWorld I bounced over to the church that Nick Balcombe and his wife (my family in Lima) told me about. It’s called La Vid, and it’s not too far from where I live. It took me about 20 minutes to walk, but it would be much faster if I took a Combi. I was entirely at the mercy of the people of the church, since the guy who I knew was arriving late so I couldn’t meet him. I should’ve known the church would follow Peruvian time (start after the official 6:30PM listed time) so I didn’t have to rush, but I hurried to get there anyhow. I must confess that I was a little nervous because this church is large, with about 7000 members. They have 2 services so each is similar to the size of Mars Hill. I think this place is smaller than my church, but it is very large. I shouldn’t have been nervous because in MI I have experience a massive churches. Within a few minutes a guy came up to me and started talking to me. His name is Carlos, and he leads 2 groups for people my age! One on Wednesdays and one on Fridays. I chose Wednesdays since Fridays would be less consistent if I travel. But this is an answer to so many prayers, I’ve been searching for a solid Christian community here my whole time. I can’t wait to meet the whole group of people, having community again will be wonderful. Having Carlos to help me understand what was going on was also great. I would have been very confused when everyone ran to the right during a song if I hadn’t been forewarned. He does speak English well too, but I learned that after we parted ways this evening. He also prayed over me a few times over the service, and even if it wasn’t in my native language it was still encouraging to me. I enjoyed the teaching as well, it was about discerning what God is calling us into, following several passages in Luke. It went about 3 hours, but that sounds typical here. As long as they're preaching the Word of God I don’t honestly care how much they talk. It was certainly different than an American church, but it wasn’t as different as I’d have thought. I felt at home, and I’m very happy to finally have a male friend J