First thing in the morning I talked with Monica, the lady downstairs who has the travel agency. She was able to find us a very reasonable price for our trip. By reasonable I of course mean absurdly cheap. Our hotel is 30 soles per night per person and includes a private bathroom and breakfast. I’m staying 2 nights, so 60 soles. The trips to Sillustani (ancient, massive stone structures that pre-date the Incas) and Islas Uros (man-made floating islands) are 35 and 30 soles respectively. In total, minus the inexpensive bus, I’m paying 125 soles, or $46. I’m amazed that I can go to a city during their biggest weekend of the year and get such low prices. I talked to Tania afterward, and she said the only reason we could get these prices is because she knows Monica. If it weren’t for that, it would be very expensive. I’m sure most foreigners would have to pay hundreds of dollars to attend this event. In Peru it is so crucial to know people.
In the afternoon, I wanted to go to the Market in Santiago to get some shoes for those low prices. First of all, this place is very different on Saturdays. Last time I went it was very peaceful and there was plenty of space to move around. Today, the whole road was blocked off with tents 3-wide in the street. The small lanes between the tents were 100% packed with people. This is probably the busiest market that I’ve seen during my time in Peru. It’s incredible how little you can spend here to get authentic, high-quality items. Tania told me I could probably get a North Face coat for about 100 soles, which is around $40. I’m not sure how I’m going to take all this back to the US, but that is a savings of $200 that I may well take advantage of. I ended up getting a new pair of New Balance’s for $50 and a new pair of DC’s for $70. I’m not sure it’s even possible to get those kinds of prices in the US for authentic, new, name-brand shoes. I also looked for a backpack to replace my old, broken one, but didn’t find one that quite fit my tastes.
After a delicious lunch, I met Luis at the mall to help him practice his English. I was able to understand him quite well, although he tends to speak quietly which was hard in the busy, loud food court. I enjoyed hanging out with him, he’s really a great guy. He lives a fairly solitary life, living alone and working so much that he doesn’t have much time to go out with friends. The woman who runs his housing place sounds crazy, she forces them to be in the building by 9:30PM every night. It would be hard to maintain external friendships with that kind of deadline.
Later he decided to join me for church at La Vid for the youth service. We hung out in my house for a little while, then headed to the church. It was easy to walk now that I know the way. The worship is even more exciting on Saturday nights. Dancing, running around, all of it. I enjoyed it a lot. We sang “Here I am” in Spanish, so I alternated singing the Spanish words on the screen with the English in my head. It was fantastic. I think it was a lot for Luis to take in since he is more of a quiet, peaceful person, but he did seem to be interested in it all. The topic of the day was sex, as I suppose I should expect for a youth service. Nothing that was said was entirely new to me, although I will confess that this speaker was a little more difficult to understand and he spoke very passionately. It’s interesting to hear talks about topics I’m familiar with in another language.
Luis had to leave early to get home before the crazy lady shut the doors. For the rest of the evening I hung out with Carlos and the group of guys in the Celulas. It took a long time to decide what to get to eat, but I don’t think we did an entirely good job. We got burgers for everyone, but they weren’t very big. It was almost 11 at this point, and I hadn’t eaten dinner. One little burger only made my stomach realize how much it wanted to eat. The night was good, Peruvians are very direct and aren’t afraid to get deep with people they don’t know. It was hard to understand everything and to communicate my thoughts, but I at least managed to get by.