After a shower in the tiny bathroom (hot water, which I didn't realize I was lucky to have) and a breakfast of half a banana and a roll with jam, we embarked into Lima. This is when it really hit me that I was in Peru, and I was struck with how amazing it was that I was there. It was so great to see the city by day. In some ways, it was just like any other big city in the U.S., but it was also very different. I thought it was charming. I felt uncharacteristically adventurous with my backpack strapped on, walking the streets of Lima. We stopped by an internet cafe to call our parents. The payphones were surprisingly inexpensive, considering we were making international calls.
From there, we went in search of a bus. Buses in Peru are a lot like taxis in that you sort of flag them down on the street, except they're jam-packed with people and you have to jump on as fast as you can. If you're lucky, you get a seat. In this case, we stood, backpacks and all, en route to Chaclacayo. This was my first view of crazy Peruvian drivers. All of the vehicles are crowded onto one-way streets. The cars next to you are close enough to touch, and if there's an inch of front of your car, someone will take that opportunity to pass you. It was quite terrifying the first couple of days, especially when we were in taxis, but after that it was just funny. I swear that Peruvian drivers must be highly skilled, because I didn't see one traffic accident while we were there. The other thing I noticed is that the Andes mountains around Lima are not green. Quite honestly, they were like giant mounds of dirt. For someone used to green mountains, it was incredibly odd.
In Chaclacayo, we visited a lovely woman named Rosita. She was one of Bergs' pensionistas in Peru, which means that she cooked all of the missionaries' meals (the Church gives them money for food, but they donate their time and talents). On our way to her house, I noticed that all of the houses had bars over the windows, but they're all very decorative bars. A lot of them were in flower designs. Also, all of the houses are right next to each other. I didn't see a single free-standing house. Rosita's house was nice looking on the outside as well as the inside. Most houses were fairly nice, but simple, on the inside, but were very rough-looking on the outside.
Rosita was very excited to see "Hermana Bergsjo", and was very gracious in welcoming me to her home. She made us lunch: aji de gallina, which is chicken in a cream sauce over rice. Aji is a hot sauce. A very hot hot sauce. Bergs warned me that a little went a long way, and I thought I had done that, but it was still so hot (I have a low tolerance for hot foods). Needless to say, I felt like my mouth was on fire. Many Peruvians were amused by this tale during the duration of our visit. With lunch, Rosita gave me Inca Kola! Inca Kola is like the official drink of Peru. You know how we see Pepsi everywhere? That's how Inca Kola is. It tastes like a cross between cream soda and bubble gum, and it's violently yellow colored. I loved it!
Before, during, and after lunch, I found that I was able to follow the conversation fairly well. I don't speak much Spanish, but enough of it is similar to French or English (and Bergs has an American enough accent) that I could at least pick out the subject most of the time. This was helpful in me not feeling like an idiot. I was able to actually enjoy the conversation. Rosita asked if we had boyfriends, and was shocked that we didn't (actually, everyone we visited asked this and was shocked). It was amusing. I also got asked a lot if I would date a Peruvian.
Since this post is getting quite long, I believe this is a good place to stop. Good news: pictures start in the next post! And the story for why the first two posts had no pictures will be on a future post.
Thanks for reading.