Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday

We checked out of the Villa Molina, our Lima digs, in time to meet our ride to the airport at 7:30. Peru is beginning to celebrate what is effectively a week of Independence Day festivities (the actual day is tomorrow), so auto traffic was lighter than usual. But, for the same reason, "people" traffic at the airport was heavy. All went smoothly, with only minor hiccups, and we touched down in Arequipa, about 450 miles southeast of Lima, at 12:30. The first thing we noticed, and immediately welcomed, was the brilliant sunshine. It virtually never rains in Lima, but, during the winter, it's perpetually drizzly and 60-something degrees. Arequipa is true desert--warmer than Lima by day and cooler by night. We were met by Bishop Alejandro and one of his priests, Fr Ricardo. They took us to the guest house where we are spending the night, where we dropped off our luggage and immediately went back out for lunch at a nearby restaurant. After the meal, Fr Ricardo was our host for the afternoon. He took us to a shopping mall, where Brenda and I purchased supplementary apparel, given that nighttime lows where we are headed tomorrow will hover around the freezing mark. With that chore accomplished, we picked up his lovely wife Karen, and we were off on an excellent tour of Arequipa, focusing on church buildings from the Spanish colonial period, of which there is an abundance. After helping us acquire a supply of bottled water (dangerous for gringos to drink tap water here), we were dropped off back at our lodging. The three of us then found a nearby restaurant for a relaxing dinner.

I was dog-tired, and here's why: My Spanish is not that good, but none of our Arequipa hosts have as much English as I have Spanish. And not only do I have to speak Spanish and listen to Spanish, I have to serve as interpreter for Brenda and Fr Mark. I'm quite out of my depth, but I'm afraid that's the way it's going to be for the rest of our time in Peru. The bright side of this is that my Spanish is going to get a lot better. It already has, thanks to Fr Ricardo's willingness to speak slowly and use simple words. But it wears me out, nonetheless.

Tomorrow we head out again by van, driving further in-country through and to some very isolated territory, including a pass over the crest of the Andes at 15,000 feet. I don't know what the wifi situation will be where we bed down tomorrow night. There may not be any. If I go silent, assume that's the reason.

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