Family Life in Arequipa
Trip Start Sep 02, 2010
77Trip End Jun 13, 2011
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It's been great to be in a relatively normal situation again: in a house. With a family. Still, "normal" is obviously a relative term. On our first night with the host family, the power went out. On the second night, the water went out. The city turned off the water...for a full 24 hours. Maybe this is normal for Arequipa? I guess it actually started to feel normal for me, too. After all, I'd just had such an experience while in Puno! This was, once again, a good opportunity to practice patience.
But let me back up a step
As we got to know them that week, they kindly offered to take us on little treks around town, and we accepted enthusiastically. One of the coolest things we did was walk around the oldest (and least touristy) part of town that is undergoing a renovation/gentrification project. Howard works for this project, so he gave us the insider's play-by-play. He showed us damage from a 1958 earthquake, the oldest "surviving" balcony in Arequipa, and an alpaca goods factory. And he helped us imagine how this area would soon come to life with restaurants, gas lamps, and hotels. For the most part, I was able to follow his Spanish, which was an experience in itself.
Another experience that was both familial/comforting AND culturally bewildering was our family trip to Howard's gym
As we wandered around the campus, we had fun watching a bowling competition and a rigorous dance practice. (See the attached clip of the impressive young 'uns practicing the national Peruvian dance.) But the highlight was watching the bocce match (in, of course, a whole gymnasium built JUST for bocce, with 4-5 courts). These guys were amazing. As the other spectators smoked their cigarettes, gossiped, and patted each other on the back, we soaked up the scene. Apparently, these guys play every night until 1:30-2:00 in the morning before heading back to work
As for our own workouts, Dan and I have had fun heading out the door for 6 am runs with our oldest host brother, Enrique. He apparently used to play pro football for Arequipa's team, but he now has bad knees (ahh, meniscus damage!). In the early morning, it's relatively easy to wind our way through various Arequipa neighborhoods with our running shoes on. A perfect way to explore the city and practice our Spanish.
It's been so nice to feel something that I hope to experience frequently while on our trip: the paradox of being both part of something familiar, comfortable... and yet distanced enough to analyze it as a totally new and different cultural encounter.
(See below for more photos of Arequipa, including the cool video clip of the Peruvian dance.)