It’s June 2, 2011 and I’m sitting in my room at Casa Del Gringo in Cieneguilla, Peru. There’s a little dresser with my clothes in it, a few side tables, a bed, a bathroom. I’ve set out the wood carving my brother made for me of The Little Prince, some crystals my dad gave me, put my short stack of books on a bedside table and balanced Gauguin’s Moon and the Earth against the wall to make this my space, my new home.
This morning, after I do The Five Tibetan Rites by the pool, Walter and I ride his motorcycle the mile into Cieneguilla so he can get some things from the hardware store and I can get some things from the market. I’m wearing a skort and flip flops. The whole time I’m thinking to myself that one of my ex-boyfriends would have a fit if he saw me; not only am I not wearing a helmet but I have no protective gear on at all, unless you count the oversized Hollywood style celeb sunglasses I’m wearing. Eye protection has to count for something, right?
“The trick to surviving in Peru,” Walter tells me,” is to ask the price of something and then go to a different place and ask again. If the prices differ go to a third place. If they’re the same then chances are they aren’t trying to gyp you.” I follow his advice at the market. Adjusting to another monetary system is tricky. One sol is just like another sol to me. I buy some onions, cilantro, a beet, carrots and garlic. Back at Casa Del Gringo I wash all the produce in a water and bleach mixture and then boil my veggies into a soup.
It’s a gas stove and Walter tells me to be sure and use the cooking time wisely. Otherwise I’ll be buying a thing of gas each week and that’s about 40 sols. Remember, one sol is just like another to me. But I do mark the fact that boiling water is not a task to be taken lightly.