Sunday Morning, June 5, 2011 – Cieneguilla
The last 48 hours or so was a constant blur of activity. Friday morning Walter and I headed in to Lima to go to Movistar to get an internet connection for my computer. Movistar is like the DMV; lots of lines and lots of waiting. But, after 3 hours I had a plug-in internet connection. While we were waiting for the tech guy to install the device I asked Walter if I could pay for the three months worth of service there.
He said, “It’ll come on my phone bill.”
“Okay, I can pay you then?” I ask.
“It’s too bad you’re not ugly,” he replies, which seems like a non-sequitur to me.
Maybe he’s going to pay the expense for me? And if I looked like a troll he wouldn’t? Sometimes compliments come at weird times and I don’t ask for clarification. Having access to the world wide web was enough for that moment.
We lunched at a corner restaurant, both eating salad. I was hungry. There’s a market about one mile from Casa Del Gringo and I’ve been getting fruits and vegetables there. Eating the way I do does make things trickier and I have to work a little extra to ensure I don’t get overly hungry. I don’t have it all worked out yet, but I’m getting close.
Walter has to run several errands to get paperwork for some legal stuff he’s trying to sort out about his property and naturally enough I tag along.
I’m just amazed at the driving. It’s just insane. It’s as if lanes and laws are just guidelines. Somehow these drivers manage to survive their time on the road.
Outside one stop we make is a small Incan ruin. Walter leaves me there to view it while he goes to collect his paperwork. He leaves his car unlocked since I'm there. When he returns a man walks by the car and glances at Walter in astonishment. "You left your car open?" he asks.
"This is Peru," Walter tells him, tongue in check, "It's safe here."
Later we go meet up with Walter’s girlfriend, Mary. She lives in an apartment in Mira Flores (a suburb of Lima, where we’ve been all day). This is one secured apartment. You need a key to get in the front door. Then you pass through another door to go up 4 flights of stairs where you’re stopped by a giant metal locked gate. Mary comes out to let us in to the hallway. Then has to open the locked metal gate in front of her door and then undo the two locks on her main door. Even with all that, her house was recently broken in to. There is a lot of thievery still in Peru. So Walter tells me.
People are such strange creatures. Why would we take things from each other? Why would we have to go to such intense measures to guard things? This confounds me. Humans are weird.
One of Walter’s friends, Fernando – a 25 year old musician, lives in the same building as Mary, one flight of stairs below. Walter and I go down and visit with him. Walter had told me earlier that he wanted to introduce me to Fernando. He thought that it might be fun for me to hang out with people my own age and told me not take advantage of him since I was older. Right, that’s me, the femme fatale.
Walter leaves and I sit there in Fernando’s living room. He has guitars hanging from stands on the walls, leaning up against the furniture, and one in his hands. He teaches guitar classes. While I watch I write this:
The internet opens us up to the world
I sit here in Lima
With a bohemian boy
Who teaches guitar
To a girl in Canada
Teaching takes infinite patience.
When he’s done teaching his classes we talk, listen to music he’s written, and then later take a walk down the street. He wants to take me to eat Peruvian food. I’m really hungry at this point and could really go for something like rice and beans, or quinoa, or sweet potato.
“You know you’re going to get sick here in Peru at some point,” Fernando says, “from what you eat. So you might as well chance it now. Do you eat cow?”
Walter had told him I eat only fruits and veggies. When he asks me, I think hard. I don’t eat red meat (or meat) for health reasons. I’ve been a vegetarian for 3 years and the longer I don’t eat meat, the less I want to. I can’t do it. Not to please my new friend. So I shake my head and say, “No.”
“You won’t eat cow at all?”
“If you really won’t eat it, I’ll tell you what it was,” Fernando says. “Cow heart.”
He seems genuinely disappointed that he can’t introduce me to this great Peruvian food. We stop at a little street tienda. I get a bottle of water and a bag of Chifles (fried platano in vegetable oil and with salt), it’s about the only thing for me there. We take our snacks back to his apartment and then watch a few episodes of a TV series he likes called Hung.
Fernando speaks very good English. So we use a mixture of language. He asks me what I do and I tell him I write. He wants me to tell him some stories. So I do. Then I call Walter and he comes to unlock all the doors and let me into Mary’s apartment. I fall asleep to the raucous sound of the highway outside the window of the spare room.