Thursday, May 13
To be honest, I think it would be impossible to do the day justice. I feel like I lived more in that single day than I have in nearly any other I can remember. I should expect this given a new country and everything, but it is still difficult to process and maintain a decent chronology of events – this may also be due to the 2 hours of sleep from which was unwelcomingly interrupted by Austin’s trumpet of a snore. Though I was tired and experiencing severe sensory overload, my spirits were high and remain that way now.
After my “nap” we had breakfast which consisted of cereal, juices (literally freshly squeezed orange and papaya), and yogurt, which comes in one-quart containers and is delicious. I wish we had such yogurt in the states. Ilda, the maid, is responsible for nearly all preparation and clean up as far as I can tell. The Galdos family fully expects her to do nearly everything as far as I can tell, and we Americans definitely struggle with what type of relationship we should have with Ilda.
After breakfast we got ready to go to the travel agency in order to pay for our Cuzco trip (which I am currently en route to). We ended up having to pay 3.6% extra because I paid with my debit card, which was frustrating, but the only was around that would have been to bring $1300 cash. I forgot to bring my pasaporte, but, thankfully, I remembered the number so it wasn’t a big deal. I should mention that I forgot to bring my passport because I was playing Street Fighter IV with Mafoot and took a thorough beating I might add. Interestingly, Mafoot’s English is quite worse than either Mauricio’s or Jasmin’s because he went to a different school. Turns out that attending a British Academy (Primary School?) improves your English noticeably. Anyways, the trip to the agency was long and tenuous given the small Galdos family car which barely fits the five of us snugly. We still enjoy driving around because the area is unique and the novelty of a new country hasn’t, and I hope wont, worn off yet. It seems like it takes forever to get anywhere, and a trip to downtown takes the entire day.
After the travel agency we made our way to Mauri’s father’s factory/place of business. It is called Santa Patricia’s textiles or something along those lines. As I expected, it is easy to understand why the Galdos family has such a nice home. There were at least 6 massive machines making different textiles operating at once. The designs are quite impressive, and the bustling atmosphere implies that business is good. It turns out that Sr, Galdos works from 8am-10pm every day but Sunday, and his hard work has really paid off. We saw some of the business awards SP has won which include best business of the year (we were told that it was among textile companies) from 2002-2007 and apparently other awards were stored away elsewhere. While some may not take great pride in random awards and recognition, Ricardo told me specifically that the awards were “priceless,” and I like to think of them as a manifestation of his passion and hard work. I left proud to have a friend who’s father is a self-made man, and does not settle for mediocrity. It excites him to still be expanding, as the building has two additional floors to grow into. Part of me wishes that one of his sons would take over the business and continue the hard work, but the whole family knows that it won’t happen – it turns out that the struggle to differentiate from your parents is universal. Regardless, We were all proud of everything about the business, and I hope they continue to do well.
We stopped for beer on the way back from the family business, as I was more than wont to do. We all got something different, although I don’t know if Mauricio really considers any alcohol here really different. It turns out that the beer here is almost exactly the same as many beers back home. My brand, Pilsen, tasted almost exactly like one of our light beers, and I am convinced that it is the Bud Light of South America even if it can only be found in Peru. Jake got a girly beer called Quara and was promptly mocked by Mafoot upon return to the house. I did find it funny, however, that Mauricio had tried and enjoyed it. Part of me thinks it is sad I indulge my journal with 10 lines focused on our beer purchase… perhaps time away from college will change my thought process, but, for now, I am excited to try their beer and have a couple drinks with my friends, Mauricio’s family and, hopefully, Ilda! Maury’s mother’s parents were waiting for us when we returned with beer in hand, which had the potential to be awkward, but I am pretty sure his grandfather has had many a beer himself and would jump at the chance to drink with us should the opportunity present itself.
Dinner was ready and served soon after we got back, and I would definitely consider it the highlight of my day. We had the same thing that Maury and Jose had prepared for us at White Apt 2 last year, but Ilda’s cooking and the condiments that were available made it totally unique to me. The meal was beef steak cooked with peppers and tomatoes served on rice with fresh, homemade french-fries on top of it all. My favorite part was definitely the condiments which are called Aji and something else resembling the world Ricotta. They were spicy, but the warnings I received from the family were unnecessary as it was definitely not too hot (my nose wasn’t even running which is what I usually consider the perfect measure of spice). Regardless of how spicy the sauce was, it added a kick to the dish that was spectacular, and no amount of words could grasp how I felt about the meal. I wanted to eat until there was none left, but I refrained myself (which I am quite proud of btw) and saved room for ice cream and homemade hot chocolate syrup. We washed the whole meal down with Inca Cola which, apparently, is the only soft drink that outsells Coke here in Peru.
Dinner was at least an hour and a half experience, and I felt like the day was so much later than 5pm, but at least we still had time to do the last few remaining errands for the day. We had to go change our money to the Nuevo Sol and the exchange rate was exactly 2.82 Nuevo Sol to the Dollar, so I felt pretty well-off leaving with near 400 soles. After changing our money we went to this clothing store that has name-brand clothing for really cheap. I knew we would be going to a store like this at some point, and I came with the full intention of returning to the USA with a new, brand-name ward robe. I was slightly dismayed, however, in the selection offered and the higher price of the nice dress shirts. While I do understand that these shirts are ~100 in the States, $35 still didn’t seem too cheap, but what can I do? I bought a pink Armani shirt for 10$ and we all bought matching Banana Republic briefs which we plan to take pictures in at some point over the next month (I am imagining some sort of Hollister poster with 4 scarcely clad men leaning against a rail facing away from the camera… it is just an idea, but I can hope). Our final destination was the mall where we picked up Jasmin. It should definitely be noted that there are not hot chicks in Peru. The segue from Jasmin to no hot chicks is not intentional I promise… I guess I thought mall then girls then the homely ones we found at the mall. I don’t know why I was expecting hot Latinas to be rampant, but I guess I sort of expected younger versions of Mauricio’s mom to at least make an appearance. I don’t care really, btw, I just thought it should be noted. Our final errand was to stop by Wong (the Peruvian Walmart, although Mauricio would disagree) to get suntan lotion, toothepaste, body wash and shampoo, the latter three having been confiscated at Lambert for containing too much liquid, fuck right? At least the stuff was cheap here even though I was taken advantage of and overcharged 3 soles for my toothepaste which was supposed to be on sale. I know that it is very much like me to remember incidences like this, but I am not sorry that one dollar bothers me, Ben Franklin would be proud.
It felt like after midnight by the time we got back to the house, though it was only like 7:45. My plan was to pack my Cuzco stuff, shower, call Allison and go to sleep by 9, but it ended up taking a little bit longer than that. We had a fourth meal I guess one would say which was nice because I was a tad hungry having not been my usual, gluttonous self, and it was nice not to be starving in the morning. I called and talked to Allison through Mauricio’s hot spot at home by T-mobile for 30 minutes which was nice. She is worried she is going to have a boring summer, but I really hope that is not the case. I want her to have fun, enjoy herself and do things, but that is really easy to say given that I am here in Peru and I don’t know what I would be doing if I was at home. Anyways, hopefully she knows I love and miss her and will enjoy the serenity of the next month at home. I showered using our newly bought hygiene products, and it felt good to be clean after a day of driving around in a car. Speaking of bathrooms, they don’t flush the toilet paper here which I always think is disgusting, but at least we don’t have to use squatters here.
I was exhausted, but it also took me a good while to go to sleep. The combination of the stiff bed, the busy day, the active mind and excitement for cuzco made it difficult. Hopefully the cuzco trip will be great and I won’t be too tired to fully enjoy it.
*Written at 9:00am in the Cuzco hotel