Well, after seven weeks of adventures in Peru, I made it back home to Dallas. I fell asleep yesterday and woke up and was rather bewildered to find myself in a house that looked just like my house at home, before realizing that I actually wasn’t in Peru anymore and was actually back at my house in Dallas. That and finding the urge to speak Spanish in public places just goes to show how embedded Peru is in my mind.
So, to finish up this series of blog posts, I’ll just recap what my brother and I did on our last few days in Lima. We got to Lima without problems Sunday night, and made it to our hotel. Unbeknownst to us, we were in a ‘marital suite’ because we booked a room for 2 adults and I guess the hotel put us there. It wasn’t a big deal, but a bit comical to walk into our room and see this:
Anyway, we got settled and headed out to a chifa (Chinese-Peruvian restaurant, which are everywhere all over the country) then went to bed. On Monday, we got up and went to the famous Museo Larco, a world renowned museum featuring ancient pottery from all of Peru’s pre-Colombian civilizations. Often, people don’t realize how extensive Peru’s civilizations were, because we focus so much on the Incas. But in reality, the Inca civilization was the culmination in a nearly 10,000 year development of civilization all throughout Peru’s coast, mountains, and some parts of the jungle. In some ways, it was interesting to tie this back to my project on evolution and medicine, as we found ourselves in one of the few cradles of civilization, which put us on the historical trajectory we find ourselves on today, and whose influence on health is very visible throughout the country. So anyway, my brother and I enjoyed learning about these ancient civilizations and seeing their amazing works of art that were in nearly perfect condition thousands of years later. We even got to go into the museum’s storehouse, where they have thousands and thousands of works for scientific study.
That afternoon, we took the bus to meet our old Spanish teacher from high school. I can’t tell you how crazy is that I got to see another old teacher from my high school during my time in Peru, but after all the crazy déjà vu like things that I’ve experienced, I was almost not surprised. We got lunch and caught up, then said goodbye and made plans to meet up once we got back and settled.
After a quick descanso, my brother and I met up with my good friend Luiggi, the one who took me to Chincha nearly a month ago! We went out to dinner and hung out for a couple hours, catching up, sharing stories, and laughing until we cried about who knows what.
Then Tuesday, I met up with the family who housed me in Lima. My friend Jose took me downtown, to visit the old part of Lima, with the beautiful plaza and huge churches amidst colonial edifices in pastel colors. Then, we headed back to his house, where I had lunch with the family one last time, and again, we talked and laughed and enjoyed each other’s company, all excited to reunite and a little sad that I was going to leave.
That night, I walked around our neighborhood, and stumbled upon a temporary market in the local plaza. The vendors were selling goods and food late into the night, and I was hungry so I decided to do the Peruvian street food one last time. So I got chicha de jora, the ancient Inca corn beer, and some tacachu con cecina, a jungle dish of marinated pork with ground up plantain. Rico!
Then, on my last day in Peru, I headed back to the university to say bye to all the people who helped me, and back to Loayza to say bye to all my friends. Of course, like the rest of my goodbyes, these were bittersweet. But, every single one of my Peruvian friends asked me to return, asked me to keep in touch and told me that if I came back I would have a place to stay. From the family that housed me to the doctors I met in the jungle, from the JVC’s in Andahuaylillas to my buddies in Chiclayo, everyone asked me what day I was going to return. And all the conversations ended with ‘nos vemos,’ which roughly translates to ‘see you soon.’ All in all, I couldn’t help but think that indeed I would return.
To finish it all off, my brother and I splurged a bit on one of Gaston Acurio’s restaurants. Like a limeño, we went to La Mar for ceviche from Peru’s most famous chef. And it was delicious! We got ceviche with subtle flavors and fresh fish, Gaston pisco cocktails, decadent queso helado made by hand, and a delectable mint sorbet to finish it off. An incredible meal to finish off an incredible trip!
So after all that, a 7 hour flight, and some much needed sleep, I find myself back home in Dallas (and this morning I woke up and remembered I was actually home). The only thing I can say now is that I had an amazing trip. Looking back on it, I can’t believe all the things I did. I worked in the busiest hospital in Peru; I took boats all over the Amazon; I worked with small communities in the shadows of Incan ruins; and I made friend after friend after friend every step of the way. My project was a complete success, as I found incredibly interesting information about each place I was in, and the comparisons line up almost perfectly with all my expectations. And my Spanish improved by light years, and I would consider myself more or less fluent (as the only thing I lack now is specific vocabulary for that inevitable conversation about something I know nothing about).
Peru is an incredible country. The people told me that in many ways, it is one of the richest countries in the world – not monetarily, but because it is filled with history, culture, gastronomy, and friendship. The country gave me surprise after surprise, and each day it kept getting better and better. And all I can say now is thank you. Thank you Peru, for your open arms and beautiful country. Thank you to all my friends and family, who kindly helped and supported me along the way. Thank you to Xavier University and the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue, who gave me the opportunity to make this incredible trip possible. And lastly, thank you God for watching over me, for the safe travels and incredible world I’ve been lucky enough to explore part of. The trip was absolutely incredible and better than I could have ever imagined, and for you, Peru, ¡nos vemos!