By Lila Shaw
Night of arrival:
We exchanged money and got situated, tired and discombobulated from our long day of flying. We got through customs and a sign reading "Rick Gordon", held by a kind Peruvian stranger. He was curious who Rick Gordon is. He spoke broken English, more broken than mine and Nina's Spanish. We talked with him on the way to our surprisingly non-sketchy vehicles, two small vans. Monuments and religious statues pass us by as we drive hurriedly among run down, caged off, dusty and colorful buildings. The streets criss-cross chaotically and the cars cut between lanes restlessly. It is approximately 11:45 PM. Cacti and palm trees are strewn on every street corner. The music on the radio is in English, much to my dismay. I am so enamored with absolutely everything. I attempt to read passing billboards, squirming in my seat in anticipation for the adventures to come.
The hostel is clean, friendly, and colorful. The gate is tall and metal and we have to buzz to get in and out. There is razor wire or a myriad of iron spikes dancing on top of every fence. The hostel patio is inviting, we spend much of our time there hanging out and enjoying the humid, warm air.
Our first day of waking up in the hostel we woke to Rick having brought us avocado, passion fruit, papaya, clementines, eggs, onion, a pepper, bread, butter, and jam. Kestrel and I cooked the eggs in the beautiful little kitchen and I told our incredibly friendly host (a woman, about 45? So hard to tell...) about our group. Our most frequent topic of discussion is probably poop/pooping; how to, when, what, and many excessive and or graphic details that I won't include. However...we are definitely already very close with each other in this way. The group dynamic, although whiny at times, is quite smooth. We all seem to be getting along very nicely! We are certainly a headstrong group, but there is a lot of flexibility among us and I think we have been very good about hearing each others needs. So far so good!
We have been noticing how humbling it is to see how many people there are in the world. I keep thinking about how each and every one of the people I see has a life, goals or hopes, and a family, and I know absolutely nothing about them, and probably can't even converse that well with them. There are so many people who are so different from us, but we all have so much in common. We share so much with these strangers just by being human and having human needs. It's also wonderful to gain perspective about things like toilets... we are all so used to the privilege of flushing our toilet paper and never seeing it again, but here we are grateful to flush our poop, and still adjusting to putting our used tp in a trash can...where it will stay...and not flush away into the ether.... the point is, we are all gaining a ton of perspective on our home lives in Vermont, whether or not we have all realized it yet.
It's so wonderful to get to know each of my peers more personally and in a new setting, each person on this trip has so much to offer.
We saw some of the most beautiful things today, including a meal outside near a big indoor market full of fruits and meats, and then the coast below us. I am finding it very challenging to express any fraction of the wonders we are immersed in, although I try every moment to record the beauty I see with an absurd amount of photos and plenty of journaling. I fear that I will forget details that open my eyes so wide, but recording things isn't as important as living them. When I think about it, I'm not that stressed about living each moment to the fullest, because whether or not I am writing, snapping photos, or just gawking at everything, each of these is a form of taking in all of the beauty around me. Anyway, enough of this, here are some of the photos I took today! I love them, it's so beautiful here. A picture is worth a thousand words....