I once told a friend, "Only good things happen to me." Now I could launch into a long philosophical discussion about that, but suffice it to say: I cannot believe how many fortunate (magical?) opportunities come my way in life. This page is dedicated to sharing some of the good fortune I encounter in Peru.February 17: Living with Adela and Manuel
I found my host family here in Arequipa through the booking service of AirBnB. While researching my trip to Peru last summer (!) I came across their listing here. I had a good feeling about the place and I kept watch for the next several months as the positive reviews piled up on their listing. Finally, in November, I made my reservation and am I ever glad I did! This week, AirBnB asked me to write a review of my stay. They only allowed me 500 words:
I am one of the lucky visitors to Arequipa! I was able to stay in Adela and Manuel’s home for over a month as I explored Arequipa, improved my Spanish (with their help!), and learned about Peru. I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful this couple is and what a pleasant place their home is. Adela prepares the most delicious food—everything is made from scratch—even the preserves! If you have time, I encourage you to arrange in advance to have dinner as well as breakfast. You won’t be disappointed. Manuel meets guests at the bus station and accompanies them to the house so there is no chance to get lost or confused. The day I arrived was my first day in Peru and my Spanish was atrocious, so it was so comforting to have this service. On my first day, Mechel showed me the easiest way to get to the Plaza del Armas, pointed out the best places to eat along the way, and showed me how to cross the street (a very important new skill!). When Adela found out how interested I am in fiber arts, she took me to the local fiber mill where alpaca yarn is sold. When I needed to get my hair cut, she did not just tell me where to find a peluquería (salon), she took me there herself and introduced me to Lily, the hairdresser! I was often invited to have a snack with Manuel’s extended family. When I made an excursion to Puno, Adela insisted on seeing me to the bus stop and making sure I got on the right bus. When I returned, I truly felt like I was coming HOME.
Although the home is located on a busy street, it is very quiet at night and I never had any problem sleeping. The bed was very comfortable. The Wi-Fi was always available, which was important to me, since I work when I travel. I never lacked for hot water and the home is very, very clean. They even supply filtered water for you to take on your excursions about town. The main Plaza is a very interesting 20-minute walk and I made friends with some of the shopkeepers along the way.
When in Arequipa, I will always arrange to stay with Adela and Manuel! I am so glad I found them on AirBnB. Thank you for making my introduction to Peru a wonderful one!AirBnB also asked me to write a personal note to my hosts:
February 11 and 12: The Rain Waits
Two days running, I was walking near the Plaza de Armas and was about ready to come back to the hotel when the dark clouds shouted out: Trueno! (thunder) I started back, walking rather rapidly, but the clouds did not burst forth until just after I got to my room--on both days!
February 10: Hotel El Manzano
(After trying for a couple hours to find my hotel in Puno.) Without me asking, the welcoming host reduced my room rate from $17 to less than $11 per night because I was a single rather than a two people. Nice!
February 1: Sharing Aceitunas!
I bought a little bag of aceitunas (olives) at the market. On the way home, three old men sitting on the sidewalk called to me. As usual, I shook my head and went on. I think they were asking or money, but they were so jovial with their call "Senora!" that I turned back and offered them some olives...They finally understood my atrocious Spanish and agreed. It took me a while to get the bags open and we bantered a bit—me not really understanding them. I did try to make it clear that the aceitunas were for my friends and they could only have one each "Solamente uno!" I chided them as they each reached into the bag. We laughed and I left. They may have been a bit drunk. The lucky part: I realized how nice it is to be able to have such a an interchange without feeling threatened because I am "older" woman travelling.
January 30: Deny Self-Guilt
One of the "touchstones" for my journey is "Deny the seduction of self-guilt." Except for the first few days when I was somewhat overcome by the poverty I saw, when I wondered what right I had to travel here, I have not really felt guilty for making this journey. I DO feel gratitude for the opportunity to be here—I am so LUCKY! Now I need to honor that fortune by making the most of my journey.
January 27: Gratitude I
I feel grateful to be in a place where I can take a full day to relax!
January 21: Dinner is Served!
Each evening, Adela calls me to dinner. I know breakfast is included in my lodging, but I feel like they are just being "nice" to invite me to dinner every night. Because of the language barrier, I have been trying to figure out how to broach the subject. I had a hard time bringing myself to ask about this...I wanted to be sure I was understood and not hurt any one's feelings. So, tonight, I finally ask as we sat down to dinner. It was good that Mechel (another guest) was there, because he was able to help them explain that because I am staying long term, dinner is also included. I was pleasantly surprised and then I could completely relax and enjoy dinner. And Adela is a VERY GOOD COOK!