It has been a while since our last newsletter and we have a lot to catch you up on. If you check our websites frequently (www.gregandmeg.net, www.theroadgoeson.net) this information will probably be old news. If not, I have some great news for you. Both families are in comfortable, spacious, well-located 2 bedroom apartments! As most of you know, our plan had been to live with Peruvian families while in language school so that we could learn how Peruvians function here in Arequipa. Where do they go to the market? What things do families buy? What do you avoid? How do you cook a meal? What are the cultural nuances gringos need to learn? Though we had been planning on this for years, we have always tried to remain open to change. Needless to say, we had to start changing plans a little sooner than anticipated.
Soon after our arrival, the director of our language school, who was supposed to be arranging our home-stays, informed us that he didn’t think the idea plausible, or possible. He listed off some reasons--some good, some bad-- and basically left the ball in our court. After discussing and praying about the situation as a team, we decided that by living in our own apartments, we’d be in the position to figure out life here. We have to learn the market system. We have had to learn what could be found in our neighborhood and how to not get ripped off (we’re Gringos...it happens). We purposed to get to know our neighbors and practice Peruvian hospitality with them. So far, so good. Larissa and I moved into our one-bedroom apartment just over a month ago, and last Friday we moved upstairs into a larger apartment that had opened up. This gave us the ability to purchase a few more things of our own (our apartment is “furnished”) and give Shaye her own space. Greg and Megan moved in to their apartment about three weeks ago and have been in a frenzy of purchasing. Their apartment was unfurnished, so they have had to buy everything from beds to a refrigerator to end tables. For over a week, all they had to sit on were their dining room chairs (and their beds)!
I think both families would report that they feel more settled now and have comfortable homes where they can relax. That’s a good thing.
You may be wondering why it takes at least two weeks to get everything you need for an apartment here. I mean, we get out of school every day at 1:00 pm. Certainly it can’t take that long? Well, it does. There are very few places here in Arequipa, indeed in Peru, that you can go to and buy a wide range of things. In fact, the big stores that might have a lot of selection (we have a store that is almost like a Walmart) are the most expensive. This translates into making trips to the various markets around town, of which there are many, to research what they have and for what price. Now the markets here are interesting. There are entire streets of the same thing. One of our favorite markets, Siglo XX del Avelino, has row upon row of kitchen vendors. These vendors have the same bowls, mixers, blenders, pots, silverware, microwaves, etc. We’ve spent entire trips simply finding out which vendor will be the most honest with their prices. It takes a separate trip to make the purchases because you don’t want to just stroll through these places with wads of cash. All in all, it is a fun but very different (and sometimes draining) experience.
We are so thankful for our instructors at Casa de Avila. Without them, we would be so far behind where we are. They have been invaluable resources during this period. They have even taken us on trips to various places and used those outings as teaching times. In an often non-convenient country, our convenience has been our teachers, many of whom we now call friends. Eventually we’ll be able to wean ourselves off of them…but not yet.