¡Llegué! (warning: long)
I made it, ya'll! I'm currently constructing this blog from my very first double decker bus as I travel up the coast from Lima to Trujillo, Peru. Can you believe it? I still can't. This morning I was brushing my teeth and happened to glance up at myself in the bathroom mirror only to discover I was dancing. Actually dancing. For joy, I suppose. Since it was previously a subconscious movement, I decided to make it a little more intentional and added some lyrics to my musical performance. It went something like this:
"I'm in South America! I'm in Peru! I made it, I made it, I made it! And I don't have to leave for a whole MONTH!"
Admittedly not my best spontaneously composed song (it doesn't even rhyme), but let's keep in mind that I was running on about 7 hrs sleep combined over the past 48.
Needless to say, I'm crazy excited. So far this journey has exceeded all my expectations. Navigating my way through LAX was surprisingly the most difficult part, and the Lord even met me there by providing me with a lovely Argentinian mom and her two sons who not only recognized me from PDX but also happened to be on my same flight to Peru. Together we bobbed and weaved through streams of travelers, seemingly traveling against the grain the entire time, and made it to the international terminal with just a few minutes to spare. I know you guys aren't going to believe this, but I was actually the one helping her interpret directions. As if we needed any more evidence that God is still in the business of miracles, people. (let's hope that new found directional sense follows me to Machu Picchu, eh?)
Okay, so I know this is a bit ridiculous, but I've always seen those massive airplanes with the two aisles in movies and wanted so badly to ride on one - and yesterday I finally got my chance. I literally caught my breath when I boarded, I was so stoked. Sure, I was stuck in the middle of the middle section, but who could complain when you have your own mini-tv stocked with movies and TV shows, two meals, and free red wine? It's the little things, I guess.
The part of my trip I was most nervous for was connecting with Alain, a friend of a friend who lives in Lima. He promised he would pick me up from the airport, but by the time I made it through immigration, got my bag (praise God it made it all the way to Lima), and passed customs, it was already over an hour and a half past the time I had told him I would be arriving. With no way to communicate with him, I wasn't sure he would even still be at the airport. I felt my heart beating faster as I neared the exit from customs. Lord, please let him be out there. God I need peace.
I stepped through the sliding glass doors and was swarmed by somewhere around 200 strangers waiting for their passengers, many holding up signs and shouting to try and get the attention of...well, hard to say really. Mostly it was just chaos. Oh dear Lord. I willed myself to stop walking, stayed very still for a moment, and then I heard it: "Nati!" How I heard it over the ruckus all around me, I'm still not sure, but I glanced in the direction of the voice and saw a kind looking face that I instantly knew I was supposed to trust. Alain!
This man has turned out to be the most incredible unforeseen blessing. Not only did he wait for me at the airport, but he also rescued me from the insanity of trying to find a taxi and a hostel in Lima at 1:30 in the morning my first night in the country. He drove me back to his house, carried my bag up the stairs, and set me up in his bedroom with a freshly made bed, a TV, a desk with a little desk lamp, and a clean towel. He insisted I stay in his room, while he slept elsewhere in the house. He had to leave early this morning for work, but arranged for a taxi to come pick me up at his house this morning and take me to exchange some of my US dollars for Peruvian soles, and then take me to the bus station with instructions to remain there with me until my ticket had been confirmed and my bag had been checked. He even called the cab driver and had him pass back his cellphone to check in on me while we were in route. And get this: he arranged for a man to meet us out on the curb to exchange my money without even having to leave the taxi. (I know how that sounds, but I promise it wasn't shady).
I got to enjoy a leisurely breakfast this morning with Alain's grandparents. I forgot how intense conversations can be in Latin America. There really isn't a concept of small talk, at least not in my experience. Over breakfast we discussed: the economic crisis and racial disparities in America, the differences between Catholicism and Christianity (including the very strict Catholic opinions on divorce), and government aid programs such as WIC. Oh and of course, my love life and whether or not I plan on marrying any time soon. And yes, this was all in Spanish. My fumbly, rusty, hopefully-soon-to-be-flourishing Spanish. ayiyi.
Sorry there are no pictures to break up this little novel. My cellphone is dying and since I don't have any converters or adapters, there's no way for me to charge it. Fingers-crossed that the orphanage really does have what I need to re-charge. Guess we'll find out tonight!