Today I woke up with that tired feeling that your eyes have after you have been crying too much. Even after a full night’s sleep, I felt so emotionally wrecked that all I wanted to do was stay at home with Emmaline. That, however, was not an option. Another day of training awaited me.
After the third day of training, we are evaluated to see how we are picking up the method. If we seem to be catching on, then we are invited back for the rest of the training. I was invited back and received high praise during my progress report. Even though I am not terribly impressed by my new employer, this was a good step forward. An important step in getting closer to my work visa.
As I was leaving the school, I met up with a girl named Sandra. She has been training with me and the past few days we have really hit it off. She immediately asked if she would be seeing me next week and then asked for my phone number. She told me that if I need anything with my transition here to not hesitate to call her. We chatted for a minute or two and then when we parted she hugged me and gave me the Peruvian “cheek-kiss”. In many ways, I saw this as a small graduation in our relationship. We’re now more than fellow trainees.
My taxi took me to the apartment of the woman I was supposed to meet yesterday before the iPod incident. I arrived at her apartment and the maid let me inside the courtyard. She actually rents a small apartment that is the second floor of a beautiful, old Peruvian home. The maid works for the landlord who lives in the home.
After she let me, in the maid said that Señora Anne wasn’t home. Hm, interesting. I called her and she told me that she had something come up and had to leave for the afternoon. Now I was stuck. My taxi just left and I was stranded. I asked if I could wait in the courtyard while I came up with a new plan. She agreed and in that moment the garage door opened and an older gentleman drove in. We exchanged greetings and he went into his home. A minute later and came back out to the courtyard and invited me to wait inside. He directed me to the living room while he ate lunch in the kitchen.
I frantically called Alvaro several times and then finally called his sister who agreed to come pick me up. I set down my phone and started to look around. It was a beautiful home with a very traditional open floor plan. On a table next to the television were stacks of DVDs. He liked Lie to Me, House and Bones. “He would get along with my mom,” I thought.
On the far end of the room were seven large picture frames. The collage type frames that hold 6-10 pictures each. In total, he must have had nearly 100 photographs in those frames. I could clearly see him in several of the photos, taken in all sorts of locations. In parks and homes, at parties and at church. Some of the photos were of ten or more people, crowded around a birthday cake or little baby. I kept looking at these photographs, looking at all the love they had captured and I started to cry. I knew absolutely nothing about this man except that he was kind enough to allow me a place to wait, he likes American television and he has raised a beautiful loving family.
Yesterday, I lost all hope in Peru. I was convinced that every stranger saw me as nothing more than a vulnerable American. I found very little redemption in this country and the people that occupy it. Yesterday, I was ready to give up. Today, however, two complete strangers offered me grace and kindness. Sandra recognized the difficulties of moving to a foreign land and offered her help. This man simply offered me a place to sit out of the sun, such a simple gesture and he will never know the profound impact it had on me. In that single gesture, he invited me into his home that had been filled with so much love over the years. For those thirty minutes, I was a part of that family and in a way, he redeemed all of Peru.