Mani & Pedi

My newest obsession is reading food blogs. I graduated from college and now am freed of the stress my impending thesis had on me for the past couple of years. I needed to find something that could become my new project- and I decided upon cooking. It started back in Nashville when I discovered the fabulous Annie’s Eats (love her!) and since my days in Lima are incredibly unstructured, I have spent countless hours exploring the food blogosphere.

This afternoon, however, I simply couldn’t do it. I had to get out of my apartment so I embarked on a small quest (per the recommendation of my expat friend Polly). I walked one block and a half to an adorable coffee place and ordered my coffee to-go then ventured to a local nail establishment that is nothing more than a hole-in-the-wall.

The salon has three pedicure chairs that are placed uncomfortably close together at the back of the room. I sat down in between two Peruvian girls, balancing my coffee and handbag as I took off my sandals and felt unusually clumsy in the small quarters. Within seconds the nail attendant asked what color I wanted, I had to ask her to repeat the question and then stumbled through telling her, “something similar to what I have now”.

The girl on my left spent the majority of my pedicure staring at me, or so it felt like she did. While I could feel her gaze I watched the attendant pamper my feet and then realized she didn’t cut my nails short enough. I debated whether or not to tell her and almost decided to just let it go until I thought about Alvaro’s reaction to my lazy Spanish. It didn’t help that I am already self conscious and now I was going to have to ask her to cut my nails while this Peruvian girl listened to my American accent dance across every syllable. I gave in and asked her. She redid them but I could tell that I was going to have to ask again.

What followed was a Spanish lesson in my head. Is there another way I can ask her? And what gender do I use for the nail color? I see the color across the room, but I can’t remember the word for “row” or even “bottom”. Why didn’t I learn the words for “fourth” and “fifth”? As I pieced together nouns and verbs, I could feel the Peruvian girl’s stare and it felt as if she could see the sentencing forming incorrectly in my brain. I wanted to scream out, “I know your Spanish is perfect, but I’m trying! I’m actually quite friendly and well spoken in English!” The most frustrating thing about not speaking the language fluently is that I feel like I am never able to show my true personality.

The attendant finally finished and walked across the room to grab two nail colors to choose from. Neither one was particularly what I wanted, but at this point I felt defeated and simply chose the pinker of the two. Immediately after I pointed to my choice, the aforementioned Peruvian girl said, “I think that the one on the bottom row, third one from the right is much better.” She was right, it was perfect.

The attendant started to apply the polish and I looked to my left and said “Gracias.ˆ Her response? “You’re welcome.” Her kindness left me feeling guilty about the previous thirty minutes I had spent being internally annoyed with her. Now I think that her stares were because she was jealous of my American accent just as I was jealous of her beautiful Spanish.