Oh, the traffic.

This is how you receive directions in Lima:

Take the expressway, exit at the main street and continue on for a while. The whole trip should take ten minutes. Or forty minutes with traffic.
The dreaded "with traffic".

My first few months here, when I was trying to be a serious private language consultant, Alvaro's mom would drive me to my classes. "Pick me up at 7:15," I would say and without fail she was at my apartment at 7pm sharp. It drove me nuts. The predictability of her too-earliness made it worse. I would remind her, "I think 7:15 is better, it's just a short drive from here" to which she would reply, "Oh, but with traffic it's much longer." Inevitably, there was zero traffic and we were fifteen minutes early for my class. In those days, I wasn't allowed to be by myself (though that's an entirely different story) so I had to wait in the car with Alvaro's mom for fifteen awkward, Spanish stumbling minutes.

The point? Traffic in Lima is a) horrendous and b) annoyingly unpredictable.

Limeans measure distance in the traffic minutes it takes to get there. My trafficless morning commute would be about twenty minutes. A good traffic day is door-to-door in under an hour. Going just ten blocks can easily take over half an hour. Tonight my taxi was to pick me up and take me home. It wasn't there at the designated time, so I called the company. "Oh yes, Señorita, it will be there in four minutes." Did I mention that there's actual time and Peruvian time? I hear "four minutes" in Peruvian time which in reality is forty minutes. And "he's just three blocks away" translates to reality speak as "an arrival thirty minutes later".

And the unpredictability. Several weeks ago, we went to a play at my school. Alvaro's parents advised us to leave a full hour and a half early because of all the "traffic." On a Saturday night? Unlikely. So we made out way about 30-40 minutes early. Imagine my surprise when the highway was a parking lot and it took over an hour to get to school. The unpredictability is maddening. The worst part? His parents were right.

The only redeeming thing about all this chaos is that thankfully, I don't have to drive. I'm either sitting on a bus or as a passenger in a car. Driving in this mess is a whole different level of stress and there's no way I could acclimate to that.