On Saturday, I called a taxi to take me to one of my English classes. I was waiting in the lobby of my building when two taxis arrived at the same time. Confused, I walked outside and was greeted by the driver of the second car. With this greeting, I assumed he was my driver and walked towards his car, but he quickly pointed me towards the first. I got in the car then he looked at me and said, "Señorita, do you speak Spanish?"
I confidently answered, "Yes, of course."
He then told me that my driver was new to the company and might need assistance with the directions to my location. I assured him that I knew the way and it would be no problem for me to direct him. He thanked me for my help and then we were on our way.
As we drove off, I asked my driver, "Señor, is this your first week?"
"No, señorita, this is my first day. My first service on my first day."
I couldn't believe it, for the first time in Lima history, I knew more than a Peruvian. As he struggled to call the base and enter the correct information, I gave him directions and told him the fee. I settled into the taxi and took a look around me. This is my home. Not only is this my home, but this has been my home. So much so that I am now familiar with customs and systems. In that taxi, I was the expert. Sure, it only lasted for a brief ten minutes but in those ten minutes I lost my expatriate naivety and I was the pro.
Last weekend, Alvaro, myself and Elizabeth (one of my very dear friends from high school) took a weekend trip to Ica, Peru. Elizabeth had been in Peru for about six weeks traveling to various cities and spending time with me in Lima. For her last weekend in Peru, we traveled south to the land of eternal sun and lots of sand.
On Saturday morning we took a small city tour that took us through the main square and past the ruins of the Ica Cathedral that was nearly destroyed in a 2007 earthquake. From there we went to Cachiche, a small village next to Ica that is famous for its historical witches. Several hundred years ago there was a large concentration of witches in this village and the area is full of mystical legends. These original witches passed down their traditions to descendants who still practice healing practices in the village. One of the most interesting parts of the village is the seven headed palm tree. It is believed that several hundred years ago, one witch put a curse on this tree saying that if the seventh head ever grows, the city of Ica will be destroyed. To prevent this from happening, the seventh head is ceremoniously cut every year.
We also visited a Pisco Bodega where we saw the traditional methods used to prepare Ica's famous pisco. After our tour, we tasted several varieties of pisco that are produced on the property.
But the highlight of the weekend was sandboarding! I have heard from several people that sandboarding is the thing to do in Ica and they all were right. I'm a stranger to any kind of extreme sport, so I admit I was fairly nervous before my first ride down the dune. But after surviving the first descent, I couldn't get enough! Not only was the sandboarding amazing, but the view was beautiful. I have never before stood in the middle of desert with only sand as far as my eyes could see. We were fortunate enough to have a clear night and were leaving the dunes around sunset. It was the perfect day, Point for Peru once again!