Today is my third morning in Arequipa. My routine includes waking up early and thirsty, switching to BBC while I change, having a breakfast that includes a fresh fruit juice and a cuppa coca tea, nodding and smiling if I don’t understand my host mom’s Spanish and looking up the words later (sometimes).
Arequipa is a much prettier city than Lima. Having been around sun all my life in Yangon, I started to feel suffocated after several foggy, misty days on a bus from Lima to Paracas and Puerto Inca. Arequipa is a completely different scenario. As soon as I entered the city, I saw snow peaked Misty, green plantations and warm evening sun shine. Arequipa was love at first sight.
If Lima is Yangon, Arequipa is Mandalay. All the embassies, NGO headquarters and administration are concentrated in Lima. Arequipeñas surround the Monasterio de Santa Catalina just like the Mandalay palace is surrounded by commercial and residential buildings and the monastic center of Sagaing.
My host mom is the program coordinator and her house is used as the headquarters for the program. We will be taking dance and music lessons here. There is a movie night every Monday at this house, too. The assistant director of the program – a 2009 Davidson graduate – lives right upstairs and has meals together with my host family. She is sweet and helpful, and I am blessed to be around her. Also, this house is within seven minutes’ walk UNSA, the university we will be attending in Peru. Therefore, I am ten steps away from all the resources. Here are more photos from the program website: http://karlosbotto.com/page2.php (If you go to karlosbotto.com, it’s under noticias y eventos, Davidson en AQP).
In addition to a host brother, a host cousin, and a smiling helper, there is a monkey named Toto, a dog called Moshi, and a turtle that likes to crawl fast and bite people’s shoes. Although most people in this house speak English perfectly, they are strict about using only Spanish around me. Luchito, the brother, is leaving for Lima for his university and this could mean even less English for me! I am sometimes scared I will lose my Burmese language skills. My friends are so kind to let me try my Burmese on them and they say they will nod and smile.
Here is my little nook: