After a very long day of traveling yesterday (Philadelphia-->Newark-->Atlanta-->Lima) and surviving the LONGEST line at immigrations that I have ever experienced in my life, I am here! I was picked up at the airport by a representative from the company that set up my trip (Peru for Less) and arrived at my hotel about 1:30 AM this morning (1-hr time difference).
It was a beautiful ride to the hotel, even in the middle of the night as we took the highway south to Miraflores along the Pacific Coast and I realized that within the last 4 months I have driven along the Pacific Coast on vacation in two different hemispheres!
The guide was so nice and complimented me on my Spanish. I decided on the plane that I didn't care who tried to speak to me in English on this trip (other than my fellow backpackers along the hiking stretch), I am exclusively going to speak Spanish. Period. I was so proud of myself and told this to my guide. He chuckled, "Good luck." "Puedo hacerlo," (I can do it) I fired back defensively thinking that maybe he was taking a dig at my Spanish which he had just said was so good. He laughed again and explained, "Maybe in Lima, but they speak Quechua in Cuzco and Amara (sp? to be looked up later) in Puno." My heart sank a little bit as I realized that this might not provide the practice in Spanish I had hoped it would. You know what, that's still pretty cool. When I lived in the Yucatan in Mexico, there were Mayan words all throughout the dialect and I actually learned certain words in Mayan before even learning them in Spanish. Tuc...(tooch) is the word they use for belly button. :)
This morning I was woken up with a phone call from my dear Peruvian friend Pilar who lives in Philadelphia. I met her when we we were at grad school at Temple University and now she's finishing her PhD. I am so excited to see her today and tour the city despite the fact that it's raining during the dry season. I'm not sure how my photos will come out today, but I am pretty pleased that I do have a raincoat.
I leave on a flight to Cuzco early tomorrow morning at will try to update again from there. For all those excited about the big stuff, I should be standing on Machu Picchu next Sunday afternoon. :) The whole city is excited about the 100th anniversary and there were amazing signs and advertisements all throughout the airport and the city.
Ok, after a filling breakfast of jugo de papaya, cafe con leche, pan con mantequilla y fruta, y juevos revueltos con jamon y queso, I'm full and am going to head out exploring before Pilar comes to pick me up at noon.