One of the difficult things about being abroad is not having your network of friends and family. In the U.S. we live in a small town where we know lots of people. Both of our parents live within 20 miles and between the two of us we have five siblings within 70 miles (that’s not even all the siblings!) I grew up not too far from where we live and have several friends that I have known since I was in elementary school and I could call day or night. In Peru it’s pretty much just the four of us.
We chat with our teachers at school and some of the other students. There is the odd bit of small talk with other tourists, shopkeepers and waiters. Sean has business lunches and drinks. There is a really nice and hilarious woman from Miami who has twin boys in Oscar’s baseball club so it’s not like we are living in an isolation chamber but it is certainly a lot of together time. Luckily we all like one another a lot and Sofia and Oscar get along as well as any siblings I know. There have been shockingly few fights and the two of them chat about who knows what when we are out on one of our long walks. And I know that when the kids are older and won’t want to hang out with us (or hang ON to us, which Oscar likes to do) I will have to dig deep into my mind to remember this time.
But, back to the present and without our usual activities and distractions at home we are mostly together all the time (especially me and the kids.) My parents provided a great opportunity for some fun, extra company but now they are gone and my sister Katrina doesn’t arrive for another two weeks or so. Since, we have very little opportunity for outside human interaction we jumped at the chance to spend the day with Sean’s work colleague and friend Pepe. Sean and Pepe met a few years ago and Sean is working out of Pepe’s offices in Lima. Pepe is a lawyer who is married to a Brit (who is sadly in the U.K. with their daughter the whole time we are in Lima) and he has been instrumental in helping Sean while he is working in Lima.
We left from Oscar’s baseball practice in La Victoria and went to Chorillos, Pepe’s neighborhood. We drove alongside the ocean, finally turning inland then winding back down toward the water through crowded streets until we came to a dead end with a huge gate. Behind the gate was Pepe’s neighborhood of modern houses and lush greenery. We met Pepe and his son Nathan at their house and were introduced to their menagerie of pets: 9 cats, 3 dogs, and 6 tortoises that all live in their huge yard. We said goodbye to the pets and drove the short distance to their country club which is right on the ocean. Pepe and his family spend most weekends there swimming, playing tennis and golf and socializing. While Pepe and his son Nathan played tennis, Sean and the kids swam in the indoor pool and I read. (I am trying to read “The Green House” by Peruvian Nobel Prize winner, Mario Vargas Llosa.) We all met for lunch in the restaurant over looking the pounding surf. Apparently the water is so rough that no one except for crazy teenagers swim there.
Pepe ordered lunch for us which was delicious: Pisco cocktails to start, then raw, thinly sliced octopus with an olive sauce, tart and spicy ceviche, causa rellena (mashed potato filled with chicken salad) followed by fresh seared tuna and salad. Pepe told us that no (good) restaurant in Lima would dare serve fish that is more than a day old. Sofia and Oscar chatted with Nathan at one end of the table while the adults sat at the other end. Nathan’s English is excellent. He was a great junior host and the kids seemed to have an endless amount to talk about despite just meeting. Pepe, Sean and I also never ran out of things to talk about. We peppered him with questions about living in Lima, the history of Peru and Peruvian/Chilean rivalries. After lunch we went back to their house where we had desert and wine and the kids played. The afternoon ended with a Peru vs. U.S. game of badminton (unclear who won, Oscar thinks it was team U.S.A)
As we drove back to our apartment in Miraflores, the sky darkening, I thought how about how unbelievable it was that we were already at the halfway point of our trip. We have crammed a lot into these three weeks but until today we haven’t experienced one of the best parts of being abroad and living in Peru: just sitting around, drinking wine and talking about the ocean, food, politics, family and life with someone who lives in here.