If you wonder how I manage to spend four months in Peru, here is how some of my days go.
Coffee–fortunately, Jonathan gets up before I do and brings me a cup at 8 am. I get up, get dressed and eat breakfast while reading the New York Times on line. I subscribe to the Lima newspaper, El Comercio. That gets delivered around 10 am. If I don’t answer the door, it gets tucked behind one of the shutters in the window well, as the windows are always open by that hour.
Jonathan may go to the market, and I may or may not go along. This time I am stopping by to see whether the woman who gets baskets from Huaraz has gotten the ones I requested. She’s very crabby and generally very anti-American but business is business. Since I purchased five baskets when I asked for five baskets, it seemed like I might show up to buy the next lot. She may or may not get them. If I stop by several times to say hello it becomes more likely she will remember to get them for me. (She wasn’t there, her stall was shuttered.)
Our Peruvian friends seem incredulous that we actually like the Barranca market. They describe it as dirty and disorganized. To me it is only underfoot in the fish section that is a problem.
So much water drips off the tables that it gets muddy underfoot. People often put down cardboard, but you end up walking on sodden, muddy cardboard. On the bright side, the fish are absolutely fresh, often still in rigor or even alive.
My response to our friends is that food in the US is so old by the time it gets to stores that the food in Barranca seems wonderful in contrast. Much of what is in the market is no more than two days from the plant or tree it grew on. Chickens are killed while you wait. The sound is not very nice, but the chicken is fresh. We have a regular person from whom we get chicken and eggs, another for oranges and most fruit, another for vegetables, except avocados, because Jonathan likes the ones a woman around the corner sells.
A family we have known for years sells us olives, cheese, butter, raisins and nuts. We look forward to seeing our vendors, and they look forward to having us as regular customers. Explained that way, our delight in the market is more understandable.
From the market, we are likely to go to the Metro, the supermarket. It is not very interesting and the selection is not great, but it has decent Chilean and Argentine wine, club soda, UHT milk, crackers and a few other things. I did just buy new towels at the Metro, too.
There may be other errands at this time of day, more dog food, or the hardware store. Today I wanted to get new canvas backs and seats made for the two directors chairs we have not been using. You cannot get the fabric from the tailor, you must take it in. My first stop was at a fabric store, looking for canvas of equal weight to what was on the chairs. There was one option that was acceptable. On to the tailor, where we spent some time discussing the quality of finishing that I want, with double folded seams and heavy stitching. It’s a chair, after all. We settled on the work being finished by next Saturday. Now let’s see how it goes.
Back home, we sit down to work on the portion of our research that we are writing up this year.
It’s important to have a project in Barranca, because there isn’t a lot to do other than walk up and down the beach. There was no movie theater from about 1999 to 2012, and the new theater only shows films dubbed in Spanish. There is no local theater, music or art. No branch of AAUW. Thus, we need projects. We each have books we are writing and together we are writing about our research. Though the field work is over, there is still quite a bit of data that needs to be brought together. We plan to post our completed work on the project website. This should keep us busy for several years of spending the austral summer in Peru. (We are not much for sitting on the beach.)
At one pm, we put all the things we’d like to have for lunch on a tray and set a table and two chairs out on the front porch. We look out at the Pacific Ocean, I read El Comercio, Jonathan works on crosswords, and we have lunch. We chat with friends who pass by.
Today Leila was painting a new logo on Las Gaviotas, the restaurant next door. She does this most years, as the restaurant repaints before the start of the busy season each December.
After lunch is siesta (optional) and more work. If there are other errands to run, we go out around 4 pm. At 5 pm we head out to walk down the beach, checking on what has been going on in the neighborhood. We say hello to as many people as possible, from the restaurant owners and staff who are there every day to the young men who stack their surfing gear on the sea wall, and the mototaxi drivers who play soccer on the beach. We wave or say hello to the police on motorcycles, the mother, daughter and granddaughter who are out on the sidewalk every day at this time.
We check out what is changing. Three story brick houses are being tucked in behind the row of houses that fronts the beach. The new hotel almoar finished the wall around the top floor where they’ll hang the laundry. There’s a new padlock on the door of a long-abandoned house. Will there be new construction? The debris from the two guys knocking down old wall segments is indeed piled in the nearest alley where we thought it might end up.
We spotted a new bird on the beach, a single black skimmer in a flock of laughing gulls. I often wear my jacket just to have a pocket for binoculars.
We passed Hadar and Marita sitting with a friend on the patio of the Casa Blanca, the hotel they manage.
At the Malabu, we turn around and stroll home.
Someone was celebrating on the beach.
There is late afternoon light that is particularly beautiful.
Since we are in the tropics, the sun still sets around 6:15 pm. The longest day of the year is coming up on Dec. 21, and the sun will probably set at 6:21 pm.
From the patio, the sky is beautiful. The two vultures are heading for the tree where they roost. We see lots of them them gather there every evening.
We often put chairs on the porch to watch the sunset. Today’s is particularly lovely because the previous three days were cloudy and there was no sunset to watch. Summer is on the way in.
We go inside at sunset, close the shutters, bar the door and move the center of activity back to the office and the kitchen.
Jonathan brings me an appetizer so that I won’t get cranky before dinner, and then he cooks.
After dinner there is Netflix, blog posts, email and such until bedtime. That’s my day!