My 30th Birthday…Lima Style

Meri Diamond
January 19, 2010

I turned thirty years old last Saturday. A few people jokingly made reference to my twenties being a thing of the past and what a pity that is for some women. However I have heard that other circles say that turning fifty is the new thirty, alluding to the fact that in our thirties the perfect balance is achieved between maturity and youth. But, what are my personal feelings on this milestone? How do I think of it now that my turn to be thirty years old is here? For some reason the only thing that comes to mind is the fact that I am starting a new decade of my life in a completely new life setting. If someone had told me in my early twenties that I was going to celebrate my birthday number thirty in Lima, Peru, I would had laughed at them. Sure back then I was interested and had a vocation for what I am doing now, but it was a distant dream that I didn’t think was possible to achieve. But for God there is nothing impossible and here I am, in the city of cloudy skies, breathtaking views of the ocean and unbelievable bad driving (The streets are a madhouse). I am not sure what to make of the weather because it is supposed to be summer and even though it feels warm and humid the sun is no where to be found.

Lima is similar to Bogota in some aspects except for the fact that it is a costal town and most buildings are painted with interesting bright colors. People are very cordial and everyone has welcomed us with open arms .For my birthday, a Columbian priest we met during his visit to El Paso, had us over for lunch and got me a delicious Dulce de Leche cake (You can’t go wrong with that dessert). Furthermore all the lay missionaries in the area joined me for dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Dan along with all my colleagues made the day extra special.

But let’s go back to my early impressions of Lima. As much as I have been able to experience in one week, I can say that every day life in this city of nine million people is simply chaotic. Taking the bus is an adventure not so much for how aggressive buses are driven but because we have to cross a big avenue that has no stop or pedestrian lights to control traffic. The avenue must be crossed if we want to catch the right bus and signal the driver to make sure he stops. The streets are stages for acrobat children, jugglers, endless number of vendors and bus companies that compete among themselves to get the greater number of passengers. We get on the bus and find a place to stand if there are not seats available which it is often the case. A few minutes later, a skillful bus-assistant approaches us to get our payment. He knows exactly who has payed and who hasn’t even when the bus can’t fit another soul. The bus fare ranges between One Sol and One Sol and Fifty centimos (33 to 66 US cents). The assistant gives us a receipt for every ride which makes me wonder if printing all those receipts costs the bus company a lot of money, considering the low fares. But it may just be their way of tracking how many passengers they get on given day. Some day I will figure that out =)

As far as Lima being “The Gastronomical Capital of Latin-American”, I can only say that I have seen signs of it while checking out food vendors from the bus on my way home. Dan and I have also enjoyed several meals prepared by Peruvian women that work at the priest houses. Their dishes are tasty and diverse but I feel like I still need to try the fresh Ceviche that Lima is famous for. Not being able to enjoy the food as much as I would like to has to do with dormant taste buds resulting from a cold I had all last week. I am feeling much better now.

I am settling into my 30s as much as Dan and I are settling into our new life. Dan started Spanish school yesterday while I started assembling a few resources that I need to have at hand. Last week and this week we will live in the Lay Mission House. Next Saturday however we are moving with a Peruvian family who has offered to host us for a month to introduce us to their culture and every day life. Dan will continue his studies for the rest of the month while I will accompany the family during the day, even though I still can’t figure out what that entitles. Whatever it is, I am sure it will be a great experience for both of us. During this next month we will also visit the parishes that are requesting us for our full-time work. We have visited a few already but need to learn more about the needs of every parish interested before placement decisions are made.

With this post I am including a picture taken from the window of our room at the Lay Mission House. As we get more pictures, we will make sure to share then. For now, I leave you with the view that I see every morning when I wake up…a view of a city with incredible potential, where part of my 30s will be lived, more friendships will be made and a whole new way of life is waiting for us.