Thursday, September 26, 2013

New Life With Old Friends

Street vendors, stray dogs, incessant horn honking, and the most preposterous driving you've ever seen...

Recently, I decided to make a seemingly random, yet well-planned, move down to a little city named Lima, down in the colorful country known as Peru. This decision was met with a lot of different feedback from my friends, as well as my family, but overall I heard nothing but supportive rhetoric. I felt this was something I needed to do; that it was where I needed to be at this point. It might sound crazy from where you’re sitting right now, especially if you are someone who either didn't know me, or was not aware of the decision I had made, but I didn't come down here to be alone. Rather, I came down here to spend time postulating and growing with one of my closest friends, who I respect and admire quite a bit. We had grown up together during our adolescence, but in recent years, our lives had spiraled in completely different directions, leaving us with barely any time to see each other. He had always been a positive influence in my life, so, with that mentality, I decided to move down here to switch things up and surround myself with a different, more positive vibe. Some of our interactions and discussions shed light on how differently we've grown in these last several years; sometimes it literally is a capitalist and a socialist embroiled in a debate, searching for cohesion in our tiny living room. But, he has always subconsciously inspired and driven me to be more proactive and positive about life. As an added bonus to the deal, his girlfriend, and my friend, also lives down here only several blocks away. She is truly a unique inspiration all on her own, and her life story intrigues me quite a bit. She has had a radically different upbringing than myself, and has turned all the tumultuous points throughout her life into positive factors that produce her radiating personality. Between the two of them, I have more inspiration and focus than I could ever want. They are so driven and positively motivated that I sometimes find it overwhelming to keep up with, especially due to my maniacal tendencies, but they both serve as amazing outlets to draw energy from. 

We live in a tiny apartment in a district of Lima called Surquillo, which, if you refer to Wikipedia, sounds like something out of City of God. However, the entire district doesn't serve as a haven for drug-dealers, prostitutes, and thieves; many parts embody their own distinctive charm. We live on a street that is lined with bodegas, in-home restaurants, and fruit carts. Yes, there are buildings in atrophy, a few groups of asshole little-shits (what I refer to some of the more seedy corrupt youth as), and times when you are convinced you just looked at someone the wrong way, but I've managed to make some unique and interesting connections with a few of the street denizens. Most mornings I'll step out of our baby-blue exterior apartment and start walking towards the tiny corner bakery about 3 blocks down. A few houses down from our apartment, right before the block ends, is an unequivocally friendly man who seems to build furniture in his little shop, or possibly house for all I know. I'm convinced he wears the same thin yellow polo and dark blue hat each day, but he always has a big smile when he sees one of us and, without hesitation, ecstatically extends a pleasant greeting every time.  The next place I walk by, which we appropriately call "our bodega", is where we usually get our survival kits each night. Said kits usually contain an assortment of beers, butters, waters, and various candies, which sometimes tends to be our only source of nutrition, thanks to our strange disdain for grocery shopping. I have become somewhat friendly with the family that runs it, yet there are times when I swear they think I'm literally crazy, for which I do not know the cause. Continuing my way down, I pass by other bodegas that don’t have as much familiarity, as well as small restaurants and a bigger bakery, which wafts a scent in my direction that I believe to be similar to, if not exactly like, Heaven. The cozy corner bakery I get bread from every other day has a larger bodega across the way, which is owned by one of the most pleasant families I've ever encountered. They are the only one near us that sells American candy, such as Skittles, Hershey bars (thankfully, they have Cookies and Cream!), and Mentos, which have all been unfortunately inflated economically since they are in fact, imported. If you continue down the street after the bakery, you reach this really interesting square, lined with little knick-knack stores and toy shops, that, every Sunday, becomes host to a bustling farmer's market/bazaar, in which you can find freshly-pressed oils, homemade breads, chocolates straight from the Amazon, and locally-grown vegetables. My Sunday tradition includes visiting this market, not for its commodities and goods, but rather the outdoor, cafeteria-like restaurant that is only open during this event. It is run by various chefs from around the area, and presents a myriad of interesting and different food choices from around Peru. One of the unique sandwiches I’ve come to love, called a ChicharrĂ³n, is at its best from here. It is braised, then double fried, chunks of pork laid on top of thinly-sliced baked sweet potatoes and topped with lemon and butter glazed diced onions, all compacted inside a fresh, French style bun. As I write this, I am scouring my mind for places that might be serving it right now... But, anyways, that is a little piece of my Sunday tradition, as well as a small taste of my life down here. There are many more experiences, facets, and details to write about, but I’ll save that for some other time.