Sunday, February 27, 2011

We interrupt this meal...

Last night I went with a few friends from my study program to meet a new Peruvian friend for dinner. We sat down at a little restaurant right off Parque de Kennedy (named due to the bust of JFK in the park...I have yet to get the full story) and ordered our food. Soon the waitress came up and told us they couldn't give us any food just yet. There ensued a flurry of conversation which I didn't fully understand but apparently something big was happening exactly at 8. 8'o clock happened - the restaurant, and the ones near it, went dark. Sirens went off. People flooded into the sidewalk, laughing, chatting, wearing their Saturday night going out clothes. This was my first earthquake drill.

Earthquakes are fairly common in Lima, but a Saturday night drill is new. We stood on the sidewalk awhile, among romantic couples and groups of girls taking photos of themselves. For much more than 37 seconds I simply took in all the noise and sights. It was Saturday night in DC times 5. Eventually the sirens stopped and our waitress tapped my friend on the shoulder and told us we could return to the restaurant. I feel comforted knowing that even while partying Peruvians appreciate safety, and also that restaurants keep really good tabs on their clients.

We sat down but were soon startled again by some loud drumming. Down the street (which was pedestrian only) danced someone dressed up as a guinea pig, accompanied by drums and shouting. (Side note: I tried cuy, cooked guinea pig, a few days ago. It's a very popular dish in the Andes. I had some fresh from Cusco. Forgive me all you cute and cuddly animal lovers, but it was delicious.) Apparently, this dancing was to promote a specific candidate for the upcoming presidential elections. People were taking photos with the guinea pig, and the waitstaff of our restaurant even ran out for an enthusiastic photo op, which left the guinea pig laying in the ground. I have no idea what a dancing guinea pig had to do with this candidate's policies, but everyone enjoyed the show. Perhaps this could be incorporated into campaigning in the States - I mean, we could all use a little more dancing, right?

In all, it was a day of firsts - first earthquake drill, first introduction to Peruvian campaigning, first pisco sour finished and first Peruvian pizza (which was delicious, but they eat it with a knife and fork.)

But then again, every day has been a day of firsts - first terrifying combi ride (a van used as public transportation), first time being amorously approached by Argentines in a supermarket, and tomorrow is my first day of school!

I'm sure I will get tired of firsts soon, and I will want some seconds and even some same old-same old 35ths...but right now the firsts are, if a bit confusing, highly entertaining.

First Peruvian lunch I threw together! Franca beer (no good), tortilla, y quinoa salad!

My first hostel ever. In love.

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