Going on an international trip at the beginning of a new school semester, or anytime during a school semester, probably isn't the brightest idea. But boy let me tell you how good it felt to have 10 entire days of no responsibilities. No housework, no homework (didn't take it with me. no sir.), no dogs, no cooking....
That's what my grandmother's house is like to me. It's a true vacation. I really envy those of you who have extended family living so close to you. It truly is a blessing that I think many take for granted. I mean, if my grandmother lived within two or three hours from me, I would see her every holiday. And yet, I know people whose grandmothers live in the next town over and they hardly ever see them. I literally can't fathom this. If you're one of these people, pick up the phone and call your grandmother this instant. Talk to her for a while, and then arrange to have dinner or something. Seriously. I insist. I see my grandmother once every three or four years! Do it for me.
Walking into my grandmother's house is like walking into a hug. It's pure unconditional love. It doesn't matter what I've accomplished with my life so far, it doesn't matter how much weight I've gained, or whether or not I've fixed my hair, or if I'm in the grumpiest mood ever... I'm a grandchild and I am loved. It doesn't have to be earned, it is just given. And it elicits from me the deepest love, loyalty, and commitment that I've ever felt for someone about whom I know so little. In my grandmother's house I am "Princesa Preciosa" and she reminds me every chance she gets. In return, every time I see her I have to kiss her or hug her or let her know how much I return that love any way I can. It's that love that's given that makes me seek her out every evening to say good night before I go to bed, and makes me say good morning to her every morning before anyone else. It almost makes me feel like I'm not worthy of being loved that much.
My grandmother is 95 and my grandfather is 93. (I know, I'm going to live forever, right?) My grandmother still gets up at 8:00am every morning and cooks lunch HERSELF for everyone in the household. She has a woman who helps her in the kitchen, but the helper is assigned menial tasks like cleaning the lettuce, or peeling the potatoes. My grandmother cooks the entire lunch, and despite my repeated inquiries, there is absolutely nothing I can do to help.
How hard was THAT?! In the US, I am a single independent woman. I am involved in every single detail required to run my household. In Peru I am useless. I have no responsibilities, and can only sit and watch my 93 year old grandmother do stuff for me. I can't even take my dishes to the sink from the table without her getting upset.
So Lima was a time for me to do nothing. Time for me to fill my hours with random walks with my mother, to knit, to sit and enjoy the 77 degree weather and nice breeze. A true vacation.
While on this vacation, I took some time to look around and see things through a stranger's eyes. In Peru, man do they keep everything. For YEARS. I can't tell you how funny it was to see my uncle's entertainment center. A brand new DVD player sitting on top of a TV that has only 13 channels. And why not? Was the TV broken? No. It still worked fine. Why upgrade and waste the money?
And this? This is my uncle with his car. His car is a 1965 Plymouth Fury.
(Stephen King fans? Anyone? It's not the right year, but...) Um, his car is older (significantly older) than I am. And why not? It still runs fine. If something breaks, it can still be fixed for less than the cost of a new car. And so the car still lives. I am astounded each time I go to Peru that the car still runs. When I look under the hood I am more astounded. This time I did notice that he had fixed the overheating problem that made the floor underneath your feet really really hot when you were in the front seat. I'm not kidding.
My aunt Pilar was given a labrador puppy a year or so ago. Since she works all day long, the puppy was immediately brought to my grandmother's
house for companionship. His name is Rocky (pronounced with a Spanish accent "Roky.") Rocky lives the life, man. Apparently when he was a puppy puppy, my grandmother would feed him out of her hand. Now he gets an interesting mix of food that consists of part dog food, part whatever we ate that day for lunch. Rocky has it good. Turns out that Rocky is not bilingual, though. He can "sientate" but just looks at you and wags his tail if you say "sit."
Saturday night before I left for Cuzco and the adventure that is part II, my family threw me a birthday party at my aunt's house. I was the youngest person present by about, oh, twenty years, but MAN do those Peruvian men know how to dance. There was alcohol, there were hors dourves, there was live music (including, but not limited to when my mother took the microphone.) My birthday cake looked awesome. The designs on top were made of sugar and white chocolate and edible (though I didn't eat them.)
Silly Emily wore high (HIGH) heels and got a blister the size of Mars on her little toe. It was so big I almost named it. A blister that had to be popped and "medicated" so that she could put her hiking boots on the next day. That blister was a little problem on the next part of the adventure, but nowhere near the biggest issue I faced. I'll post that up next.
Sorry about the lack of grand vistas and great photos in this post. This is the beginning of the story and it needs to be told. The mountainous pics are coming. Promise.