RPCV Returns to Peru      (continued from p. 9)

suddenly rising up from the desert floor. I find it so beautiful every time. Lima is covered in clouds much of the time, chilly and moist in spite of its being spring. The sun takes over and skies become  a deep, bright blue as we get closer to the beginning of the Sierra, and Arequipa.

The airport is always a good place to view  Misti, Chachani and Pichu Pichu, the volcano and mountains backing up Arequipa and I always cry. They are all beautiful, but Misti is like an old friend. Living in Arequipa on the foothills of Misti it was impossible not to notice it many times during the day and evening and it was always changing. Nick complained to a friend "every little while she tells me to look at Misti."  It was true.   

In Arequipa we stayed in the Hotel Crismar (Cristine and Maria), belonging to a PC volunteer who had married Isobel, an Arequipenan, and is now run by his son, Bernie Jr. Bernie is completely complete in both US and Peruvian cultures, fun, dynamic, and successful but he had made big changes to the hotel since we were last there. The back end of the lobby opens into a casino which emits little pings, music and colored lights, fortunately not very loudly.

Opposite the main desk is a small lobby with couches where hotel guests can chat with their visitors and in this lobby is a large glass case containing the Virgin of Chiapi - a stylized statue, really a very large doll with a beautiful white and gold dress. The nameplate says "Virgen

de Chiapi, Virgen de Los Imposibles."  Mary's friend told her that this virgin is very powerful, actually she said that she's very milagrosa, milagro being miracles. The lobby had a benign quality because of her presence, but I kept wondering if gamblers at the Casino found her helpful too.

Mary Hennessey-Wohn is a friend from the deep past and the present. She was down to attend the wedding of a family which she is really a part of. She's known Erika, the bride, since she was a child. Mary brought Ruth along. Ruth spoke no Spanish but wanted to see Peru, however as soon as they got up to Arequipa she became nauseous and headachy  - typical signs of altitude sickness. Mary got her some coca tea and she was amazed by how rapidly she felt better. Thinking that more is better she started chewing coca leaves which was quite hilarious to Mary and I who remembered seeing older people from the Andes chewing them all day with little green rivers of spit running from the corners of their mouths. This was always so disgusting looking that almost none of us ever tried it in the Peace Corps. 

On the day after the wedding we were invited up to the house of the bride's mother. Ricardo, the bride's brother made us a special soup type dish called "adobo."  This is usually eaten on Sunday mornings. It's a very rich and spicy meat soup - quite delicious. As we sat around the dining room table eating he serenaded us with all the old songs we could think up for him to sing. It was quite a merry time.   

Nick and I were invited up for lunch at the Huanaiqui's, my old landlords and longtime friends, who lived on Calle Andes, a cross street to Avenida Arequipa which climbs up, up, up, into the foothills of Misti. It was almost impossible to recognize any landmarks, since everything has changed so very much.

The roads are now paved, there's a little park, and movie theater in this large district called Alto Selva Alegre where there used to be two televisions in the entire town, dirt roads, and a central well where water was delivered once a week. People hauled it to their homes in old gasoline cans. In the Sixties it was called a barriada, but with the roads and improvements it has elevated itself to the word Urbanizacion and is on the map.

Not only was Avenida Arequipa changed, Calle Los Andes was hardly recognizable. It used to be a hunkered-down street where people were in various stages of building their own houses. There were spots with nothing at all, also a ravine where garbage was thrown. Now there are all kinds of stores and shops. To make matters worse, I didn't even recognize the Huanaiqui's house and we had to find it by reading the numbers.

Lucho and Rosalia admitted that the house was very different since their draftsman/architect son had changed the front, and Rosalia moved her Salon de Belleza into the house. After I lived there in the 60's  they built a 2nd story.

(Continued on page 11)

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