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.
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.
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
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
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
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