Misadventures of a Gringa

Trip Start Jan 06, 2012
Trip End May 08, 2012

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Flag of Peru  ,
Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    Finding my way around Lima is quite an adventure in its own.  During the day, the traffic seizes to stop and at night the streets are too dangerous to traverse alone.  I, personally, take two combis (small van buses) to UPC Monday through Thursday.  The combis can probably fit comfortably 15 people and that is with a couple of people standing in the middle aisle bent over.  But of course, every sole counts, so during rush hour the cobratador (the money takers) play tetras fitting at least 30 people in even if it means hanging out the sliding door while moving through traffic.  To paint a picture for you, imagine sweaty, tired people smashed up against, in between and across other people.  The smell of B.O. unavoidable and a sore neck.back as a souvenir to go.  The driving is rapid everything....... STOP! SWERVE! GO! HONK!  Sometimes I wonder if the bus drivers are trying to hit as many other vehicles as possible.  
    "Hey look! Another car!" (money taker)
    "200 points old chap." (driver)
     "Oh jolly good times, if I do say so myself! How I do love to watch you hit them cars Charles." (money taker)
    [insert British chuckle]
A person riding the combies has to be aware of so many things.  They must hold on to their purse/wallets/money, try and look out for their stop, try and maintain balance so as to not fall completely over, and be heard over the loud customers to get off the bus.  
    With traffic set aside, I've already experienced the dangers of walking alone during the day.  I stick out like a sore thumb  (I don't understand this expression, lets use something a little more creative.)  I stand out like a walrus wearing a sombrero eating a popsicle and wearing a TMNT backpack.  From my last bus stop I have to walk about 7 blocks to get home.  During that walk, I´m honored with cat calls, dirty looks, and the random odd English comments that make no sense at all.  Joey Tribbianis' "Hey baby, how you doin!" has been my favorite so far.  
    On Saturday, I went to a late movie with two students from UNK (Chelsie and Sarah), along with Chelsie's host brothers (David 22 and Kevin 17).  Sherlock Holmes got out at 9:40PM and we were all discussing on how to get home.  I said I just needed to get back to UPC and I can find my way home from there.  But to my surprise, David said that no buses go there this late at night.  Well great I guess (I'll just wonder aimlessly around town and figure out how to get home (Challenge Accepted). 
    To my relief, Sarah's motherly instincts kicked in and she asked them if we could all walk each other home.  (If only they could hear the amount of cheering going on in my head at this moment because my pride inhibited me from asking for help.)  Chelsie's host brothers agreed to his (the definition of gentlemanly) and we were off in the direction to Sarah's house first.  [Ahh the climax of the story begins] Sarah's residence is about a ten minute walk from Jockey Plaza (pronounced Yokey) down one narrow and dark street.  We walked passed a policeman and to our surprise the policeman yelled after us and hustle in our direction.  At first I thought we were in trouble with the law somehow.  (Always the guilty conscious.)  But the police officer actually came to warn us about the man that was a little in front of us.  From what I understand..(that's not saying much,) he said that he believes that the man was actually a thief.  He had been watching him for awhile and said that the man was checking doors to see if they were locked.  He said we should be careful and not get to close to him.  [Alright now I believe it's not safe to walk alone at night.]
    We started walking again but at a slower pace so that we did not catch up to the "thief".   I was examining our newly found antagonist, as were my terrified amigos, and noticed he was indeed pulling on the door handles.  But then he would stagger sideways and almost fall over.  So I asked David, "?Esta Borracho? " translation: Is he drunk? (I thought some of my readers would love to learn the word for drunk.  You're welcome.)  David, "Haha, I think he is."
    At this moment, the now "drunk thief" was under a lamp post and we had a better look at him and apparently so did the police officer.  The "drunk thief" had the most unlikely "weapon" in his hand.  A tennis racket.  The police officer now decided that he should walk in front of us for our protection.  The "drunk tennis playing thief", I believe noticed this and started walking a little bit faster.  We dropped Sarah off at her house and said our goodbyes.  And that was the last we saw of the "drunk tennis playing thief."  
    Now it was my turn to tell them where I live and off we went to catch a "combi" (little van bus.) ,   [[[[ If anyone truly knows me they would already see a problem with that last sentence.  I can personally admit that directions (following and giving) are not my forté.  I get lost easily and would not be able to tell you which direction is N, S, E or W.  Trying to give me directions is like trying to pass S.O.P.A. (Take that Lamar Smith.) ]]]]  Back to the story.  I explained to David that I live near a Wong, (A grocery store like Wal-mart.) and on la avenida Caminos del Inca.  (Name of my avenue.)  He says he knows where that is and the four of us proceed to get on a bus.  After a 15 minute bus ride we get off near "a" Wong on Caminos del Inca.  He asked me if this place was familiar but who would have thunk it; nope I had no clue as to where we were.  We waked a little bit then David and Kevin started talking to each other in Spanish and all of a sudden both of them were like "Oh no! Oh no!" whilst grabbing their faces in disbelief.  Chelsie and I assumed the worst.  We were both asking "What?  What is wrong?"  when David turned to me and asked, " Ashley, do you live on Benavides?"  Ding, ding, ding.  That sounded familiar.  Of course I take Avenida Benavides to get home.  Oops!  Turns out we got on the wrong bus and that there was two Wongs on Caminos del Inca.  We found the correct bus and made it to the right area.  We walked to my house and by that time it was 11:40PM.  I could not be more grateful for David and Kevin's help, who knows where I would have ended up on my own. 

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