This city is starting to feel much smaller. I walk around my neighborhood with more certainty and swagger every day. I have decided where to get the best coffee, found my favorite place for lunch, and even developed casual friendships with some of my favorite street vendors. I was worried about all of the traffic but it turns out I am enjoying all of the time I have spend in public transit – prime people watching. Time here is a mystery- the people walk slow and arrive late, the cars drive hazardously fast and honk impatiently at every whim, and the bustle of the city is makes my days fly by.
I have been thinking about life here in Lima and realizing how much my experiences growing up in Ladysmith contrast with this big city life. In class yesterday we discussed gun control and I was the only one who thought of guns primarily as a means to hunt and nourish your family and then secondly as weapons of murder and violence. We talked about people’s trust in one another and level of security and I realized I grew up in an incredibly safe environment, trusting and greeting everyone who passed by, while many people here pass without exchanging glances. We talked about the age that most people enter the workforce and how common it is to go to college. My classmates talked about how the price of college differs depending on your income and how everyone can go to college and the government will help, especially if you get good grades. I thought of my friends who are working right now, who didn’t consider collge as an option, and who have grown up much faster than me. I think about what or whom inspired the difference between the aspirations of myself and them. I wonder if it is a positive thing to think everyone should go to college. I do not place my thoughts, which have been guided a little more by institutions of learning, any higher than theirs, which have learned more from real experience. I didn’t leave my community so that I could separate myself from it or put myself above it, I left so I could develop my skills and give something of what I learn back to it. Although I rarely return and opt instead for adventures elsewhere, I acknowledge how cushy my life is and how many people I have to catch me if I fall and how much my hometown has impacted the way I see the world – with fearless trust, a humble confidence, and an unquenchable curiosity.
I am about to embark on a 2-week trip to Cuzco. I will meet indigenous people in small mountain communities, see magnificent panoramic mountain views, and savor every sparsely-oxygenated breath. My Peruvian Mom says that the people there are so kind, and even a little innocent, because they haven’t the pressures of big city living. I imagine the energy I feel in these villages will remind me, in subtle ways, of Ladysmith and make me feel right at home.